One year ago this month, I decided to give up red meat. After chatting with vegan friends Michael and Maisie (Obviously Vegan), and watching documentaries Cowspiracy and Earthlings, both myself and Craig felt like a curtain had been lifted and, within a matter of days, our bacon-eating days were over. At first, I figured being gluten free and vegetarin would be too difficult so I kept eating chicken until October last year. Craig, however, cut out all meat last April, and he has been proudly vegetarian since.
As of last Autumn, I had been pescetarian but I was still feeling dissatisfied with my consumption of animal products, particularly dairy. I’ve never been a big fan of milk or yoghurt, I only really like eggs when mixed into a cake! But it was cheese that I found the most difficult to give up. I had become reliant on both cheese and whey as a form a protein, and was regularly eating high protein cheese like halloumi for tea as a meat subsititute.
When changing my diet, changes have to be slow and small as any significant change could spin me ill for weeks. I am finally at the point now where I can comfortably feel like I can give up all animal products and still maintain a balanced diet without being ill – woohoo!
And so that leads me to the point of this post. When speaking to friends and family about veganism, they always express the same sentiments – ‘where do you get your protien?’ ‘what can you eat?’ ‘we’re meant to eat meat’ etc. So, here’s a round-up of some of the best scran I’ve had in my first week of eating a completely plant-based diet and a few reasons why everyone should be binning the meat in favour of a healthier life.
You can read my full review of The Ship Inn on the blog here. The entirely vegan pub was our lunch spot last weekend following a walk through Jesmond Dene and Ouseburn. With gluten free clearly marked on the menu, I went for the Buddha Bowl, which is coconut and chilli broth with rice noodles, shitake mushroom and asian veg – super delicious and great value at only £9.
2. Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato and Basil Soup
I have always been a big fan of soup, but have struggled to make a filling soup in the past without using lentils, which I can’t tolerate too many of! I decided to try my hand as a red pepper and tomato soup, which I just made up on the spot. Using coconut milk to give a creamy texture, this completely vegan soup was so tasty and made a great lunch for the beginning of the week. I added brown rice and quinoa to make it extra filling and it kept me going all afternoon. Think I might try a carrot and coriander one next!
3. Fruit Smoothies
I’m a big fan of smoothies, done the right way. I never follow a recipe, usually I just add whatever is in the fridge plus some leafy greens and chia seeds. This one was made with a ripe banana, orange, fresh ginger, kale and pineapple – yum!
4. Pesto and Veg Pasta
I had no idea that your stand supermarket pasta was not vegan. I’m starting to discover so many ever day products that contain needless animal products! Anyway, I picked up some pesto from the free from aisle and stirred it into some gluten free pasta, fresh basil with some veggies from the fridge. An easy weekday tea, and just as tasty as any meaty alternative!
5. Mango Stir Fry Rice
Inspired by Thug Kitchen, a fab plant-based cookbook, I decided to add a twist to my usual stir fry recipe and add some chopped mango, rice vinegar, sweet chilli sauce, fresh ginger, coriander and fresh chilli – yum! For a lazy weekday tea, I use a sachet of wholegrain rice and quinoa, which they sell in Aldi for less than a quid. (Forgot to take a pic, though!)
6. Wagamama – Itame with Tofu and Veg
A trip to the Metro Centre on pay day meant lunch at Wagamama. They have one GF, vegan dish on their menu – Itame is a coconut broth, similar to the Buddha Bowl at The Ship Inn, with yummy tofu and spring greens. Wagamama also offers a wide range of super tasty juices so go with this plant-based feast.
7. Karma Kitchen
The entirely vegan Indian take away was our Saturday night treat. I won’t go into too much detail as I am planning a full review of this outstanding meal later in the week!
As you can see from the above, there’s absolutely no reason to continue eating animal products – even if you’re restricted to a gluten free diet! Not only is meat consumption scientifically linked to high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer, it is the leading cause of climate change. 56 billion animals are killed each year by human beings in farming, for absolutely no reason at all. We live in a modern age where eating plant-based is easier than ever and there are no excuses to bin the meat, dairy and eggs for a healthier, happier world.