Regular readers (hello!) will know that we’ve been giving veganuary a try over here at the Magpie Nest. I don’t have any plans to become a food blogger, my main interest here is exploring creativity and wellbeing, and other things related to that. I did, however, want to offer up a few thoughts about the things I’ve learned so far about eating vegan.
There are a whole range of different approaches out there to vegan diets – we’ve been eating a wide range of things, both raw and cooked, including lots of different beans, grains, fruits, vegetables. Pretty much the least restrictive version of ‘vegan’ you can get. We have, however, avoided eating processed or ready made vegan meals, and have been trying to keep the ‘refined sugar’ down to a minimum. This is mostly because we wanted to use the time to experiment with different forms of cooking, not because we feel strongly about ‘ready meals’. We are also on dry January at the moment, so no booze. We’ve been doing research on nutrition to make sure we get enough of the things (there are lots of things). I particularly like this book by Jack Norris and Virgina Messina, who use scientific evidence to back up their advice (its American so UK readers will need to do a bit of research to translate the serving size suggestions). So, by following the above type of diet I have found:
I can eat all day. Seriously, I’m steadily loosing weight and I can pretty much chomp down on what I want at the moment, including lots of nuts and avocados. This suits me really well as I’m a bit of a grazer, but I can see that for some people this would not be ideal situation. It’s also likely to be related, in part, to not drinking this month, so I’ll see how that changes in February.
My sense of taste has changed. I’ve been cutting out refined sugar for a while now as I have quite bad sugar crashes. Now I find a whole range of foods, from red peppers to dark chocolate, taste much sweeter to me now. In fact I used to find dark (70% + cocoa) quite bitter, but now I can’t get enough of it. Which is good for my brain (well that’s my story anyway).
Vegan cooking is pretty yummy. We’ve been trying out all sorts of things in our efforts to make sure we get enough protein. So far this has been really enjoyable, and it has pushed us to be more creative and experimental. This in itself is a mental health plus for me. I particularly like sprinkling toasted nuts and seeds on soups, stews, curries and pasta which adds an extra crunch to the texture of what ever it is we’ve been eating.
My wallet is a little heavier. We’ve definitely spent less on food. I should add that we’ve not been eating out at all because of the dry January thing, which helps, but we are still spending less. We’ve stocked up on dried beans (which are cheap) and fresh veggies, and aren’t spending what we normally would on meat products (which is significantly less cheap).
There is a strange satisfaction in soaking dried beans over night. A while ago I blogged about how some aspects of my arts practice forced me to slow down, and this can be a helpful mental health thing. Shifting our cooking from things that can be thrown in a hot pan and served 30 minutes later to things that need to be soaked over night, washed, cooked and cooked some more has made us think more carefully about what we put in our bodies. This point resonates for me with this really nice post by Rumpy Dog on food and self care. Go read that.
I feel better. Physically and mentally I do feel better. Not perfect, unlimited energy better, but noticeably better. This could be due to the novelty of it all. We are supplementing things like B12, and eating lots of dark chocolate, which is high in tryptophan. Both of these things are important things for a healthy nervous system. So it could be due to that too. I’ve definitely been feeling less nervous, which is good.
Vegan doodles are fun. Expect more.