Since I started marathon training back in January, I have been using Tribe energy and recovery products to support my running. One of the things I really like about Tribe is that their products are all natural and plant-based – I don’t want to putting rubbish into my body when I’m demanding so much from it.
Health was one of the reasons I decided to become a vegetarian three years ago – that and the environmental impact of the global meat industry. I watched a documentary called Vegucated and instantly wanted to become a vegan but decided that was big step to make in a single go. I’ve really enjoyed being vegetarian – I don’t particularly miss meat or fish – but I have always been curious about veganism. I’ve been following Veganuary – going vegan for the month of January – for a couple of years but just haven’t committed to it. So I was really excited when I saw Tribe’s Vegan Challenge. Going vegan for a week felt do-able and like an interesting experiment. Giving up dairy and eggs was going to be the biggest challenge!
The week started well, although I really struggled with not being able to drink black tea with milk. Planning meals was easier than I thought – it took a little bit of thought and preparation over the weekend but no more than usual – and I was pleasantly surprised about the foods I could eat. Little shout out for Sainsburys here who helpfully label their vegan friendly products which makes life so much easier – there was a lot of label reading going on!
My experience of veganism was definitely not helped by a getting a cold half way through the week. I felt grotty and couldn’t eat some of the things I would do normally to get me through (I really missed honey and boiled eggs – not together!). I know the two things aren’t related but my cold did not help me enjoy my vegan challenge.
- Eating at least ten portions of fruit and vegetables every day. This happened to be the week that advice to eat ten rather than five portions of fruit and veg daily was published – so much easier when you don’t have much else to eat!
- Eating less sugar. A lot of my go-to treats are sweet – chocolate, ice cream, cake etc. So many of these also contain dairy so were off the menu.
- Drinking less. I probably drink too much tea during the day but I find getting up to make tea a good break from my screen and it keeps me from dehydration. I couldn’t find a good alternative to black tea with milk (there are lots of teas out there but it’s just not the same!) and I found that I wasn’t drinking nearly as much water.
- Eating out is hard, especially with a carnivorous partner!
- Thinking about food all the time was not fun. I had to constantly think about what I could eat and how I was getting the right nutrition, which got dull towards the end of the week.
I have to say I was pretty glad to get to the end of the week. I’m really glad I experimented with veganism and understood some of the benefits more. But I also realised that I don’t want to have a label on my diet and my choices. I enjoy eating a plant-based diet; eating ‘real’ food feels really good! I also enjoy having choice and flexibility, especially in social situations. But it’s all so confusing! It’s taken me hours to write this paragraph, trying to frame the choices I’m making. I feel guilty that I don’t care more about animal rights. I feel conflicted about my own ethics and values. So I have decided to ditch the labels. I’m going to eat foods that make me feel good in a way that minimises my impact on the environment. And I’m going to be at peace with that.