food

2 Years as a Veggie

The first week of May marks two years since I decided to change my diet from omnivore to vegetarian. Two years since I watched the Cowspiracy documentary and decided that I no longer wanted my diet to play a part in the destruction of our planet. Two years of learning how to maneuver through restaurants and parties for something plant-based. Two years of learning that sometimes there was nothing for me on the menu and that I would just have to wait to eat something when I got home. Two years of committing myself to something and never once going back on it.

I do not eat meat of any kind and YES this includes fish. I can’t tell you how many times people ask me “well what about fish?” when I tell them that I do not eat meat. Yes, of course there are some people who do not eat chicken, beef, pork, etc. but do continue to eat fish, especially when out at restaurants. I just hate fish. Always have. Plus, fish is not a victimless food. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, overfishing endangers ocean ecosystems and the billions of people who rely on seafood as a key source of protein. Without sustainable management, our fisheries face collapse – and we face a food crisis.

A lot of people like to claim that they eat meat because eating plant-based is just too expensive. This can be true, but really only if you are spending on imitation products such as Tofurkey. These are very expensive, but are also not that good for you. Besides, now that I don’t eat meat, I don’t miss it enough to spend my money on something meant to imitate the texture. Canned beans, rice, and frozen fruits/vegetables make up 95% of my diet and are accessible at every grocery store and are extremely inexpensive.

I am the only vegetarian in my family. I know a lot of people who cite this as as a reason it would be hard to go veggie, and yes it would be if your heart was not in it. Decide why you are doing it: to lessen your environmental impact (mine), for the welfare of animals (has now become mine as well now that I’m veggie) or maybe you need to make a health change.  In the beginning you may be jealous about the chicken your parents and sister are eating and ask “well why can’t I have some too? What difference does it make?” It actually makes a big difference. For one thing, you are proving that the mission is important to you and what’s that saying again? “What difference can one person make? – Asks 7 billion people”.

Two years on, I plan to be vegetarian for the rest of my life. There are statistics out there that say something like 95% of vegetarians go back to eating meat at some point in their life. I do not plan on ever eating meat again and am thankful to live in a time when different diets can be more easily catered to (both at home and at restaurants) as I think that will help my goal a lot.

The benefits are vegetarianism are endless: good for the planet, good for your wallet, and good for your health. If you are interested in vegetarianism then I highly suggest the following documentaries: Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Vegeducated (PSA: none of these films contain disturbing or graphic images of animal slaughter so if that particularly affects you, watch with no fear!)

14 Days as a Vegan

Two weeks ago I decided to try a vegan lifestyle. I have been a vegetarian for ten months and I do not drink dairy. BUT I eat eggs, butter, and cheese. I have wondered for a while if I would have the willpower to commit to not eating any animal products. I knew that I could probably give up eggs and there are plenty of butter substitutes, but CHEESE I knew would be the absolute hardest.

I am proud to say that I went a full 14 days without consuming any animal products. It was actually a lot easier (when I was at home) than I thought it would be. I didn’t miss cheese that much and most of my food staples (spinach, rice, chickpeas, garlic, pasta, etc.) were already completely plant-based anyway. I really recognized the difficulty of a vegan lifestyle while I was out though. For example, I went to Starbucks with two friends for some almond lattes and we ended up staying and chatting for almost three hours. Towards the end, I was properly hungry but soon realized that next to nothing on the Starbucks food menu was vegan. There were plenty of vegetarian options but they all had either cheese or eggs listed as ingredients. I know that it doesn’t sound like much of anything, but when your hands are shaky and you feel slightly faint (which sometimes happens to me if I go without eating for a while), it became a big deal. Little instances like that, things you do not plan for, are what make being vegan hard for me. Plus all I wanted was a croissant.

What I have taken away from the experience is this: I have MAJOR respect for people who live a vegan lifestyle 24/7. It is something that I think I would ultimately like to work towards, and with the acceptance and science promoting a plant-based lifestyle increasing, I think more brands and restaurants are going to make it easier for me to be able to. I also want to try being vegan at home and vegetarian while I am out. I eat at home probably 85% of the time, so this will really help me curb my environmental impact (my reason for going vegetarian and a big reason why I want to go vegan). But when I am out, I think I am going to let the standards slip a bit. Because sometimes you just need that ice-cream or bowl of raviolis and that is okay.

Almond Milk Lovers Rejoice – Starbucks Is Now Offering It in the UK!

 

There are a lot of reasons why people do not drink dairy – allergies, dietary restrictions, or they just plain do not like it. As someone who is trying to get away from eating dairy completely, almond milk has been a lifesaver. I will drink soy milk when I am out and about (it is usually the only non-dairy option), but due to conflicting reports about soy’s affect on hormones, I only drink it if it is the ONLY plant-based option available. Almond milk is all I drink at home and is my favorite thing to add to my daily coffee(s).

Starbucks began offering almond milk in the U.S. back in September and I was able to try it out when I went home for Christmas. I much preferred it to both the soy and coconut milks already offered at the chains. Starbucks has said that it is using an almond milk made specially to compliment their drinks and I found it to be quite good. I have been patiently awaiting the day it would come to the U.K.! How excited was I to finally see this tweet from the official Starbucks UK account last week!