Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Like a (Vegan) Virgin…

… as Madonna almost sang.
 Does being vegan still conjure up a sandal wearing, lentil loving, bearded hippy dippy image? If so - that'll be me in a few days time as for the month of June I'm going to become vegan. I've been mainly vegetarian since I was 16 - a *few* years ago - with the occasional foray into fish (yes I know that doesn't make me an always vegetarian but I have a weakness albeit only occasional when it comes to sea food).  I love cheese, cream and butter although careful about what kind and how often I eat these. Generally I have a healthy diet, with little processed food, but a fondness for cake balances the scales the other way as it were.

So - why am I saying adieu to some of my favourite indulgences?  Mainly for health reasons and out of curiosity.

Over the past few years I've become increasingly interested in health related issues, pretty standard after being diagnosed with cancer I guess, and in particular how nutrition can affect things. Of course there are many arguments raging among medical/ health/ therapy communities and statistics, surveys, research and evidence of specifics thrown around like sprinklings of sunflower seeds. All I can say is I know I feel better if I eat better.  I have cut back on dairy before and was an 'almost vegan' during cancer treatment which I believe (but of course will never know for sure) helped me get through it.
I'm putting my body through quite a bit at the moment having recently been trekking at high altitude, had a hysterectomy and have another operation coming up soon, so I reckon it'll  help get me through all this and keep well by putting good stuff in.

I'm also a bit of a foodie, I do like my grub and cooking up new things, so this is a great chance to discover some more recipes and different things to eat.
I’m approaching it in a positive frame of mind - mostly. There are some things I'm not looking forward to as much such as:

·      feeling like the guest from hell - this weekend is the start of giving someone advance warning that 'erm sorry but I'm only eating vegan now' as I'm going to a garden party. The host has already planned for vegetarians but mostly things I won't be able to eat as a vegan (but it is an educational opportunity as this lovely host looked on a website and found some vegan recipes she wants to make because SHE wants to try!)
·      going hungry - this weekend I'm also going to a county show and a gala, where the norm would be take your pick from the vegetarian selection on offer at food stalls (usually quite a range but again often not vegan) and help yourself in the beer tent (uh oh - some beers aren't vegan). I will have to pack my own sandwiches and stick to the Pimms (it's vegan - yippee!)
·      being surrounded by 'temptation' - much as my son is a committed vegetarian he definitely isn't willing to live without his beloved cheese and cake - so we will still have these in the house (he is however keen to try whatever I make and anything vegan that I buy in...)
·      feeling deprived - I think this is only going to happen if I go to a restaurant or cafe and find there's not a lot on the menu I can have (this will feel like a return to my early days as a veggie when a cheese omelette or salad were often the only options!) There are already a couple of places I love that do great vegetarian dishes but studying the menus when I was last in realised they wouldn't be suitable for a vegan. Finding and going to new places that DO do good vegan fare is the answer I guess.

I'm committing myself just to the month of June to give it a go and I'll decide after that if it's for me or for life... (and since I started this wondering about the image of veganism I've realised the only two people I knowingly know of who are absolute vegans are the very gorgeous Spanish young man who taught me to scuba dive in Greece, and Simon Amstell - also young, hip and very funny)

If you want to follow my foraging in the world of vegan you can join me by liking my Facebook page below

(and yes I had a cheese sandwich for lunch today!)

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