Becoming Vegan, was not, as I would have liked it to have been, for the animals, or even the environment. I have tried on those causes many times, and sadly failed, straddling a half way house instead - soya milk in my coffee and mozzarella on my pizza.
Nope, I was fairly well ensconced in the ignorant bliss of cheese world, and it took something huge to tip that scale. The deciding factor, the one that tipped me over the semi vegan edge, was my husband's heart attack at age 39. Despite popular consumerist conception that we need meat and dairy for our protein and calcium, I found myself falling down a rabbit hole of compelling medical research suggesting the huge life supporting evidence of veganism (books references at end and highly recommended - don't wait till you have a heart attack though). Whilst many folks could not be convinced, choosing to lean on 1980's advertised wisdom instead. I was, however, susceptible to this fascinating new glut of information. Life and death tends to do that for you.
So several weeks in and I have already noticed several wonderful and unexpected effects of this new plant based diet.
1) The first change, that came about, almost immediately, was a big boost in my energy. The past year had had it's way with me and I was so very lethargic. I could literally feel my muscles slackening and my physical motivation had left the room. A few days into veganism and I was back on the trampoline with the kids, laughing my damned head off. It wasn't a chore, it wasn't a hardship. It was fun, and I had the beans to do it, literally and metaphorically.
2) Waking up in the morning was suddenly so easy. Instead of negotiating with a two year and and trying to find ways to let mummy lie down a bit longer. I was up with the larks.
3) On the opposite end, I was staying up later with no ill effects. My previous lethargy had lead to me going to bed not long after my kids, but now I'm staying up till (shock horror) 11pm! A massive me-time bonus for this tired mama!
4) I feel more connected to my truth. Which sounds like a bit of a wishy washy concept. But it has aligned something in me that desperately needed aligning. Eating dairy products before came with guilt for me, because I know the horrors of that industry. So any such meal was one laden with regret. Now that I'm not dosing myself up on that, I feel clear, in line with my heart, and grateful for the food I consume.
5) I haven't especially lost weight - that wasn't the reason behind this. However I've notices a flattening of my stomach and a general trimness of this old bod. Perhaps this is the healthier food, combined with the extra energy. Either way I feel I have halted the onset of middle agedness a little.
6) As a spiritual writer and author, and a lover of tarot, my intuition and inspiration has been madly improved. Now my body isn't dealing with foods that made me feel sluggish I am free to explore my spiritual connection. To the point that last week I wrote a whole new book that seemed sent directly sent from a higher power. Yeah, that's pretty cool.
7) My husband, who was a heavy meat eater pre-heart attack, and who is still partial to it, has seen some huge changes. He lost weight quickly and has enjoyed the meals prepared. Plus, I'm not gonna mince my words, our love life has improved. Exponentially. 19 years and 2 kids later - who knew!
8) I don't miss what I was eating before - vegetarian. This new curve feels well overdue. And I have knocked together some pretty incredible meals. Everything can be veganised these days. Just this weekend I used a meat based curry recipe from The Curry Guy and turned it into a rich, creamy, better than the local takeaway style masala. It can be done!
9) As a pizza lover, I figured this would be my biggest challenge. I thought cheese was the thing that made pizza so great. I have discovered that actually a good base, roast peppers, onion and a tonne of chilli, with a sprinkling of vegan cheese, is the bomb. And Hummus is a god send that makes a very happy garlic mayo alternative.
10) I feel alive. In so many ways. I am energised, excited and a little bit reborn. This has opened doors and had me following my nose into new adventure - a cow sanctuary volunteer day was one such madcap adventure just this past Sunday. Aligning with self, inner knowing and being health focused has been a revelation!
Follow my Vegan Journey, ups down and cooking successes at INSTAGRAM
Recommended Reading: How Not To Die Dr Michael Greger and Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B Esselstyn
Self care, self care, self care. Me time, me time, me time. It's a current spiritual and welfare trend. But is it hitting the spot?
Yeah, we know it's all really important. We gotta take care of ourselves, just like on the plane. Put your own life mask first. (So that then you can save your kids / partner / bloke next to you who can't figure the facial straps). Yeah, yeah yeah...
But is it self care, if inevitably, it is for someone else benefit? Look after you so you can be strong for your partner. Look after you so you don't yell at your kids. Look after you so you can have a happy family life. Look after you so you don't go ape shit crazy at XXXX who has been pushing your buttons and you are already to blow.
I've been looking after everyone for a long time. And my 'self care' has been very much based on the premise that I need to keep myself together because I am lynchpin of all that is. My husband had a heart attack, we don't have a great deal of childcare options, I've been numero uno. My self care has been wrapped around keeping myself sane and minimally healthy so that I can carry the weight of family life.
Do you feel me? Is your self care really for the benefit and wellbeing of everybody else?
And if it is, how do you move past the 'minimal' and onto something a bit more luxurious, a bit more meaningful?
Well first, you must recognise that your welfare goes beyond being basically rested and zen.
You have so many needs; creative, etheric, desirous, passion, craving, wants. And all of those descriptive words run the gamut of body, mind and soul. You are a lot to fill. And if your filling is focused on fuel and not a full service. Your engine is likely to fall out. Apologies for the slightly rubbish car metaphor - it just happened.
Sometimes we have to force another level of self care. The image at the top looks really worthy. But it is actually a result of forced self care. I'm always worried about everyone else's diet, I'm feeding my family all the veggies, and my body, my health is considered last. I think that I'm functioning and therefore I'm okay, but am I? Don't we deserve more than just functioning?
I need more. So the wholesome and worthy smoothie is part of a regimen of enforced and non-negotiable self care. I don't want to do it, it's an extra chore, but it's a valuable exercise in putting myself actually first, and for noone else's benefit. Because I want to live longer, I want to fight disease, I want to be healthy and fulfilled on a new level. I want to give to myself, even if that means a forceable smoothie every morning - it's a start right?
What can you do today, that is that little bit extra self care, that is just for you, not for your family or the wellbeing of your partner / parents / colleagues?
What is that one extra step in a self care regimen that you aren't taking that you should? Set an intent to do it in the comments below... NOW do it. And the rest will follow. Put yourself really and truly first, and let the self care flood from that point onward...
Something you might not know about me. I adore curry. I would have it for every meal I think... Nice and hot too. Or creamy... Or chocked full of Coriander. I have no favourite. But the flavours, oh my, I've enjoyed my fair share. I used to live adjacent to the 'Golden Mile' in Leicester, which houses the UK's finest Indian and Pakistani restaurants, cafes and groceries, many of which are naturally vegan or veggie. I miss those days. Oh my I do!
I remember my first experience of a spiced dish. There was a wonderful Pakistani family living two doors down from my Dad. We played with the kids all day long, in and out on each other's houses and all up and down the street with my pal Samina. Back in the freerange 1980's. One time The mum signalled for me to try some of their food, she was an epic, beautiful, strong woman, who didn't yet speak English. I was nervous as it looked so different from The usual British fare. I took one bite and my life changed forever. I remember her looking so amused and pleased and feeding me plate after plate and me just sucking the stuff up.
After posting all this on Instagram, and then being shy of the right ingredients, I created my own Mushroom curry. The specifications of which had to be 1) delicious 2) vegan 3) good for the heart. It was really quite something! So please do copy my random and wholly invented curry recipe and let me know how it goes!
PS I don't do measurements, I just chuck stuff in, so please be warned this is haphazard, creative cooking at it's very best.
Alice's Haphazard Mushroom Curry...
Rapeseed oil or Coconut oil - a good couple of big glugs or spoonfuls and start warming.
Finely chopped onions - the more the merrier!
2 packs of button mushrooms
(any other veg or meat you see fit)
Turmeric - a lot - it fights cancer cells don't you know!
Garlic 5/6 cloves or a big squeeze from a squeeze tube
Ginger big squeeze from a squeeze tube
Garam Masala - couple of dessertspoons
Chilli powder / flakes / chopped chillies - as much as you can handle.
Cook all above together,stirring often, till onions and mushrooms are softer and spices all mixed.
Can of chopped tomatoes
Peanut butter - nutty if you like it - big spoonful.
Almond butter - big spoonful.
(You could also add coconut cream at this stage, which I didn't, but would supplement the nut butter if you are allergic, or just go mad and put it in as well as. YOLO)
Sugar (I know random) but helps address any bitterness if you put in too much turmeric! Couple of teaspoons.
Spinach - wilt a whole bunch in to it... Kale would do great too! But add Kale in sooner.
Fresh coriander - love the stuff, put lots in, stir it up and serve!
If you make and love this recipe, let me know in the comments below! I have never posted one before. And my cooking is often as crazy as this, but 90% of the time I'm very happy with it! I have a tonne of recipe books, but rarely use them. Mainly just for inspiration, and then I cobble together what they teach me, with what I have access to!
Comment below or share if you love curry!