I stopped eating meat after a road trip across the USA nearly 10 years ago. I had been eating fast food for 3 months on the road and felt like the trash I had been consuming. I flew to Australia from LA and as soon as the plane landed, I made a decision to consciously cut meat out from my diet. I continued to eat fish and dairy, before too long, the thought of meat never really entered my mind, I was over it.
However, my diet still wasn’t great. I was eating a lot of processed foods still and under some kind of illusion that I was being healthy because I was veggie. Like most women, I went on crash diets; low GI, low fat, low carb, no sugar, no dairy, you name it, I tried it. I would lose weight and then one random evening I would of course have a few wines and everything would be out the window. Diets for me do not work. I love food and eating too much. When I was on such diets I would consistently be craving whatever I couldn’t have, a slave to carbs, cheese, butter and chocolate-denying myself of the things I loved just never worked for me. For this reason, veganism was always out of the question. I couldn’t give up cheese, no way.
All the while I had a very bad relationship with food. It was a love-hate rollercoaster of guilt and cravings. My weight fluctuates very easily so if I cut out the crap for a week, I could lose the residual few pounds which made me uncomfortable. But then of course, the weight would just pile back on as soon as the diet was done. Back came the feelings of disappointment in myself about not being able to control my diet and live healthily, self confidence plummeted every time I fell off the wagon of healthy eating. I knew I would have a better chance at self appreciation if I treated my body with respect. An Ayurvedic doctor, a reflexologist and all the voices of reason in my head also relayed this to me.
Early this year everything changed. I had always said to myself ‘oh one day I’ll be healthy and dedicated’, of course putting that off at every opportunity I was given. Having gone through numerous ups and downs (a lot of downs) in my 20s, my vision for my 30s had to shift. So one day I had to just put theory into practice. I cut out all animal products (save the occasional bit of honey) and completely re-hauled my diet. As well as going completely plant based, I shifted to whole foods for about 80% of my food intake. This really opened up a whole world to me in regard to cooking; lentils, beans, chickpeas, bulgar, couscous, quinoa, rice, oats, every vegetable under the sun, herbs, spices, fruits, nut milks the list goes on. There was always something new to try making for dinner; eating out for dinner on the other hand is a whole different story for a different time…
I still get asked about the cheese regularly. If anyone was going to give up cheese, it wasn’t me. I loved cheese-all of it. My inventory of ‘favourite’ cheeses is a list as long as my arm and I would have it whenever possible-which in hindsight could have been a huge factor in those last few pounds which would never shift. Once I changed my diet, because I had introduced so many new foods which I wouldn’t have regularly eaten, I didn’t miss cheese. I kind of forgot about it (even I can’t believe I just typed that). But honestly, I was so excited by all of these new food combos that I didn’t feel like I was missing out. For that reason I never really had any cravings for it, because I would just eat something different but just as tasty. Im no vegan martyr all the same-when I was in Provence last month I indulged in some local Comte and enjoyed it and much to my surprise, I could put it down once the holiday was over and be ok with it. My tastes have changed and the things I used to crave when on fad diets don’t really call out to me anymore. I am so satisfied with my diet that I never desperately want to eat crap to fill the hole of hunger left in the pit of my stomach.
Vegan comfort food-pasta, veg and vegan cheese
Within about 3-4 weeks of going vegan, all of the excess fat on my body just fell away. My diet now consisted of a very low amount of foods high in saturated fat (meat, dairy, even fish). I probably eat more food now than I ever had and I never deny myself if I want more. I eat carbs everyday and still have chocolate when I want some. I have never felt stronger, fitter and more comfortable in my own body than I do now. With the exception of B12, I get all nutrients from my food (and before you ask, protein is present in all whole foods-where do you think cows, bulls, sheep etc get their protein? They are all vegan).
Breakfast of champs
For me, this has changed my whole relationship with food, which is crazy because I never thought I could embrace this lifestyle and not have cravings. I have more respect for the food I eat now and I don’t eat emotionally anymore. I eat when I’m hungry and really enjoy my meals, feeling fully nourished afterwards. My reasons for making this choice aren’t one-dimensional and I could probably write another article just on my personal decisions, so I’ll leave that for another day….