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Recently I’ve had an interest in understanding more about vegan food; why people decide to be vegan, and why being vegan can be better for us. I have always been quite fussy about what veg I eat, often picking the vegetables out of the meals on my plate. But at the moment I have decided to eat more vegan food and learn more about the vegan diet and see if it helps me manage my chronic pain.
Now I’m not saying that it will take away my pain – I’ve realised by now that nothing will do that. What I do hope is that this increase in vegan foods within my diet means that I am getting a lot more nutritious food, and this will lead to me feeling more energised, focussed, less fatigued, and means that I can manage my pain much better.
If you’ve read my blog post about how I manage tiredness on top of my chronic pain, you’ll know that I struggle with this. Thinking about the food (fuel) that I eat is a good way to make things easier for myself. And choosing vegan food is a sensible starting point.
What is the vegan diet?
The vegan diet contains plant-based food only. Things such as fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and grains. Vegans do not eat anything that comes from animals – which is basically anything that contains meat and dairy.
The vegan diet is currently quite trendy. It’s the buzz word on a lot of Instagram profiles and marketing campaigns at the moment. References to being vegan and vegan food have also featured on a lot of the podcasts I’m currently listening to; I think a lot of this is linked to Veganuary.
The power of the subconscious mind is pretty amazing, as what I’ve been listening to and reading has slowly creeped in to my way of thinking and I’ve somehow got on the bandwagon and have wanted to learn more and give it a try.
What are the benefits of vegan food?
It’s a simple way of getting more nutritious food in my diet
I want to eat healthier. I don’t really want to say I’m on a diet, because for me, that makes it restrictive and I get too competitive with myself. I’m trying to watch the amount of calories I eat, because like most people, I would like to lose a little bit of weight.
I have decided that overall I will just eat better, eat less processed foods, and make sure I move more to burn some extra calories. Everyone is different, so what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. And eating more fruit and veg, nuts, seeds and grains, means that I am getting a lot more of the good stuff and both my body and mind will benefit.
I’m doing some good for the environment
Through the numerous podcasts I’ve recently listened to, including Ben Coomber Radio and Deliciously Ella, I’ve learnt that the vegan diet is much better for the environment. I could never really understand this concept, but now it makes complete sense.
I’ve learnt that meat production is not environmentally friendly. The impact it is having on the environment is incredible and is one of the biggest causes of climate change. Choosing to have more vegan food has a much greater impact on the environment than cutting down our use of plastics or using an electric car!
I’m feeling healthier and more energised
I’m getting more of the good stuff in my diet; things such as plant protein, more nutrients and fibre. This will have huge benefits on my health and energy levels. Fad diets can often mean cutting out a certain food type, such as carbohydrates, but this is not sustainable long-term and often makes you feel tired.
Eating the right things to benefit your own health is one of the best investments you can do.
I’m trying smoothies instead of chocolate bars and sweets, muesli instead of processed cereals, and plant-based milks instead of dairy milk. I will never cut out chocolate, sweets, or cereals completely as I enjoy them too much, but my way of thinking is much more 80/20 – 80% of my diet is the good stuff, and 20% is the not-so-good stuff. And this can only be a good thing in the way I feel and the impacts it is having on my body and long-term health.
Eating more filling, plant based foods means I am having more protein and fibre, and feeling fuller for longer. This is another simple way of cutting out the puddings, desserts and sweet treats and lowering my calorie intake.
I’m trying new foods and drinks I’ve never tried before
It’s much easier to stick to a healthy diet when it contains a variety of different foods. If we ate the same thing all the time it wouldn’t be sustainable. A healthy diet and lifestyle needs to be enjoyed, and trying – and hopefully liking – new foods is a good way to keep it interesting and easier to stick to.
What new vegan food have I tried?
Vegetable pakora is an Indian snack, often found in the starter section of a takeaway menu. It’s a mixture of one or two different vegetables mixed with spices, coated in a batter (often made with gram flour) and then deep-fried. I served mine warm with a salad and homemade humous.
I first came across this on Instagram. It’s a milk made from oats. It’s apparently very delicious in coffee, but I need to master this as when I tried it, it split, and looked and tasted horrible. From doing a little more research about using plant-based milks in coffee, apparently you need to heat the milk slightly first. Oatly is delicious on it’s own though; very smooth and tasty and I found it slightly addictive.
I bought the unsweetened version of this, but should have chosen the sweetened version. It definitely tasted of cashew nuts, but I much preferred Oatly.
I borrowed Deliciously Ella’s book from my local library to give me some inspiration in my meal planning. I was hoping to have made it by the time this post went live, but my plans changed and I never got chance make it. But it’s on next weeks meal plan and I’m looking forward to making and trying it.
Sweet potato and courgette stew
This looked delicious when I saw it on Instagram. The recipe is also by Deliciously Ella and is in the same recipe book above. I decided to give it a go and it did not disappoint. It’s so tasty and creamy and sweet.
Ultimately, I’ve chosen to include more vegan food because it is a simple way of making sure I get more plant-based food in my diet, which will hopefully make me feel better and more energised, and means I can manage my chronic pain much better. I will still be eating meat, but basing some of my weekly meals on the vegan diet means I get the good stuff in and can add a portion of meat or fish if I so wish.
I also want to help save our wonderful planet – these small changes can make a difference. And I am getting to try new foods and recipes.
Everyone has their own thoughts and reasons for choosing to eat more vegan food or taking that leap of being a full-time vegan (even my physio has gone vegan). I’m trying to eat more vegan food to do my bit – for me, my health, and the environment.
Can you add at least one vegan meal in to your week?
What small change can you do to help the planet?
Are you vegan? Does it give you more energy?
She your thoughts in the comments below.
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