Vegan Pledge: Week Three Food Diary

Welcome to week three of my thirty day vegan pledge with The Vegan Society. You can find out why I decided to take the thirty day pledge here. Catch up on week one here and week two here. You can also click this link to check out my vegan grocery shop!

vegan meals
MY 30 DAY VEGAN PLEDGE OFFICIALLY BEGAN ON 6/7/17

????????

As I mentioned previously, during week two of the vegan pledge I had begun to experience some symptoms such as headaches and the breakout of a rash across my face and neck. I put these down to a detox reaction due to the huge change in diet. Thankfully moving into week three these symptoms had completely cleared up and I was keen to continue on with the pledge!

Vegan Food Diary: Week Three

Vegan Meals: Breakfast:

My breakfasts this week mostly continued in a similar vein, being comprised of fresh fruit, oats and smoothies. However I did also try my first homemade vegan fry up!

vegan meals

I used Heinz baked beans, a left over baked potato, sautéed spinach and mushroom, grilled tomato and Dee’s Wholefoods traditional vegan sausages. These are so good! I picked them up at Tesco. Compared to most other vegan sausages on the market they are free of artificial additives and are also gluten, soy and GMO free. They’re also a bit pricier but they have a good use-by date and can also be frozen. I tried these for the first time long before I started the pledge and I’ve tended to keep a box in the freezer for when I need a quick meal in a pinch. Highly recommended! I grilled the ones pictured above but I do think they taste a bit nicer fried!

Vegan Meals: Lunch

I tried a new recipe and used polenta for the first time to make this polenta and veggie bake along with a cashew and black bean burger. I topped this with some amazing siracha Vegenaise (not pictured). If you haven’t tried Vegenaise you’re missing out! Its even better than the real thing! I’ve found it in a few health food shops and some specialist vegan shops too.

vegan meals

I was out and about a lot this week and I mostly ate out for lunches so I will be sharing them in my post on eating out as a Vegan! ??

Vegan Meals: Dinner

I made a delicious sweet potato and peanut butter curry this week. Definitely one of my new favourite recipes! I served it with red and black quinoa and some coriander. Again I’ve been noticing how truly filling these whole food vegan meals are! So very full of flavour too!

vegan meals

I made another pizza dinner with a wholemeal wrap from M&S and topped with spinach, kale, cherry tomato, basil and vegan cheese. My favourite is definitely the Violife vegan mozzarella style cheese as it melts so well on pizza. This is such a quick and easy meal to make and total comfort food!

vegan meals

I also made an Indian Jalfrezi with tofu, peas, spinach and bok choi. Served with brown rice.
vegan meals

At the end of week three I am starting to feel like I’m really getting the hang of this whole vegan thing! Its definitely getting easier as time goes by.

My next post will detail my final week on the pledge leading me to a full 30 days on a vegan diet. If you’d like to take the thirty day vegan pledge click here. You’ll get daily emails to keep you motivated and help you along the way.

The Clean Coconut ??

P.S. Catch up on why I took the 30 day vegan pledge here and how I got on with week one of the pledge here and find my week two update here. You can also check out my vegan grocery haul here.

vegan meals

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

1ed78549207f8b044decd8a58ebc0c0e

addtext_com_MDYyNDM3OTcwNA

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…

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 11.38.44

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.

WATERMELON
WATERMELON

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.

addtext_com_MTYzNTA2MTkxNDk

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.

sushi
More sushi – I love this!

 

IMG_5354
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.
IMG_5406
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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 11.44.22
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.

anigif_enhanced-20130-1428768238-4

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.

coconut-1504388

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

vegan

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!).

vegan

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’.

vegan

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!

vegan

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

vegan

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.

vegan

 

 

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.

QjJn331438872404
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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 15.37.26

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!

IMG_5048

Later, I snacked on some cherries whilst prepping lunch.

IMG_5050

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.

IMG_4980

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.

IMG_5012

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!).

IMG_5108

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.

sea-1379422

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…

Y1A3Jl1438729469

…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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 20.51.26

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.

IMG_4899

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.

IMG_4906

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…


Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 21.26.08

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.)

21664-Palm-Trees-At-The-Beach

 

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…

Beyonce

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.

Earthlings

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.

IMG_2972_2

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!

IMG_3448_2

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.

IMG_5258

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)

 

IMG_4617