Veganuary for me?

It was back in 2016 that I considered following a  plant-based diet. Somewhat strangely, it came about through my daughter’s piano teacher who whilst tutoring, saw a stack of plant-based milks in our kitchen (I had moved away from dairy). She was very enthusiastic to see my non-dairy milks and encouraged me to try introducing  plant-based meals.   I began with a chocolate brownie recipe from Deliciously Ella where the main ingredient was avocado - of all things.  Once I had made the brownies, I could not believe what I had tasted!  The taste, texture and wholesome goodness made such an impression on me that I promised to integrate a more vegan eating habit into my daily routine.

Fast forward to January 2019 and I now follow a plant-based diet 90% of the time (yes, I still crave fish and salmon in particular).  I am not 100% vegan yet but there is a lot of encouragement to become one. Veganuary is now more popular than it has ever been and in 2019 it is expected that participants in the campaign run by the vegan society will reach 300,000 an increase of 131,500 people in one year. Pretty amazing considering that only 5 years ago following a vegan/plant-based diet was only for a niche market of the population. 

So, what is all the fuss about with plant based / vegan diets? Well, speaking from my own experience and hearing from clients and friends, the general consensus is how good it makes people feel.  Reported advantages included weight loss, higher energy levels, and improved taste buds - who would have thought the benefits would be so great!

As time has moved on, I think that following a plant based diet is fantastic. As a Fitness Professional, when asked about my diet I am often  confronted with is people saying “you need to eat meat, so that you get your protein source.”   This is something that I also  believed until I found out that it is  far from the truth.  Foods such as tofu, lentils, chickpeas and hempseeds are just some of foods which are a good replacement for meat.  These can be all be topped up by adding some great tasting vegan protein powders to your smoothies.  My personal favourite is Sun Warrior Blend. 

The most noticeable benefits for me have been  higher energy levels, no high or lows in my appetite and reduced cravings - which is a huge change for me, because I used to have the biggest sweet tooth! One of the advantages I cannot emphasise enough is the way I began to taste food the way it’s meant to be.  I remember the first time I came off track with my foods, and headed straight for a chocolate bar to give me energy.  Once finished, I realised how tasteless it now was and how unsatisfied I felt.  It suddenly dawned on me how much I now enjoyed the plant based approach.

What is it that has helped with the popularity of veganism and plant-based food in the UK?  Personally I think the increase of vegan café’s and restaurants across London as well as the likes of Wicked and Naturli bringing their brand into mainstream supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury. This all easily allows people to grab food on the go and has been one of the biggest contributors to the popularity.

My final thought is this.  If you are curious about trying a plant-based or vegan approach my advice is to give it go. Start small and progress.  There are some great apps out there, one of my favourites is the Deliciously Ella app, or Happycow.  Or try one of the many restaurants which are around London, some of my favourites are Eat of Eden (Brixton), CookDaily (London Fields)  Mildred’s (Covent Garden) or M Raw (London).

Let me know what your experience of becoming plant-based or vegan has been?