That’s the no.1 question I hear more than any other. Why? I eat a plant-based diet. I’m vegan.
My eating has changed massively from that as a child growing up in the North of England where the accepted healthy staple diet was always, and still is; meat, two veg and some starch. Whenever I told my mum I didn’t want any meat, she believed I’d become malnourished and vetoed the idea. So I forced the meat down first and then I could enjoy the rest of my dinner.
At school, all children were given a small bottle of silver top milk at break time, because it was healthy for our bones. Dippy Eggs were a weekend breakfast treat and Mr Tony’s Ice Cream van would visit every evening without fail. Nobody thought to question the goverment’s logic of eating animals and their products and the farming and food industries have boomed on our ignorance.
I occasionally used the snotty phrase; “my body is not an animal graveyard”, to stifle unwanted criticism from others but since I respect the right of personal choice, I was never overly keen to bang on about my eating habits or judge others for theirs. You’d find me smiling and saying; “yes I’m aware of the studies that plants have feelings too and no, the smell of bacon frying doesn’t make me salivate like a lion on the Savanna at the sight of an impala after three days without food”.
So the Vegan choice has come about more recently because I can no longer face myself in the mirror and not see a hypocrite. I grow appalled at animal agriculture in equal measure to the many facts I’ve learnt about its contribution to the damage of our planet, the decimation of our wildlife and their natural habitats, the polluting impact to our Eco-systems and, worse than anything else, that the grain being fed to animals bred for food would solve world hunger as there would be plenty for every human being – but I was still eating eggs, honey and dairy. Why did I pretend to be ignorant and think commercial dairy, egg and honey production was OK?
So I’m walking my talk.
I’m not suggesting it’s an easy choice; I dithered over a year. We are fortunate that there seems to have been a kind of awakening, (most omnivores blame Netflix!), which means wider varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains are on offer, supermarkets now have vegan-friendly produce on the shelves, in the fridges and even in the freezer aisle. I can choose almond, oat, rice and soy milk. There’s vegan cheeses and even vegan meat replacements if I fancied a burger. Labelling is clearer and the online resources are phenomenal!
So, do I get enough protein? Yes. It’s another common myth that protein only comes from meat and fish. Here’s my top five favourite protein sources:
1. Almonds; high in calories because of their healthy fats, nuts are also high in their protein potency; 6g per ounce on average.
2. Quinoa; this grain-like seed packs a whopping 10g of protein per serving. (It’s also a fabulous source of dietary fibre).
3. Lentils; a protein packed pulse which fills you up and provides up to 18g of protein per portion.
4. Chickpeas; versatile staple of my favourite hummus dips, these tasty legumes also supply over 7g of protein per half a cup.
5. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder; yes… Chocolate! Each tablespoon contains about 1g of protein, so splash out the almond milk and enjoy a healthy, protein rich hot chocolate!