At the beginning of August I watched the controversial documentary called “What the Health” and as many other people went vegan straight away. I didn’t even decide to go vegan, I just woke up the following morning and realised I couldn’t stomach any animal-derived foods. I ate a completely vegan diet for the following 2,5 months – which also pretty much coincided with my third trimester of pregnancy.
I got completely and utterly sucked into the vegan world and spent hours and hours reading about it, watching documentaries and vegan vloggers such as Sarah Lemkus, Bonny Rebecca and Niomi Smart (and yes – they’re all annoyingly pretty and happy). I really felt that the vegan diet is the best diet out there and was so excited to try different recipes and to learn everything there was to know about veganism. I actually thought that I will never go back to being a vegetarian/pescatarian – that’s how into it I was and how easy I found it to be. I can’t say I felt massively different eating a plant-based diet, but I did feel healthy, energetic and my skin was the best it had been in years. But then again, I’ve been vegetarian/pescatarian since I was 13, so I didn’t expect to feel that different.
I became a vegetarian in my early teens mainly because I found meat disgusting. I just saw muscles, ligaments and dead tissue on my plate instead of chicken, meat or fish. Over the years I’ve gone on and off fish and egg, but I have never been completely ok with eating either of these things and always tried to not think of what I’m eating and eating it just because I thought it was healthy. Over the years my motivation for not consuming meat has also come to include the environmental aspect as well as the desire not to be the cause of animal suffering.
For a long time I thought dairy was ok, that there was no connection between animal suffering and eating dairy. But the fact is that dairy cows are treated terribly and impregnated repeatedly – and having gone through two pregnancies and breastfeeding for years I know what a toll it takes on the body! After they’ve given birth the calf is taken away from the mother and then they exist in a small space being milked continuously only to provide us with milk. (Obviously there are also dairy cows that are treated better than this.) I feel like a hypocrite writing all this as I am currently eating dairy – but then again changing lifelong habits and beliefs can take a long time.
I need to point out here that I didn’t call myself vegan as that entails so much more than only eating a plant-based diet. According to the Vegan Society “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” It’s a lifestyle, not a diet. And I do have leather shoes, my makeup isn’t all vegan and I go to the zoo, just to name a few things that wouldn’t fit into this lifestyle.
I enjoyed eating a vegan diet and felt so healthy. I actually think it’s the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life – even though I normally eat a pretty healthy diet anyway with lots of fruit and vegetables. It wasn’t just about being healthy though, but also about doing my bit for the planet and not wanting animals to suffer because of me. Even though I’m now back on a vegetarian diet (I’ve stopped eating fish – not that I ate much fish before it either) I fully believe in the goodness of a vegan diet and hope that I can cut down more on the dairy I’m consuming now once Maya is a bit older and I feel a bit more in control (and have a bit more time!). I will slowly try and work towards a more vegan existence – but not sure I will ever be on a 100% plant-based diet.
So why did I stop eating vegan? I think it was just a matter of being tired (I was almost ready to pop to be fair) and not having the energy to cook separate meals for us (although Matthew did eat a lot of vegan food too) and being sick of Matthew complaining as well…Plus I guess the effect of watching the documentary had faded and the motivation dropped. I just couldn’t be bothered planning all my meals so well and having to ask “is this vegan?” when eating out and feeling a bit like a pretentious hipster because of it. And I failed to make a vegan pizza that I could really enjoy!
There are so many reasons to go vegan, and it’s increasingly easy to do so with more and more people realising we can’t continue eating the way we do; the planet can’t take it, our bodies can’t stomach it and the animals don’t deserve to be treated the way they do. There are more and more vegan foods in supermarkets, more vegan options in restaurants and cafes and people are generally more educated about the perks of eating a plant-based diet. Many people think you can’t get enough proteins, calcium, iron etc. on a vegan diet, but that is simply not true. It just takes a bit of commitment. This blog post is becoming a lot longer than I intended it to be, so won’t go into the whole nutrition side of things, but there is so much information online if you’re interested!
During my 2,5 months of being vegan I took photos of what I was eating so that I could show you guys too. And because I’m sure a lot of people are curious about what you can eat on a vegan diet. So scroll down to see some of my vegan meals!
The first photo is of butternut squash gnocchi, hazelnut pesto and roasted fennel. Really tasty! Find the recipe here.
My breakfast usually consists of porridge made with oat or almond milk and different seeds, fruit or berries and in this case also almond butter. Love almond butter but it’s just so damn expensive!
I made this raw vegan curry last night with spiralized zucchini and a cashew curry sauce and was surprised by how nice it was! Although I added rice noodles so it wasn’t raw after all. But highly recommend it!
Tofu with soba noodles in brown miso broth and bok choi.
This chickpea, aubergine and peanut curry is something we’ve had so many times and that is really hearty and filling.
Pearl barley and vegetable risotto topped with vegan parmesan and pine nuts.
Peppers stuffed with amaranth (similar to quinoa but even more nutritious), broccoli, homemade hummus (I ate a lot of hummus!) and homemade sauerkraut.
Fried tofu and pineapple with broccoli and brown rice – so simple and easy. It needed a sauce of some sort though.
Finnish pea soup with Finnish mustard and broccoli and hummus bread on the side.
Roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup topped with sunflower seeds and more hummus and bread on the side.
Stirfry with tofu, kale, pepper, zucchini and rice noodles.
Pizza with roasted aubergine, pine nuts, olives, pepper and vegan cheese and parmesan. I have to say that vegan cheese is not my favourite and still haven’t tasted one that I like. If anyone there knows of a good one let me know!
Vegan spaghetti bolognese made with soya mince and chick peas and topped with nutritional yeast and olives. Matthew’s prawn pasta is obviously not vegan!
A lunch made with what was left in the fridge: hummus, carrot sticks and a zucchini and pepper stirfry topped with nutritional yeast and pumpkin seeds.
Red lentil soup with carrots, sweet potato and kidney beans.
Vegan lasagna. The “cheese sauce” was made with soft tofu.
Vegetable risotto with sauerkraut, homegrown alfalfa sprouts, beetroot and leftover falafels.
Another dinner made from what was left in the fridge; tofu, potatoes, sweet potatoes, hummus, sauerkraut and tomatoes.
I make smoothies several times a week and just use whatever I can find really. At the moment my go to recipes contains avocado, kiwi, apple, spinach and frozen blueberries. I have used different powders such as hemp protein and spirulina but find they ruin the taste so prefer to just do fruits.
I ate a lot more nuts and roasted my own almonds regularly too.
I grew sprouts regularly – actually just started another batch as they’re just so nice. See how to grow spouts here.
Being pregnant I was really careful I got all the nutrients I needed, and calcium was one of them. I had no idea blackstrap molasses (byproduct of sugar cane’s refining process) contains a lot of calcium and minerals – so this became a dessert for me during my vegan diet.
Being on a vegan diet doesn’t mean you’re not allowed your sweet treats – in fact it is pretty easy to bake vegan and find vegan sweets in the shops. Here are 44 accidentally vegan sweets in the UK.
Last but not least I want to make clear that I don’t look down on people who eat meat and that I know veganism isn’t for everyone – I even live with a huge carnivore called Matthew! These are just my beliefs and choices and I’m sure many who read this will think that my meals look unappetising and boring, which is totally fine! 🙂
x Nina x