Vegan for a month

Last week I was in Norway at the Morten Hake Summit. This congress about authentic relationships had a line up of great speakers, including Steve Pavlina, Zan Perrion, Johnny Soporno, Rob Brinded, Noah Hammond and Andy Yosha. Their speeches were inspiring and the speakers themselves stayed the whole summit, giving all participants many opportunities to shake hands, hug and have a one on one chat.

The organizers and participants of the Summit appeared to be awesome people. A spontaneous hug can be the start of a warm friendship. And I hugged many people!

Some returning topics during the conversations I had were open relationships and healthy food. Many new found friends appeared to be vegan or into raw food. When I joined some Bikram yoga classes after the conference, I decided to start a 30 day vegan trial on the spot. Bikram yoga is taught in a hot room, which assures you will sweat. A lot. Losing so many waste products through sweating (I could tell by the smell of me!), I thought it would be a shame to put them right back into my body by eating unhealthy.

Why vegan?

I used to be vegetarian for many years. Only when I traveled to countries where the only vegetarians were the cows and rabbits served for dinner, I decided to eat meat again. There simply was nothing else to be found than fruits or meat. At that point I decided to not worry about what I ate while travelling. Back home I still didn’t eat meat. Until I became pregnant. The veggie-loving herbal tea-addict I used to be turned into a coke drinking creature that had the worst cravings for meat. It happened again during my second and third pregnancies. As those pregnancies were a challenge on their own, I decided to go with the flow and just eat whatever my body summoned me to eat.

Since a few weeks my monthly cravings for chocolate are alternated with an urge to eat vegetables and fruit. As a Dutch person, I’m used to eating bread for breakfast and lunch, and having the largest meal of the day in the evening. For now I rather make smoothies for breakfast and lunch, maybe add some salad and have some nuts in between meals. A week before I went to Norway I decided to call myself vegetarian again. So the change to being vegan for a month is not such a huge one. Though I already do miss the cheese! We have some amazing cheeses in The Netherlands and I know this great little place to get the real good cheese… 🙂

Anyway, so far I’m doing fine. My aim is to find out how my body reacts to a vegan diet. Will I have more energy? Will I feel different? Will this healthy diet help me connecting with my heart? Will I be happier?

What’s so bad about eating meat?

First of all, I feel very connected with living beings. Both animals and humans. To me, an animal is a personality. I don’t like how animals are treated in bio-industry and I rather not be part of the meat ‘production’ chain as a consumer. Producing meat requires a lot of natural resources. On 1 hectare of land we can grow 10x more corn than meat. It seems more fare to equally share resources and make sure there is enough food for everyone on the planet.

Secondly, meat contains saturated fats, trans fats, heavy metals, dietary cholesterol, aberrant proteins and hormones. Things that have a negative impact on our health. We’re better off without them. Why eat them?

What’s so bad about diary products?

There is a huge, successful lobby stating we all need milk, yogurt and other dairy products as a source of calcium. Indeed, human babies (and animal babies) need milk to produce bones and other tissues. But as we grow older, this need changes. Milk contains a sugar, called lactose. In order to process milk we need an enzyme: lactase. We produce this enzyme until we are 4 years old. After that time, we cannot digest dairy products. A percentage of the world population adapted themselves to keep tolerating lactose. Other people suffer from ‘lactose intolerance’. They cannot digest dairy and will suffer discomfort when they do consume it.

We do not need dairy as a source of calcium. Calcium is a mineral which is found in the ground. Cows can put calcium in their milk because they eat grass that grows from this calcium filled ground. Actually, this was the situation in the past. Nowadays milking cows hardly ever go out into the fields. They are given calcium as a dietary supplement…

We find calcium in many green vegetables like kale, broccoli, bok choy and other green, leafy vegetables. These veggies also contain vitamins, other minerals, fiber, folate and phytonutrients, and lack saturated fats.

Buy dairy to support farmers? In Europe, the government subsidizes milk production. Without this flow of money, milk cannot be produced. The amounts of milk produced are high. Milk is sold for prices lower than the costs of producing it. By buying milk and dairy products we stimulate an unhealthy situation where farmers do not make money, milk is sold for low prices or sometimes even thrown away. The government keeps pumping money into this situation to keep producing milk, and at the same time spends money on commercials, convincing people about the benefits of milk and dairy products. Forgive me for not understanding this situation…

My reasons for being vegan for a month are a combination of personal health, well-being, animal welfare and a fair distribution of natural resources. For this experiment I will write about the impacts of being vegan on my health and feeling of well-being.

Being vegan feels like the right thing to do right now. Calling myself vegan feels natural. Like it’s something I AM. Not something I DO. It’s not a label I stick to myself, rather an energy that resonates with mine.

Recipes

I love to cook and experiment with new recipes. I’m more than happy to share some new favorites with you:

Vegan basil-tomato pesto

I don’t want to give up on pesto while being vegan 🙂 Instead of Parmezan cheese, I use some extra nuts. Cashews are creamy when they are ground, giving the pesto its creamy texture. Measurements are not very precise and they don’t need to be. Play around with quantities of ingredients. Add some extra of your favorite flavors. And share your version of the recipe with me!

  • 1 hand full of fresh basil leaves. No basil around? Use other green herbs like
    parsley, sage, mint or try rocket. Or combine all of them 🙂
  • about 5 macadamia nuts
  • about 10 cashews
  • 5 semi-dried tomato pieces
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • a squeeze lemon or lime juice
  • freshly ground salt and pepper

Throw everything into a chopper, and grind until it’s all creamy. You might want to add some extra oil if needed. Taste and add some extra ingredients if you like. I guess this recipe is also suited for raw foodies (just check the tomatoes and use raw nuts).

Salad with simple tahini dressing

Make a salad 🙂 I love to combine fresh veggies like bell pepper, spring union, tomato, cucumber, lettuce or rocket with fresh sprouts. Just be creative and use veggies with different colors. Different colors mean different vitamins and other good stuff, so variate in this spectrum.

Next we make a dressing based on tahini, which is entirely made of sesame seeds. Tahini is a little bitter, creamy and heavy. A great combination with crispy, fresh veggies! And also a great source of unsaturated fat, vitamin B and E and minerals like magnesium, phosphor and… calcium. Again, I describing ingredients in a rough way. Just try and add ingredients until you’ve created your perfect dressing. Tip: the dressing tastes quite strong on its own. I find the taste much better when the dressing is combined with veggies.

Take:

  • 2 spoons tahini
  • 2 spoons soysauce
  • little water
  • cayenne pepper
  • a squeeze of lemon or lime juice
  • freshly ground salt and pepper

Put everything in a little bowl and stir until the tahini dissolves in the other fluids. This may take some time. Add the pepper and maybe some salt, and try if the taste is good.

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