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Beyond the Kale. Why I adopted a plant based diet.

August 4, 2017

My friend Susannah sent me the following message

"I was interested that you said you've moved to a plant-based diet - is that right? I can't find anything about it on your website. I switched back to vegan 3 weeks ago. I was just curious about your reasons. Do you find it better for sports? Or ethical? "

I have known Susannah since we were 4 years old, she is a pretty cool chick, we sat and chatted for several hours in Castle Park, Bristol, a few weeks ago. She has recently cycled the length of the UK, as a practice for a big cycle she has planned, you can read about it here (marvel over the cool wild camp spots she found!) 

 

I sent Susannah a reply. Here it is:

Hey Sus,  yup gone vegan, I call it plant based as some people have bad rep with the term 'vegan'  and I'm not even sure what it really means! I sometimes put honey on my porridge and if out and about I may swish some cow milk in my tea. Generally I try to not eat meat or dairy though. I started about 18 months ago, in an attempt to cure my heel/ achilles issues as I had read lots about inflammation linked with meat/dairy. I then read a lot about how an alkaline gut is the way forward and what foods are alkaline in your gut and which are acidic, veggies alkaline, meat acidic. The more I read and listened/ watched the more I realised how meat/ dairy wasn't potentially not good for me or the environment and  large sections of the meat/ dairy industry is disgusting in terms of ethics / animal treatment etc...

So initially the reasons for going plant based were for health reasons but now the reasons for being plant based are quite holistic (ethical, environmental, sustainability etc).Well done on the ride, sounds epic. How did you find eating on the ride. Were you able to eat vegan during it? That's what I find tricky, eating vegan when out... a vegan sandwich is hard to find which gets my goat as how hard is it to put humus and salad or peanut butter and banana in some bread?! That's my rant xx

PS we watched 'the cove' film, its epic/ scary/ horrific but incredible film, about dolphin industry in a cove in Japan. It raises the issue of mercury poisoning in fish. You would like it, worth a watch.

 

That's it in a nutshell really. 

I changed my lifestyle to plant based (no meat/dairy) in an attempt to cure my achilles issues and ended up becoming fascinated with nutrition and the rise of the vegan movement and all the issues surrounding it. 

I have been sharing meals we have cooked and recipes on the food glorious food section of the website.

 A friend asked me if I was going to go back to eating meat and dairy as I had now had an operation on my heel. 

"Being a hippy vegan obviously didn't cure it, did it?"

I laugh, True, it didn't. But I felt great, my skin was good, I had plenty of energy, I was enjoying cooking and eating plant based meals and learning about plant based life styles. So why would I go back. I use to eat a 5 egg omelettes with cheese and a can of tuna in one go and my chorizo eating ability was pretty good! But I will leave that in the past.

 

But where do you get your protein from?

Is the biggest question I get asked.

It is a good question, one I wondered before reading more around the topic.

The terminology Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats, etc have been created to simplify things, but they are not very helpful. 

The term 'Protein' represents twenty different amino acids, eleven can be synthesized naturally by our bodies, the other 9, known as essential amino acids we must get from food. When people say 'you need to eat protein' what they really mean is, you need to eat the 9 essential amino acids.

The original source of all 9 essential amino acids are plants. Yes, I was surprised to read that too. Animals contain the 9 essential amino acids (along with others that are not very useful) because they have eaten plants that contain the 9 essential amino acids. Therefore if you eat lower down on the food chain you get the essential amino acids you need in the fullest state possible in their raw, un-assembled form. Examples are kidney and pinto beans, other beans, chick peas, lentils, carrots, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, kale, okra, peas, tomatoes, flake seeds, hemp seeds, spirulina, quinoa and less concentrated sources such as bananas, potatoes will give you exactly what you need. (The Plant Powered Way. R Roll+J Piatt)

 Everyone is welcome for dinner at our house, just bring some veg!


Don't you need lots of protein? especially if you play sports? 

Recommendations vary but a common idea is that most active adults only need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

I am 51kg, so I need roughly 40grams of protein/day.

If you check the nutritional info on your food products, you will realise how simple this is to achieve, without eating any animal products. 

Interestingly, the research suggests too much protein is bad for you, but too little? Have you ever heard of anyone being protein deficient? 

 

Here are a few of the resources I have been reading/ listening to:

 

The China Study book by T. Colin Campbell, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, An incredibly detailed book, looking at the effects of consuming of animal products

 

David Carter Interview on the Rich Roll podcast. This interview with the 300 pound vegan had a big influence on me, and got me to first consider changing my diet.

 

All 5 of these athletes have informed me about nutrition and plant based eating. If they can be this fit and strong without animal products then surely I can.

 

Rich Roll- He is one of the athletes mentioned in the link above, I listen to his podcast each week. He doesn't just interview plant based people, but his interview with the Happy pear was brilliant and I use the Happy Pear you tube channel for recipe ideas. I also enjoyed listening to his conversation with Leilani Munter ,  "Never underestimate a vegan hippy chick in a racing car" I bought Rich Roll and Julie Piatt book "The plant powered way" which is full of recipes and information.

 

A website that covers a lot of ideas is happycow.net


Scientific research on the effects of a plant based diet

 

There is a ton of information out there, so happy reading and listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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