This is an unusual blog article for me – it’s a little deeper and a little more personal than usual but I’m putting it out there anyway – make of it what you will.
This year I have decided to follow a vegan diet for Lent. So that’s 40 days (and 40 nights) of no animal products whatsoever. As it is more normal for people to simply give up chocolate or alcohol I can see that my choice might
- Seem a little OTT and
- Need some explaining.
So here goes:
First of all what is it with the whole Lent thing?
I was raised a Catholic and, although it would be a major stretch to describe myself in those terms today, some of this stuff sticks and I have always followed the Lenten traditions of pancakes, fasting and reflection (followed by too much chocolate!).
For Christians Lent is a time for removing themselves from their normal behaviour and taking time to reflect (hence Christ’s 40 days and nights in the desert). It is usual to “give something up” as a way of demonstrating to ourselves that we too can resist temptation. It is not really about deprivation but more about focussing on what we need rather than what we want.
For me, in a world where everything is instant and delayed gratification is no longer the norm, that is no bad thing; even for those of us with no religious beliefs at all.
So why vegan?
I do not believe that a vegan diet is inherently “better” either physiologically or morally and if you are looking for gory stories of animal welfare issues then I am afraid you will need to look elsewhere. I am not looking to convert anyone and, whilst education is a good thing, I don’t believe in making other people feel guilty about their choices.
For me, the vegan approach is about re-setting my dietary clock.
I have been a bit low of late. A bit, end of winter down in the dumps which has been compounded by some on-going health issues. Like most women (and many men) my eating habits are very much affected by my mood.
I love good food and I love to cook but low mood tends to make me lethargic, it robs me of my motivation even to do the things I love and so I have been making some pretty poor food choices and I have been failing to get outside to walk. In short, I have indulged in behaviour which reinforces rather than challenges my low mood. It’s time to turn that around.
Vegan food is not easy. I have to think about it and when I think about food properly I make better choices. I plan meals and I shop well, I take joy in cooking new foods and in eating them. In short I am tricking myself into doing better.
4 years ago I spent a month being vegan as an “experiment”, the articles and recipes are here on the blog (just type vegan into the search box at the top of the page). At the end of that month I felt more energised and had lost 10lb (bonus!!). It seems like time to do that again.
You might be wondering why I didn’t make the decision to be a vegan permanently. I have asked myself that question many times and haven’t yet come up with a satisfactory answer. I think I am looking for something deeply philosophical when the actual answer might just be “cheeeese”! The conversation is on-going.
Since that last experiment we have significantly reduced the amount of meat we eat; I don’t cook meat at home unless we have guests but we may choose to eat meat when we are out. If friends choose to cook for us we eat whatever they cook and we eat it with gratitude.
So, this personal journey is one of re-balancing. A time to reflect on food and to only put things in my mouth if they are actually going to improve my energy levels (wine is ok right? Wine gives me energy!).
The bun scuffle blog is coming with me – what I eat, I write. I hope you will come with me too and maybe try a few of the meals I blog about.
So what am I eating? Well, I am only on day 3 of 40 so, not much yet!
Breakfast has been avocado or banana on Ryvita – nom.
I have batch made lots of soup for lunches including this yummy Tuscan Bean Soup. It’s cold out and soup is bright and colourful and warming and it makes me feel good about being home.
Dinner last night was falafel, hummus and salad in pitta bread – our four year old grand-daughter was with us for dinner and I wanted something that she would enjoy too – and she did! Tonight we will be having sweet potato and coconut dahl – the recipe will follow soon.
I have been snacking on fruit and nuts and may be developing a walnut habit!
This week the newspapers were full of articles about how we should really be eating 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, not 5, as previously recommended – so I am holding that in the back of my mind as I plan each days meals – I’ll let you know how I get on with that.
So that’s me. I am not preaching just trying to kick start a return to better habits.