It has been almost ten weeks since I began eating a plant-based diet upon my return from the USA. I can honestly say I am very surprised (in a good way) and do not miss anything that I used to eat/drink. In this blog post I will be talking through how my plant-based diet is going as well as where I draw the line with vegan foods and what I now consume. I hope this will be insightful and I am really interested in what you think about plant-based diets.
There are so many different levels to being a vegan including the plant-based diet, how you consume products such as clothing and even as far as owning pets. I have chosen to eat a plant-based diet but I do not live a vegan lifestyle. This means that I have chosen to only eat products that are plant based and as long as animal products are not on the ingredients list I am happy to consume it.
These foods are not allowed to be labelled as vegan if they are at risk of cross contamination in production facilities as it ‘may contain’ traces of dairy etc. I have also chosen to drink Coors beer in the UK (which uses isinglass for the filtration process, not an ingredient in the beer itself). I might get some stick for this but in my eyes I have already reached my goal for improving my health and reducing my carbon footprint so am already making a difference (however small this may be).
I am feeling so much better in myself, I have more energy and I have noticed I do not feel as sluggish as I used to after eating processed and unhealthy foods. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been fully healthy at the start of this plant-based diet journey because this is absolutely not the case. Quite the contrary… I’ve been eating all of the sweet treats, crisps, ice cream and chocolate I can get my hands on! I have reduced this in most recent weeks but when I first switched to the plant-based diet I wanted to see what was available.
Something that has surprised me is how much that is available in supermarkets (and stores like The Little Pantry, pictured below). If you do a bit of research or look at the back of packets in the store you’ll notice that many things are suitable for vegans if risk of cross contamination isn’t an issue. I’ve also been even more impressed by supermarket own brands! Co-operative and Tesco are two that stand out for me and I am really happy with how clearly they label their products. I feel like many big brands need to now catch up and label things if they are vegan.
Another concern of mine (which I can’t understand now thinking back to it) was giving blood. For some reason I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to give blood anymore as I may be deficient somehow for eating a plant-based diet. This is absolutely not the case… I was totally fine through the whole process. My iron levels were great and I felt good after donating. I also noticed that the week afterwards I didn’t feel as tired as I used to after giving blood. There was about a week of recovery for me before starting my plant-based diet where I just felt more sleepy than usual but this seems to have gone away!
The last point I want to touch upon is vitamins. Something that I am taking on a daily basis now is vitamin B12 as this is something that people on a plant-based diet can become deficient in. It is typically consumed by eating animal products (in the cells within meats etc.) You cannot absorb your body’s own B12 so this is why it is mainly obtained by eating meats. A simple one-a-day tablet solves this and it is plant-derived as an alternative to an animal-based product. Apart from this I don’t take anything else at the moment as I feel I am consuming a lot more vitamins and minerals in my healthy foods on a daily basis.
I have included some images and captions below with more information on my plant-based diet and a snapshot of just some of the things I’ve eaten/drank since May.
When I have been speaking above about my plant-based diet I haven’t really touched upon the animal welfare side of things. I wanted to mention quickly that it isn’t that I don’t care about animal welfare or how they are treated, it’s just that I chose to eat a plant-based diet for environmental and health factors. The benefit and plus side to this choice I have made is that animals are saved as a result of this.
In summary I have chosen to eat a plant-based diet primarily to reduce my carbon footprint as well as improving my health by eating more fresh produce and an increased number of fruits and vegetables daily. The line I draw with my vegan diet is that as long as meat or animal products (including honey) are not on the ingredient list then I am happy to eat it. I am not allergic to anything that I know of so cross contamination isn’t something I have to worry about thankfully. In the eyes of the law these products cannot be labelled as vegan which is why you won’t see it on some products that are plant-based due to manufacturing processes. I am not living a vegan lifestyle and at the moment I don’t have plans to start this but that doesn’t mean it is not something I will consider in the future. I am really proud of the switch I have made so far and especially as I did it overnight without a transition period.
Thank you so much for reading. What do you think of plant-based diets? Have you tried this yourself or any others such as vegetarianism? Let me know in the comments below!