I’m not vegan any more. After nearly two years of being one, my circumstances changed and it became hard for me to eat vegan and stay healthy. I started eating meat again, and my body actually thanked me for the change. I saw a vast improvement in my body composition and energy.
So, for anyone thinking I sat on my high horse promoting veganism as the be-all, end-all, rest assured that I am actually one of those who couldn’t stick to it. In fact, I enjoy eating meat more now than I ever did before I went vegan. I appreciate it more, always choose organic, and am far less wasteful.
Yoga and Veganism
In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali outlines the meaning of ahimsa (non-violence), which suggests the practice of a vegetarian diet. Traditionally, a yoga teacher would strictly follow this practice. The debate as to whether a yogi can be a “yogi” but not vegan continues.
Being vegetarian or vegan is a commitment, because all of a sudden people are watching you and questioning you, just waiting for you to trip up and walk out wearing a leather belt or accidentally sip on some non-vegan wine (who knew that wine could notbe vegan?!).
All of a sudden, by labelling yourself as a veggie, you are open to attack from all bases: stay vegan and always be bombarded with “But why, what about the protein?” questions, or quit being vegan and be known as the quitter.
So here is my tip: do what is right for you and ignore the nitpickers. They don’t have any idea what they’re talking about because it’s your body, not theirs.
Sustaining Optimal Health and Veganism
On that point, do you know what’s going on inside your body? Are you able to listen to its needs? There are two ways of leading a vegan lifestyle: the smart way, or the eat-nothing-but-rice-and-hummus way.
Being vegan can be hard, especially when you are always on the go or living with people who are not veggie-friendly.
It can be so easy to slip into an unhealthy way of vegan eating. In my experience, working long hours in an office and eating the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner of mango, greens, and copious amounts of hummus and nuts was far from smart nor sustainable.
Here are some fast facts, a few practical tips, and a recipe for you guys, whether you’re vegan or just feel like preparing a vegan-friendly meal tonight!
- The global shift toward a lesser consumption of animal products is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty, and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report has stated.
- A plant-based diet has been proven to aid athletic training as it can speed up recovery. The alkalising effect of a whole food, plant-based diet is superior to the more acidic effects of processed foods and animal products, which are pro-inflammatory in the body.
Tips for Going Vegan or Vegetarian
- Don’t avoid dining out—all restaurants can cater to you, you just have to be brave enough to ask. Some of my best vegan meals have been in steak restaurants. You might want to call ahead the day before, but I’ve never had any problems ordering on the day itself.
- Being vegan is an easy lifestyle to commit to. You just have to be a little bit organised. Cook in bulk and make Tupperware your new best friend.
- Plan ahead and prepare work lunches at home the night before—salads with chickpeas, avocado, and sea vegetables, raw veggie sticks and hummus, tomato and zucchini-based sauces to go with egg-free pasta.
- Oat milk, nut milks, and nut butters are great alternatives to dairy.
- Consider taking a B12 supplement or fortified B12 products such as Nutritional Yeast. This is because B12 can only be found naturally in animal-based products.
- Don’t miss out just because your friends aren’t vegan—bring a dish to dinner parties, or hold your own dinner party! Prepare vegan dishes such as lentil dahls, avocado and tomato salads, and ratatouille, then grill meat or seafood to serve in separate dishes for those who want them.
Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Dahl
If you’re not vegan or vegetarian, I promise you that you won’t feel like you’re missing out on something meaty. Hearty and healthy food, particularly good if you’re on a diet but still want something wholesome.
350 kcals per serving
- 200g red lentils
- 2 to 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large 1-inch chunks
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 5 tomatoes, quartered
- 800mL vegetable or chicken stock or 800mL water with stock cube
- 4 handfuls spinach (½ a bag or so), shredded a little
- 1 red chili, chopped (avoid using seeds if you don’t like spice!)
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Fry onion, chili, and garlic until soft (NO need for oil). Add 1 tsp garam masala and 1 tsp turmeric, cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add 200g red lentils, 800mL boiling water, and stock cube to the pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add sweet potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes or until potato is tender but not overcooked. You can add the chopped tomatoes around 5 minutes before the potatoes are ready.
- Just before serving, add spinach to pan and stir so that it wilts a little.
- Serve with pita bread if you like.
Keep this dish vegan friendly, or bake or dry-fry chicken or turkey in a separate pan to add to the dish later!