Blog #1. FOUR months vegan!

“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s new life for me… and I’m feeling good” – Muse, Feeling Good.
 Praia Dona Ana, Lagos (Portugal), September 2016 - Photograph taken by Definitely Vegan

Praia Dona Ana, Lagos (Portugal), September 2016 - Photograph taken by Definitely Vegan

I thought it was important to share my journey so far and four months has flown by quickly. Personally, becoming vegetarian/pescatarian helped as Mr B & I both incorporated more plant based foods by cooking more veggie curries, stews, soups, salads and switching to plant based milks. I’m not going to lie though, I did find it hard without cheese at first (probably because my cheese intake tripled dramatically after cutting out meat) but this genuinely passed after a few weeks!

It’s not make or break, but it does help that Mr B has also transitioned to a vegan lifestyle (7 weeks now) which makes things easier as we generally crave the same foods such as rice, avocados and lentils. This is remarkable really considering we have both had unhealthy diets in the past and would often tempt one another into picking unhealthy choices. We are both the kind of people who ‘eat their feelings’, whether that be choosing to celebrate something, or feeling low. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but there are so many times where we would eat kebabs or pizza in bed late at night! The amount of money we spent using online food delivery services was shocking and although we both felt ill and regularly low in mood, it also felt normal.

All that has changed now. We rarely spend money on takeaways, but we do continue to eat at restaurants and many chains have vegan menus which taste amazing! Although Manchester doesn’t have the big vegan food scene like London (or Berlin!), there are so many places to choose from and I will be reviewing them all separately so keep your eyes peeled!

Transitioning into a vegan lifestyle is a journey; some people change overnight and some take a bit longer to transition. I feel like I’ve got the food bit sorted, but I am still in the process of switching all our household cleaning products and beauty products to cruelty free alternatives. I’ll be giving honest reviews about the products that I find.

For me, being vegan is about ethics, health and the planet but I have noticed a lot of changes in my body too. I guess you could call them side effects, but the type that we like to experience:

Weight loss – I’ve lost just over a stone, without even doing any exercise! This means I am no longer classed as obese. I’ve always struggled with my weight and been on countless ‘diets’ that didn’t work, or that would work for a while until I piled all the weight (and more) back on. I always thought I needed to restrict food, or eat smaller portions but in hindsight it was the type of food I was eating that was the problem. I eat larger portions now and don’t worry about carbs like rice, potatoes and pasta! I still have some weight to shift but I feel like this is coming off gradually.

Increased energy – This is probably since I’m consuming more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains and it’s powering my body more efficiently. I feel like I have more energy in the mornings and I'm more alert without having to drink lots of coffee to give me an energy boost (like I used to – unless it’s been a late night). I would say that my concentration and mood has improved too.

Digestion – Without going into too much information, the change here has been incredible. Eating a plant based diet means that I’m eating a lot of fibre which is important for a healthy gut and digestion. My old habits meant that this wasn’t the case and it was normal for me not to go to the toilet for 2-4 days. Constipation is not fun. I felt bloated all the time and it was painful. Now, I rarely feel bloated and my digestion is regular and like clockwork!

Sleep – I am sleeping better and I wake less frequently during the nights. Again, this is something that I used to struggle with and it’s no surprise that the amount of caffeine I used to drink would keep me awake.

Periods – This is a strange one and possibly nothing to do with eating a plant based diet but I have noticed that my periods are lighter. Although I have experienced more cramps in the days leading up to it and digestive problems (I didn’t know that periods affected digestion and would never have noticed before) but lighter periods is a win in my book!

Breathing & allergies – I suffer from allergic rhinitis, urticaria and asthma. I’m allergic to dust, pollen and animals (yep, even the rabbits) and I’ve used antihistamines all my life to control it. These allergies also trigger my asthma and cause wheezing and chest tightness. I will talk about this more in another blog post as this is another reason I became interested in nutrition. So, how has a plant based diet helped this? Well, I haven’t taken antihistamines for around 8 months now. Being around the rabbits or other animals does still make me wheeze and sneeze a little, but it doesn’t affect me like it used to. For me, being around animals is who I am and to be able to clean and cuddle the bunnies with barely any issues at all is amazing! I know it probably sounds ridiculous and might not work for everyone (I am certainly not a doctor or nutritional therapist) but I feel that eating a plant based diet is helping to cure my allergies! The asthma... well I still wheeze but I don’t use my inhalers as much as I used to. I don’t think asthma is something which can be ‘cured’, but a reduction in symptoms can only be a good thing!

In Mr B’s 7 weeks, he said he feels more alert and has more energy, he’s lost weight and generally feels healthier. In just 7 weeks! I’ll do another update at 6 months to share my journey. Let me know in the comments below what you have noticed from transitioning into a plant based diet! 

Definitely Vegan