Tuesday, April 28, 2009

vegan - yah I know

I was vegan for 5 years… then I slipped.. Started eating a bit of soft cheese and eggs while I was traveling in Europe. I ate salmon for the first time in 5 years at Burning Man, I was feeling so malnourished I was almost crazy from it and the smell of that cooking salmon almost drove me to tears. I slowly started eating fish again. In February I went on a holiday to Western Australia and did a lot of snorkeling. Seeing these giant fish swimming around, they were all so beautiful with their little faces, I was stricken with such guilt I stopped eating fish immediately. In the past couple of weeks I have decided to give veganism another go, be a lot less harsh on myself and just being a bit more relaxed about the whole thing. I figure any little step I do on a daily basis that helps me live a more ethical and less environmentally harmful life is pretty great. To be honest I haven't really noticed at ALL going vegan this time! (I am lucky however, living in Melbourne there is A LOT of options for vegans in restaurants and in the supermarket). I'm not a totalitarian vegan/vegetarian nut, there is enough literature out there for anyone to read if they are so inclined, I try and live by example, if someone approaches me I am all ears otherwise I'm happy to live my life the best way I possibly can and hopefully inspire others. This being my blog, however, I will be writing about what I have learned over the years and hopefully inspiring you.

Nutrition Tips:

* Get your levels checked! Vitamin B12 and iron especially. This is something to not muck around with. B12 deficiency CANNOT BE TAKEN BACK, once you get so low you start getting nerve damage.. The nerves stay damaged. So please get your levels checked before you begin so you can track them and then get them done about once every 3 months. Its part of staying healthy like std tests, pap smears and exercise. B12 is not naturally in a vegan diet so you need to take supplements or if you're like me and your stomach cannot process it you will have to get shots. I get a shot once every 2 months.

* Calcium - Bone density stops forming after the age of 30 so its really important up until 30 to do bone density exercises and keep up on your calcium. Then after 30 its becomes REALLY important to maintain the bone health and density you have acquired. This means no smoking! Resistance training, calcium supplements and calcium rich foods!

* Omega fatty acids - the next time you're craving fish you a most likely low on omega fatty acids. Taking linseed oil everyday (just one tablespoon) will give you everything you need. (honestly its tastes LIKE ASS, add it to a salad dressing or hold your nose and chug)

* Zinc - we dont get enough (or any) take supplements.

* Vitamins in general - Try and eat a colourful a diet as possible. Lots of reds, greens, yellows, oranges, whites, purples etc. The bigger variety of colours on your plate the better your nutrition!

In the beginning, transition, most people just 'veganise' the things they already cook. Lots of fake meat is eaten and soy products. This will more than likely make you feel really crap as these are highly processed foods with very little nutritional value. I suggest getting a few different cookbooks and just starting from scratch, redeveloping your palate. The best cookbooks I had when converting was "How it all Vegan" and "The Garden of Vegan" and the cookbook I faithfully use when I'm feeling uninspired is the "Real Food Daily" cookbook from the restaurant in LA (one of the first vegan restaurants I LOVE IT their food is so amazing), however there are SO MANY vegan cookbooks out there now I'm sure you'll find one that is your bible. Stir fries, pastas, marinated vegie pizzas are all quick meals you can make that are tasty and easy. I fell in love with food all over again when I became vegan. It forces you to think outside the box and get creative. I also suggest just transitioning over time, make one vegan meal a day or cut out one thing per week/month. Whether it be cheese or pork or sour cream, give yourself time to adjust it will help you be more successful and be a lot less daunting. You can transition over a year over 2 years or never fully make it over the line, all the way though you are thinking of ways to be better to your body and the environment which is an amazing thing!

A little note on gas however, soy makes you REALLY gassy. Most people don’t realise this. I try and eat a minimal amount of soy products, mainly tofu and sometimes I'll be naughty and buy some tofutti. Rice milk is way better for you and nicer. Most commercial soy milks are full of flour as well so if you are gluten/wheat intolerant and been wondering why you're still getting symptoms ITS YOUR SOY MILK. Crazy huh.

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