Plant-Based Pause No 44: How to Survive the Winter

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I try to buy only local produce whenever possible. I’d say about 95% of the fresh food I buy at home is grown in the UK. Recently, for nutrition reasons I have started to add some imported foods such as fairtrade bananas and avocados, but I try to stick to my pledge as much as I realistically can. Here in the UK, that’s pretty easy in the summer. We have lots of fresh fruits growing such as apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb and raspberries. Vegetables are also not a problem. Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, beetroot, spinach, kale and lots of other vegetables grow well in our damp, humid environment. When it gets to winter, though, eating seasonally can become a bit of a drag.

I’m sure this happens in a lot of places around the world, through different seasons. All of a sudden that once abundance of fresh food suddenly seems to dry up. Never fear, though, there are ways to survive your equivalent of a British winter. Make the most of the seasonal produce that you can find. If, like us, you see a lot of carrots during this time, search online for carrot recipes. Carrot soup is a personal favourite of mine during the long winter months. Local farmers’ markets are a great place to find out what is available locally at any time of year, and you can download seasonal food calendars for your area.

If you grow your own food, buy seeds that grow at different stages throughout the year. We may have long, cold, wet and sometimes snowy winters here in Wales, but we can also grow lettuce all year round. Dried fruits and vegetables are also a good fall back when the fresh alternatives aren’t available. If you’re crafty and creative like my aunty Christine, you can pickle and preserve produce in the summer and store it until needed. Or, if you’re like me and a little lazier than that, freeze berries to use in smoothies in the winter. Most berries will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I’ll admit, by the time it gets to April every year I am sick of the sight of carrots. But I’m still willing to keep eating them so I can enjoy fresh, local produce. Besides, when we do get round to the new summer season again, it makes it all the more exciting to see all that lush, tasty produce.

Plant-Based Pause No 43: Be Warned – You Will Get Addicted

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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When I meet other plant-based vegetarians, there’s often one thing we share in our stories. We all start with ‘At first, I just wanted to cut down on the amount of animal protein I was eating…’. I’ve heard it so many times. I’ve said it myself so many times. When I first watched Planeat and had my eyes opened to the truth that humans are not meant to eat animals, all I intended to due was avoid animal products most of the time. I figured that I could still eat cheese, eggs and milk when I was out and about with family and friends. Five weeks later, my parents came to visit me and we went out for dinner. I chose pizza from the menu, loaded with cows’ cheese, and about five minutes later made the decision that I never wanted to eat dairy again. I felt so ill, I couldn’t believe that I used to eat that stuff all the time.

Since the pizza incident, I have become more and more addicted to living plant-based. Every day I’m looking for ways that I can improve my diet and health and be more environmentally conscious. I search out new websites, read books, sign up to mailing lists and try as many new recipes as I have time for. I can’t get enough.

If a plant-based lifestyle came in a packet or a tin, this would have to be written on the side:

WARNING: Contents will probably cause long-term health benefits such as reduced illness, more energy and weight loss. Prolonged use can result in addiction.

Plant-Based Pause No 40: Take a Deep Breath

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.’ – Indira Gandhi

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If you’ve been following this series of posts from the start of the year, by now you’re possibly living a plant-based lifestyle. Making ethically led, environmentally friendly decisions that impact humans and other beings as little as possible will be ‘normal’ to you. You might think it crazy that you ever ate meat and dairy, or you might be horrified by the amount of waste that you used to create.

You may also be feeling frustrated by other people’s actions. When I see people making the same mistakes that I used to I get angry and annoyed. I want to scream out loud and tell them that what they are doing is not only jeopardising their own health, but it is slowly killing the planet and all other beings on it. However, I also know that doing that is futile and I will only be accused of trying to convert everyone. So, instead I take a deep breath and remind myself that I once lived like them too. I take a deep breath and try to be patient. I take a deep breath and share my knowledge in a way that I hope is inoffensive. I take a deep breath and remember that we’re all still learning.

I take a deep breath every time I hear someone make a joke about how they ‘need’ meat.
I take a deep breath when people make wisecracks about my vegan food.
I take a deep breath when I see yet another colleague throw yet another disposable plastic cup in the rubbish bin.
I take a deep breath when I’m told it’s natural for us to eat animals.
I take a deep breath when omnivores tell me they don’t want to know how animals make it to their plate.
I take a deep breath when people ask me where I get protein from.

I’m sure I have a lot more deep breaths ahead of me. I also know we can make this world a better one, one deep breath at a time.

Plant-Based Pause No 39: Your Decisions Affect Every Other Being on the Planet

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘The maps of the world will have to be redrawn’ – Sir David King, UK science advisor

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I don’t have a problem with omnivores, I have a problem with ignorant omnivores. If you know where your food comes from and how it impacts the planet, and you’re still comfortable eating it, then go ahead. However, most people have no clue about the truth behind what’s on their plate and how it got there. I used to be guilty of this myself. Even when I was a regular vegetarian, I ate milk, eggs and cheese believing that I was genuinely hurting no-one through my actions. Now I know just how wrong I was. Every choice we make impacts the planet and other humans, and now is the time to end the ignorance.

This quote from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth explains the issue far better than I ever could:

‘One reason climate change doesn’t consistently demand our attention can be illustrated by the classic story about an old science experiment involving a frog that jumps into a pot of boiling water and immediately jumps out again because it instantly recognises the danger. The same frog, finding itself in a pot of lukewarm water that is slowly brought to the boil, will simply stay in the water, in spite of the danger. Our collective ‘nervous system’ through which we recognise an impending danger to our survival is similar to the frog’s. If we experience a significant change in our circumstances gradually and slowly, we are capable of sitting and failing to recognise the seriousness of what is happening to us until it’s too late. Sometimes, like the frog, we only react to a sudden jolt, a dramatic and speedy change in our circumstances that sets off our alarm bells. ‘

A report by leading water scientists at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) found that about 20% of protein in human diets is animal-based. Unless that drops to 5% by 2050 there won’t be enough food to nourish the additional 2 billion people estimated to be alive by 2050. If America alone reduced their intake of meat by 10%, 100 million more people could be adequately fed by the land freed. Most of the grain grown in the world goes towards animal feed. Cows consume 10 times more food than they produce, and we only get a third of the food back from chickens that we put into them. If we all lived plant-based, we could free up enough land and return enough nutrients to the soil to end famine within a couple of generations.

Some people question ‘What’s the point?’. As a species, we easily get defeatist. The damage we have done to the planet seems so overwhelming that you can be forgiven for thinking maybe we have gone past the point of no return. History has shown us that we do have the ability to change, and the ability to make a difference. In 1987, 27 nations signed the Montreal Protocol, the first global environmental agreement to regulate CFCs. Since then, the levels of the most critical CFCs and related compounds have stabilised or declined. At the time, the thought of even stabilising the hole in the ozone layer seemed insurmountable. I can remember consumers looking at the new, strangely shaped light bulbs in the shops and stating that they would never catch on. People complained that they didn’t shed enough light, there was no possible way they could live under those conditions. Conventional incandescent light bulbs are now no longer sold in the UK. The same people who complained about the new, energy saving bulbs now use them without thinking. On the odd occasion that I walk into a room lit by an old bulb, the brightness is so uncomfortable I wonder how we didn’t all suffer from sight problems back then.

Thanks to the wonders of the modern world and the internet, help is just a click away. There are lots of resources to help you make simple changes and improve your carbon footprint. Chasing Ice is a good place to start.

As humans, we are privileged on this planet to have a certain amount of control. We have free will, the ability to make decisions and the ability to question. Don’t just give up this freedom by accepting what’s on your plate.

Plant-Based Pause No 38: Supermarkets Aren’t Always the Bad Guy

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what you want them to achieve, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.’ – George Smith Patton Jr.

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As I’ve said in earlier posts, I try to do as much of my shopping as possible from local farmers markets and health food shops. Ideally, I’d like to be able to do all my shopping like this. Unfortunately, my life does not allow it. The farmers markets are only on three mornings a week, in different parts of the city, and I can’t always get there. The health food shops don’t open in the evenings, and because of the ridiculous number of hours I work every week I can’t always get there in time. I also can’t always find what I need there. That’s when I use the local supermarkets.

When you’re trying to live ethically, I think it’s easy to see modern supermarket chains as the enemy. Certainly here in the UK, it’s true that they are responsible for encouraging modern, mass farming techniques. For many years their buying power drove out small-scale farmers and producers, and their demands for perfect produce has led to ridiculous levels of waste and prices so low that they are not sustainable. However, the tide is slowly changing. Supermarkets are waking up to the fact that their customers are becoming more conscious of their ethics. The ‘Big 5’ – Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons and The Co-operative – all provide organic choices in their produce departments, sell plant-based alternatives such as soya milk and are keen to label their British products with very visible Union Jack stickers. It’s now also common for supermarket brands to team up with environmental causes in an effort to do their bit and improve their public image. Tesco launched Together for Trees, a partnership with RSPB to stop the destruction of the rainforests. Customers can collect and donate green Clubcard points, and you can earn more points by re-using shopping bags and recycling ink cartridges and mobile phones.

The Co-operative is one of Britain’s biggest farmers. Their first farm, to grow their own potatoes, began in 1896. Today, as well as the potatoes, they mill wheat for their own-brand flour, oats for their own-brand oats and grow strawberries and apples. More than half of the rapeseed oil they grow on their farms is used to heat their head office. I used to work for the Co-operative, and I was pleasantly surprised at how serious they are about their ethics. They were the first business to use biodegradable bags, they designed the first ever biodegradable credit card, you can trace every coffee been they sell back to source and they even ensure they stun all the fish on their fish farms before killing them so it is more humane.

British supermarkets are making the effort to keep up with the ethical changes in shopping trends. That being said, bear in mind that most supermarkets/grocery stores are companies. Although their actions are positive, apart from businesses like The Co-operative (a co-operative, not a a company), they are doing it to increase their profits.

For me personally, there is a place on the high street for both supermarket chains and smaller, independent stores and markets.

Plant-Based Pause No 37: Buy As Local As Possible

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.’ – Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

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‘Locavore’ is a word that is beginning to be heard more and more. A locavore is someone who eats local, seasonal food. If you’re making the transition to living plant-based, you will naturally find your inner locavore. 99% of the fresh produce I buy at home is British. I’d love to tell you that 100% of my shopping comes from local sources, but I have to make a compromise between my ethics and making sure I get all the nutrients I need. I’m very lucky in the neighbourhood where I live in Cardiff, Wales. We have local farmers markets every week where we can buy fresh vegetables, bread and the occasional treat such as vegan cakes and falafel. I also get a lot of my food fresh from the community garden where I volunteer, and trade produce with friends who have their own allotments.

When I tell people that I try to eat only British produce, as close to the source as possible, they look at me like I’m crazy. They tell me my meals must be boring, and it must be hard to live like that. Actually, the opposite is true. Before living plant-based, I tended to stick to the same few meals on rotation because it was convenient. Now, I simply buy whatever is seasonal at that time of year and find a recipe that suits what I’ve bought. Shopping is much easier because I just look for the British labels or choose from the huge selection at the farmers market, and my diet is now much more varied because I’m trying ingredients that I would not have done otherwise.

Buying local also helps us to revert back to small scale, organic farming. This is massively important for the future of the planet, and also makes our food sources much more sustainable. Eating organic has received a lot of mixed press over the years, but when you learn the facts about chemical farming it really is a no-brainer to choose organic. At the moment it may be slightly more expensive on your weekly shop, but in the long term the price we are paying is far, far worse. Modern, chemical, mass farming has been described as the biggest case of genocide this planet has ever seen. We are literally making ourselves extinct.

Even if you choose to eat meat, buying it from small-scale organic farms is the much friendlier way to do it. ‘Silent Spring’, by Rachel Carson, was published in 1962. The real-life accounts of the effects of chemical farming read like a horror story. From children dying on farms within hours of touching farm equipment to whole species of insects and animals disappearing. The full affects of chemicals can only be seen after a few generations. In the case of some small insects, this is a relatively short period of time. However, for us as humans, we will not see the true consequences of our actions for many years yet.

It is not just the direct affect of chemicals to us that we have to worry about. Neoricotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees. Without the bees to pollinate crops, we cannot grow anything.

 

Plant-Based Pause No 34: It’s Not Just What You Eat

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.’ – Tim Duncan

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Living plant-based is first and foremost about the food you put in your body. Really tasty, vegan, whole food at that. However, the more I learn about living plant-based, the more I find out about products and services that are just unethical for us to use. I’ve always been partly aware of this. Back when I was a normal vegetarian, I stopped buying anything made from products that an animal would have to die for. I didn’t see the point in not eating animals if I was only going to wear their skin. However, the past couple of years have opened my mind and taught me so much about the horrific treatment of animals in lots of industries.

DSC_0499Most of us Brits assume, as I always did, that leather comes from cows. This is generally true of quality leather that is produced in the UK, however other leather that is sold here can come from horses, sheep, lambs, goats, pigs and even cats and dogs. So, when you buy that bargain pair of shoes, you can’t be sure of which creature they started off in life as. To me personally, a living being is a living being. We all have souls, and it is just as terrible to wear a cow’s skin as it is to wear the skin of any animal, humans included. But I bet people would be shocked to hear that they may be wearing cat or dog on their feet. I can just imagine the uproar, especially after the comedy of the horse meat scandal last year. And if you don’t care about the animals, consider this. Tanneries use dangerous substances like mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives and cyanide-based oils and dyes to stop decomposition. These dangerous substances are suspected of causing leukaemia, with instances of the disease being up to five times greater than normal in residential areas near tanneries.

So, what about wool? That’s ethical right? I mean, it’s helping the sheep by shearing them. Unfortunately, no. I’ve PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAnever actually worn wool because I’ve been allergic to it since birth, but if I wasn’t I would still restrain from using it and I now avoid buying gifts that are made from wool also. The sheep that we see in the fields today are not ‘natural’ sheep. Just like us humans bred cows to produce more milk and beef, and chickens to lay more eggs, sheep were selectively bred to produce more wool. So, they go from having too much wool that causes them to suffer in hot weather to being susceptible to the cold and wet after they are sheared. Can you imagine someone giving you an extra thick, woolly coat to keep you warm and then snatching it back from you all of a sudden and leaving you exposed to the elements? Sheep are also not specifically bred to just produce wool. After just 4-6 months they are killed to be sold for meat. The wool is sometimes pulled from their dead bodies in the slaughterhouse. It’s very rare that a sheep will die of old age. Lanolin is a by-product of the wool/meat industry. It is a natural grease that is removed before the wool is processed, and is used as a base in cosmetics, lotions and ointments. If you’re not sure whether the products you use contain lanolin or other animal ingredients, switch to vegan alternatives. It’s a lot easier than googling the list of very scientific ingredients you find on the side of tubs and bottles, believe me.

Palm oil is a common ingredient in foods such as ice cream, cookies, crackers, chocolate, cereals, breakfast bars, cake mixes, doughnuts, crisps, frozen meals and baby formula. Nearly 90% of it comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, where rainforests are stripped bare. The habitats of the Sumatran orang-utan, Sumatran Tiger and Sumatran Rhinoceros are in grave danger. A lot of the work is also carried out by child labourers.

I could go on and on about products that use animal ingredients, or threaten the lives of both humans and other species. I’ll be honest, I’m far from perfect. I try to use plant-based products wherever possible. I use Ecover washing up liquid and laundry detergent at home (added bonus – I no longer have allergic reactions when I put on clean clothes or do the washing up), I buy cleaning products from The Co-operative (no animal products used) and I have started to replace all my make-up and cosmetics with vegan alternatives. But, I still choose to buy the odd product that isn’t necessarily vegan and I have a couple of items made from leather and felt that were given to me as gifts.

I had no idea that making the decision to go plant-based a few years ago, or even choosing to become vegetarian over 20 years ago, would have such a profound effect on my life. I’m glad that I did make those changes in my life, though, and I am constantly learning about how I can become a better citizen of this Earth.

 

Plant-Based Pause No 33: Make a Pledge

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.’ – Ruth Harrison

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It’s easy for us to make promises to ourselves and then come up with lots of excuses why we can’t keep them. It’s harder to break those promises if you’ve told someone else that you’re going to do it.

In 2013 I pledged to reduce the packaging waste that I produce. More specifically, I promised to use fewer take-out cups. I invested in re-usable cups and began taking my flask to work. Over the course of the year, I threw only about 5 cups into the bin. Considering I was previously buying a take-put coffee almost everyday at work, this was a huge reduction. As a bonus, it’s also saved me a lot of money. This year, I’ve continued to reduce my waste and I’ve also vowed to be more ethical with my choices when donating to charity. This may sound harsh, but after learning that a lot of charities here in the UK waste money on unnecessary animal testing that provides absolutely no benefit to their cause I realised I’m better donating my money elsewhere. Besides, promoting the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle does more to help people in the long term.

By telling people around me about my pledges, I’m constantly reminded to keep on track. Believe me, people will soon let you know if you make a slip-up.

There are lots of on-line resources to help you make a pledge. Plate to Planet is a great site where you can pledge to go meat free. They’ll even email you to check how you’re getting on. Meat Free Mondays, promoted by the McCartney family, is for those who aren’t ready to go completely plant-based just yet. By pledging to not eat meat for just one day a week, you can make a huge difference to your health and the planet.

Plant-Based Pause No 20: My Favourite Sources for Recipes

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘All glory comes from daring to begin.’ – Eugene F. Ware

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I’ve talked a lot about preparing and cooking your own plant-based food in recent posts, but where do you start? Removing the meat from your meals can be daunting if it’s always covered a large part of you plate. Don’t panic. This doesn’t mean that you are resigned to a life of just eating bowls of steamed vegetables. There are lots of great vegan and plant-based recipe books out there, just search on Amazon and you’ll find hundreds of choices. If you don’t want to commit to buying that recipe book just yet, there are lots of resources available online. Below is a list of my favourite sources for new recipes. Most of them have sign-up options, so you don’t even have to search. Just follow them and the recipes will come to your inbox. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

Forks Over Knives – The Mothership for all plant-based enthusiasts. Be the first to find out about plant-based news and pick up some great, seasonal (depending on where you are in the world, you might have to keep them until it’s the right season where you are) recipes. Forks Over Knives also stock a range of recipe books. It’s a great one-stop-shop for all things plant-based.
Vedged Out – Somer’s blog was one of the first that I read when I converted to a plant-based diet. As a mother, her recipes are also kid-friendly and super easy to prepare.
Running on Vegan – Alison manages to educate me on a weekly basis. Her experiences protesting for animal rights are really thought-provoking, and her handy recipes are great for using up that left-over veg that’s been hanging around in the bottom of the fridge.
Forks and Beans – If anyone ever tells you that living plant-based and gluten-free means that you can’t enjoy cakes and treats, send them straight over to Cara’s site. She bakes amazing creations for every holiday imaginable, and more just for the sake of it. If you’re missing your childhood favourites, Forks and Beans is the place to head.
Product websites such as Provamel (if you use soya products) and Groovy Food. Whenever you buy anything, check the packaging for a website and get online.

Plant-Based Pause No 19: Don’t be an Unhealthy Vegan

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Vision without action is daydream. Action without vision is nightmare.’ – Japanese Proverb

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When I shop in my local supermarket, there are two things that confuse me. The first is that the gluten-free section is in the middle of the bakery department. To any supermarket designers that may be reading this – if you are allergic to gluten, it’s really annoying to have to smell freshly baked bread that you cannot eat when you’re trying to do your shopping. The second thing is that the vegetarian and vegan section is not labelled as such. Instead, it is included in the ‘Healthy Eating’ aisle. This is based on the assumption that all vegan and vegetarian food is healthy, but that’s not the case. Granted, in most meals removing the animal protein will make it healthier, but it is very easy to be an unhealthy vegan.

I grew up eating processed food. I don’t blame my parents, at the time they didn’t know it was bad for me. We were all swept up in the convenience food revolution. Now, I eat a mainly healthy, plant-based, whole food diet. I do allow myself the occasional processed snack, but it is very rare. Unfortunately, many vegans still want the convenience lifestyle. And food production companies are more than happy to oblige. That ‘Healthy Eating’ section in my local supermarket is crammed full of highly processed vegan alternatives to cheese, meats, chocolate and cakes. It’s important to remember that although it’s labelled as healthy and it’s vegan, it can still be junk food. I always live by the rule that if I don’t know what the ingredients on the pack are, and particularly if I can’t pronounce them, I probably shouldn’t be eating it.

Preparing and cooking whole food from scratch sounds like a chore, but I assure you that it can easily fit into your daily routine. You don’t need to buy packs of processed soya products to get your protein fix – spinach, mushrooms, beans, oatmeal (beware – contains gluten). wholewheat pasta, corn and potatoes are all great sources. Besides, vegan food is generally a lot quicker to prepare than meat-based meals and the ingredients are certainly a lot easier to handle. A lot of them can even be eaten raw. So, when you think about it, vegan food was really the original convenience food.