If you've read any of my health and fitness posts you'll know that for me, balance is key. I believe in eating better (not less) and moving more, something you can read more about here. I'm all about the 80/20 rule, that is, eating well 80% of the time and then not so well the other 20%, that way, I don't binge and I don't deprive myself. It really is that simple. I believe you can still have abs and eat pizza too (don't tell me you can't because trust me, you definitely can). Life is not about deprivation or feeling guilty because you enjoyed some good food. I know it's not the easiest thing to do, but, eating better and moving more is a nice, simple concept to grasp when it comes to keeping fit and healthy and yep, it works for me. I've been reading a lot of books recently about health and fitness to get me in the zone for the new year. Most of them talk about healthy substitutes and I guess, that's what I've been doing for the last few years. I only have fizzy drinks on special occasions, don't have half as much cheese as I used to and substitute added sugar in cakes for natural alternatives such as honey. Today, inspired by Veganuary, I wanted to show you some of my favourite vegan desserts but mainly, discuss Veganuary. I'm not vegan, but I am going to *try* for research purposes to choose more vegan options this month and also, use it as a way to choose more healthy and natural substitutes. I'm also going to help you by showing you a list of vegan foods so you can try too if you want to.
|My body at the moment. My body ideals may be different to yours and that is totally okay. I'm about health and what's going on in the inside.|
The vegan debate - I'm sure you're all aware that I am not vegan. I don't have a problem with people who are vegan just like I don't have a problem with people who choose to eat meat, eggs, cheese etc. It's a choice and one that is for personal reasons. Just like religion, I don't think you should ever push something like veganism or vegetarianism on someone, just like I would never push eating meat onto someone. I understand there are many reasons for becoming vegan and I completely agree with many of the reasons. I'm strongly against 'depriving myself' and after lots of research, I understand that actually, a vegan diet doesn't equal deprivation, most of the things I eat are already vegan. For me, I stick to my own balanced diet and it works for me, it's something I'm happy with. I do like the idea of Veganuary though, it's a registered charity (rather than some random fad) which aims to encourage people to simply 'try vegan' for the month of January (with no pressure at all), they also do massively encourage donations on their website towards animal welfare charities which is good too. If you watched my What I Got For Christmas video you'll know I did quite a lot for charity last year and hope to do the same this year. I'm always looking for worthy causes. Veganuary actually aim to change public attitudes towards all things vegan which is great too. The world can sometimes paint this image of vegans as crazed which I think is madness and I was even scared to write this post incase I offend anyone (no offence intended, ever by the way). I have a lot of vegan friends and they're certainly not crazed, they're the same as you and I. I actually love hearing all their different reasons for going vegan. I forever find myself choosing vegan options naturally in restaurants and particularly when I was in Canada, my favourite two restaurants were vegan. I guess because I'm into my health and fitness, I'm into my healthy eating, a lot of plant-based natural options on menus massively appeal to me. Usually, they're full of goodness but taste great too.
Is being vegan healthy? - One shouldn't be confused though, just because something is 'vegan' it certainly does not mean it's healthy. For example, chips are vegan, Oreos are vegan and Pringles are too. I do find a lot of people think that just because something says vegan, it means it's healthy but that isn't always true. Just like something being gluten free doesn't mean it's always healthy either. Rather than labelling something as vegan or vegetarian in my head, I tend to just check the sugar contents and saturated fats. I totally understand that many people choose to go vegan for environmental reasons and for the welfare of animals. Food wise, in general, I do judge things I eat based on sugar and saturated fat content. Remember though, I refuse to weigh myself, weight is not a defining factor of your health, read more about why I do not use the scales.
My current diet - As mentioned, I do already eat a lot of vegetarian and now, vegan foods naturally. I've always preferred vegetarian options on menus and would say I probably consume meat every other week, if that, probably only twice a month. Read more about my diet here. I cannot reiterate enough just how important I think a balanced diet is, with everything in moderation. Eating well is not a fad, it's a lifestyle choice. I don't believe in dieting, I believe in moderation.
Healthy vegan foods list - As well as sharing some of my favourite vegan inspired desserts at the end of this post, I wanted to talk about some vegan foods to try and help you if you are doing Vegauary this year. I found myself Googling 'which foods are vegan' so I've popped some household healthier favourite items below to help you out, the things my cupboards will be stocked with. Interesting, a lot of what I already eat is vegan anyway!
- Locally baked bread
- Peanut butter
- Rice noodles
- Soya Milk, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk
- Agave Syrup, Maple Syrup, dates, coconut sugar (for natural sweetening)
- Fruit (blueberries all day for me)
- Vegetables (broccoli is my favourite)
- Brown Rice
- Sweet Potatoes
There are lots of other options on the Veganuary website here if you're interested.
As you can see, the major things you're cutting out are meat, dairy (eggs, milk, cheese) and for me, the hardest, honey. I use honey as a natural sweetener but instead, will be switching to agave or maple syrup this month. I didn't realise that honey was not vegan but apparently it's because they make honey for themselves, not for humans, which totally makes sense. Like I said, I'm purely doing this to see if I feel any different at the end of the month and to make myself more aware, I'm hoping my body will feel great, so I definitely wont be living on chips all month.
Balance - Balance is something I talk about a lot. Many people assume you need meat to get protein and whilst I'm not an expert, there is a lot of research out there to show that you can get your protein from lots of other sources as well as meat. Nuts, grains and green vegetables are all great. The aim is to include high protein plant based foods in your diet (quinoa and peanut butter are easy options).
The good news? Supermarkets and restaurants are getting way better with healthy options, most of which, tend to be vegan which is great if you are a vegan. Now, a little look at some of my favourite healthy vegan recipes. The bottom line for me? Balance is key, you don't need to be Vegan, Vegetarian or a meat eater to be 'healthy', it's totally up to you but there are obviously 'cleaner' and 'healthier' options you can make as well as options which will help animals and the world too if you're interested in that.
I absolutely love my bread with butter (such a simple pleasure in life) and doing Veganuary doesn't mean you have to give up butter. I whipped up a really easy, blueberry and chia jam to pop on my toast with Flora Freedom this January. You definitely wont miss honey either with this yummy sweet jam.
Maple syrup (or agave nectar), vanilla essence, blueberries, chia seeds, locally baked bread (I go for rye or sourdough).
- Place a cup of blueberries, maple syrup and drop of vanilla essence in a pan and cook for around 5 minutes until they're soft
- Once soft, use a masher and mash them in as much as you wish
- Bring to a boil for a minute or so, add the chia seeds and then let it simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes
- Keep stirring occasionally
- Put it in a tight container and you can store it in the fridge for up to a week
You can watch a few more of my favourite recipes below all using Vegan friendly ingredients! Including muffins and cookies. It would mean so much to me if you could subscribe to my YouTube here!
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PS. I am not a professional. These are my own opinions but you should always speak to professionals such as nutritionalists and doctors first before making any major changes.
How do you feel about Veganuary? Are you vegan? Do you also just believe in balance?
*I worked with Flora on this, it's something I've wanted to talk about for a while though so is obviously my honest opinion.
Lots of love, Em x
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