Why I finally took the plunge and went full-blown plant-based for the last two weeks
Firstly, I’m not one for so called 'trends'. So this is big.
If we were talking fashion here and the high street decided a subtle pastel yellow would be the colour of the season, I’d likely go out of my way to avoid wearing it because EVERYONE else will have it.
So, jumping on a bandwagon is not how I'd usually roll. But here we are.
The thing is, for me, veganism is a lifestyle, not a trend, and it's a lifestyle I've wanted to try for a long time, for a whole host of reasons.
Firstly, I’m a major animal lover. So, that whole aspect of animal cruelty, what goes on behind the walls we can't see past and how these beings (yes, they are beings) end up a slab of meat has never sat well with me. I think society needs to do a whole lot more for animals and for me, the first thing I could do to help (and the one thing I had immediate control over) was to take them off my plate.
People tend to take meat out of their diets for health reasons, and this is amazing! I really do applaud, because I’m sorry to say, I haven't done a whole lot in my life with the sole aim of boosting my health — instead, my health has been a by-product of the other lifestyle choices I've made. I'm lucky (I guess) that I've never gotten a health scare quite big enough to give me that kick up the arse to do better. (Touch wood.)
But last Christmas...
Christ. It was overindulgent to say the least. (Grotesque when you really think about it.)
There was no meat as per (I’ve been vegetarian for the last four years — hypocritical for an ‘animal lover,’ I know), but even the richness of the food (LOTS of cream added to sauces etc.), the extra sugar (I DON'T WANT ANY BOXES OF CHOCOLATE NEXT YEAR) and more alcoholic beverages than usual had me feeling incredibly bloated and my body hated me. Like, HATED me.
When I was young my parents would say, "You’re body is the greatest machine you'll ever own. Treat it with respect." Truth.
I still wouldn't say no to a Tesla too though…
One thing I really noticed over the holidays was my period and how utterly shit and painful it was. I KNEW what I had been consuming caused it to be so painful — I just knew — and on Stephen's Day I literally couldn't move.
Writhing in pain with a 'vom bag' at the side of my bed (nausea and dizziness is no fun) and having someone at home drive around Dublin in search of an open pharmacy (I was desperate for painkillers) had me thinking, 'this is officially the LAST time I'm going to treat my insides like they mean shit.'
I'm not going to lie, I was pissed off with myself for being so lazy — not ensuring I was eating genuinely nutritious food and overindulging in food that didn't coincide with my morals either. I took it as life's way of saying 'get your priorities in check.'
For so long, I wasn't aligning my actions with my values – something I believe is the true key to happiness. Instead, I was being lazy, eating out, and it turns out lots of veggie options when eating out have a good bit of cheese or dairy in them — something I wanted to avoid.
January (and not because it's cliché and the 'time for new beginnings' etcetera) would be the time I stopped being so lazy and actually do the things — food-wise at least — I want to do.
So much of the things I would make at home would normally be vegan/plant-based, but balancing work and life had me opting for the easiest path for too long as opposed to the right one (for me).
Very handy (and tasty) if looking for something speedy to eat
Now, there was going to be no more eating out, at least not as much, and if I did eat out, it was to be healthy and plant-based only because that's what makes me feel good, from an ethical point of view and physically too.
Being vegetarian for the past four years has definitely helped me to feel good and I think if anyone wants to go vegan, it’s a great transition into it.
What I've learned from going vegetarian and now going totally plant-based is that it's not actually the food or the diet (god, I hate that word) that's the hard part – you can make eating plants bloody DELISH! But it's knowing what to stock the cupboards with, what the essential baking ingredients will be, what makes for a decent quick fix when you're in the door from work 'starving' and can't muster the energy to stand over a hob for the next hour.
It's also knowing that you can eat badly on ANY kind of diet — so it's important to be smart about what you're eating.
But I feel, for me, it's entirely worth going plant-based and I REALLY want to try and make an effort this time. Vegetarianism became SO easy, I trust going plant-based will too.
There's more tips than ever on how to do it, and do it WELL. Plus, two chapters into Mary Robinson's Climate Justice (which highlights the impact of climate change on those most vulnerable around the globe) has me feeling pretty determined to do better also, not just for me but for people whose lives are affected around the world by what we eat and consume too.
Another tasty quick fix that helped me along last week, #BeBetter
A lifestyle that aligns with your values goes far beyond diet however.
Think fashion, beauty products, the way in which we manage our household waste and how companies manage theirs. I think so much is changing because it has to and as consumers we hold SO much power in this regard — more than we know. Every purchase/non-purchase we make tells the market what we want or don’t want. So we can choose to choose wisely.
So, I guess the perfect mix of caring about the effects of diet and lifestyle on our planet, caring for animals and wanting to feel good has me determined more than ever to do better.
Over the next while, I want to share any delicious recipes, restaurants, tricks, clothes — you name it — that might help people wanting to live a vegan/plant-based lifestyle or just be more conscious of what they’re purchasing/consuming. And I promise not to sound condescending. No doubt, I'll have my slip ups.
So, if anyone wants to share any tips (makeup and fashion included), recipes and so on that you think would be beneficial to others, please feel free to share and don't hesitate to get in touch.
No matter what you want to do to make your life better, healthier or more exciting this year, just go for it. Like most things in life, the hardest part isn't the action itself, it's mustering up the courage to just do it.