Veganism from an omnivores perspective

Occasionally I like to have guest bloggers, it’s interesting to get a different perspective.  So I’ve teamed up with Jade the Notts Foodie http://www.nottsfoodie.com.  She is a Nottingham based food lover and critic who is dedicated and passionate about trying as many new foods and experiences as possible.

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A few weeks ago I did a guest blog on her site about the great vegan food at Baresca http://www.nottsfoodie.com/baresca-vegan-review/

Baresca

Its now her turn ………..

 

Veganism from an omnivores perspective Guest blog – by local food blogger Notts Foodie

 

“I’m a vegan” the three words that can put dread into many a carnivore. Up until a few years ago those words would have me rolling my eyes and searching for a different conversation. It was only when I met my colleague, a vegan, who educated me and broke down some assumptions I’d made.

Oscar and Rosies

Oscar and Rosies

The issue lies, I believe, with the media’s portrayal of vegans. With almost 600,000 people within the UK choosing the lifestyle (that’s more than the population of Nottingham and Derby combined) it’s likely that we’ve all met one or two, whether you were aware of them is a different question. It seems that people only tend to remember the vegans who are vocal, passionate or portrayed in a bad light. These vegans are the ones I’d previously only been aware of and are the reason for the discriminating mind set I’ve worked hard to shift.

Before I go any further I want to point out that this isn’t a blog about name calling it’s merely my experiences of veganism as a fully-fledged carnivore and how, with the help of education and understanding, I’ve come to admire that way of life.

top 5 vegan restaurants

Cafe Roya, RobeRoom, Zizzi, The Peacock, The Kiosk

 

When I met my colleague I didn’t have a clue what type of foods vegans eat, I wouldn’t know what to feed one, whether I should be cautious about showing her the pictures on my food blog or whether I should feel guilty that I’m not offering her a cup of tea. After several months of working together I started to ask those stupid questions to try and get a better understanding and stop feeling guilty for my own lifestyle choices. I found out at this point that she didn’t like cruelty to any animal, she used to eat meat, used to be a pescetarian which progressed to vegetarian and then eventually veganism, she also wasn’t vocal about it as she saw it as her choice. I liked this and I loved the fact that she had no intention of trying to make me a vegan.

thai-tofu-curry

Roll forward three years and I now have an idea about what to feed her if she came around for tea, that Oreos are an easy biscuit choice, dark chocolate is vegan (this blew my mind!) and that you can be unhealthy. I’ve also come to realise that there will always be people who are ignorant and who have no intention to cater for them. This annoys me now. I’m not talking about restaurants I’m talking about things like BBQ settings, work functions where dietary requirements are ignored or being given vegetables (and then offered ice cream to apologise!)

willow and dove vegan choc

As a carnivore I’m glad that I’ve had a chance to ask stupid questions in an informal setting without the worry of being patronising or being converted. Some of the stupid questions I’ve asked and genuinely want to know the answers to are below – sorry in advance.

  • What do you eat?
  • If I gave you a million pounds would you eat this?
  • Can you go out to eat in restaurants?
  • What’s the issue with honey?
  • Don’t you like the taste of meat?

vegan 12th

If you’re reading this as a meat eater but have that feeling or instant thought of “eurgh vegans” then I ask you to go away and find one that will help you understand their life. My colleague is great as she is aware that I am blissfully ignorant in terms of animal cruelty and I don’t want to know. I want to be in my own bubble and she accepts that, just as I accept that she’s been brave enough to burst her own bubble. Just make sure that you make clear your intentions and why you’re looking to know more, it’s not to be converted and it’s not to find ammunition it’s purely education. You never know, one day vegans may rule the world.

chocks cake

Chocks Away, Nottingham City airport

 

Have your cake and eat it

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/ 

Mindful eating – how to have your cake and eat it (But not whilst watching the TV!)

By taking some simple steps and following these tips you can still enjoy your favourite takeaway or treat

Henpecked, the female over 40s online resource has kindly uploaded my article about being mindful when it comes to eating and other tips to enable you to ‘have your cake and eat it’!

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Click on this link for the full article  Henpicked article or follow their tweets

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But below is also a little snap shot of those hints and tip

 

mindful eating

 

Be mindful of what you are eating. Studies have found that if you eat while distracted, you don’t always register what you have eaten and you can consume up to 288 calories more! So, switch off the TV, put down your phone, shut your laptop and focus on your food and you’ll eat less and enjoy more!

 

 

 

eat slowly

 

Slow down your eating.  Appreciate the taste, texture, smell and look of your food.  take a small forkful and chew it properly (20-30 times!). Swallow before you put in the next mouthful, put down your knife and fork.  And finally try and take 20 minutes to eat your main meal

 

 

 

DSC_1228Who doesn’t love a treat?! But whenever you have a high fat or high calorie meal like a pizza always have it with a large salad (go easy on the dressing!).  This will fill you up without adding lots of calories.  For instance a medium 12” pepperoni pizza could have up to 1700 calories.  But if you share it with a friend and fill the gap on your plate with a large mixed salad (with a balsamic vinegar dressing) you would consume about 920 calories.  A big calorie saving and equally as important a reduction of up to 38g of fat (which accounts for nearly half of the calorie saving)

 

 

plates2Have you noticed how plates and bowls have got bigger, both in restaurants and in your home; that can affect the amount you eat.

Research has shown that if you serve yourself from a larger serving dish onto larger plates and bowls then you’re likely to help yourself to 56% more food! So downsize your dishes, plates and serving tools and fool your brain into saving calories

 

 

 

 

Case study – fasting and chemo

fastingFasting through chemotherapy is a new concept that I first heard of when I met Yasmin and she said she was thinking of trying it and asked for my views.  That conversation culminated in me working with and supporting her through the process.

 

 

misoMany people believe fasting means no food or drink is consumed on those days.  That is not the case in ‘fasting through chemo’ Rather like the 5:2 fasting principle calories are restricted to 4-500 per day and is called ‘the fasting mimicking diet’.

The research behind this new concept believes that a short-term fast starves cancer cells and facilitates the chemo drug therapies to better target the cancer, whilst protecting healthy cells.

A non medical way to understate it is that without lots of food (fuel) your healthy cells go into repair and protect mode, in effect hibernate. But cancer cells are highly energetic and constantly want to divide and multiply so they are still very active and therefore more susceptible to the chemo treatment

This method of coping through chemo may not be for everybody but it is a possible option.  If you’d like more information please get in touch or talk to your oncology team

yasmin preThis is Yasmin’s account of her fasting experience

  • how you heard about fasting through chemo

I first came across fasting with cancer and chemotherapy two years ago via Michael Mosley’s co-authored book on the 5:2 diet, Eat, Fast and Live Longer.   Also the Horizon programme 2012-13, which I think you can see on youtube.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015 and subsequently found that my treatment plan required chemotherapy, I remembered reading about fasting and chemo and revisited the fasting subject doing as much internet research as I could find.  There were some useful discussion forums, published research articles and evidence of the effectiveness in research trials on mice (our closest comparator in the animal kingdom) and some human trials.  I was surprised that it was pretty unheard of here.

  • What made you consider trying it?
Yasmin short hair

a short chop before the chemo

I had some experience of fasting having taken up the 5:2 diet two years ago to help with regular but mild stomach upsets and found it to be beneficial.  I realised I felt healthier with one or two fasting days in the week.  When I discussed the idea with my oncologist and medical team they were supportive if it was something I wanted to try but they didn’t have any advice to offer.  I hadn’t discovered anyone else trying the approach in the UK but, having done as much research as I could, I found the evidence from the US and the explanation for how it worked compelling.  As well as helping to reduce the side effects of chemo, the idea that fasting helps protect good cells from chemo whilst cancer cells remain exposed also made me think it was worth doing.  However, as none of my medical team seemed to have heard of it and their advise was to eat to combat the side effects of chemo I was nervous.  I didn’t want to do anything that made me weaker or more vulnerable at a time when the treatment was going to attack my immune system. In addition, it became clear that I would need to fast for 4-5 consecutive days around chemotherapy.  I had only ever fasted for 1 or 2 days before so it was a challenge.   I became aware that there were nutrition workshops available through Maggie’s Centre, Nottingham and I was keen to learn as much as I could about how I could boost my diet in non-fasting days.

  • What support did you receive?

I was able to attend one of the nutrition workshops Susan gives at Maggie’s just before my first fast.  It was really helpful, first of all giving me some great tips on nutrition and recipe ideas and improving my understanding of the right balance of foods.  I had thought I was pretty knowledgeable but the session made me realise how much more there was to know.  Secondly Susan was familiar with 5:2 and its benefits and although she hadn’t heard of it being used with chemotherapy before she was really interested to find out more and to support me through the experience.  By the next workshop Susan had also done research and had been in touch with the team in America that have been studying the effects of fasting for the past 16 years and who were in the process of applying for a licence for their chemo food kits.  Although this would be too late for me, they were able to confirm the kinds of foods that were acceptable during fasting, as a small amount of food intake (400-500 calories) is okay.

  • What was your experience like?
My 50th during treatment

My 50th during treatment

I restricted my diet during fasting days to 400 calories and reduced/cut out protein and carbs and dairy.  I had some fruit and tended to make things like wholewheat couscous with stirfry veg and soy sauce – adding chillies for some flavour!.  Or salads.  When not fasting but not feeling like eating, I nutribullet/blended a good mix of greens/fruit and fibre which set me up for the day.  Being vegetarian helped but I did have some fish occasionally.  So the main thing was listening to what my body wanted, increasing plant based food, reducing processed foods and fasting round chemo.

I can’t say that I have been completely free of side-effects but I do seem to have fared much better than a lot of people.  It is impossible to say whether this would have been my experience anyway.  I came across the following article recently by a journalist and her experience seems more definitive than mine.  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jun/03/how-to-get-through-chemotherapy-decca-aitkenhead-cancer-treatment

After each session of chemo I did feel under the weather and for a few days and I felt what I described as ‘jet-lagged’. There were also ‘awake’ spells in the night due to steroids and chemo has brought on my menopause so I have been having hot flushes. My ability to ‘taste’ went for a week or so and there were times when I felt tired or needed a sleep in the day. How I felt with chemo was hard to describe.  Not exactly ill but not exactly well either.  But I didn’t need to take the extra anti-sickness tablets I was prescribed each time, or use the mouthwash for mouth and throat sores.  The tests prior to each chemo were generally good so I also know that it didn’t have a detrimental effect on me from a medical perspective.  My weight went down a few pounds each time I fasted but then came back up again before the next round.  I lost a few pounds overall. I generally had a few days of not feeling well but was still able to function.  The rest of the time I felt ok and by week three back to normal.

The days of fasting were manageable.  I tended to keep busy and take on a lot of fluid.  I did sometimes get headaches which I initially put down to reducing caffeine.  Once or twice the headache persisted despite headache tablets but then I found the next day I felt even better.  The main thing was boredom – eating is such a pleasure!   Fasting felt cleansing and although there were times when my energy dipped overall I felt stronger for it and there was for me a sense of achievement and control.  Hunger pains don’t last and they don’t grow.  When I did eat, I really took my time and ate simple and nutritious food and kept broadly within the guidelines I had come across through my research.

  • Post treatment

    Post treatment

    Things I’ve learnt

Listening to your body is really important.  Also things that in your head are ‘treat’ foods don’t turn out to be during chemo – so the treat became a nutribullet smoothie rather than a jam donut – it takes a while for you to notice the felt experience is different to what your head remembers!

 

Alpro Go On – review

Alpro Go On – review

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

alpro-topWhat better way to celebrate World vegan month than taste and review a new vegan snack.  Alpro Go On is described as “the new plant-based alternative to strained yogurt”.  We all know the importance of calcium within a healthy balanced diet for bone building, blood clotting, nerve signalling and muscle contraction.

 

We also all need protein, the essential building block to help your body repair cells and make new ones

So a product that contains 18% (144mg) of our daily amount of calcium and nearly 8g of protein is not to be sniffed at.

More nutrition facts

I tried the blackcurrant flavour, there is also a mango and a passion fruit version.  The information on the pot is for both 100 and 150g.  Lets concentrate on 150g, which is the size of the container.

alpro-nutrition

You’ll consume 122 calories, 4.2g of fat (just over 1 teaspoon) but only 0.8 is saturated, 11.3g of sugar (nearly 4 teaspoons), 3g of fibre, 7.7g of protein and a collection of added vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, B12, E and calcium.  Powerful probiotic yoghurt cultures (S. thermopiles, L. bulgaricus) have also been added, these are great for aiding digestion.

The protein content in the ‘Go on’ range is certainly higher than any of Alpro’s other yogurts

How does that compare with a non vegan strained yoghurt, lets find out  

Danone Danio Blueberry Yoghurt 150g is also described as a high protein low fat strained yogurt with a fruit layer.  

alpro-danone

alpro-sideAlpro’s Go on has fewer calories, less sugar & saturated fat and more fibre.  Danone’s Danio has less fat, more protein and more calcium

On balance they are fairly similar, so Alpro’s version provides a good vegan alternative if you fancy a protein rich yoghurt.  The high fibre content will also keep you feeling fuller for longer. However, I would like to see a lower sugar content.

 

But does it taste good?!

alpro-spoonThe answer is most definitely …… YES!

The texture is very firm, the fruit base gives a lovely fresh taste and it isn’t overly sweet. The different textures in the layers makes it a nice eating experience.  The 150g serving of high protein makes it the perfect mid-morning or afternoon treat.  It will also make a great post-workout snack.  Add some extra fresh fruit and it makes a great dessert.  All for 85p, at most supermarkets and health food shops

These will become a regular addition to my shopping list