Monday, 21 December 2015

10 unexpected benefits of going vegan

Having recently gone vegan I noticed a few things happen that I didn't expect and I've been making a note of these things as I go, as I know once I get a bit more experienced this new phase gets forgotten! I didn't give up dairy with the aim of any of these things happening, but they are all very welcome.

If you are thinking of going vegan, or just curious as to how it goes, then these are the benefits you may not expect:
  1. You will automatically start eating better, even if you aren't trying to, I expected to eat more fruit and veg but didn't think about the fact that I would eat more variety of fruit and veg or that I would make healthier food choices due to choosing vegan options. It's not all health food though if that's not what you want!
  2. You will get excited about food again. I'm trying new recipes, new foods and new ingredients that I never considered before. 
  3. You will learn to appreciate your supportive family and friends, and learn who your real friends are. Tom has been great, my family have been great and most of my friends and colleagues have been great...some others not so much but it's comedy gold for me to watch people try to pick apart my eating habits. Why do they care so much what I eat or don't?
  4. You will get more organised about food, especially when away from home. I prepare batch lunches for work and freeze them, or always make sure I have sandwich ingredients at home. This is great for saving cost and eating better, as instead of grabbing pizza from the canteen I have a sweet potato bake with tofu or whatever else I've prepped that week. This is mainly due to lack of vegan choices at my work but I also find I am more organised about having food shopping at home, as more fresh produce is needed so I get more organised about using it up before it goes off.
  5. You will discover local shops or restaurants you never even knew existed. There are 2 vegan restaurants in my town, and numerous shops with loads of vegan options, and there is a vegan fair every year, and there are vegan clubs, and there are restaurants which are now on my must visit list as they have good options. It's like rediscovering my local area and like I've joined a new community. 
  6. Weight/bloating loss. I lost a lot of 'mass' from my middle, I say 'mass' as I've not lost any weight on the scale but I am a lot slimmer and I think a lot of it was bloating from my cheese and carbs heavy diet before.
  7. On that note, the amount you can eat. Cutting dairy and meat cuts a lot of calories and fat, so you have to replace that. For someone like me whose meals are quite healthy and balanced that means adding in snacks, and lots of them. Most of them are healthy, but I found out recently I can have Jammy Dodgers and most bourbon biscuits so a few packs of those have been done away with over the last few weeks :)
  8. Better skin. I've been trying to clear my skin for years, and being 27 and still having teenage spots is a right downer. I'm not saying it's gone, but it's on the way there! I still get breakouts especially linked to 'that' time of the month, but they are getting less and less and my skin generally is less greasy, my blackheads are reducing and I think it looks generally a lot better.
  9. I feel AMAZING. Where people get the stereotype that vegans are all weak and tired I will never know. I do a decent amount of exercise, and have noticed no drop in my abilities or energy levels. Quite the opposite in fact, I feel like my energy levels and mood are more even throughout the day. Instead of feeling more tired as they day goes on I feel like I have the same energy at 6pm as I did at 10am. I can only put it down to cleaner eating and less hormones etc from dairy.
  10. My conscience is lighter. I've finally taken the last step in stopping dairy and my lifestyle is cruelty free. I use less water, greenhouse gases, pollution and deforestation that an omnivore diet and I know that no animals were exploited to make my food. It's quite calming :)
Have any of you noticed any unexpected benefits? 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Second month vegan

My second post on vegan food through the past month, don't worry I'm not going to spam you with food pictures every month but just documenting my finds over the first few weeks!

November saw some new meals for me, my first roast dinner at someone else's house for one. My dad cooked it for me, I brought Linda McCartney pies and left one in his freezer for next time, he did all the veg and potatoes with no dairy :) We had the second one shortly after and Toms mums and I took Tesco nut roasts.

First take away too, from Eurasia in Cheltenham - no photo as we got a power cut as it arrived so we ate in the dark! Tom likes an Indian takeaway so I knew this would be a hurdle to cross and bulk emailed a load of local restaurants to see who offered a vegan choice. I had mushroom sagwalla, chapati and poppadoms - just not having the mint and yoghurt dip. I like a korma so am looking for somewhere that does vegan korma (theirs has dairy), but it was a really good alternative and they were very helpful emailing me back and also answering questions on the phone when we ordered. Naan breads seem to mostly have dairy, but shop bought ones don't always so next time I might buy some in before we get takeaway.

Also had a Papa Johns pizza with no cheese, and lots of garlic sauce.

We also found out that the Asda create your own bases are vegan, so Tom picked me up a cheeseless one. I swear I've eaten more pizza since going vegan than I did before!

I began meal planning for work lunches, as there is little to no choice in the work canteen and also I want to make healthy choices to support my training and making sure I have food to take to work is part of that. I did vegetable bake, with satay tofu. Alongside some Alpro yogurt with frozen fruit, chopped nuts and chia seeds it was a filling and very nutritious lunch.

I tried my new's pretty gross...but on talking to the people at the pulsin' stall at the vegan fair last month their pea and rice powders mixed are the best for vegans trying to gain muscle. I am seeing some improvement but also started working out and lifting weights a lot more in October and November than ever before so probably down to that.

Also forgot to post a picture of my new badge from the vegan fair.

It makes me chuckle.

I started taking a small carton of soya milk to work for tea, and it seems to be better than my previous system of taking it in a flask as I kept forgetting to take the flask home to refill. Only I can't find resealable small cartons, anyone know of any? Not the large ones as I only need it for tea and I move work place every week so only need 5 days worth at a time.
breakfast - mushroom, avocado and spinach on toast
Tried out the Tofutti sour cream, it's OK not exactly sour cream if you have it alone but it's a nice enough substitution on stuff. I add some chopped chives to flavour it a little. So far have had it on nachos, fajitas and chilli.
Chilli and sweet potato for lunch
Cheeses - Well I got more Tesco ones, the cheddar style spread and the other cheeses from the range. I talked about the smoked one here, and the strong flavour soya one is good too. The tangy one not so much, it has a weird after taste.

I also tried more Bute Island Sheeze ones. Still a no from me. Although the garlic and herb cream cheese is very good! It's nice in a sandwich etc but also in a pasta sauce, and I even used some on a random tart creation to add a bit of flavour, using jus roll pastry.

Snack wise I am loving cheese and crackers still, plus Bourbons and Jammie dodgers are vegan. Life changing for tea and biscuit situation. I was keen to eat less rubbish but I need a treat every now and then and a cuppa with a few biscuits is a must when the going gets tough at work.

I made a great chilli and froze a few portions, basically 5 types of beans, some sweetcorn, mushrooms, spinach and soy mince with a load of herbs, bbq sauce and chopped tomatoes. It froze well and I had some for lunches, some for dinner and it lasted ages. Great to have some portions in the freezer for when I run out of time to make work lunches.

I had my first vegan meal out at a nice restaurant, more on that here. We also went for a meal at a local pub The Swan, they have 2 clearly marked vegan options on the menu. I had vegan pesto linguine, it was lovely. Tom had steak and said it was overcooked, karma for you.

I made some vegan cakes, with a betty crocker mix and a can of cherry coke! Just mix the 2 together and bake. They were really good, nice and moist and chocolatey, they didn't raise quite so much so fill the cake cups a bit more.

Tom made a lovely vegan cottage pie one night in early November as his first attempt at making me something vegan, he ate it too with no meat/dairy added and it was really filling and nice. It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe, took about 1.5 - 2 hours in total. It would be nice for a Sunday dinner or if you are having people over, but it was maybe a little complex or time consuming for what we would usually have on a Tuesday night. He’s been very supportive and has been buying me stuff that’s vegan with the shopping, and been very patient about eating out and having takeaways. He’s still not convinced about nutritional yeast and vegan cheese though.

Next month is the start of the set menu Christmas meals out, so we will see how that goes. Some I am looking forward to, some have not been so helpful so we will see how they do. Also the big meal of the year, Christmas day. I'm looking into what to take round to peoples houses!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Fit Girl Gift Guide

Recently while I was washing up tupperware for the millionth time that week the thought crossed my mind 'would it be weird to ask someone for decent tupperware for Christmas?' Probably, but I would seriously love it as a present. This post started to formulate itself in my head, so here's a gift guide for the fitness obsessed girl in your life if you're looking for some inspiration :)

Gym wear. Leggings, vests and tee's. Hoodies, cycle wear, running gear, hiking gear. Socks, headbands or accessories if you aren't sure on sizes :) 
from here
from here
from here
from here
Vouchers - For a new type of class, bootcamp or experience. Or again for clothes, we can never have enough gym clothes.
Like this groupon for yoga classes
Food. We are obsessed with eating. A meal plan subscription, or a veg box delivery. Vouchers for a health food shop, or a website.

Kit - Depending on their activity of choice of course, yoga mat, wrist supports, knee supports, palm guards, chalk bag, reflective stuff for winter running, bike accessories, touchscreen gloves.
From here
from here
From here
From here

A sports massage, or spa day. Something to soothe those aching muscles and tired feet is always appreciated!

A shiny new gym bag. Who can resist? I prefer a backpack myself, but there are so many styles out there, and there are some really cute options.
From here
from here

Equipment - skipping rope, weights, kettlebell, pull up bar, resistance bands...what do they want to have for their home gym or kit bag?

Foam roller, or massage ball, or other rehab stuff. I don't know about you but I consistently have something aching. This small set might be perfect for someone short on space. Like me, if anyone has not got my Christmas present yet :)
From here

From here

Some other little funny gifts or stocking fillers...
Recipe books - Paleo, low fat, vegan (try this list from no meat athlete for ideas) healthy. 

Mini toiletries - Awesome for the gym bag, the little gift sets of shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, moisturiser. Buy cruelty free of course from places listed in this post :)

from Lush
Hair ties. Seriously, I can never have enough hair ties. nice quality ones that won't snag hair, or some of the invsibobble ones that don't leave a crease in your hair, maybe some headbands and dry shampoo.

Tupperware, or any food storage. Shakers, flasks, small plastic posts of snacks....ones that don't leak and won't break after 3 uses. Or like this set from Argos...look at all the sizes!!

Have a good Christmas! xx