Pass the hummus.
As far as food trends go, veganism is about as cool as it gets. Today, more than half a million people in the UK have sworn off meat, fish, dairy and even honey. And, it doesn’t stop there! From Beyoncé to Ellie Goulding to Jennifer Lopez, veganism has obtained an army of celebrity followers, suddenly becoming the most glamorous lifestyle choice out there. Even athletes, like tennis champion Venus Williams and pro surfer Tia Blanco, can’t seem to resist it!
But, is it just a passing fad or truly beneficial to your health? Can you still maintain strict sports training when running on plant-based protein? That’s what our Spanish Content Manager, Cris, wanted to find out. So, as a veteran carnivore and cheese-enthusiast, she embarked on one of the greatest food challenges of her life. Here’s what happened, in her own words.
Week One: I realised just how dependent on meat I really was
During the first few days of the challenge, I felt completely lost as to what I could eat. Everything seemed to have milk or eggs in them. Even the Quorn mince! My energy was low from not eating the right nutrient-dense food, my stomach was upset and I developed a hatred for salad (and oats). My body was going through withdrawal. I guess it’s like giving up coffee and then sleepwalking around the office for the rest of the day. It was hard, but I didn’t want to quit. Instead, I confidently dipped my carrot stick in my hummus and began to draft a new plan (aka a shopping list) for the week ahead.
Week Two: I finally did research and stocked up
I quickly realised that my main issue was that I ran into this challenge cold turkey without proper preparation. I finally hit the supermarket and went on a vegan food hunt. Lentils, chickpeas, beans – I became a legume specialist. Creating a list of the staples I needed in my pantry, which were rich in iron, protein and other key nutrients, helped me a lot. I began to build the foundations of my new vegan kitchen and started to rekindle my love for cooking. Yes, it took time (every meal needed to be planned out in advance), but I felt so good knowing that nothing processed was going into what I was eating. My much-needed detox had begun!
Week Three: I didn’t Give Into Temptation
Restaurants were the hardest and office parties became my worst nightmare (“I’ll just have a few olives, thank you!”) While most restaurants now have a few token vegetarian dishes, finding a vegan one on the menu is tricky to say the least. But, I was determined to not let my new lifestyle choice change my social habits. So, I began searching for vegan restaurants in London and took my friends on a quest to find the best one. They loved it! We didn’t even have to give up “fast food”, thanks to Cook Daily in Brick Lane, which quickly became one of my favourite spots. I have to admit that the biggest challenge I faced was having to say goodbye to honey. I was drizzling it everywhere – on my morning porridge, in my tea, on my toast. Thank god for maple syrup!
Week Four: I Started Feeling The Benefits
After nearly a month, I truly began to feel the beneffits of going vegan. I was sleeping better, my skin was less oily and my energy levels drastically increased. I had made sure I continued consuming the right amount of protein and iron, so that I could keep up my sports training. I somehow thought going vegan would make me feel weaker, but the result was quite the opposite. My workouts were more efficient and I was able to fit in more training sessions during the week. I felt more toned than ever! Had my performance increased because I was no longer eating processed food, or because of my plant-based diet? I’m not sure. All I know is that I felt good!
Week Five: Everything In Moderation
Overall, I can’t deny the postives of going vegan. My performance improved and I was proud of playing a role in the fight against climate change. The best part of following this challenge, however, was that it forced me to really think about what goes into my food. While I am no longer a full-time vegan (I still go vegan for a week every month), I have significantly decreased my meat and dairy consumption, making easy, permanent swaps, such as switching from cow’s milk to almond milk. I became a more mindful eater. So, this challenge was definitely worth it. Plus, I discovered my new favourite snack – banana and peanut butter. YUM!
Are You Thinking Of Giving It A Try? Here Are 5 Rules To Live By:
- Aim to consume the same amount of calories you were before going vegan. If you do that and opt for healthier food choices, it will help you get the nutrients you require.
- Add a serving of protein to every meal: legumes and derivatives, such as hummus, tofu, tempeh, soy, seeds and nuts.
- Ditch the sweets and fast food. There are healthier, nutrient-rich alternatives to discover, such as peanut butter, dark chocolate, coconut flakes, dates, chia seeds and more!
- If you feel like you need an energy boost, you can indulge in a vegan protein shake or bake your own protein bars.
- Work with a dietician to make sure that you are getting the right nutrients. They might want to take a blood test, in order to make sure you don’t have any nutritional deficiencies, and recommend that you take a vitamin B12 supplement.
The Ultimate Tip: Pair A Healthy Diet With An Active Life!
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-Your Fabletics Team –