The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Author: Fiona (Page 1 of 8)

The irreversible damage of morbid obesity

The Irreversible Damage of Morbid Obesity

While I am still overweight, I am no longer morbidly obese. The day I discovered I was categorised as morbidly obese, well it wasn’t a surprise but it was depressing. While I may have some grumbles with the BMI measurement system (doesn’t take into account body composition for example), there was no denying it, I was massively overweight for someone of my height, and I didn’t need a predefined scale to tell me this, although there is something awful sounding about it, obese to the point of morbidity.

While you can lose weight, lose the fat, there are some things you just can’t undo. It’s why prevention is better than a cure, but the irreversible damage of morbid obesity is unfortunately something that many of us will need to face.

Skin…skin and more skin.

You know when you go on Instagram or Facebook, and you see these amazing weight loss transformations, lost over 100 pounds, look at me now, with an attached picture of the person looking like they never were 100 pounds overweight? That’s a reality that doesn’t happen very often and isn’t realistic for most people for one big reason. Where does the skin go?

Skin has elasticity, and if you are young enough I’m sure it isn’t quite as extreme, but once that skin has been stretched, it doesn’t just spring back into place, no matter how slowly you lose weight.

I have a lot of loose skin. Being only 5 foot 2, and originally 270 pounds, my skin was very stretched when I was at my highest weight. My worst area by far is my stomach. I still carry most of my weight there, but it’s difficult to tell what is remaining fat and what is skin. I also had two cesarean sections along the way which I’m sure hasn’t helped.

My only solution I fear for my stomach would be to get surgery once I have finally reached my goal weight, but until I get there it’s difficult to tell quite how bad it will be.

I also have loose skin at the top of my thighs, and a little around my upper arms, but my stomach is where it is at it’s worst. One day I may share a picture of it but that would take an extreme amount of bravery.

When I’m wearing clothes that doesn’t cling to it (work trousers – why do you fit so bad?! I usually wear flowing dresses), to the outside it probably doesn’t look too bad. I know though the damage underneath.

One thing that helps me dealing with the skin is to see others who have had similar issues, on youtube and instagram I love Jordan Shrinks, she has a number of videos from before and after weight loss surgery and is very open about the impact on her skin. Another favourite is PuggyPantsDoesPlants who had weight loss surgery, and again has pictures from before and after. These ladies are so brave for posting these, and as someone who is considering weight loss surgery, it gives you a realistic end goal, separate from the “oh I had no loose skin at all” talk.

Still being morbidly obese inside your head

A lovely issue that you may or may not suffer with is that you are still the same weight in your head. I know I am healthier when I was morbidly obese, I can tell by the sheer fact that I can walk for more than 5 minutes without needing to stop, but somewhere, somehow I don’t see myself as others do. My mental picture of myself is bigger.

It impacts the type of clothes I go to buy, how I feel before I walk into a room, what I think other think about me. If I’m not careful, and mindful, it can impact a lot of situations that it has no right to.

Something about being that size, and knowing what it feels like to be that size sticks in the psyche.

The long term health risk factors

The good news is that a lot of the long term health risk factors can actually be reversed by losing weight, and following a whole foods plant based diet. Not all of them though. You will more than likely never be quite as low risk as someone who has lived a similar life but was never obese as far as I understand.

The outcome?

These irreversible damage of morbid obesity, well, there is nothing that can truly be done about them once you have been obese. While they are not great, and things no one would want, they are certainly more preferable than still being obese. My stomach may look awful, but I would take that any day over still being 270 pounds.

What can you do about it? Ensure the next generation don’t reach this point, speak openly about your issues with historical morbid obesity, as to help others avoid even reaching this point. Let go of the things you have no control over and focus only on health. Looks don’t really matter, they mean nothing to me anyway.

May I get surgery once I reach my goal weight? Potentially, but not to improve how I look, more to get rid of the damn skin as it tends to get in the way. (Yoga is not good when doing a downward facing dog!). The mental side of it, there is nothing I can do apart from being mindful of who I am, and for long term health, focusing on a whole foods plant based diet is my best chance of reversing long term damage.

Have you suffered with any of these or other side effects after losing weight? You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit on any of these platforms and please share your story.

The Self Licensing Effect

The Self Licensing Effect and Weightloss

While reading how not to diet (there is a review coming but it’s going to be a biggy!), I came across a psychological effect known as the self licensing effect, and it was described how it can come into play regarding weightloss.

The description of it made me realise that I am susceptible to this, and the knowledge of it’s effects has made me more aware of it. It goes like this –

You have been good for a few days, eating well, exercising. The weekend rolls around, or a night out, or there is junk in your house, any scenario that takes you away from following your typically healthy new diet. You think to yourself, oh I’ve stuck to this for days now, surely I’m due a little something to reward myself? Instinctively, you reach for the unhealthy food choice. You are now rewarding yourself for healthy choices, by doing the complete opposite, making the unhealthy choice. This sabotages your effort, and at the same time minimises quite how bad this food is, and the effect it will have on your long term goals.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with an occasional treat, the issue around this is that it only ever works one way. This effect only strongly encourages you to eat badly when you’ve been good, not healthily when you’ve been bad.

If this is an occasional thing, then it’s not really an issue. If it happens once every two weeks, an occasional treat isn’t going to derail you. The issue I find is that as changes in eating extend in time, this tends to happen more and more, to the point where you are undermining all of the good work with these choices.

It is as if the brain is keeping a counter of “good” and “bad” choices. When you think you have made enough “good” choices, then it isn’t so awful when you make one of the “bad”, even though this is completely counter to your overall goal of losing weight.

How to overcome the self licensing effect?

For me, it comes down to really trying to not see these food choices as good or bad, as not seeing decisions I make as good or bad. You have to recognise that something either moves you towards your goal, or away from your goal, on an individual meal basis rather than looking at the whole picture.

This healthy meal moves me towards my goal, it is irrelevant how many healthy choices I have made previously, or even how many I may make in the future, but right now, this meal will move me either towards or away. Now, do I really feel like I want a bit of pizza? Yes, but I will need to accept that this moves me away from my goal.

This can be easier said that done, as much of the time we aren’t actually thinking about our goals, we are living on autopilot.

The key to battling the self licensing effect

There is one simple key to realising that you are self licensing, and that is mindfulness. Being present right now to see what the outcomes of your choices are. For mindfulness I would really recommend some kind of meditation plan, it may feel that you are struggling with meditation but it’s long term effects are huge.

If, with every meal, you are mindful of your long term goal and not your immediate good/bad percentage, then you are more likely to make decisions that are in line with that goal. When making choices, try to remember your long term goal, and not your previous choices.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric Soup – Slimming World Friendly

I’ve never been a huge soup fan, it has never left me feeling full, and having it as a main meal just feels a little disappointing to me (apologies to those that love soup!).

However, it is a low calorie way of getting in a lot of your daily vitamins, and I have learned that if I have it before a meal, it’s a good way of adding to the fullness of the meal with little calories.

Weekly, I have been alternating between two soups, my quick miso soup and this carrot, ginger and turmeric soup. This soup takes a little longer to make, but it has lovely warming spices in it, and is high in beta-carotene.

Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric Soup

Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric Soup

Low calorie, warming soup.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: Soup, Vegan
Servings: 5 people
Calories: 75kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion White, Chopped
  • 750 g Carrots Peeled and Chopped
  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 5 cm Ginger Root 1.5 tbsp pre minced Ginger
  • 2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Ground
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 litre Vegetable Stock

Instructions

  • Water sautee onion, celery, carrots and a bay leaf for 10 minutes until all begin to soften.
  • Add ginger, turmeric, smoked paprika, cumin and garlic. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Add stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 15 minutes until carrots have softened.
  • Remove the bay leaf. Use a blender or hand blender to break carrots up. Add salt and pepper to taste.

On the weeks that I have this soup, I take a cup of it with me to work and have it as the first part of my lunch, with my meal prepped lunch around 30 minutes to an hour later. Syn wise, this is free, so suitable for the slimming world fans out there.

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How to eat more plants

Easy Ways to Eat More Plants and Whole Foods

When I first went vegan, I thought I already ate a lot of plants and whole foods. To be fair, I probably did in comparison to many, but a lot of my meals focused around meat (and then meat replacements), pasta or some kind carbohydrate, with vegetables on the side.

In recent years the research has shown that eating mostly plant based foods is best for your body. There may be occasional studies that show otherwise, but after digging there is usually something unusual around the methodology, or there are conflicts of interest, however the majority of the science shows that a whole foods plant based diet can be disease preventing, and even reversing.

With this knowledge, it can seem a little overwhelming to completely change your diet. I have gradually, over time moved towards a majority of whole foods, but I thought a post about easy ways to eat more plants and whole foods could be useful.

  • Smoothies
  • Oats
  • Salads
  • Greens with every meal
  • Make the vegetables the main, rather than the side
  • Switch white carbohydrates for wholemeal
  • Try new grains
  • Always look for a way to add vegetables no matter the meal

Smoothies

Smoothies can be a great way to get in a lot of fruit (and vegetables), and can be a good breakfast option if you are busy in the mornings. In addition to the fruit, you can really load up with vitamins by adding ground flaxseed (readily available in tesco and other shops), which is a great vegan source of omega 3. I have heard that whole flaxseed (sometimes called golden linseed) can’t be broken down properly, so for the benefits of the omega 3 either buy already ground, or grind yourself.

I would note that with smoothies, it is important to drink slowly rather than gulp down. This is discussed within How Not to Diet, that the speed of drinking helps the full feeling. Personally, I also avoid juicing, as the majority of the fibre is removed, and this is one of the key ingredients that you want in your diet.

Ideas to have in smoothies – Bananas, Apples, Berries, Mangoes, Nut Butters, Oats, Oranges, Ginger, Kale, Spinach, Cucumber, your favourite vegan milk and so much more.

Oats

Oats are a nutritional powerhouse, full of fibre and goodness. I have started having porridge in the mornings and again I add flaxseed. I add berries, a banana, occasionally a little dried fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, cacao nibs and it is a naturally sweet, filling start to the day. There are so many flavour combinations out there it would be difficult to get bored with oats.

Overnight oats are a good choice if you don’t have time to make porridge in the mornings. When I make this I usually do the same as my hot porridge but I add a little vegan yoghurt. You can also make cookies from oats which is a good way of avoiding white processed flour.

Salads

Salads, or some variation of them can be a good choice for lunch, or to have with dinner. Salads have moved on from just iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes (although I do still like and eat this combination). My meal prepped lunches are technically salad. Their base level is the old school combination but then on top I have my grains, legumes and many more vegetables of all different colours. There are lots of recipes for dressings out there too if that’s your thing.

Greens with Every Meal

An easy way to fill up on iron, calcium and fibre is to have greens with every meal. The base of my plate is usually kale, cabbage, spring greens, brocolli, spinach, some kind of green vegetables.

One point of note when it comes to what greens are you choosing to eat. Spinach is pretty high in oxylates, and there is some evidence that large amounts of spinach can potentially cause kidney stones. Recently, even though I eat quite a lot of spinach, I have began subbing some of it with kale. Kale is really better all round so its a good choice, but don’t avoid spinach altogether!

A lot of greens consumption comes down to how you cook them and I do it in a few different ways depending on the meal. My usual dinner preparation is too lightly steam them. After steaming for a few minutes these go even more green coloured and this is when to take them off the heat, its a sign of the nutrients being released. I also have them water sautéed with my veggies, and regularly throw handfuls of spinach and kale into meals.

Switch White Carbohydrates for Wholemeal

Switch out white rice for brown or white pasta for brown. They both have a slightly more nutty flavour, but are far higher in fibre as they haven’t had the outer husk stripped. This is an easy switch to make. I don’t eat bread that much anymore but I try to choose wholemeal, and love brown sourdough (too much though!). My family aren’t keen on brown bread so they eat 5050 which is even a small step in the right direction.

Try new grains

I like to try new grains in place of rice and pasta. While I think these are okay within moderation, they can be fairly calorific, and often I’m looking for a more nutritious option instead of these.

My favourites are quinoa, wholewheat Cous Cous, pearl barley, bulgur wheat, there are so many options out there.

Always add vegetables no matter the meal

I try to add vegetables no matter the meal. If I’m having pizza I’ll add vegetables to the topping and have a salad. If I’m having pasta I’ll have my bowl of greens with it. If I’m having a meal I can’t force vegetables in I’ll have homemade soup before.

There are so many ways to move towards a whole foods plant based diet, so many swaps to make, some of them significantly cheaper and faster to make. I find over time my diet has moved closer and closer to a higher percentage of plants, and my health and energy levels have improved along the way.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Greggs Staff Bonus for Vegan Sausage Roll

I saw a nice story a couple of days ago, about Greggs the bakers. They really skyrocketed into the vegan sphere early last year when they launched the anticipated vegan sausage roll.

I’ve had a few throughout the year, and while I do admit they are highly processed, high in fat and sodium, it is also great to have them readily available, hot, on the high street. Not only for vegans, the amount of people I have seen buying them, they cannot all be vegan. They launched their vegan steak bake this January, and while I’ve not had a chance to try it yet (my no takeaways in January rule), my husband, and others have said it is lovely.

Greggs decided to give their staff a bonus of up to £300 from the success of the vegan sausage roll. Greggs do already give their staff a dividend as I believe they are a cooperative, but this was an additional bonus of up to £300 purely because of the success of the new vegan option.

This really shows how successful vegan options can be, it can’t only be vegans buying these, there aren’t enough of us. It gives me hope though that lots of meat eaters are also buying these and while it’s not the full step to vegan, every move away from meat is better for everyone. If these vegan options are good, it will hopefully encourage more and more vegan choices, and that makes me happy.

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Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese – Slimming World

There are certain meals that I make regularly, and this is one that is usually on the menu at least once a week. It is included so regularly as it is quick to make, this seems to be a theme in my cooking. On week nights I try to stick to meals that take 30 minutes or less to make, and this takes around 25 minutes so fits right in.

As vegan meat is being used, this doesn’t take as long as meat to cook, so it really is quite quick. If you do have more time, you could add a little red wine and let it cook off slowly, but this is something I never have time for.

It’s also a healthy vegan twist on a classic, so could be a good introductory meal for those looking to begin to transition over.

Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

A vegan twist on a classic.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 2 Servings
Calories: 450kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion White
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Stalk Celery Optional
  • 8 Mushrooms White or Chestnut
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Mixed Italian Herbs
  • 300 ml Vegetable Stock
  • 200 g Vegan Mince
  • 1 tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • 160 g Wholewheat Spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast

Instructions

  • Put the pasta into slightly salted boiling water to cook.
  • Chop and water sautee the onion. Once softened, add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the chopped celery and mushrooms and cook until the water has released from the mushrooms, around another 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato puree and herbs and mix through well, stirring and cooking for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the mince, I use frozen but you can use fresh too. Mix well through the herbs and vegetables.
  • Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and stock. Don't add too much though, as this isn't cooking for long it shouldn't be too liquidy. You may not use all of the stock.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste. In the last couple of minutes cooking, add the nutritional yeast.
  • Drain the pasta and mix well with the sauce.
Vegan Spaghetti bolognese

It’s not spaghetti but you get the idea, with vegan parmesan

I’ve also made this with vegan sausage or meatballs in place of the mince and it is very versatile. Of course, feel free to have this with any type of pasta. I also use this as the base of my lasagne which I will be doing a recipe for soon.

For syns, the nutritional yeast would be 1, and for the mince, it depends on what brand you use. For syn free you could miss out the nutritional yeast, and use soaked TVP. I usually have this with steamed vegetables (one day, I’m going to turn into a stalk of steamed kale I swear), but my family have garlic bread with this, either this 32p tesco option or this frozen asda garlic bread which is pre slices with bigger slices for 80p.

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Vegan Haggis | Homemade Haggis

(This is a repost but as its nearly Burns night it seemed a good post to share again)

I’m Scottish, therefore I love haggis. However, I’m following slimming world, and the readily available pre-made vegetarian haggis’ (that are vegan), are 9 syns per 100g. That is 9 syns per quarter. I usually have half in one go, 18 syns is not something I’m prepared to eat, nor am I prepared to only have one quarter, so when it was St. Andrews Day recently, I went searching on the internet for a vegan haggis recipe that was fairly straight forward, and I found this one. I have tweaked the recipe a little to make it slimming world friendly (syn free, it uses a Healthy Extra B in the form of rolled oats), while it was not exactly like one of the shop bought haggis’, it was pretty damn tasty. I’ll definitely be having it again.

Vegan Haggis (Slimming World Friendly)

Vegan Haggis

Not quite as calorific as your shop bought haggis but delicious nonethless.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Scottish
Servings: 2 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Onion White
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Stalk Celery
  • 1 Carrot
  • 75 g Mushrooms Finely Chopped
  • 125 g Kidney Beans
  • 125 g Red Lentils
  • 300 ml Vegetable Stock
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 40 g Rolled Oats

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 175 celsius, 160 for a fan. Use spray oil to sautee onion and garlic.
  • After 5 minutes add the bay leaf, celery, carrot and some salt.
  • After another 5 minutes add the mushrooms. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl roughly mash the kidney beans with a fork, Add lentils, spices and vegetable stock. Lastly add the oats and mix well.
  • Add to the vegetable mix and cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

When you’re getting it out it does tend to fall apart, so spoon it out of the dish when it’s done. I had it with mashed carrots and turnip, then some cabbage and brocolli on the side and of course gravy (2 syns worth) on top making it syn free and SP. If you’re looking for a no syn alternative this is it! Enjoy!

Homemade Vegan Haggis

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Vegan Creamy Chilli Pasta

This week I have been painting in my house before and after work, and as a result have been looking for some quick meals. On Monday night I was really struggling to think of anything, as I didn’t want to make my meal planned option. I just took a look in my cupboards and threw this vegan creamy chilli pasta together but it was so tasty, I’ll definitely be making it again.

Vegan Creamy Chilli Pasta

A 15 minute meal that is full of flavour
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 500kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Onion White
  • 6 Mushrooms
  • 200 g Spinach
  • 1 Vegan Chorizo Or plain vegan sausage
  • 75 g Wholewheat Spaghetti
  • 40 g Vegan Creme Fraiche Oatly is good
  • 2 tbsp Crushed Chillis
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast

Instructions

  • Put the wholewheat spaghetti on to boil for 15 minutes
  • While pasta is cooking, water sautee the onion and mushrooms until soft.
  • Start pan frying the chorizo with a little spray oil. I cooked my own in the same pan as the onions and mushrooms so some of the flavour transferred.
  • Add crushed chillis (as much as to your liking of heat) and garlic powder to the onions and mushrooms, and cook for another minute.
  • Add the spinach and allow to wilt. Add the nutritional yeast and mix through, then take off the eat and add the creme fraiche.
  • Drain the spaghetti, and mix with the creamy mixture.

Vegan Creamy Chilli Pasta

I’m struggling to calculate the syns on this, but I guess you would need to calculate the chorizo, nutritional yeast and the creme fraiche. Calorie wise though it’s not too bad for such a filling meal.

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Previous Weight Loss Attempts

Something I have never really spoke about are my previous weight loss attempts. I am counting the last 5 years as a single event, as in reality I have trended downwards that whole time, with a couple of blips along the way.

This is not the first time I have lost weight. Twice, I managed to lose 3 stone, but then hit a wall. I think, with a few more years experience I now know why.

At the time I really thought I just couldn’t lose weight. It must have been genetic. I was just destined to be fat, and go through this endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain. I was eating less, more healthy and exercising, if I couldn’t lose weight doing this then I never could.

Then I discovered veganism, and then later, whole foods, plant based diets. I’m now just under 6 stone lost, and still have a bit to go. This is however, the longest, sustained lowest weight I’ve had in my entire adult life.

Previous attempts, I had tried a variety of things including, but not limited to:

  • Calorie counting reasonably healthy but non vegan food
  • Calorie counting unhealthy food
  • Slimming World
  • Scottish Slimmers
  • Slimfast

They failed for a variety of reasons, but I can categorise them into two distinct areas, either I was still hungry, or for some reason, it wasn’t sustainable.

Long Term Sustainability

I found the slimming clubs to be unsustainable in the long term. They encouraged healthy eating in some respects, but certain foods were recommended to avoid, and some unusual foods were recommended. Something in the nature of it didn’t sit right with me. I get that they are businesses, but when it’s motivated by money then the main aim is usually making more of it.

There was also something about the sympathetic tones when you didn’t lose much, or at all, and were questioned on whether you had a bad week, as if weight loss is linear and your body knows the play along with the club.

It was always the same people at them too, very few people ever reach their target weight at all, but the people who go to slimming clubs are paying for the privelege.

Still Hungry

My previous calorie accounting attempts, and slimfast left me hungry. Although they all involved eating different foods (junk food, healthy omnivore and slimfast), ultimately they all failed for the same reason. In one way I was on the right track, it is important to keep an eye on the calories to ensure you are eating a deficit. However, I have an issue with food volume. I can eat a high calorie but low volume meal and I don’t feel full. In fact, unless I have eaten an absolutely huge amount, I don’t often really notice feeling full. For me, portion size is important.

And this is where all of these attempts failed. As I was still eating a lot of calorie dense foods but restricting my calories, so I had less on my plate. I would start eating more vegetables but it was never enough. This is where a plant based diet comes in.

Why a whole foods plant based diet works for me

The reason why this diet works for me where my previous weight loss attempts didn’t, is calorie density. The food I now fill my plate with isn’t calorie dense, but it is dense in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and almost more important for my weight loss, it takes up a lot of space in your stomach. I often have kale and spring greens as a base to any meal I am eating (sometimes with some added sriracha). This big serving is likely to be around 40 – 50 calories, but the volume is the key here. Steamed, these vegetables take up a lot of space. This makes me feel full, and that is the key to my weight loss. I have discovered, the only way of me keeping on track is feeling full. The only diet that can do this, at the portion size I like, is a whole foods plant based diet.

I sometimes look at my portion sizes and feel a little bit shameful (hello still morbidly obese brain!). I then however look at what others are eating, compare calories mentally and realise I am eating less than them, but often many more nutrients and definitely more fibre.

Added to the weight loss, eating a plant based diet makes me feel fantastic, my skin is pretty good, and I’m full of energy. But that’s not the point of this post. If you are struggling with calorie counting, and still feeling hungry, I encourage you to up your roughage. Leafy greens are so low in calories, but filling and excellent for you. Try having a large salad before your meal, or for lunch with some added legumes and grains, but have them as the side to the salad.

I hope my tales of my previous weight loss attempts helped you. You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Vegan Keema Aloo – Slimming World Friendly

I have a confession to make. I love potatoes, especially new potatoes. When I was a child and we used to go anywhere with a picnic, my dad would always make us new potatoes the night before and we would eat them cold with lunch, it was my favourite part (and I do the same to my children now). I can’t get enough of them.

My slightly unusual preference for potatoes also manifests itself in my trying curries all the time that have potatoes in them. Saag Aloo is one of my all time favourites, and this chickpea, cauliflower and potato curry was another tasty potato choice.

If you like potatoes, then this new Vegan Keema Aloo recipe is for you. The potatoes are nicely coloured and spiced with added turmeric, and combined with the heartiness and texture of the mince, and the spice from the chilli and garam masala, it was a delicious and quick to prepare meal.

Vegan Keema Aloo

A hearty, tasty curry made with vegan mince and potatoes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 320kcal

Ingredients

  • 250 g New Potatoes
  • 1 Onion White
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 chunk Ginger
  • 200 g Vegan Mince Frozen or fresh
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 Chilli Green
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tbsp Coriander Ground
  • 1/2 tin Chopped Tomatoes

Instructions

  • Wash the potatoes, then chop into bite sized chunks. Cover with cold water and 1 tbsp turmeric. Bring to the boil, then lower to a rolling boil. Cook for 12 minutes or until soft.
  • In a large frying pan, water sautee the onions for 5 minutes until soft.
  • Add half the chilli chopped (with or without seeds depending on how hot you like it), garlic and ginger, and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the coriander, garam masala, cumin and and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the mince and a little water to stop sticking and stir through the onion mix.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cooked, drained potatoes. Mix well and cook for around 10 minutes.
  • Once cooked, serve with brown rice, or chapati, and top with the remaining green chilli.
Vegan Keema Aloo

With brown rice and kale.

I had my curry with brown rice and steamed kale. It was really filling but surprisingly low in calories, most of them coming from the potatoes and the mince.

For slimming world followers, it looks as if this could be syn free. If my sources are correct, then the mince I used is free (Morrisons Meat Free Mince), you could use any free brand though or even TVP (textured vegetable protein) with a little soaking beforehand.

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Burger King Peta and Veganism

Earlier this week burger king launched a plant based burger. This sounded exciting, I’ve always liked the bean burger from there, and a new option would have been appreciated.

I’m using past tense there as unfortunately, they released that this burger was not suitable for vegans or vegetarians as it was cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers, and that this burger was always aimed at meat eaters looking to reduce their meat intake.

It’s safe to say, this has angered vegans. Having a new vegan burger released but it being inedible to vegans, well, it seems to fly in the face of logic.

Shortly after this began to die down, a tweet was shared online, from Peta UK, in response to another tweet. This tweet suggested that vegans should eat products made on the same equipment as meat products as this doesn’t help more animals.

Burger King Peta

I recently made a post about KFC, and how I felt that in my opinion it was acceptable for vegans to eat from here, as I feel that supply and demand means that if we buy the KFC burger, and more vegan food becomes available, then eventually this will take the place of the animal products, and less animals will be killed.

This may seem like a similar argument to above, but I don’t think you can classify this burger as veganism.

The definition of veganism, from the vegan society

“…is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose…” 

The main purpose of this statement is to not use animals. Nowhere does it say to take all steps required to ensure less animals are killed. Now I know, I know, of course, avoiding using animals products will indeed cause less animals to be killed.

When it comes to this burger (and the chips for example out of KFC being cooked with the popcorn chicken), we know there are animal products in there via contamination. The companies themselves have told us this, no if’s no buts. If you eat these products, there is a likely chance you will consume some remnants of animal products. And for me, with the above definition of veganism, this just doesn’t fit.

Avoiding as far as is possible and practicable is not choosing to eat a burger soaked with animal fat, in an attempt to ensure less animals are killed. It seems backwards to me. There is a line for every vegan, and this is where my own sits.

There is also the “may contain” argument, and I do choose to occasionally eat foods that may contain milk for example. But there is a very big difference from a manufacturer warning in case of accidental contamination via production, and the manufacturers telling you of deliberate contamination via cooking.

I also feel that if vegans do get behind this burger, it sets a bad precedent. That it is purely acceptable to create a plant based burger, but take zero care in it’s preparation. Other companies could look at this and think it’s a money saving way to cash in on the vegan craze. We can make a vegan option and we don’t even need to bother with the logistics of preparation, they will buy it anyway.

Others will have differing opinions of course. I was surprised about Peta publicly stating this. I have mixed feelings on them, and I’m thinking of doing a couple of posts about them this month. It just seems like an odd stance, for a group that apparently loves animals, and especially for vegans.

I still think encouraging natural supply and demand is the way forward, plant based foods are now taking up a significant chunk of my local supermarket, even in the meat aisle. Personally however, I will be avoiding foods where I know they are contaminated.

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Vegan Smoky Pasta – Slimming World Friendly

Sometimes you just want a plate of pasta, there is something comforting about creamy pasta, and I just love smoky flavours. This vegan smoky pasta, using smoked paprika for flavour, is very quick to make, but incredibly tasty, and flexible with vegetables. I use onions, garlic, mushrooms and spinach but you could also use others, courgettes and kale would be good too.

The longest part of this recipe is putting your cashew on to soak the morning or night before, but if you forget this then a trick I have used is to put cashews in boiling water for around 10 to 15 minutes. While this doesn’t soften quite as much as hours of soaking, it’s a good alternative.

I’ve decided as Slimming World is so popular to start adding the syns to meals. While I don’t follow this myself, there are a lot of vegans out there looking for recipes. While my recipies aren’t based on Slimming World’s method, they are mostly unprocessed food so may be good for some of you who follow it. I will caveat this with not having access to the app, so the syns may not be exactly right, but I’ll do my best! I believe this recipe has 8.5 syns, 7.5 for the cashews, 1 for the nutritional yeast, and you can use the unsweetened soy milk as a healthy extra A. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

Vegan smoky pasta

A delicious, quick creamy and smoky dinner.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 2 People
Calories: 450kcal

Ingredients

  • 140 g Wholewheat Spaghetti
  • 40 g Cashew Nuts Raw
  • 1 Onion White
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 10 Mushrooms
  • 200 g Spinach
  • 250 ml Unsweetened Soy Milk Or your favourite plant based milk
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast

Instructions

  • The night before, put your cashews in a bowl of water. If you forget then you can add them to boiling water for about 10 minutes.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add your spaghetti (or other pasta shapes)
  • Water sautee the chopped onion until translucent.
  • Add garlic and Mushrooms and cook until soft.
  • Blend the cashews and soy milk. Add to the pan with the vegetables. Add the nutritional yeast, spices, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook for around 5 - 10 minutes, the sauce will begin to thicken. At this point you may need to add some more milk.
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  • Drain the pasta and stir in the sauce.
Vegan Smoky Pasta

With Kale and Spring Greens

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Vegan Meal Prep Lunch – Slimming World Friendly

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been meal prepping my lunch for a while now. I work 9 – 5 outside of my home, and one of the main keys to me losing weight is organisation and planning.

It isn’t particularly exciting, but planning and preparing at the weekend for the week ahead gives me more time during the week for other things I’d like to get done, ensures I eat healthily, and is way cheaper than buying lunch at work every day.

My lunches can differ slightly from week to week, but generally follow a similar pattern, a grain, legumes and vegetables in measured out portions in a tub. I take the opportunity to make lunch my most nutritious and calorie dense meal of the day, and also make sure I’m fitting in the most important herbs and spices for weight loss and health. Added to my meal prepped salad, I have a cup of soup (miso usually) and a piece of fruit in the afternoon. All in, this totals around 500 – 600 calories, which is pretty weighty for that time of day, but as it is all plants I find it doesn’t weigh you down, and make you tired the way that processed rubbish can.

Vegan Meal Prep – Lunch

Vegan Meal Prep - Lunch

Grains Mix

  • 150g Wholewheat Cous Cous
  • 120g Quinoa
  • 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp chia seeds

Vegetables and Chickpeas

  • Vegan Meal Prep - Lunch1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 3 handfuls of spinach
  • Vegan Meal Prep - LunchSteamed Kale
  • 1tsp Cumin
  • 1tsp Nigella Seeds
  • 1tsp Turmeric
  • 1tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1tsp Garlic Powder

Salad

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber

Toppings

  • Houmous
  • Kimchi
  • Sriracha

There are a lot of flavours in this meal prepped lunch, and some may not like this. But I really try my hardest to eat many different colours and vitamins, while being flavourful. I don’t use all of these every week, often my ingredients are based on what is leftover in the fridge, but this is a pretty standard representation. 

To cook, I boil the cous cous and quinoa separately, while quickly steaming the kale. These all get added to a big bowl, with the flaxseed and chia.

Then for the vegetables I water sautee these, onions first, then garlic, then everything else until softer. They all still have a bit of a bite though, nothing is overly cooked. When I add the chickpeas, I add the spices and cook for around 5 minutes. Lastly I add the spinach and mix it through until it’s wilted. I cook all of this, it takes around 30 minutes to make this, the soup and some of my husbands lunches. I layer it in a specific way to keep the salad fresh all week. 

  • Salad 
  • Grains/Beans mix – protects the salad from getting wilted
  • Kimchi/Houmous and Sriracha – to mix in on the day

Vegan Meal Prep - Lunch

There are so many flavours in this, and there are so many combinations you can do, its difficult to get bored. I also quite enjoy eating the same thing every day. I think we put too much emphasis on variety, and this could be a reason that contributes to our continual drive for more fatty/salty/sugary foods. Even though I’m regularly eating this, I never feel bored with it, and I will continue to have my vegan meal prep lunch, if not increase the amount of meal prepping I do over time. 

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Year Start

How I’m eating in 2020

It’s time for an update on how I’m eating in 2020. I have tried a few different ideas over the years, Slimming World, OMAD, general intermittent fasting, all while plant based. I’ve had mixed success with these, some more successful than others, but this year I am taking a simpler approach. A longer post is coming about my recent reading of How Not to Diet, but my eating for this year ties in heavily with the suggestions within this book.

Time Restricted Eating

I’m no longer strictly following intermittent fasting. I found that while I did see benefits from 8/6 hour windows initially, and I felt good not being weighed down with food, eventually it seemed to stop helping with my weight loss. Something in my gut tells me that it’s not great for my metabolism, potentially putting my body in the mode of holding onto weight as it’s not sure when food is coming next. Can I put my slow progress down solely to Intermittent Fasting? I’m not sure, it certainly worked in the beginning, but it seems like time to mix it up a little. I found OMAD a little too restrictive, and felt as if it was a step too far for me. I also have issues with portion control which OMAD did nothing to help. One huge meal a day just wasn’t working, I like eating too much. Now I eat around 9 am when I get to work, and try to finish for around 7:30pm. At the weekend I may not eat till around 12 so there is a bit of a smaller eating window there but generally it will be around 10 and a half hours.

Front Loading Calories and Calorie Counting

This almost ties in with time restricted eating, but as suggested in How Not to Diet I am starting to move the majority of my calories to earlier in the day. This is discussed in depth in the book, that you can eat the same food at different times of the day and it will impact your body differently, you will actually burn more of those calories earlier in the day.

I also heard something similar mentioned in the intermittent fasting podcast with longevity expert Valter Longo as a guest, he suggested if fasting to eat two early meals, breakfast and lunch for example. Now, while I am not fasting, I am attempting to move my calorie balance. Historically, it has always been weighed to a high calorie dinner around 7pm. These calories could be around 700 – 800, and I would eat less during the day to compensate. I am eating a breakfast of around 400 calories, snack of around 100, lunch of around 500, then main meal of also around 500 taking me to around 1500 a day. I am attempting to get to the suggested, Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a prince and Dinner like a pauper, but it takes a lot of unlearning for me and feels counter to what I have ever tried.

For calorie counting I am still using My Fitness Pal. I reached a 1500 day logging in streak just yesterday and don’t intend on stopping using it. I’m aiming for 1500 calories a day. I’ve been down as low as 1200 calories, and while I can do this for short periods of time, long term it makes me miserable. Even eating lots of vegetables, greens, whole grains and legumes, I come in at around 1500 a day and this is what I’m aiming for.

Slimming Clubs

My slimming world post is one of my post popular posts, but I haven’t went to a slimming club in many years. While they work for some, especially in the short term, longer term they seem to have issues. I went to Slimming World on and off for years, along with most of the other people there, and very few reached (then stayed) at their goal. In 2020 I will definitely not be attending a slimming club.

Food Choices

This year I am putting much more time and effort into following a whole foods, plant based diet, avoiding as much processed food as possible. This has multiple positives, when it comes to calories these foods are not calorie dense. You can eat a lot of them (especially green vegetables) for very little calories. Added to that, they are full of vitamins (calcium, iron, and of course fibre), are cheap and they really fill you up. I’m eating a variety of colours too, trying to eat a large mix of different vegetables with every meal.

Sugar

I’m making a concerted effort this year to cut back on processed sugar. Fruit is no issue, but sources of processed sugar generally are also sources of fat. No more doughnuts at the weekend for me, and generally I am avoiding dessert as this also became a bad habit. Dessert almost fostered the “treat” mindset, oh you’ve been so good today, you can have a little treat. That treat was often sabotaging how good I had been, and ruined it.

Meal Prep

For a long time I have meal prepped and taken my lunch into work with me. If I don’t, inevitably the options are too expensive, too processed, too high in calories. I have got myself into a good routine, and make a similar meal every week. I will do a post on this, but it is a mix of vegetables, whole grains and legumes, with spices, some houmous and a little sriracha. It is around 400 calories, very very filling for a fairly large portion and I’m happy to have settled into this. I have also added in a cup of soup (often miso)  and I’m even taking in porridge in the mornings now. Organisation is key!

I also meal prepped my main meal for a while when I was going to the gym in the evenings, but currently I am making dinner at night when I get in from work. This is something I may look at again later in the year, as it seems less hassle to make it at the weekend and put it in the fridge. Either that, or batch cooking larger amounts of meals and freezing them could potentially help free up some time in the evenings.

Meal Planning

Meal planning is also a key point, I need to know what I’m making ahead of time. I hate last minute trips to the supermarket. I always end up spending more than I wanted and buying things I didn’t really intend to (which usually are processed). I currently meal plan for the week nights, and the whole weekends at some point during the week. Then I get my shopping early on a Saturday morning.

Food Diary Example

Lastly, here is an example of what I eat in a day. If you want to see what I eat every day, and are a user of my fitness pal, please send me a friends request.

How I'm Eating in 2020

Breakfast

How I'm Eating in 2020

Lunch

How I'm Eating in 2020

Dinner

How I'm Eating in 2020

Snacks

Remembering the bigger picture but focusing on the small choices

This may be one of the most important parts for me in 2020, and it’s while remembering the bigger picture, the every day decisions are what will get me over the line. My weight fluctuates throughout the month and that can really get me down, then into the eating mindset. I am focusing on one meal at a time, all throughout the year. It’s those individiual choices that add up to success.

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Quick Miso Soup

I visited Yo Sushi with my daughter about a month ago, and it was the first time I’ve actually sat in the restaurant to eat. I realised that they actually have a ton of vegan options! I’d had a few takeaway things from there but there seems to be more choice if you sit in. One of the things we had was a cup of miso soup. I’d never had it before and the umami taste of the miso was just delicious, and it was very low in calories.

The following weekend I was clearing out my fridge and I found some miso I had bought, then wasn’t sure what to do with it. Now I knew! Not only is it delicious, but this quick miso soup takes less than 15 minutes to prepare, so don’t take up a lot of time. I’m not sure this recipe is 100% traditional, but it’s a good way of using green veggies. I’ve used a few different variations but all have been good.

Now I make this soup once every couple of weeks on Sundays and have enough for five servings in the fridge. I take a cup with me to work and have it before I start my main lunch. It tastes delicious, is full of green vegetables, and helps fill me up a little before starting my meal prepped cous cous salad.

Quick Miso Soup

A delicious quick miso soup recipe
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings: 5 people
Calories: 60kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Litre Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Sheets Nori
  • 1 Cup Spring Greens Have also used cabbage and leek
  • 1/2 Cup Spring Onions
  • 1/3 Block Firm tofu Pressed
  • 4 Tbsp White Miso

Instructions

  • In a large pot, bring your stock to simmering. Break the nori sheets up and add. Simmer for 5 minutes .
  • While this is cooking, put miso in a small bowl with enough hot water to mix with it. Mix with a whisk to get out the lumps. The mixture should be fairly smooth.
  • Add chopped green vegetables and tofu and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and mix the miso mixture through.

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Veganism is a protected philosophical belief

Ethical Veganism is a Philosophical Belief

Earlier this week a number of news stories popped up about a man who had been fired from his job at the League of Cruel Sports. He pointed out that their pension fund was being used on a company which tested on animals.This led to a court case, and about whether veganism should be considered a philosophical belief, and therefore carry the same protections that other philosophical beliefs carry (such as religion).

The man was sacked for gross misconduct, for sharing this information publically. Whether this was correct or not is debatable. Usually when working for a company there are rules about releasing negative information about your employer. This court case however seems to have morphed into a larger question over the philosophy of veganism.

According to lawyers Boult burdon Solicitors in the UK, while discussing the Equality Act 2009,  a philosphical belief is defined as

  • it is a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information;
  • the belief is genuinely held;
  • the belief concerns a “weighty” and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
  • it is “worthy of respect in a democratic society”; and
  • it is held with “sufficient cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance”.

The outcome of the course case was successful, ethical veganism can be considered a philosophical belief, and looking at the definition above I would suggest this is correct.

There is a difference between someone purely following a plant based diet, and someone who chooses to step away from the mass use of animals and their body parts in daily life.

  1. it is a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information; – Veganism is an underlying belief to avoid animal use in life, the present state of information is irrelevant. Information has changed drastically over the years, yet still vegans choose to avoid animal related products
  2. the belief is genuinely held; No question over this, vegans (or ethical vegans as the wording was in the court case), genuinely hold the belief of avoiding animal products.
  3. the belief concerns a “weighty” and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour; This is a little more difficult to define, but choosing every product in your life and diet to avoid animal products could easily be defined as weighty and substantial.
  4. it is “worthy of respect in a democratic society”; I think most people would agree that veganism and it’s arguments are worthy of respect (although maybe not all of the trolls on social media but they can be ignored)
  5. it is held with “sufficient cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance”. Even non vegans could surely agree veganism, and holding it as a belief hits the above points.

I’m unsure what this means in the future, but surely ethical veganism being a protected belief is something we can all agree is a positive thing. I personally have never experienced anything other than curious questions, a few debates and requests for recipes at work, but perhaps I work in a field which is less likely to discriminate against veganism.

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Creamy Fajita Pasta

I’ve never really been a big fan of creamy food, but in an effort to diversify, and make some meals I think my husband would like, I have been pushing myself to try out some in the kitchen, while still keeping it healthy.

There have been a few of these types of recipes recently, Creamy Basil Pasta, Mushroom Stroganoff as a couple, but this Creamy Fajita pasta with chickpeas was one of the best. I love spices and flavouring, and I really feel that offset the creaminess. If it had just been me eating it, I’m sure I would have added more spice (cayenne pepper for example), but that would just cause the rest of the family to not like it as much so was left out. I use a fairly small measured amount of cashews for the cashew cream as the calories can really start to rack up here.

All in all this is a nice, quick dinner with a good level of nutrition.

Creamy Fajita Pasta

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 450kcal

Ingredients

Spicy Chickpeas

  • 1 small Onion
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 8 White Mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 can Chickpeas
  • 1 tsp Chilli Flakes

Pasta and Sauce

  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 40 g Cashew Nuts
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Soy Milk
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 180 g Wholewheat pasta
  • 1 Tomato

Instructions

Spicy Chickpeas

  • Sautee onions, peppers and mushrooms for 5 minutes until soft. I used water to sautee but a little oil can be substituted.
  • Add spices and drained chickpeas and mix well, add a little salt if required

Pasta

  • Cook wholewheat (or white) pasta until ready
  • Make cashew cream, for this I mix my soaked cashews with the soy milk in a blender
  • Drain water, and mix cashew cream into the pasta, add remaining spices and a chopped tomato
  • Gently heat until the sauce begins to thicken, if too thick you can add more soy milk, if not thick enough add some flour
  • Once thickend, and seasoned to taste, mix in most of the chickpea and vegetable mix, keep the rest to add to the top once served
Creamy Fajita Pasta

Chickpea, vegetables and spice mix

Creamy Fajita Pasta

Finished Meal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You could also add use this meal to use up any vegetables you may have in your fridge, it’s a really versitile, yet delicious meal.

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Boycott KFC because you’re vegan?

Today is the day that KFC launch their vegan chicken burger nationwide. This, and whether vegans choose to eat it has caused controversy in the vegan Facebook groups I’m in, and it got me thinking about the rationale behind it.

There are two distinct opinions when it comes to a company like KFC having a vegan option.

  1. This is something we should support, can’t wait to try it, exciting times for vegans

Or

  1. I’ll never eat out of there, their welfare standards are atrocious, this is something we should boycott.

I can understand why people do have issues eating out of a place like KFC. KFC is a business built almost entirely on slaughtering chickens. There definitely have been horror stories link over their treatment of animals and I think it is clear that most vegans wish places like KFC didn’t exist.

However, the more vegan food there is out there easily available, the more people (mostly non vegans) will try it. In turn, surely this will ultimately lead to fewer animals being killed, supply and demand generally rules in these circumstances. 

I find the argument against KFC similar to the argument against the Yulin Dog Festival. Most non vegans are against this, they think the treatment and eating of the dogs is awful, and will often share stories and videos relating to this on social media. At the same time they are sharing pictures of their food, burgers, pizzas, covered with animal products, and not seeing the link (or deliberately ignoring it). Cognitive Bias at it’s finest. 

I find vegans who make the argument against KFC may also be suffering from an element of this cognitive bias. Most people (at least in the UK and who I know) shop at locations which are not (and nowhere close to being) fully vegan. I wonder what percentage of the products in shops like Tesco, Asda, even restaurants like Greggs, contain animal products. The Greggs Vegan Sausage roll launched this time last year, and although there was some of the “not buying it” response, it appears to be less vehement KFC, certainly from what I have personally witnessed online. In my opinion, Greggs, KFC, Tesco, there is no real difference. 

Now, that is to say, if there was a fully vegan supermarket nearby, I would shop at it. There aren’t anywhere near where I live, as far as I know there are only a couple in the UK. And while I of course don’t agree with the vast majority of the options in KFC, I can’t help but feel if the vegan burger is popular (the trial was incredibly popular and sold out in 4 days), then they will put more vegan options, and less meat on the menu. 

This is of course ignoring the entire health side of the argument. Ultra processed vegan food is little better than ultra processed non vegan food, and should be consumed in moderation. However there are a lot of people out there who are not interested in health, and if given the choice I would far rather they consumed a vegan version of their favourite junk food. 

I also think the militant vegan stereotype is rampant among non vegans, and taking such a stance doesn’t help with that stereotype. For me, every step in the right direction is still movement we should be proud of, when I first went vegan 4 years ago I could never have imagined all the options we have today, so something is happening.

Personally, I will be trying the KFC burger. I want to support vegan options, and to be quite frank I’m curious as to how it tastes. Keeping it in line with my goals for 2020 and January, I will have it with a large salad as my main meal. If you don’t want to try it, I can understand, but be aware of the bias when shopping from large supermarkets/eating out at mainly omnivore restaurants. 

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Year Start

Year Start – January 2020

Well it’s the start of a new decade, the day the resolutions are made, and as mentioned in my previous post, my one main aim this year is to finally reach my 140 pounds goal. The last year, while pretty much moving no further forward to my goal, has taught me some lessons about what works and what doesn’t for me. I am 37 years old, and I know the older I get the less likely I am to reach that weight. As a result, this year, I am giving this my single focus.

While this is my main single focus, I have also given each month a mini aim, 1 relating to health, 1 to personal goals, 1 to minimising our belongings and 1 to doing up our house, I will update my progress on these as well.

Weight and Health Updates

Weight at Start of Month: 201 pounds
Weight at End of Month: N/A
Fat Percentage at Start of Month: 43%
Fat Percentage at End of Month: N/A
Days within calories: N/A

Body Measurements (inches)

Waist: 39.5 
Hips: 49
Chest: 46.5
Upper Thigh: 24
Bicep: 14

Exercise

Max Run Distance: 2km
KM Time: 8:30 (this is a guess based on previous starting times for a km)

Personal Updates

Average Sleep: N/A
Meditated: N/A
Minimised: N/A

Monthly Mini Goals
  1. No Takeaways – Takeaway food is my nemesis. I do the most of the cooking for our household and a takeaway is a great way of meaning I don’t cook. The problem with them is that they are always fattening, I have poor self control with how much I eat, they cost too much money and I inevitably feel rubbish after them. My no takeaway goal covers evening meal takeaways while at home. We are going to Amsterdam at the end of January, to practise the Dutch that me and my husband have been learning for 6 months, and there will no doubt be eating out then. I may also try the vegan KFC burger when it launches but this would have to be with a salad and fit in with my main meal. This goal is used a few times throughout the year and actually think it will be quite difficult as we generally rely on takeaways once a week/fortnight, often on a Thursday or Friday night, so it is important that I plan easy/no excuse meals for these nights.
  2. Work on Blog every day – I have been rather slow blogging this year and I’m unsure why as it’s something I enjoy. I have a number of posts in a half written state, and a large list of ideas so for January I will be working on the blog daily.
  3. Get rid of 4 boxes of belongings that I need to have valued and sell – I recently cleared out part of a large cupboard and have some nice China given to me by my parents. Now while it’s lovely, I have and will never use it. It sits in a cupboard wrapped in newspaper. I’ve got over the emotional ties of letting this go, but practically I’m a bit stuck. I suspect it may be worth something, so I’m going to try to sell it first, and if I get nowhere then I’ll donate it. It is my aim to do these four boxes in January. My plan is to photograph the china and send in pictures to a local auctioneer for valuation, then once this is done either sell via them, try on ebay and if none of these work then donate it.
  4. Paint the window frames in my main two living room windows and cut, then put up new blinds I have for these – Our house requires an interior update (the polite way of saying it looks like it’s from the 1990’s), and I’ve been doing some little bits here and there but for 2020 I have a plan of things I’d like to do every month. This month it is as above, paint some window frames that are chestnut to white, take down the ancient vertical blinds and replace with some room darkening grey venetial blinds I bought at the end of last year. There are three windows in the living room, one is very high up so that’s got its own item later in the year, this is for the two floor level/easily reachable windows. The blinds need cut, and I’ve never put up this type before so could be an interesting job.

A summing up of my starting measurements is that really, it isn’t good. I’m not focusing on that though, only on the small steps to follow this month which for me are mainly a 1500 calorie whole foods plant based diet, no takeaways, and beginning to reintroduce regular exercise.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter,My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Year Start

Review of 2019 and Looking Forward to 2020

A new decade is around the corner, and this year has been one of my quickest yet. It’s been another big year of changes (although every year for the last few has been). We bought a house at the end of last year, moving out of our long term (huge) rented flat, and moved into a regular/verging on small 3 bedroom house. This was a bit of a shock to the system, and I was very grateful of my years of minimising our belongings.

Moving showed me though that we still have too much, and this year I have continued to clear our, and I’m now reaching a point where the end is in sight (although still likely a year away). Our new home needs a bit of a makeover, and we have tenatively began this, but have big plans for the next year which I’ll likely mention occasionally, at least keeping track of the number of items that leave the house.

I started a new job in May which I am loving. It is much closer to home, and all round it is a better job for me. I have massive imposter syndrome, so getting a new (more technical) job was a big step, but turns out I build everything up in my head and I’m doing fine there. My husband also started a new job, so with work it’s been pretty hectic!

A note about my husband is that he also (finally!) went vegan this year, 3 years after myself and our daughter did. I thought he would never make the switch, but he did and I’m so proud of him. We eat pretty differently, he’s not a fan of huge salads, tonnes of legumes, and I still often find myself cooking multiple versions of meals, but it’s baby steps in the right direction, and that definitely makes life a little easier.

On the vegan food front, this year there have been so many different foods released in so many different shops, it is crazy the amount of choice even compared to January 2019. Some notable mentions are richmond sausages (we all love them), Marks and Spencers for continuing to expand their range, the Greggs sausage roll (great for publicity if not for health) and Tesco. They are our closest supermarket and for the first 9 months of the year they were pretty diabolical, but they rapidly expanded their range overnight and it has been greatly appreciated by our family.

Onto the elephant in the room (again), weight loss. I got to my lowest ever weight this year, however I have regained about a stone. I have been lazy with my eating, eating too much, too much of the awesome vegan options. Exercise has been sporadic, although I have really came around to the idea that exercise is for health as opposed to weight loss, and I need to see it like this, to avoid the “oh I can eat more, I went to the gym this morning” mindset. I think my ability to remain around the same weight (gained a little but far from it all back), shows that my mind set has changed, and that it is actually incredibly difficult to lose weight (and so much of it) consistently and over a long period of time. The moral of the story here is don’t put it on in the first place, although I’m a little late for that.

On that note, for 2020, I have one singular New Years Resolution, and that is to slowly, and healthfully get to my goal weight of 140 pounds (10 stone). I recently read How Not to Diet by Michael Greger which I will be doing a review of in January, but I am going to be implementing some of his tips, such as front loading the days calories, eating more greens with every meal and a few more I will cover.

For exercise, I’m not setting myself any firm goals other than get back into running. I would like to, and will incorporate strength training alongside this, but at least for the first three months of the year this won’t be my main goal. Running (especially outside) is something I thoroughly enjoy, so I should definitely do more of this.

I have set myself a number of monthly challenges, 1 based on health, 1 based on personal development, 1 based on minimising and 1 based on decorating our house. I will share these at the start of each month, alongside a summing up of the previous month. As usual I’m tracking everything in my new bullet journal, this is my third year using one.

If I was picking a word to guide this year, I think it would be Intentionality. I want to make sure that my time is spent doing things that align with my long term goals. For those they are being healthy, living in a comfortable home which requires minimal upkeep, freeing up time for other things, such as running, spending time with my family, being creative.

Thank you to everyone for your support mainly via Instagram this year. I did take a fairly extended break around the time of changing jobs, and will be posting a little more this year.

You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. I am most regular on Fitbit, MyFitnessPal and Instagram, so if you are also trying to get healthy and lose weight drop me a message and we can support each other.

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