Veganism Revisited: A New Vegan Challenge!

Veganism

As I mentioned over on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve decided to revisit veganism. Last week I signed up for the thirty day Vegan pledge with the Vegan Society.

Over the last few months I have spent some time learning more about the values of veganism. It is something I want to explore again, having already completed a vegan challenge back in August 2015. In fact, that initial vegan series was the very first I published when I started The Clean Coconut!

Back then, despite how much I wanted to be, I wasn’t completely sold on veganism. I didn’t feel entirely sustained on the diet and whilst I certainly reduced my consumption of animal products from then on, I didn’t completely eliminate them.

Veganism

Over the last few months I have been eating a more plant based diet than ever. I have found that eating this way really suits me and fits well with my values. I have also realised that when I initially undertook the vegan challenge I probably wasn’t eating enough calories. I was following the Beyoncé diet and even though I never felt hungry during that initial vegan week, I don’t think my body was getting the energy I needed on what was an 80% carbohydrate, 10% protein and 10% fat calorie split. The plan was quite low calorie, and even though I often doubled portion sizes and added in extra snacks, I still lost weight over the course of the week. Clearly I can afford to fill up even more on a plant based diet in order to feel truly energised and sustained!


Veganism

At the time I blamed a lack of supplementation for the weakness I felt by the end of that initial vegan week, however I now realise it was also due to the low calorie diet. I have completed many more vegan weeks since then, particularly in recent months, and I have not experienced those same feelings. I have eaten abundantly, without following any particular “plan”. I have learned that veganism can make for a nourishing and satisfying diet.

Veganism

When I look back on what I dubbed the “improvable” aspects of the vegan diet I followed in 2015, I can see how many of them have in fact now been improved upon. When I first took on that week long vegan challenge I was living in Belfast. There were absolutely no vegan restaurants there at the time. Now, in 2017, I can name at least four restaurants which cater specifically (and three exclusively) for a vegan diet. I can also name countless other restaurants which have extensive vegan menus available. Thankfully there has been a huge upsurge in people seeking to follow a plant-based diet and the market has finally begun to cater for them.

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In 2015 I also felt that there weren’t many vegan alternatives to convenience foods but this is certainly not the case now. I can think of plenty of brands offering vegan alternatives! There are also tonnes of “accidentally” vegan foods ranging from the clean eating variety to the not-so-clean-eating types (hello Oreos, Skittles and Jelly Tots!) . When I first tried a vegan diet I had to go to specialised health food shops to get alternatives like vegan cheese but these are now readily available in the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s. I can even think of three local Belfast pizzerias that offer a vegan cheese alternative on their restaurant and take away menus. These vegan options are only going to continue to grow as demand increases.

Veganism

Until now, I don’t think I’ve ever spent longer than seven consecutive days on a vegan diet at any one time. Currently I’ve been eating a vegan diet for 14 days and have committed to sticking to it throughout the thirty day pledge I’ve made with the Vegan Society (and hopefully beyond that!). I took the pledge seven days ago. I hope to share my experience with you through various blogs, reviews, and food diaries over the next thirty days.

Veganism

Of course veganism is about much more than just a plant-based diet. It is about living a life that does not contribute to animal cruelty or exploitation in any way – including via the products we use, the entertainment we choose and the clothes we wear. It can seem overwhelming but even small changes can help to create a more sustainable planet and healthier environment for ourselves and for future generations. Revisiting veganism for the next thirty days certainly can’t do any harm!

The Clean Coconut x

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My Vegan Challenge: Was it FLAWLESS?

This is the final post from My Vegan Challenge. To read from the beginning of the week-long challenge click here

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Welcome to the final instalment of My Vegan Challenge. A solid seven days as a gluten-free vegan has allowed me to experience a snapshot of what it would be like to live an entirely plant-based lifestyle…

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The Good Great:

1.  Throughout the week I experienced what I can only describe as a feeling of  lightness.

2. My nails got REALLY strong out of nowhere.

3. I lost body fat. Without counting any calories or going hungry.

4. I saved some animals. Statistically, every vegan saves 198 animals from slaughter every year, which equates to almost four animals per week.

5. I helped the environment. The carbon footprint of a vegan is less than half that of the typical meat eater.

6. I cooked and tasted lots of new things.

7. I ate lots of fresh food and wasted nothing as it was often the perishable items in my cupboards/fridge that I was relying on for the bulk of my meals.

8. I enjoyed the experience of the vegan lifestyle.

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The Bad Improvable:

1. Supplementation is essential. B12 is totally lacking in the vegan diet. Calcium and iron are also limited. Ensuring I was getting adequate protein took extra effort.

2. Dining out is difficult. Even in a city like Belfast, where I was based throughout my challenge, the vegan options are quite limited. Certain niche and ‘healthy’ restaurants serve more palatable vegan options. These venues are few and far between. Outside of cities, vegan options are still quite rare in typical Irish restaurants. I only dined out for dinner on the final day of the plan.

3. Recovery from exercise took longer.

4. Vegan cooking can be quite time consuming. I had to plan ahead and make sure I had all the necessary ingredients to hand.

5. There is little-to-no healthy vegan (and gluten-free) ‘convenience’ food in typical Irish shops. If, on the odd occasion, you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have time and you’re not based in a city, you may not be able to source a nice, quick, vegan dinner.

6. It takes a lot of effort and discipline to consistently maintain a vegan lifestyle in a healthy, balanced way because it is such a restricted diet. Lets be honest, sometimes you just want to have a bar of chocolate a bag of jelly babies. Of course if more vegan options were available it would be a lot easier.

7. When eating as a vegan, it can be difficult to get the balance of macro nutrients to fit a high protein, low carb diet. The particular plan I followed (22 Days Revolution) was high in unrefined carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. When lifting weights, higher protein levels are recommended in order to aid recovery and muscle growth. I added in extra protein sources when I could.

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Final Thoughts:

Since finishing My Vegan Challenge I have remained about 70% vegan. Most of the times I have eaten meat, dairy or eggs have been when out for dinner in restaurants which lacked a vegan option, or when I was a dinner guest at someone’s house. I have cooked meat (chicken) once since completing the challenge two and a half weeks ago.

Below are just some of the vegan dishes I have had since finishing the challenge.

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More sushi – I love this!

 

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Vegan toast with chickpea spread. This bread is also gluten and yeast free

 

Wholegrain brown rice pasta with marinara sauce
Wholegrain brown rice pasta with marinara sauce

 

Gluten and yeast free Vegan toast with almond butter, banana and blueberries
Gluten and yeast free vegan toast with almond butter, banana and blueberries

 

Avoca Salad – not totally vegan as it did contain some feta – again eating out is not always easy as a vegan! It was gluten free though.
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Carrot and Ginger Juice

 

Acai Smoothie
Acai Smoothie

 

Vegan Risotto
Garden Pea Risotto

 

Vegan Pancakes
Buckwheat and Hemp Pancakes

As you have hopefully seen over the course of the week and from my diet since, vegan eating is anything but boring. There is so much variety and so many flavours to what you can create. I didn’t stop the diet because I wasn’t enjoying the food – I loved the food.

I didn’t supplement enough in terms of B12 and iron and I definitely felt the result of that in the last two days of the challenge. This was ultimately what made me finish the challenge on day eight. Anyone taking on this diet should definitely plan ahead to ensure all their nutritional needs will be met.

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Spirulina Shots

I also wanted to be able to enjoy a meal out in a really nice restaurant I was going to the night after I finished the plan. I didn’t want to be restricted. It can be hard to really treat yourself on a vegan plan because it is not adequatly catered for in most restaurants and shops and because it takes a lot of forethought, planning and effort. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t wake up the day after the challenge ended and reach for eggs and bacon, on the contrary I have been far more conscious of all dietary choices made since. Still, it is nice the odd time to be able to mindlessly indulge after a period of really clean-eating.

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Whilst I’m not ready to be a full-time vegan forever more, I am definitely incorporating a lot more plant-based eating into my diet. Before I took on the vegan challenge I very rarely ate eggs or dairy anyway, so the main thing I was ‘giving up’ was meat. I’m delighted to have gone from eating meat twice a day to eating it maybe three or four times a week now.

I’m a firm believer that the best way to make a dietary change is to set aside a week, plan ahead and try it out, then reevaluate. This is actually how I initially went gluten-free and at the time it seemed impossible but now it is totally second nature. I took that approach with this vegan diet, an entirely new way of eating, just for a week. As I suspected it has impacted the way I eat in a positive way. I feel like I’m another step closer to a cleaner diet, both for myself and the planet.

The Clean Coconut x

P.S. I know lots of you have been asking if I will be posting recipes and the answer is yes! Honestly, I’m the kind of cook who adds a ‘handful of this’ and a ‘dash of that’, so it will take some discipline for me to start measuring out my favourite recipes but I will get on it asap 🙂 

You can now find some vegan recipes by clicking here.

Also check out my guide to going gluten-free here.

P.P.S. If you haven’t watched Earthlings yet – DO IT! You can find it on Youtube by clicking here.

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My Vegan Challenge: Day Seven

(To catch up on days 1-6 of My Vegan Challenge, begin by clicking here.)

Reaching day seven marks the conclusion of My Vegan Challenge

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According to the 22 Days Nutrition plan I was supposed to have a green smoothie for breakfast today. I tend to reserve green smoothies for Monday-Friday. It was a Saturday so I felt like having something that was a little bit closer to comfort-food. I put together my own chocolate protein smoothie (… and I made the green smoothie the following Monday!).

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This smoothie included lots of plant-based, superfood ingredients such as raw cacao powder, maca and lucuma (available in most health food shops, I used the Irish brand Nua Naturals). It also included chia seeds, banana and vegan chocolate protein powder (Sunwarrior). It was really yummy and much more appealing to me at the time than a green smoothie. This was a late breakfast and I drank two glasses of the smoothie so it kept me full through lunch.

Dinner today was vegetable curry. I was out for the day and didn’t really have time to cook so I popped into St. George’s Market in Belfast where I knew the vegan stall Fin McVeg had lots of delicious food. I picked up a vegan and gluten-free vegetable curry which was really tasty. Better than the typical Saturday night Chinese take-away and far ‘cleaner’.

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I may have also stopped by the vegan bakery at St. George’s Market… Check Out My Buns is also gluten-free and their vegan cakes, buns and biscuits are all amazingly good! This stall sells out quick!

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I picked up a delicious gluten-free vegan brownie for dessert… Like I said, it was Saturday… 🙂

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I have really enjoyed the vegan eating this week. When I started, I wasn’t sure if I would last more than a couple of days, but I’ve now completed seven days straight as a vegan. I’ve learned a lot from the experience. For me, living the vegan lifestyle, without any eggs, dairy, meat or fish (or gluten!) has had its pros and cons.  I will go into these in more detail in my final post.

Find my final post on My Vegan Challenge here.

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My Vegan Challenge: Day Six

(To catch up on My Vegan Challenge days 1-5, begin by clicking here.)

Welcome to day 6 of my vegan week.

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Today started with a lovely breakfast of quinoa ‘porridge’. I love quinoa but I had never had it like this – I always use it in salads. This was a little different but was a nice alternative to porridge oats. It took about twenty minutes or so to cook so while it was simmering I started my day with a glass of home-brewed Kombucha. Kombucha is a probiotic fermented and effervescent tea which is served cold. I love it. Kombucha is not part of the ’22 day revolution’ plan, I’ve been making it for a number of months now and I drink it regularly. IMG_5146

I was free to decorate my quinoa ‘porridge’ with whatever plant-based toppings I wanted. To create this rainbow of yumminess on top, I used desiccated coconut, sliced banana, goji berries, bee pollen, raw cacao nibs and frozen blueberries. This was so filling and really tasty.

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Breakfast kept me full for a good few hours as there was so much in it. Lunch was vegan sushi. I had never had sushi before nor had I any idea how to roll it correctly – the instructions were not very clear! So I ended up on youtube watching tutorials to figure out how to make it correctly. Finally I knew what the purpose of that sushi mat was!

IMG_5165There are different ways to roll the sushi but the instructions I followed had the rice on the outside of the roll, as above. This was definitely tricky to construct and you need a really sharp knife to slice through the nori without the whole thing falling apart. Inside the roll was raw cauliflower and broccoli, cashews and vegan mayonnaise, all rolled up in a sheet of nori. The rice was brown short-grain.

IMG_5166My first attempt at sushi rolls…clearly I did not eat these with chopsticks… but they looked nice for the picture 🙂

The rolls were sprinkled with sesame seeds to decorate. I had also purchased some umeboshi paste in the health food shop and I used a drop of this on top of each roll as seasoning.

These sushi rolls were my absolute favourite meal of the week – I loved them and I’ve already made them again since! The umeboshi paste has the most amazing flavour too. Big thumbs up for sushi rolls!

Dinner on day 6 was baked aubergine with pico de gallo. This was really nice and the pico de gallo was so flavourful.

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By day six I’ve been starting to experience freezing cold hands and feet. This is most likely due to a lack of iron and B12. I hadn’t taken an iron supplement over the week and I probably should have. Even though there is iron present in many of the green leafy vegetables I’ve been eating, plant-based iron sources are less absorbable by the body.

Despite taking a B vitamin complex throughout the week (when I remembered!) I am prone to low B12. I usually take injections every few months to keep my level of B12 up but haven’t had access to them for a while as I’m not at home. B12 is only found in dairy, eggs, meat and fish (unless fortified in things like cereals – most of which are not gluten free!). As such, I have cut out all dietary sources of b12 as is neccesary on the vegan plan and supplementation is essential.

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Its Friday night and my friend came to visit tonight bringing me these lovely vegan popcorn treats and a lovely bottle of vegan merlot which we opened and drank together. 

Day six as a vegan complete 🙂

P.S. Mark’s and Spencer’s have a great range of vegan wines – pretty much all of their wines are vegan. Fining agents used in wine filtration can include eggs, milk, blood and bone marrow (Bull’s blood is no longer allowed in the U.S. or Europe since the outbreak of BSE), chitin (fibre from crustacean shells), fish oil, gelatine (a protein made from boiled animal parts) and isinglass (gelatine from fish bladder membranes). Unfortunately the only items that must be listed on the bottle under EU law are allergens, so you will often see eggs, milk and sulphites on the label. Check the back of the bottle to see whether the wine you are purchasing is suitable for vegans or vegetarians.

Find day seven of My Vegan Challenge here.

My Vegan Challenge: Day Five

(To catch up on days 1-4 of My Vegan Challenge, begin by clicking here.)

Welcome to day five as a vegan.

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This is also my fourth day following Beyonce’s vegan diet from the book “22 Days Revolution”.

Breakfast on day five of my vegan week was the other half of my chia pudding. Today I topped it with pecans, blueberries, bee pollen, goji berries and raw cacao nibs. Again I had the additional vegan chocolate protein powder. Absolutely loved this breakfast <3 Also, everything tastes better from a jar – FACT. 

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I was really excited about today’s lunch. Pizza! I love pizza. Its probably my favourite guilty pleasure – proper wood-fired italian pizza. So I was dying to see what this healthy vegan alternative would be like.

Whilst prepping the pizza I snacked on some olives which I had left over from the hearts of palm salad on day two.

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Again I did a bit of editing with this recipe by adding some additional toppings; extra basil and some onion. I also put some tomato puree and olive oil on the base instead of leaving it dry. Avocado was an interesting topping that I would never have thought to put on a pizza but I included it as per the guidelines.
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This was another time-consuming lunch to make but I love cooking and luckily I had the time to do it. I actually doubled the ingredients for the pizza base and made two, cooked both and froze the second one so I could make this far quicker the next time.

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I took a bit of a short cut with the cheese because I had already picked up vegan cheese in the health food shop so I didn’t make the ‘cashew mozzerella cheese’ from scratch although I will definitely try this another time.

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I personally loved this pizza and I can’t wait to make it again. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t taste the same as a standard gluten-filled italian cheesy pizza but it is a lovely healthy alternative. The avocado also added a lovely creamy texture to it which went well with the melted cheese. The recipe said that this pizza was for two – I  ate it all – oops! Again I’m not following this diet for calorie restriction or weight loss, which it is very much geared towards. I’m following it to experience the vegan lifestyle. As I said previously, the calorie intake on this diet would be quite a lot less than my usual daily amount so I don’t mind eating more than the recommended portion sizes or adding in additional protein and snacks.

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I had a matcha ‘latte’ in the evening, made on rice milk and water (about half and half). LOVE matcha lattes, getting the really good stuff can be very expensive so look for the powder in an Asian supermarket – its a lot cheaper but still top grade.

Dinner tonight was a spiralised raw salad of courgette, cucumber and carrot . I got a spiraliser a few months back as a present from a friend (she knows me well!) and I love it. I’ve made ‘courgetti’ (courgette spaghetti) lots of times with it.

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A tahini/sesame dressing accompanied this salad. I’m not really mad on tahini it turns out! So I didn’t love this – I found it sort of bitter. I’d definitely make this salad again but I would make my own alternative dressing. Also my organic carrots were too skinny to spiralise so I used a potato peeler to create carrot shavings instead!

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This was a really quick dinner to make – no cooking involved. The spiraliser is always fun to use – its like one of those old Play-Doh factories 😀

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Seeing as I wasn’t keen on the dinner 🙁 (only ate half of it) I decided I deserved a treat tonight 🙂 I had a cup of tea with rice milk and a 9 bar – these are of course vegan and gluten free. These bars are also quite satisfying because they are filled with  whole-food ingredients – yum.

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Day five as a vegan and day four following the Beyonce plan complete 🙂

Find day six of My Vegan Challenge here.)

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My Vegan Challenge: Day Four

(To catch up on Days 1-3 of My Vegan Challenge, begin by clicking here.)

Welcome back. Onto day three of Beyonce’s Vegan plan, and day four as a vegan today.

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Breakfast was a raw chia pudding which was made in advance, yesterday. Very easy and super quick to prep (everything in a bowl and stir!), then just leave in the fridge overnight. The recipe makes enough for two mornings so breakfast for tomorrow is already sorted too. Again I edited this recipe by using rice milk instead of almond milk and by adding vegan chocolate protein to up the protein level. I decided to decorate my chia pudding with blueberries, goji berries, desiccated coconut and bee pollen. I did a bit of research on bee pollen as I wasn’t sure if it was considered truly vegan. There is some debate about it and probably the most hard-core of vegans would avoid it whilst other vegans include it in their diets. Some less-strict vegans eat honey and wear leather too, so it all depends on your individual level of commitment to the vegan lifestyle.

Bee pollen is a waste product of the honey making process and bees wouldn’t use it if we didn’t collect anyway, so for the moment I’m happy to include it. Well, you can’t really get more ‘plant-based’ than pollen can you? I really like bee pollen, it adds colour, texture and a sweet flavour; I like to think of it as nature’s hundreds-and-thousands.  It is considered a ‘superfood’ and may be helpful for people with seasonal allergies.

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The ’22 Day Revolution’ plan instructs one to blend this chia pudding. I make chia puddings a lot, sometimes I blend them and other times I leave the seeds whole. Today I left the seeds whole and I really liked the texture. When its blended its more like a smoothie really. By the way, you only need about two tablespoons of chia seeds to make a portion of chia pudding, so even though a bag of seeds can seem expensive, a little goes a long way. When they are soaked over night they swell up a lot.

After breakfast I went for a run. I was really sore after the weight training yesterday!

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Later, I snacked on some cherries whilst prepping lunch.

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Lunch was a lentil soup garnished with parsley, tomato, avocado and lime dressing. IMG_5052

It was really tasty; the garnish definitely made it, it would have been quite bland without the garnish. Again this lunch was time consuming to make and would be best prepped ahead of time if you have a busy day ahead. The recipe made a lot of soup. I was able to freeze two additional portions of soup from what I made.

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Dinner on day three of the plan was roasted cauliflower with pine nuts and grapes. I was quite unsure about this one before I tasted it, the idea of essentially eating a cauliflower for dinner didn’t seem the most appealing. To offset this I added a few sun-blushed tomatoes too because I had some in the fridge. I was super surprised by this dinner however. I found myself eating around the tomatoes because it was so flavourful without them! Really enjoyed this one, the grapes and pine nuts gave it such a lovely flavour. I didn’t use the full cauliflower, I only used about half of it as cauliflower is needed for another recipe later in the week.

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Later that night I felt like a treat so I had a vegan caramel slice. I made these from ingredients I had in the cupboard; they are not part of the plan but I’ve made them before and really like them. They are totally vegan and contain whole-food, ‘clean’ ingredients. I had these with a cup of tea (with rice milk of course!).

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Again, a lovely day of vegan eating. Really enjoyed all of today’s meals and proud I’ve stayed on track for four days as a vegan now 🙂

Find day 5 of My Vegan Challenge here.

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My Vegan Challenge: Day Three

(To catch up on the introduction to My Vegan Challenge and days one and two, start by clicking here.)

Welcome to day three of my vegan trial run.

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Today started with a delicious green smoothie. This smoothie contained kale, spinach, lemon, apples, banana and dates. My dates were hiding today so I had to leave them out – but it tasted fine without them and was definitely already sweet enough for me. I also added in a little coconut water as I had some in the fridge.  I made another amendment to the recipe by adding in a couple of tablespoons of vegan protein powder; rice protein. The recipe made a LOT of smoothie – about 1.5 litres. green smoothie

I drank it all before heading for a gym session. I might add that the plan in the book also sets out some daily exercise – I didn’t follow this as I have my own programmes personalised for me already. The exercise included in the book either involves cardio or resistance training (in the form of body-weight exercises that require little-to-no equipment). These exercises would definitely be useful for someone who wanted to lose weight or boost their overall fitness but I continued to focus my exercise on my usual routine of weight-lifting and toning.

I also had a question on my instagram account (www.instagram.com/cleancoconut_insta or @cleancoconut_insta) regarding the blender I used to make this shake. The lady enquiring had tried the same recipe but had difficulty getting the kale to blend fully in her Nutribullet. I used my Vitamix Total Nutrition Centre to blend this smoothie, A smoothie like this, which includes tough fibrous vegetables, will be difficult to blend fully without a powerful blender like the Vitamix. What may help however  would be to try adding some extra liquid when making it to help it mix around and reach the blades.

After my workout (about an hour or so of full-body weight-training) I had a vegan protein bar. Again this added protein is not set out in the programme but I included it myself.

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Lunch on day two of the Beyonce plan was a baked sweet potato with black beans. It was really yummy and a lovely post-workout meal. I added in some sprouts I had in the fridge to decorate it. By the way, you will eat a great deal of tomato and avocado on this plan!

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Early evening, before dinner, I snacked on some vegan hummus and carrot sticks. The gym has made me hungrier today!

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Dinner on day two of the plan was a ‘hearts of palm’ salad. First time for everything! This was the less than familiar name (to me!)  for ‘artichoke’ and I purchased the hearts of palm in the local Asia Supermarket, although I’ve since spotted it in other shops too – more common than I thought! This salad also included olives, more avocado and tomato, and spinach, all sprinkled with paprika. It was really tasty. Below is only about half the full portion!

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This marks the end of my third day as a vegan and my second day on the Beyonce vegan plan! It does feel a little strange not eating meat at any point in the day, but I haven’t been hungry or had any cravings for it at all 🙂

Find day four of My Vegan Challenge here.

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My Vegan Challenge: Day Two

(To catch up on the introduction to My Vegan Challenge and day one, click here)

I began day one of the Beyonce plan with great enthusiasm. I was ready for a detox and a week spent nourishing my body with fresh, healthy, whole foods…

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…Breakfast on day one of the plan was super easy to make – porridge basically.  The recipe listed gluten-free oats which I already had. In fact, as well as being a vegan plan this programme is also totally gluten free – which suited me anyway because I have been avoiding gluten for about a year and a half now.

The recipe also called for almond milk but I used organic rice milk instead, as it had a lot less additives than the brand of almond milk in the shop (always check the ingredients!) and I generally prefer rice milk anyway. Rice milk is slightly sweeter (naturally – not ‘sweetened’) and it would generally be a little bit higher in calories than almond milk. I often use rice milk in a post-workout protein shake for added quick-carbs to aid recovery.

On top of the porridge, which I made in a pot as opposed to the microwave, went sliced banana and blueberries. I didn’t weigh the blueberries out purely because I wasn’t in my own kitchen and didn’t have access to a scales – but I added a handful or so. I also added some goji berries for a pop of colour. The goji berries weren’t part of the recipe, but I had them and I like them so I scattered a few over the blueberries.

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This breakfast was totally delicious! I really enjoyed it. Its a high carb breakfast and that is part of the rationale of this plan – eat your carbs early in the day so that you use them as fuel and burn them off. This is definitely an ideal pre-workout breakfast.

Next up for lunch on day one of the plan was a lentil and quinoa salad.There was a LOT in the portion I made and the recipe hadn’t said how many servings it was supposed contain. I knew I couldn’t possibly eat it all. I did a bit of investigation and found out that the recipe was to serve 2-4 people so I’d say I ate a third or so of what was there and froze what was left – a bag of lentils and a bag of quinoa, ready to use the next time I wanted to make this salad. The lentils and quinoa were served on a bed of spinach.

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I would say for a lunch this was quite time consuming to cook and I would recommend making it in bulk ahead of time and freezing in portions that you can pull out the night before if you have a busy day ahead. It was tasty, although I did add a little pink himalayan salt at the end which I found it needed. If I was making this again I would probably add more spices to the lentils to increase the flavour.

Dinner on day one of the vegan programme was the famous ‘walnut tacos’ I had heard Beyonce raving about. I soaked the walnuts for the recipe when I was making my porridge earlier in the day. The recipe didn’t call for the walnuts to be soaked at all but I generally soak nuts before eating them in order to break down the phytic acid in them, making them more easily digested and allowing for greater nutrient extraction. I find they taste better that way too. So the walnuts had soaked for about eight or nine hours before I added them to my Vitamix blender along with the other ingredients for the walnut ‘meat’ taco filling.

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Contrary to the laborious lunch, this dinner was super quick and easy to make. Literally throw all the ingredients in the blender, mix it up and add it to your taco shells. Your taco shells are romaine lettuce ‘cups’ by the way. I actually had forgotten to pick up romaine lettuce so I had to improvise. I had a head of savoy cabbage, so I washed a few leaves of that, cut the fibrous stem out to form a triangle shaped gap in the leaf and layered two leaves at opposite ends (as above). I then added the walnut ‘meat’ and topped it with the avocado/tomato/coriander salad. I wrapped it up tightly and cut it in half…


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I really enjoyed these tacos. They don’t taste like anything you could really compare them to but they are really nice. I loved the cabbage wrap idea too and I would definitely eat them that way again. They’re really filling too. In fact throughout the day I wasn’t hungry and didn’t snack at all, each meal was very satisfying. Day two as a vegan was a success 🙂

Find day three of My Vegan Challenge here.)

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My Vegan Week: An Introduction/Day 1

We all saw how incredible Beyonce looked in her sparkly sheer dress at the 2015 MET Gala. According to Beyonce, the secret to her glowing skin and slim body was her new vegan diet plan. Interesting…

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Around the same time of the buzz surrounding Queen Bey’s vegan lifestyle change I had been watching some documentaries on the benefits of veganism  – both for our own health and for the planet. Documentaries like ‘Earthlings’ (on Youtube) and ‘Vegucated’ (on Netflix) also exposed the cruelty of the food industry towards animals.

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I saw Marco Borges, Beyonce’s Vegan trainer discussing his diet and new book on The Doctor Oz show. I was intrigued and decided to have a taster of the Marco Borges Vegan Challenge. I read Marco’s book; “The 22 Day Revolution” to begin with.  Beyonce-Just-Revealed-Her-High-Carb-Diet-to-The-World

I was very motivated to try the vegan lifestyle but I also had some apprehension. As a weight lifter, protein is essential for muscle repair and growth and I wasn’t sure if I’d really get all the protein I needed from this diet (1.5g protein per kg body weight – so about 90g a day of protein). In terms of macros this plan gives you about 80% carbs (whole foods, high fibre and gluten free) 10% protein and 10% fat.IMG_2504_2

I found  the book to have a real focus on weight loss and dieting. I wasn’t looking for a restricive diet, I had always found that by eating high protein and clean, unprocessed food I never really needed to restrict my intake. As well as that, whenever I am weight training I need an excess of calories if I want to build muscle, and I knew that the calories on this diet were relatively low in comparison to what I was used to. A lot of the book read like a weight loss plan rather than a lifestyle change.

I was also unsure about the lack of B12 in a vegan diet. I was relieved that Borges addressed this in his book. He says that B12 must be supplemented on a vegan diet as it is only found in meat, dairy and eggs.

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I decided to supplement the plan with some added vegan protein powder and protein bars too, and I added in my own vegan snacks when I wanted extra calories. I went out and bought the shopping list for week one which is set out in the book. As much as possible I bought the organic version of everything listed. I only intended to do the plan for a week and then reevaluate. I had a lot of the staple pantry ingredients listed already so I was mainly purchasing fresh food – a LOT of fresh food!

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The day I did my initial vegan shop (a Sunday) I also ate vegan – though not the actual “22 Day Revolution” plan. I was excited to begin and really wanted to get a head start. I had a vegan shake for breakfast that day and a big stack of vegan buckwheat pancakes for lunch/dinner with vanilla Coyo, berries and maple syrup. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the plan the next day and have a few days of clean, vegan eating.

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I will post daily updates of the plan I followed and how I got on over the course of the week.

(Catch Day 2 of My Vegan Challenge here)

 

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