In relation to the Chakra System food is very important. I’ve talked before about how the colours of foods and how they’re grown (red and vegetables that grow in the ground for Root Chakra etc.) can relate to supporting each of the Chakras, but it is also true that each of the Chakras has a food/food group associated with it too. From meat/protein and animal products at the Root all the way up to completely ‘plant-based’ at the Third Eye and fasting at the Crown.
If you think of lots of Yogis and Gurus, many eat a plant-based diet and fast often in an effort to ‘lighten’ the flow of energy and lift it up towards the enlightenment of the higher Chakras, rather than getting ‘weighed down’ in the heavy foods associated with the lower Chakras.
I am mostly carnivore (blue steak and bloody burger kind of girl… props to my needy Root Chakra!!!). I have dabbled at various times with going Vegetarian or Vegan over the years – my father was Vegetarian for 30 years, starting his meat-free journey at a time when for a 40 odd year old Welsh guy it was a bit weird, so I had a great role model! But I always keep coming back to my meat-based diet.
Would this time be any different?
I have been reading a book called ‘How Not to Die’. It is (as the title suggests) a pretty hard-hitting read. In it, Dr Michael Greger looks at the major killers in society and examines (all backed by sound peer-reviewed research) how lifestyle and diet changes can delay, halt and even arrest the development of some of the biggest killers we face – heart disease, cancer, brain disease etc. It’s a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.
The main outcome of how to live longer and healthier?
That’s pretty much all we need to do! It sounds soooooo simple doesn’t it?!
Side note: I use the words ‘plant-based’ when referring to my diet, rather than Vegan because Vegan carries with it so many political and emotional attachments. I read on a particularly vehement Vegan site that if you’re not making the dietary changes for reasons of animal welfare then you can’t be Vegan (they weren’t quite as polite about it as that!!!). I’m not really sure about any of that, but ‘plant-based’ feels ‘safer’!
So, we (my husband had a plant-based diet forced on him at home – hey, when I do the cooking, you eat what I eat!!) have just come to the end of a month of our plant-based experiment and I wanted to share with you some of my top learnings and thrash out our next steps – kind of like ‘dietary therapy’!
#1 I didn’t actually miss meat that much
I’m as surprised as you! I thought I would miss the texture and taste of the meat itself (remember the blue steak and bloody burger), but I didn’t really. We didn’t go in for much of the ‘fake’ meat or meat substitutes… somehow it felt like cheating… but we did try fake bacon – it was awful. Fake ham wasn’t too bad and James is still getting it in his sandwiches until we run out!!
#2 I thought about food all… the… time.
Not just about what I could or couldn’t have, but about what I would cook, how I would cook it, how long it would take, where I would shop, would the Co-Op at the end of the road have it, doing internet research, stressing about veg going off, worrying if we would be hungry (we weren’t!)! This level of obsession is not ideal for someone with a history of an eating disorder – it felt a bit like ‘being on a diet’ and I could see myself easily spiralling into disordered and obsessive eating. I have done so much work on mindful eating and body acceptance, it felt a little weird and uncomfortable to slip back into that way of thinking again.
#3 I missed cheese more than anything
Vegan cheese is an abomination. I guess, as humans we can ‘get used’ to anything – I’m just not sure that we should!! I read some taste-tests, bought the winners and it was still awful. That is just my opinion and I’m sure there are lots of people who have been eating it for years who will leap to its defence, but it’s not for me. Real cheese adds so many options to your diet too: a quick and easy sandwich – check. A tasty topping on your lasagne – check. Chuck it on some pesto pasta for a super quick dinner – check.
#4 I added Oat Milk to my porridge
This one was easy, simple and tasted ok! It made me chuckle every day that someone had cooked some oats, squeezed out the juice and called it ‘Oat Milk’. Then I was adding it back onto my oats and cooking it back in! It’s like I was bringing it home.
#5 It felt great to finally get more than ‘Five a Day’ at each meal!
I love veg. I have a tense relationship with fruit (allergies made me label fruit as poison at a young age and my mind just cannot let it go!!!). So, getting ‘5 a Day’ can be a challenge, but for this whole month we met and exceeded that target at every meal, and it felt so good! Stir fry veg, roasted veg, salad – all at every meal. I got really good at chopping.
#6 It got boring
Maybe I should have bought myself a really good cookbook, but I relied on the internet (there is loads of free information online) for meal ideas and inspiration and after a couple of weeks, everything started to taste the same with a different ‘title’! Prepping meals took a long time. I’m fine with cooking and spending time in the kitchen, but sometimes you don’t want to spend an hour peeling, chopping and cooking – there are ‘convenience’ Vegan options, but a lot of them are full of junk, so we mostly avoided them, but maybe I should have made better ‘occasional’ use of them.
#7 A great daily ‘clearing’
One of the things Vegans will tell you is to make more time for toilet breaks. I don’t mean to be indelicate, but if you’re looking to kick start your digestive process or if things are a bit ‘sluggish’ in that area – go plant-based for a week. It will sort you right out!!!
#8 Some Vegan ‘substitute’ products are indistinguishable from the ‘real thing’!
My heroes are Helman’s Vegan Mayonnaise (insanely good, but expensive and in a small jar), Vegan Magnums (dark rich chocolate and ice-cream that tastes slightly of honey – there’s no honey – it’s not Vegan); Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Ice Cream (lots of the same favours and tastes amazing); Asda Vegan Pizza (tastes fine); Breaded Vegetable Bites (easy to just shove in the oven with some chips – the crispy breadcrumb coating makes it feel like you’re eating chicken nuggets or fish fingers!!).
Falafels are literally the best thing ever – I know it’s not a substitute, but it deserves a special mention (eat them straight from the packet as you peruse the contents of the your fridge, stuff them in pitta bread or as part of a ‘buddha bowl’ – just eat them, they’re lush!).
#9 There are loads of takeaway options
All your Chinese favourites come in a vegetable only option and if you like it (see below), there are loads of Tofu options. The Indian takeaway is full to the brim with amazing vegetable dishes and I loved choosing lots of different vegetable side dishes to make up my meal. Dominoes Vegan pizza is on the horizon (apparently) and even KFC have a plant-based burger.
#10 Tofu is just gross white blancmange
I know, I know – lots of people swear by it and I’m fully prepared to admit I might have been doing it wrong – but I did not have any success with Tofu. It was squishy and slimy and just like gross white blancmange – there I said it. Sorry… not sorry.
I think I will struggle to stay completely plant-based, but there are lots of things I can take forward into a more ‘flexitarian’ diet and I’m sure Dr Greger would agree that even small changes can add up to a big difference.
Some things like adding Oat Milk to cereal and enjoying the Vegan Mayo (and all the other heroes I mentioned) – are easy swaps and I have enjoyed the change, so I will carry on with that!
I will definitely be adding a few ‘meat and dairy-free’ days to our week. It will give our digestive systems a break and help us hit that 5+ a day threshold. And chucking a lovely side salad or some roasted veg on the side of everything is such an easy way to amp up that veggie count!
I will continue to choose plant-based/vegetarian options at restaurants, takeaways and in my coffee (almond and coconut milk are great alternatives) if that is what I fancy – and quite often it is!
And, I might just treat myself to a fancy ‘plant-based’ cookbook to inspire those ‘meat and dairy-free’ days and keep any boredom at bay.
I’d love to hear what you think about plant-based and what your diet is like – do you have any top tips or easy swaps? Drop me a message or hit me up on Facebook!
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