The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: Vegan

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.

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.

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

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. 

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

The Best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff….ever!

The Best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff Ever…and it’s healthy!

A bold claim, but I made this recipe last week and I was so impressed, although I did make some tweaks to the original recipe. I’m not a massive fan of overly creamy dishes, and light coloured sauces, no idea where that little foible of my personality came from, but in a restaurant, or takeaway I would never choose something light coloured. 

When I was a child, my mum used to try to get me to drink milk (being good for the bones nonsense). It always made me feel sick, eventually she gave up on it as I could barely even drink a mouthful without feeling queasy. Milkshakes were a no go, even ice cream, definitely never not mayo though other so it appeared to have transferred to the colour. Since going vegan I have tried to open myself up to foods like this a little more though, and my husband loves a creamy meal, so I saw this recipe online and thought we could give it a try. Well, it was so good I’m going to add it to my fortnightly list, we all really enjoyed it. The original recipe has the stroganoff sauce with garlic cream on top, this was too much for me to take so I mixed the garlic sauce in with the stroganoff (which also heated it up) and this really made it perfect. 

The Best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff...Ever!

Fiona
A creamy cashew based vegan mushroom stroganoff, which is not only very tasty but healthy too.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

Garlic Sauce

  • 1 Cup Cashews (Soaked)
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 pinch of Salt

Pasta and Sauce

  • 80 - 100 grams Wholewheat Pasta per person
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 2 Tbsp Wholewheat Flour
  • 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (Reduced Sodium)
  • 1 Tsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Sage
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 Pinch of Salt
  • 400 Grams Mushrooms Cut into Quarters and Sixths
  • 1/2 Tin Garden Peas
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley

Instructions
 

  • The cashews should be soaked the previous night/earlier that day. I put mine in a small bowl covered with cold water and drained before using.
  • First of all, add your pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook until ready.
  • For the garlic creamy sauce, I drained the cashews and put in a blender with the garlic sauce ingredients, then blended until smooth.
  • Water Sautee the onions until transluscent. This recipe is oil free so adding a little water until evaporated, then a little more at a time to stop the onions sticking is the way forward here.
  • Once the onions are soft add the flour and a little stock, mix this well and try to get rid of the lumps.
  • In a separate bowl mix the remaining stock, tomato puree, soy sauce and lemon juice.
  • Gradually add this stock mix to the onion/flour mixture, thoroughly stirring until all is added. Let this cook for a minute or two to thicken.
  • Add the cashew garlic sauce then add the chopped mushrooms and stir well. Put a lid on the pot, turn down the heat and let the mushrooms and sauce simmer until they are soft.
  • Once the mushrooms are cooked, drain the pasta and mix well. Add the peas and parsley and serve.

Let me know if you try this recipe, I think in future I will start calculating the rough nutritional estimates for the recipe per serving, and may go back through my old recipes to update these.

You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

 

8020plants

8020 Plants – No Meat Athlete

Well, I’m still stuck in plateau hell, I’ve been the same weight within a few pounds now for around a year, but I still have 50 pounds to lose. This is incredibly frustrating, having lost so much weight (80+ pounds), I feel I am almost being done out of celebrating the success I have had so far by still being so overweight.

I struggle with consistent exercise, fitting it in around work takes a lot of dedication and time, but even without much exercise I always strive to eat as close to a whole foods plant based diet as possible. However there are times when this slips, one too many takeaways are eaten, or one too many vegan doughnuts (damn you Morrison’s and your cheap, delicious, fresh doughnuts!). I have always felt that improving my diet to low calorie density plant foods, therefore giving me the ability to eat more and feel full is the way forward for not only my weight loss endeavours, but health and life in general.

I had been considering buying a meal plan to mix things up, when along came 80/20 plants, found at www.8020plants.com , a new meal plan and support service which offers videos, a community and a coach you can message alongside recipes. It was started by the guys from No Meat Athlete, one of my favourite podcasts I have listened to almost since day one of being vegan (along with some other people but I believe they are heavily involved with it).  Being a subscriber to their site and podcast offered a large discount so I thought I would give it a try.

I’m two weeks in currently, and they break up the roll out of plant foods in stages, focussing on different meals each week allowing for you to move change one meal at a time over to more plants.

Now they aren’t as strict regarding oils and processed food but heavily push the plants, hence the name 80% plants, 20% plant based processed (no animal products..ever). This works for me, as when I am struggling and I am probably closer to 50/50, and my weight creeps up at these times, generally I feel tired, just not quite as good.

The first week was breakfasts, and since I started I have had an 80/20 breakfast every day, this is something a little different for me. I have been intermittent fasting on and off for years now, but as I have completely stalled I have tried to mix it up. I still think intermittent fasting is great for you, and if/when I ever reach my target weight it is something I would consider permanently, but at the moment it just isn’t having the same impact it used to, and I do wonder if it encourages me to almost binge once my eating window starts. I have had some issues with binging, not in a eating disorder way but occasionally being unable to stop myself (especially with large takeaways), eating to the point of feeling sick.

For breakfast during the week I have had overnight oats, this is a good option for me as it means I can make it the night before, take it into work and eat straight from the tub with no preparation. Ingredients have been rolled oats, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, whole frozen pitted cherries and blueberries, a little vegan yoghurt, sweet cinnamon, unsweetened soy milk and then some frozen breakfast topper fruits which has strawberries, pineapple and some other bits and pieces. At the weekends I have been having tofu scramble with lots of veggies, homemade hash browns and some beans.

This is pretty similar with what I have eaten for a while, other than that I would usually eat it around 1 in the afternoon for opening my window, although at the weekends I would have a lot more processed foods in there such as vegan sausage, potato scones, oven hash browns, toast (again, to the point of feeling a little sick after eating so much). Breakfast at the weekend tends to be more brunch, around 11 am, during the week it is around 9 am. So far, so good, I wanted to see if eating earlier encouraged me to binge afterwards, and for the first few days I felt the familiar urge to start piling in the foods, but I am now easily making it to lunch time without anything else.

Week two was snacks, and I have made a few of these, but also tried to change what I snack on while cooking. I have made oat cups from a recipe on this blog www.shelikesfood.com . Instead of having them for breakfast they have been my pudding, and to be honest over the week I have began to really enjoy them. Initially they felt as if they weren’t indulgent enough, and previously I would have something small but very sugary (such as a mince pie/apple pie/aforementioned doughnuts). I’ve almost made some date/cashew balls rolled in desiccated coconut and these are so sweet! Sweeter than my previous snacks, but it’s natural sweetness from the dates so I’m fine with that! I’m also having two to three pieces of fruit per day.

Although I haven’t started lunch and dinner yet, eating this way has definitely encouraged me to eat in a more whole foods plant based way. I have tried some new recipes which may or may not make it to the blog, and I’ve lost a pound or two since starting, but I’m trying to keep my eye on the long game, and not focus on the minutiae of the week to week. Next week, on top of formally tackling lunches, I’m going to head back to the gym and see how that helps both weight loss and hunger levels. I can definitely say so far that 8020 plants is motivating me to eat in a way that is more aligned with my goals, and I’m excited to see how the next couple of weeks go!

I’ve been a little quiet on instagram recently as I have another project on the go which is taking up a large chunk of my social media time, but this week am going to at least post my interesting meals (possibly not the same overnight oats every day though!).

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Eat to Live | Nutritarian | The End of Dieting

This post is a bit of a catch up post along with some information about where I’m going next with my diet.

We got confirmation of house purchase a few weeks ago, so exciting, we are buying our first house! No more renting! I have been moving things up there slowly, but our actual move date is in 13 days. There is so much to arrange before then, so it’s safe to say I’m incredibly busy. Packing our belongings, moving boxes, selling and giving away things, fitting this in with work and kids is proving challenging. Adding in exercise and weight loss and I just don’t have enough hours in the day. My exercise has ground to a halt until we move, but I’m still trying to keep my diet on track.

We went to Amsterdam for my birthday last weekend too, and the food there was amazing, I’ll make a post about this once we’re all settled in the new house.

So, keeping in mind all of this external activity, and the rapidly approaching end of year I’m beginning to seriously get worried about reaching my goal weight this year. There are 3 months left, and if I keep going the way I have been I will stay exactly the same weight I am now. It’s just not good enough and I can’t accept it. I need to change it up a bit as what I’m eating and doing now, while keeping me maintaining my weight, it’s just not getting me losing. I’m not sticking to it enough, a doughnut here or there, a huge portion of pasta, vegan ice cream, little to no exercise, if you put in half the effort you get out half the effort.

I’m going to change up my diet, and give Nutritarian a try, it is like whole foods plant based on steroids (I don’t condone steroid use!). The diet and books were created by Dr Joel Fuhrman, a pretty well known American doctor, and are aimed at getting the most nutrients in for every calorie you eat. The main book, called Eat to Live was released in 2003, and lays out his 6 week diet plan. There are a few keys rules, some of which I hope are really going to help me.

There are some foods you can eat completely unrestricted. These include all vegetables other than starchy vegetables. Lettuce, greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, cabbages, leeks, celery, radish, beetroots, carrots, peppers, spring onions, asparagus, green beans, kale, spinach, aubergine, courgettes, cauliflower, all of these can be eaten unlimited at meal times. These can be raw, or sauteed in water. At least 1 pound of these a day is suggested which is a huge amount.

Also unrestricted is beans, legumes, peas, lentils and tofu. Fruit is suggested at 4 servings per day. No oil or salt is allowed at all.

Restricted foods include starchy vegetables and grains. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, pumpkin, quinoa, wholegrain pasta, millet, buckwheat, oats, any whole grains, these are limited to one cup per day. This scares me! It probably scares me for the reason why I’m not currently losing weight. I can admit it, I eat too many of these. Calorie wise they make up a huge amount of my daily intake.  You can even restrict these completely for the first 6 weeks but quite honestly that seems too far to me, so I will be sticking to 1 cup per day.

Also suggested is 1 oz of nuts or seeds per day. I will likely have this in the form of peanut butter with a banana in the evening, or added into a smoothie. No processed foods/added sugar are allowed for the 6 weeks.

When to eat also matters here, 3 meals per day is suggested with no snacks. I’m going to be combining this with fasting. I’m so far along with fasting now having breakfast so early during the week just does not feel right. I may not go as long as 20 hours, but at least 14 – 16 before my first meal which will more than likely be a huge salad with beans/chickpeas. I will follow this up immediately with some fruit. I’ll then hold off till dinner which will be some kind of cooked meal with my 1 cup of grains/starchy vegetables, tones of non starchy vegetables and greens. I’ll finish it off with more fruit and my nuts, or a smoothie.

While following this I’m reading the end of dieting book by Dr Joel Fuhrman, released in 2014 it expands on his eat to live Nutritarian approach. I believe this has some further guidelines, I’ve not started reading this yet so as the weeks go by I will post about this.

I’m aiming to keep a weekly diary on here charting the ups and downs, and all food that I eat, along with some weight loss hopefully! He suggests you can lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks, that would take me a good chunk of the way to my goal weight. If you have any experience with eat to live please send me some advice  on My Fitness PalInstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

What I think about tesco as a vegan

What I think about Tesco as a vegan?

A bit of a weird title but “What I think about tesco as a vegan?” was the question asked by my omnivore husband this week. This comes off the back of the range of vegan ready meals launched this week, Wicked Kitchen . I’ve already tried a few  and have even been to two separate tesco’s to get them and my opinion on the taste of them is that they are delicious. They are plant based, don’t use fake meats/cheese and while I have absolutely nothing against these (and eat them from time to time), these meals are really tasty and don’t need the fake stuff. They are also pretty healthy for ready meals, £4 a pop is pretty steep but for an occasional treat (and in place of a takeaway!) it’s great to have options.

A conversation with my husband about these lead the above question, what I thought about tesco. I felt a bit annoyed at this question initially but dug deeper to try to understand what he really was asking. I asked, in what way? He said morally, they are one of the worst companies out there ethically, and sell mostly non vegan food, so what do you think about them. Here are my thoughts:

  1. I feel like people judge vegans way more strictly on their ethics than they do non-vegans. Do I go around asking non-vegans about what they think about tesco? It’s like being vegan is taken as a target on your back, and you are expected to have much higher ethics in every single area of your life. Now I know, vegans probably do consider ethics in some areas more, certainly when it comes to using animals. But being vegan does no equate to being more ethical in every area of life. They are unrelated in my opinion. Veganism is defined by the vegan society as“… 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.” Nothing to do with other ethical areas. Do I think vegans consider ethics more in other areas too? I don’t know, some certainly do, some don’t. Do I feel comfortable with the ethics of Tesco? Not particularly. Why do I shop there? Because of number 2…
  2. I have a lack of choice. Realistically, the way the world is built, and where I live in it, the main options for quick easy shopping are large supermarkets. I feel when it comes to the ethics of these (Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Lidl, Aldi etc) they are all probably pretty similar. My life is busy, I work a full time job, have a family, try to look after myself somewhat, have pets etc, and have limited time to shop/look for other options. Therefore I shop at places like Tesco. If there were other options in my area I would definitely look into them. I do look to see if there are local shops/delivery options but really where I live in the West Coast of Scotland (Inverclyde), there isn’t many choices. If there are some out there which you know please let me know too!
  3. Non-vegan food. Obviously Tesco et. al sell mostly non-vegan food. As a vegan I don’t like this. But, surely the more vegan food they sell the less space and demand they have for non-vegan food, the less non-vegan food they order, the less animals are killed, the less animals are bred and on and on. Tesco recently shut some meat and fish counters due to lack of demand and the new ready meals have been selling out all over the country. Just eat has seen a ridiculous rise of 987% for vegetarian food and the RSPCA says there has been a 37% rise in demand for meat alternatives. This can surely only lead to less animal death. All of those statistics are for the UK only, I’m aware in other areas of the world meat consumption is increasing, but for the UK this is great news, and I am confident this will spread. I believe people are slowly waking up to the fact that meat is bad for the planet, bad for people and I think concern for animal rights is beginning to grow.

So there it is, my opinion on tesco as a vegan. Bit of a weird one I know but worth a post I thought!

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

Okja Review | Movie Review

Okja Review

I watch quite a lot of films, and I usually try to watch the vegan type so I have decided to do a little write up of the films/books that I watch/read in case people are looking for information on these, I will try to keep these spoiler free. Also, I don’t consider myself a particularly professional reviewer, however I do watch a lot of films so feel I at least have a fairly informed opinion.

Myself, my husband and daughter watched Okja on netflix at the weekend. When it first came out a few months ago it was something I wanted to see. Although not essentially a vegan film, the premise is that of a special kind of animal that has been bred for food. However, when the time comes the main protagonist (South Korean Seo-Hyun Ahn) wants to save the animal from slaughter.

My daughter is 9 and I assumed Okja was child friendly, however it actually has a 15 age rating, and there are a couple of graphic, uncomfortable scenes in it. I am fairly open minded when it comes to age ratings, and my daughter didn’t understand the main graphic scene, so I would personally say that for tweens it is acceptable. It really depends on the child. The sad reality is that the scenes which cause distress are completely based on the reality of what happens in the animal agriculture industry on a probably minute by minute basis. That we feel this is too graphic to show our children, yet the majority of people feed their children the products of it (and feed themselves it) without even the briefest consideration, multiple times daily is surely an indictment on the way the world is.

By the end of the film I struggled not to cry, honestly the lump in my throat was huge. I found the film moving, and really was behind the main characters. It was an unrealistic film, yet completely realistic also. Definitely not a “vegan” film as such with a couple of references to non-vegan things, although the film makes never said as such, but I think it would make people think. Worth a watch for sure.

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

New Years Resolutions/ Reflecting on 2017

Reflecting on 2017 | A Successful Year

It’s that time of year where you look back at the year that’s passed and begin to make new plans for the year ahead. I would say that 2017 for me has been a pretty good year! I got a full time graduate developer/IT job which I enjoy and I got a new car which isn’t completely falling apart, that has released a lot of anxiety and stress I used to feel.

Last year I set the word simplify as my word of 2017, along with some tangible goals which I will recap:

  • Simplify my diet/Eat more plant based
  • Simplify my exercise/Run a 10k
  • Simplify my house and routines
  • Simplify my waste/Recycle

When it comes to simplifying my diet and eating more plant based I did pretty good! The plant based simple menu I came up with in January last year was pretty much followed, nearly every single week (although we’re all a bit fed up with tomato pasta!). I definitely ate more plants, however I did feel we ate a lot more takeaways. I’m putting this down to the new job (being out of the house from 7:30 am – 6:00 pm takes its toll) and having more money. This is something I’m going to address next year.

Simplifying my exercise and running a 10k. Well that was well and truly smashed. I ran the 10k in October, never did I really think it was possible. I’ve barely ran since, weather and time, but as soon as the weather improves I’m getting back out there. I also went back to swimming and rejoined the gym for when I can actually make it.

Simplifying my house and routines was more mixed, I took part in 2017 items in 2017 and failed miserably, only getting rid of 680. However added to my 1000+ from November 2016 I think that’s not too bad. I still have a lot I want to get rid of so I’m back in for 2018 in 2018 and determined to complete it this time!

Simplifying my waste didn’t really go anywhere, I am recycling more but this is something I want to look at again.

Losing weight wasn’t a goal I set myself last year, I knew that while I was trying to lose I had to focus on other things for a while, but I’m over 20 pounds down in the year without focusing too much. That though will be different in 2018 but more on that early next week.

Overall I would say a successful year. The highlights have been getting the job and running the 10k but overall it has been good, my family are well and healthy, animals are fine (17 year old cat is still going!), I’ve met and spent time with great people old and new and I will look back on 2017 with fondness.

I also just wanted to say a massive thank you to anyone reading this! I can see from google analytics that some people are actually coming here to read what I say which is kind of scary considering I mostly talk/type rubbish, but it is really appreciated. I have been quiet on Instagram for a while, in all honesty I just needed a break from weight loss as a whole but with the New Year approaching I’m feeling re energised again and would love for anyone else on this journey (or any!) to give me a follow/send me a message.

You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit.

I hope everyone has a lovely New Year and I will see you on the other side!

What the Health Review | Vegan Films

I recently purchased and watched What the Health, the new film out by the makers of Cowspiracy and thought I would write a review. First time round they came at a vegan lifestyle from the approach of planetary health, this time they approach from the personal health front.

I really enjoyed cowspiracy and was hyped up for What the Health months ago. My husband thinks I’ve list my mind, I’ve got to be honest, even a year or two again telling me I would be hyped for a film about health, and food choices to promote personal health, I would have laughed my head off. But being healthy has became a pretty important aspect in my life, so yes, I was legitimately excited for this film.

I had heard Kip and Keegan again on the Rich Roll podcast, and had been waiting until I got the chance to watch it properly.

My opinions? It was great, nothing I hadn’t heard before during research but it was great seeing it presented in that way. One thing that surprised me (although I’m not sure why) was the reaction of the American Health Associations, refusing to even have discussions about multiple peer-reviewed scientific papers showing clear correlations between consuming animal products and a multitude of health problems. Red and Processed meat being shown on food plans on websites relating to Diabetes/Cancer were truly shocking, as were the claims that no diet is offered by them, these are standard recipes (even though it says otherwise on the sites).

If I had any complaint it would be that it was very fast paced. There was a lot to say, and to fit it into an hour and a half required for it to be said quickly. I think my enjoyment would have been marginally improved if they had added some time onto the film and said it a little slower.

Shout out to my husband for his dad joke when Rich Roll came on screen and I started saying how much I love him…He asked if I was ever going to give him up…I found it funny!

So there you have it, my short but sweet What the Health review. If you are interested in the health aspects of a plant based diet, you can’t go wrong with this film. Their sources are found with incredible levels of research, the people on the film are legitimate respected doctors in the field (Dr Michael Greger, I love you too!). They cover most of the areas in a fast, yet understandable way. If you aren’t interested, or not vegan and you want to hear some usually unspoken information, you should check it out. If you are vegan, but not plant based, you should check it out. I guess what I am saying here is that everyone should check it out.

You can get it here on Vimeo, watch online, chromecast, download etc.

Vegan Budget Shopping List

Is it just me or does it feel like this month has went on forever? Payday is around the corner, but the last few weeks I have been budgeting, and budgeting some more. Additionally, trying to eat in a slimming world friendly way, it’s not been easy!

Veganism is often stated as being an expensive diet, but having eating standard omnivore diet, high protein low carb, and vegan, vegan is the cheapest, by far! I’m not sure why it gets the reputation, if you buy all pre-processed foods I suppose it is a little more expensive, but buying pre-processed foods of any type always is, and the price of meat is sky high compared to beans/grains/legumes.

I decided to put together a vegan budget shopping list, covering a weeks worth of food, for what a buy for my current meal planning list. This may help anyone stuck on planning meals, or anyone even thinking about trying out a mostly plant based vegan diet. It’s hard to say how many people this will cover, my family are fussy so most nights this covers at least three of us, however, sometimes my husband will have something else, or daughter doesn’t like chilli for example, however it can definitely be stretched to three, four more pasta, more rice etc.

The following is a list of foods I would usually buy to cover the week of meals, breakfasts and lunches, I would buy some crisps and biscuits too for the kids, and my husband would probably want some junk food in there, but for the main meals hopefully this gives an idea of how little it can cost you. The total for this is around £35. Ridiculously cheap, I buy own brand stuff as well, I don’t see much difference, maybe I’m just used to it but when I need to save money this is what I buy.

  • Pasta x 2 – £1
  • Chopped Tomatoes x 3 – £1.50
  • Onions – £0.50
  • 2 x Mixed Beans – £1.00
  • 1 x Chilli Beans – £0.80
  • 1 Bag of Basmati Rice – £1.50
  • 1 Bag of Green Lentils – £1.20
  • 1 Large bag of White Potatoes – £2.00
  • 1 Bag of Arborio Rice (will last 2 weeks) – £1.10
  • 1 Bag of Spinach – £1.50
  • 1 Red Cabbage – £1.00
  • 1 Bag of Carrots – £1.00
  • 1 Brocolli Stalk – £0.50
  • 1 tin of Chickpeas – £0.50
  • 1 Pack of Peppers – £1.20
  • Mixed Chilli’s – £1.00
  • Frozen Berries – £2.00
  • Bananas – £1.00
  • Oatly – £1.50
  • Oats – £0.75
  • Bread – £1.00
  • Tomatoes – £1.00
  • Cucumber – £1.00
  • Tangerines – £1.00
  • Mushrooms – £0.80
  • Fruit on offer in aldi/lidl – £2.00
  • Veg on offer in aldi/lidl – £2.00
  • Baked Beans x 4 – £1.00
  • Stuffing – £1.00
  • Lettuce – £0.60
  • Cous Cous – £1.00
  • Garlic – £0.30

Store cupboard

  • Spices and Herbs
  • Gravy Granules
  • Gram Flour
  • Oil/Spray Oil
  • Vitalite
  • Chilli Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Nooch
  • Tomato Puree

Meals

  • Monday – Pasta, Tomato and Basil Sauce
  • Tuesday – Spicy Beans/Rice with chips and salad
  • Wednesday – Mixed Bean Chilli with Rice and Veg
  • Thursday – Green Lentil Sheperds pie with Veg
  • Friday – Risotto with Veg
  • Saturday – Saag Aloo with Rice, Veg
  • Sunday – Roast dinner with stuffing, potatoes and veg
  • Breakfasts – Fruit Smoothies, Toast and Tomatoes/Spinach, Vegan Fry Up, Beans on Toast
  • Lunch – Vegetable Soup, Houmous Salad Sandwich, Rice/Pasta/Cous cous and Veg, Baked Potato and Beans

 

Raising a Vegan Child

Raising a Vegan Child

Really, having a vegan child shouldn’t be a major talking point in my life, but it definitely is. The shock of “Oh, she is vegan too?”, “Did you make her vegan?”, “What does she eat?”, “Does she really stick to it?”. I hear these questions frequently. Yes, No, Lots, Yes.

If I had just listened to my daughter I would have been vegan around 6 months before I made the switch. One day, while waiting for my husband to get out of work, my daughter said mum, I don’t want to eat animals anymore. This was a familiar comment, I had made the same myself, although granted I was a few years older than her young 7 years. I felt excited, and worried at the thought. Having been a vegetarian myself in my younger years, this almost reopened that closed off bit of my mind. “Well, we can definitely cut out processed meat and red meat, but we can still eat chicken to begin with, and fish, and you can have cheese, that will keep you healthy”. I don’t mean to sound over dramatic, but thinking back to my reaction makes me feel a little sick. Here my daughter was, coming the conclusion that eating, and using animals was wrong, my reaction? Well some animal use is okay, and you know, we need animal products to be healthy! *SLAP* Please don’t blame me, I was still ignorant, I’m glad I can see and admit that now.

We cut out all red and processed meat, for a while anyway, until I was in a rush one night and gave her sausages. It’s funny how the thought of eating something like cheap pork sausages now is horrifying on so many fronts, for both of us. It was a failure, but that little comment, and that opening of my mind, even just a little chink, probably helped, so that by the time I saw 101 Reasons to go Vegan, I was ready to make the switch, mid-day, and to not even consider going back.

One of the first things I did when I went vegan was educate myself on the health aspects. I’m very overweight, but even with that I worry about my health, and making it worse than it already is. I think the process of my parents dying also directed me more towards caring, when you see death so close up, your own mortality becomes a more solid thought in your mind. I was surprised to find out, rather than the unhealthy image I had of a vegan in my mind, veganism was actually an incredibly healthy diet, not just healthy, it could in fact be the healthiest diet there was when the right foods were eaten! I was shocked! Again, this solidified my commitment to veganism, ethics, they started the ball rolling, but health is a fairly close second.

I kept my new found veganism quiet for a few days, the first person I told was my daughter. She took it in her stride, asking about the things I couldn’t eat, when I said I couldn’t eat cheese (her favourite meal ever being macaroni cheese) she looked shocked. I didn’t ask her if she wanted to join in, I wanted it to be her choice. I became vegan on the 4th November, and her meat intake drastically tailed off from then right up to Christmas. Right after Christmas she said she was ready, she wanted to go vegan. “What about the macaroni cheese?” I asked, “It always made me feel sick anyway” she said, and thinking about it, it did. I assumed it was because she ate too much, but she more than likely had a lactose intolerance, my son also does so it would make sense.

My son wasn’t quite ready to make the switch, but he eats mostly (90%) vegetarian, and I hope eventually he will go the full way. He is a teenager and I’m proud of the changes he has made, and will continue to support him to go fully vegan.

Our family were doubtful, first of all that she would be able to do it, and secondly that it was healthy. I’m glad to say that on both fronts they underestimated my strong little girl. She has never wavered, not once. She got healthier, she lost a little chub, her hair and skin are glowing, she really is an awesome example of a vegan. She is a little activist too, as far as she knows she is the only vegan child in the school, she says sometimes conversations come up where she points out people are eating dead animals, they don’t really like that but she said she just can’t help it. She also wants to come along to the Earthlings Experience.

So, what steps do I take to ensure she is healthy? Well, first of all I know that she is eating a significantly healthier diet that she was previously, macaroni cheese, sausages, barely a vegetable in sight did not a healthy diet make. Her vegetable and fruit intake has at least tripled. She loves fruit and veg, she says she wants to be a fruitarian when she grows up. She also takes a vegan multivitamin daily, that has B12, D, Omega 3, many others. We also use fortified foods, rice milk, cereal, and she eats dark vegetables a lot. I’m currently trying to get her into tofu, it’s such a great source of nutrients.

I try not to worry too much, I know she is eating a lot healthier than many children, her plate is full of vegetables at night most of the time, she snacks freely on carrots, cucumber, apples, plums, bananas, anything fresh. Sometimes I even make her vegan macaroni cheese.

If you are thinking about raising your own vegan child, don’t be scared. There are many stories about there scaremongering veganism as an option, but groups like the NHS and the British Dietetic Association all agree veganism is healthy for all stages of life. You need to consider what your child eats, but to the same level everyone should be. B12, Calcium, Vitamin D, Iron and Omega 3, these seem to be the vitamins that I see most discussion about online. These are the only vitamins I think about when considering her diet. The rest are covered. So far my daughter is the picture of health, she rarely gets ill even when it seems the whole school is falling around her. She is full of energy, more so that she used to be. Veganism is an option for children, and don’t let the scaremongers convince you otherwise!

My daughters favourite convenience vegan foods (not including fruit, vegetables and homemade!):

  • Fry’s Nuggets
  • Asda’s Curry Noodles
  • Tesco tomato and Onion pasta
  • Fry’s Chicken Style Burgers
  • Dairy Free Ice cream
  • Sweet Cinnamon Porridge made with Rice Milk
  • Asda’s own brand cheap garlic bread
  • Quorn’s newish vegan nuggets
  • Tesco’s bacon rasher crisps

That is just some of the unhealthy stuff to show that it still exists even in the vegan world. She mostly eats a homemade meal every night, that I make and photograph on Instagram, but when she does eat the above foods we try to have a large portion of the plate filled with vegetables.

If you would like more information on raising a vegan child, or anything else relating to veganism or weight loss, feel free to contact me on facebook, twitter or instagram.

One year veganniversary!

Little did I know on the 4th November 2015, as I sat in the uni lunch area, eating a ham and cheese pasta salad, that the little YouTube video I watched on a whim would instantly change my life.

I started my instagram for weight loss back in May of 2015. I had used my fitness pal and fitbit for a few years, but had piled on weight in the run up to my dad dying. I decided I needed to change it up a bit and started my instagram under the name fiona.mfp. I loved instagram as a medium for charting my journey, and still do, even though the weight loss part has ground to a halt. The people on instagram are great, and I got, and continue to get great support from there.

My last year of Uni I spent a lot of time alone, at a lunch table in a small area at university frantically studying, attempting to get through my Masters (I did, the postgraduate diploma anyway, with a great distinction too).  On the fateful day, (a Wednesday), I had sat down to eat this pasta salad, and was browsing the internet, reading a story about an instagram model who had changed her entire instagram to the “reality” behind the pictures. Definitely not my type of story, but as it related to instagram, and that was my new big thing I went with it. After skim reading the story, and checking out her instagram I reached the final lines of the article. The journalist asked her “Do you have any final words for anyone reading this story?” (or something similar to this). Her reply, I’d ask them if they could do one thing, they should watch the YouTube video 101 reasons to go vegan. No more, no less, no why people should go vegan, no comment, just watch the video.

It seemed like a reasonable request, I had previously been vegetarian many years ago and if i’m honest veganism just seemed unattainable. I felt bad eating animals but I buried my head in the sand. So I thought, why not? I googled it, not even thinking what may happen, put in my headphones and took a break.

45 minutes later my friend pulled up to sit next to me, I took my headphones off and sat in a stunned silence. She asked if I was okay, I said yes, yes, I was just watching a youtube video. I don’t think I said about what. I still had about 15 minutes left, but we talked for a while before I had to leave. All I could think about was the end of the video. Something had clicked while watching it, whatever it was that drove me to vegetarianism was back in force. That night myself and my husband ordered a chinese, I ordered a vegetable curry and boiled rice with vegetable spring rolls versus the usual prawn curry/meat spring rolls/prawn toast combo. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I might be vegan.

The next day my husband was at work, and I decided that I needed to stay at home, to research what I had seen. Overnight I had came to a conclusion, that I couldn’t un-know what I now knew.

Now, one year later, my life from the outside may seem very similar, but from the inside, to me, there have been massive changes. I feel like I have grown in compassion for all life. I see things, and feel things I didn’t even really consider before. I feel I still have a long way to go on my vegan journey but I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Vegan Slimming World – Weight Loss

My weight loss recently has been non existent. Not only non existent but it’s been negative, in other words I had a sneaking suspicion I had put weight on. In an effort to stem this before I end up putting on all the weight that I’ve lost, I signed up to slimming world.

I have previously tried slimming world, and have a couple of friends who have done very well there, but I have struggled to stick at it myself. But desperate times require desperate measures, and lose weight I will, so last Wednesday (26th October), I went back and faced the music.

I had put on 16 pounds. Looking on the positive side of it I have still kept off 34 pounds. This is good! My previous weight loss attempts have led to be regaining all I have lost and more. But I haven’t lost any weight recently and I’m hoping slimming world will help with this. I was a little apprehensive starting slimming world as a vegan, however after some research (and reading a massive thread on minimins) I decided I may as well give it a try! I know I’m ready to lose it, getting weighed publicly can only help and I know my diet has been only around 70% healthy of late.

So, veganS slimming world. What can you eat, and what can’t you eat? I will go into this more at a later date but its pretty much free amounts of vegetables and fruit, free within reason of potatoes, pasta, cous cous, rice etc, one free “calcium” based extra and one free “fibre” based extra a day. Everything else must be synned. I’m not a fan of the lingo but basically anything that doesn’t come from a natural source has a syn value. This can be checked on the app, website, or even just by googling.

The group is a large part of the slimming world experience. Members stay after weighing and discuss how their week has gone, if they lost/gained, tips for other members. I will attend class on a Wednesday morning, I will attempt not to weigh myself at home between classes and I will really really try to stick to the plan.

Weekly I also will share what I have eaten, hopefully to help other vegans considering slimming world. It may be pretty repetitive but such is life!


Thursday

Breakfast

  • 1 Large slice of wholemeal toast – Heathly Extra B
  • Baked Beans – Free
  • Tomatoes and Mushrooms – Speed

Lunch

  • Cherry Tomatoes, Salad – Speed
  • Grain Mix – 4 syns
  • Homemade Soup – Free

Dinner

  • Lettuce for wraps – Speed
  • Linda McCartney Burrito Mix – 4.5 syns
  • Mixed Beans – Free
  • Vegan Cheese 25 g – Healthy Extra A
  • Peppers – Speed
  • Fruit Pot – Free

Extra

  • Shortbread – 5 syns

Friday

Breakfast

  • 2 x 400g Loaf wholemeal bread – Healthy Extra B
  • Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Spinach – Speed
  • Baked Beans – Free

Lunch

  • Rice, Mixed Veg – Free
  • Cherry Tomatoes – Speed

Dinner

  • Fry’s Vegan Sausages – 1 syn
  • Tomato Ketchup – 2 syns
  • Sweet Potato Fries, Beans – Free
  • Mixed Roasted Veg – Speed

Extra

  • Shortbread – 5 yns
  • Cream Cracker – 2 syns
  • Plum – Speed

Saturday

Breakfast

  • Homemade Hash Brows (recipe coming up), Baked Beans – Free
  • Mushrooms and Tomatoes – Speed

Lunch

  • 2 x 400g Wholemeal Bread – Healthy Extra B
  • Vegan Cheese – Healthy Extra A
  • Pickle – 1 Syn
  • Carrots, Cucumber and Tomatoes – Speed

Dinner

  • Vegetable Quarter Pounder – 9 Syns
  • Chilli Sauce – 1.5 Syns
  • Salad – Speed
  • Curry Sauce – 3 syns
  • Boiled Rice – Free

Sunday

Breakfast

  • Homemade Hash Brows (recipe coming up), Baked Beans – Free
  • Mushrooms and Tomatoes – Speed
  • 2 x 400g Wholemeal Bread – Healthy Extra B

Lunch

  • Wholemeal Cous Cous, Pinto Beans – Free
  • Courgette, chilli, spinach, onions – Speed
  • Curry Sauce – 3 syns

Dinner

  • Fry’s Vegan Sausages – 1 syn
  • Salad – Speed
  • Slimming world chips – Free
  • Curry Sauce – 3 syns

Extra

  • Grapes – Free
  • Oatly Cappucino – Healthy Extra A
  • Praline Syrup – 1.5 Syns

Monday

Breakfast

  • 2 x 400g Wholemeal Bread – Healthy Extra B
  • Tomatoes – Speed
  • Bananas, grapes – Free
  • Margerine – 1 syn

Lunch

  • Poha Rice, Pinto Beans – Free
  • Tomatoes, cucumbers, chilli – Speed
  • Curry Sauce – 2 syns

Dinner

  • Sweet Potato, Baked Beans – Free
  • Vegan Cheese – Healthy Extra A

Extra

  • Pear – Speed
  • Dark Chocolate Square – 3 syns
  • Rice Cake – 1.5 Syns

Tuesday

Breakfast

  • 2 x 400g Wholemeal Bread – Healthy Extra B
  • Tomatoes, Satusuma – Speed
  • Bananas, grapes – Free

Lunch

  • Poha Rice, Potatoes – Free
  • Tomatoes, cucumbers, chilli – Speed

Dinner

  • Risotto Rice, Stock – Free
  • Mushrooms, Garlic, Onion, Brocolli, Spinach – Speed
  • Vegan Cheese – Healthy Extra A

Extra

  • Crisps – 7 Syns
  • Margerine – 1 Syn
  • Plum – Speed
  • Oreo – 2.5 Syns

Weigh in is tomorrow, wish me luck! Starting weight was 16 stone 12 pounds, hopefully it can only go down 😀

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén