Going Vegan: Keep Calm & Lead by Example + Tips

F8D68843-623C-4F1E-A097-C4C02293352CI was vegetarian for 40 years for all the usual reasons: ethics, sustainability, health, and thought that was enough. I gave up milk a long time ago, for health reasons. I still ate cheese and eggs. A couple of times, when I became a raw foodie and when my son lived in a tree (don’t ask), I almost became vegan, but couldn’t sustain it. I didn’t have the support and there wasn’t as much by way of articles, products or recipe ideas all those years ago. I finally became vegan accidentally after doing a 14 day juice challenge.

I realised after 3 months I hadn’t wanted to eat cheese or eggs, and I was a real cheese addict. Now I was vegan. And if I could do it for 3 months, I could do so permanently. But I was scared of committing myself and actually saying, I am vegan.

D09AC6B8-9C45-40EB-A436-2382AE979ECEI started following vegan accounts and began reading about the cruelty of egg production and dairy farming. There is so much information available now on social media, via blogs, in the press and documentaries. All I had back then was a library book and a cookery book to turn me on to becoming vegetarian. I had no idea then that male chicks are surplus to requirements in the egg industry or male calves to the dairy industry. I thought that if I bought organic, free range eggs, that was ok.

After several months, I took the plunge and in great trepidation began writing vegan recipes and informational posts on my blog. I fully expected to lose a lot of followers. It didn’t happen. In fact, quite the opposite happened, I gained a whole host of new ones!

The current wave of interest in sustainable living is being driven and adopted by young people in droves, because they now have access to educational tools, support, recipes and like-minded groups.

1AF63E27-2F18-436B-B556-CFD924E73DFFFive friends and family have  become vegan, are transitioning or making gradual changes, from observing my experience, seeing how healthy I am and that it is possible to be vegan, enjoy food and not waste away!

I have never tried to persuade anyone to be vegan. I only engage in the issues if it comes up organically and I know they are in a receptive mood. People need time to process and to work out how it will affect their lifestyle and family obligations. Being aggressive or judgemental is counter-productive. Being calm, understanding and the healthiest you can be is more likely to have people follow your example.

Education is the key, and support and encouragement. It was relatively easy for me as I was used to a vegetable- based diet and already bought cruelty-free toiletries and cosmetics. It can be very difficult for people unused to cooking from scratch, relying on processed convenience foods, on a tight budget (see link for Jack Monroe’s site below) or who don’t have family support.

F7CBF554-7687-422C-AC60-94ABF557C5FABecoming vegan also doesn’t necessarily mean you become healthy. It is quite possible to be vegan living on predominantly processed foods and be quite unhealthy! Food manufacturers and retailers are producing increasing amounts of fake meat products and convenience meals to cater for those who like meat-based meals. These products – not all, but some – can often read like a chemical experiment.

FF65FC84-2504-4B4B-9074-49D2637251A9It’s important to learn about nutrition, to know what constitutes protein and good complex carbohydrates, where to get good plant-based sources of calcium, iron, B12, D3, and so on, so that you have a balanced diet – and so that you have all the facts to hand when you inevitably get asked the questions! Because people who rarely allow a fresh fruit or vegetable to pass their lips will suddenly become concerned experts on your nutritional input. You don’t need a diploma, just Google it!

D47273E0-A5FF-452A-8FF8-C6AD4639A4AEYou can take baby steps by swapping to cruelty-free household products, toiletries and cosmetics. You can reduce your dependency on plastic packaging and this will often automatically mean you include more fresh food in your shopping as well as helping reduce the plastic waste that is filling our oceans, seas and water supplies.

IMG_8582Adding more fresh vegetables and fruit will reduce your intake of sugary and fatty foods which will help reduce inflammation and pain, provide more energy and fewer slumps, and make you more alert. Your skin will be amazing! Skin loves fresh food, especially avocados.

Why not try Meatfree Mondays? Plantbased rice, pasta or quinoa dishes like curries, for example, or pizza (there are some great vegan cheeses*), are often acceptable to families not yet on board with giving up meat. We sometimes give meat-eating guests Quorn or Linda McCartney pies without telling them and they are often uncomfortable and somewhat puzzled, believing they are eating meat, and very surprised when we reveal the truth.

imageBeing vegan is not all brown rice and lentils! Just look at any of the many vegan Instagram accounts and you will find colourful, appetising meals, snacks, treats, desserts, smoothie bowls and cakes for all occasions.

There are many websites, Instagram accounts, blogs and so on where you can find facts, recipes and support to help you make small changes that can eventually lead to bigger ones. Do you know, for example. you can substitute a chia ‘egg’ or flaxseed ‘egg’ for a hen’s egg in cooking? Just soak 1 Tbsp of seeds with 3 Tbsps of seeds to form a gel. Or use mashed banana. I have several informative posts here on the blog and I’ll include some links at the end.

All the recipes on this blog are vegan and gluten-free, just look in the Menu or among Top Posts and Pages, there are also posts on how to make Nut & Seed Milks & Smoothie Recipes

We Are Veganuary have a best-selling hardback book ‘How to Go Vegan’ and The Guardian’s Jack Monroe has a great blog with budget vegan recipes called Cooking on a Bootstrap.

 3C80CBB1-C6B6-4695-B227-0738ECAD1C08Over 165,000 people signed up this year to try being vegan for a month. If you were one of them, well done! You have helped save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, hundreds of kilograms of grain and dozens of animals, not to mention the reduction in greenhouse gases, just in a month!

img_6589If you missed it but would like to give it a go, Veganuary is open all year, providing support whenever you’re ready – see link below.

I hope you found this post helpful.

Remember, there is no failing. You do what you can. Everyone is on their own journey, we are all at different points on our journey, don’t be put off because you think it’s all or nothing and you wear leather shoes. Baby steps.

***

The Vegan Society  Lots of info, nutritional advice, supplement advice, articles

The Green People Company for award-winning vegan skincare, toiletries, cosmetics

*Bute Island Foods for Dairy-free Cheese – available in Waitrose, Holland & Barrett, online & other retailers – and recipes

 Veganuary for Recipe Book, Support, Information & to sign up to try being vegan for a month

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Vivolife – a great resource, Josh does supportive, informative videos, newsletters, blogposts as well as selling good quality organic, vegan protein powders.

Where to Get Nutritional Advice for Young Vegans and Newbies 

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Vegan Gluten-free Chilli-Spiced Bean and Buckwheat Burgers

0C719D06-88BB-4E34-A3DB-93CA9871BB8EThese were made some time ago, so the raison d’être is a bit hazy! I’m not sure what inspired me to try another version of vegan, gluten-free burger, I think it might have had something to do with buckwheat flakes, tiger nut flour and half a tin of beans that needed to be used up. I had also eaten up all the Nutty Bean & Beetroot Veggie Burgers I had put in the freezer (they were my favourites, I even like them cold). I was really pleased with how this new burger came together, how they handled. They were so easy cook and stayed whole. They are quite soft but the sunflower seeds give a bit of texture. Add as much or as little seasoning as you like. I was quite conservative. It’s all done in the food processor, the actual shaping takes longer than the making. I had one during Christmas week for lunch when our son cooked, he did glazed purple sprouts & carrots*, roast potatoes, mushrooms, while they all had cheese and herb sausages made by my husband (originally a Delia Smith recipe from the 80s!) Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph! Sorry.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten- free, Nutfree, Organic where possible)

1/2 Cup Dry Buckwheat, cook in stock using a third of a vegetable stock cube

A heaped 1/2 Cup Mixed Beans (tinned), rinsed and drained well

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1 Celery Stick with leaves, chopped

2 Large Chestnut Mushrooms, chopped

1 Onion, chopped

1 Medium Carrot, scrubbed and chopped

1/2 Cup Buckwheat Flakes

1 Tsp Cumin

1/2 Tsp Chilli Powder

Black Pepper & Pink Himalayan Salt to taste

Tomato Purée

Tamari

1 Chia Egg (1 Tsp Chia Seeds soaked in 3 Tbsps Water)

Gluten-free flour for dusting hands and board – I used fine Tiger Nut Flour*

Coconut Oil for frying

0C90A5A0-12F1-4D08-91C0-4B4B6447F64DMethod

Cook and cool the buckwheat.

Process everything in bursts until it comes together but still some texture.

With flour-dusted hands, scoop out some mixture and shape it into patties on a dusted board. Makes about 10, depending on size and thickness.

Cook in hot (but not smoking) coconut oil.

Drain and serve.

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*Sprouts: quartered and sautéed with lid on. Add juice of one lemon plus the rind, and paprika and salt about halfway through. Carrots: roasted with ginger. Normally uses honey too, but maple syrup would be nice.

Vegan Gluten-Free Burger (and Sausage) Recipes for National Burger Day!

Vegan Leek, Carrot & Ginger Sausages

Vegan ‘Cheesy’ Almond, Leek & Herb Sausages

Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

 

 

 

Monday Meditation: Our Family Christmas, Festive Food & Veganuary Links

  We are still in the middle of family visits, but I wanted to say I hope you all had the Christmas break you wanted and to share some photos of our family Christmas, which is still going on a week later as my daughter’s family descended en masse to celebrate New Year with us.

Family is very important to me and I love this time of year when I get to see everyone in the one place, not all together nowadays as Mum needs the downstairs room that the children use, but in stages. Mum had lunch with our daughter on the 23rd (see Monday Meditation: Mothers and Daughters at Christmas), and with our son’s family before she went home on the 27th, which meant so much to her. Because she lives ‘up North’ and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren too far south to visit her, the only time she can see them is when everyone meets in the middle at our house, which is usually at Christmas. I have a lot to be grateful for, not least that everyone can and does travel quite a distance to spend time together when health and other commitments allow.

Here are a few shots from this week – my husband is holding some homegrown potatoes he’d just dug up for lunch, and a potato bag I had bought him in which to store them. I am holding a beautifully soft wrap from him, and Mum is approving the perfume of the gorgeous handwash given to her by her grand-daughter.

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My son won £20 on his lottery ticket! His son was very pleased to be given a small share of the winnings, he was very ill and it cheered him up. 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum and I received some beautiful flowers.

Christmas food:

We made a nut roast from a Vegetarian Society recipe for Christmas lunch, which was excellent. We couldn’t find any vegan gluten-free ‘sausage’ rolls – apparently they don’t exist – so we made our own from Jusrol vegan gluten-free pastry and Dees Wholefoods vegan, gluten-free sausages. The Waitrose own vegan, gluten-free Christmas pudding was excellent and my husband and mum couldn’t tell the difference. In fact, my husband said it was the best Christmas pud he’d tasted!

 

 

The soup is carrot and sweet potato before it was blended, ready for the family visit. I made some Christmas granola for gifts (it had goji berries, apple-infused cranberries and pumpkin seeds in it for the Christmas colours, and was finished off with a red ribbon) plus some mango chutney; my grandson made us some German cinnamon biscuits and my son made us raw chocolate truffles (mine have gone already, I forgot to photograph them! They were delicious peanut butter chocolate fudge with a little rum). The bottom left picture is of the truffles I was making for the teenagers about to invade this weekend. They had marzipan centres, one batch was covered in chopped almonds and Pitch Dark raw chocolate, melted with cacao butter, the other in Mint – from The Raw Chocolate Company. The stir-fry yesterday was a welcome change from so much rich food!

On New Year’s Eve, we played a killer game of Monopoly (no prisoners taken, I was the first into bankruptcy!), and watched Star Wars: Rogue One, the teenage boys hoovering up copious amounts of (non-vegan) pizza and snacks! Here are the beautiful presents they made at school, the pouch and the sunset scene were made from hand felted wool, the candle holders are ceramic:

 

 

I always look forward to their handmade gifts. The dog was the only one oblivious to the wind and rain!

This is currently the vegan fridge:

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…and this is the non-vegan fridge:

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…because The Boys are Back in Town!

Don’t forget Veganuary begins on Monday 1st January.

Over 100,000 people have signed up this year at Veganuary.com to commit to trying to be vegan for a month. There are many health and environmental benefits to changing to a more sustainable plantbased diet. See my posts below which explain the scheme and help you find the information you need to be a healthy vegan.

Have a lovely weekend and I wish you and your families a happy and healthy 2018.

Veganuary

Veganuary – results

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Where to Get Nutritional Advice for Young Vegans and Newbies

Copyright: Chris McGowan

My Guest Post: Vegan Gluten-free Wraps, Bread & Guacamole – as close as it gets to vegan fast food!

Some time ago, Esmé at https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com kindly asked me to write a guest post and this is it! It’s not very Christmassy, I didn’t realise it would go out so near to Christmas, but at the same time it’s a review and recipe for vegan gluten-free fast-food which can be useful between the big feasts of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. I didn’t have room to mention the BeFree seeded sliced bread as I hadn’t tested it in time for the original post, but it was surprisingly fresh and easy to use for sandwiches. I kept it out, not in the freezer as I usually do, to see how long it would last and I was pleasantly surprised that on the fourth day I could still make a sandwich. Gluten-free breads usually go dry and break up very quickly. I have bought it again when there wasn’t time to make any, which I guess is an endorsement as I’ve never done that before.

The post also includes my recipe for Guacamole with Avocado, Coriander, Moringa & Chilli as well as a quinoa filling for the wraps. I hope you find it useful.

And if like me you hate supermarkets, maybe we can form a support group! Merry Christmas 🎄

EsmeSalon

Please meet our next Guest Chris McGowan @ pearsnotparsnipsdotcom giving us some insight as she put it in her own words, the Baffling World of Health and Nutrition!

Chris

View original post 1,136 more words

Taking a Break to Rest My Broken Body + Tips to Cope with Chronic Pain

IMG_9015As many of you know, I recently injured my back again being much too optimistic about how far I could walk. This is an ongoing problem I have had all my adult life since lifting an overloaded case of albums (as in LPs), along with subsequent whiplash injuries, surgery and medieval torture!

Periodically, I need to have osteopathy and rest up for some time. I’ve been struggling this last few weeks, so I am taking some time off to have some treatment and give my body a break. It’s been a physically demanding few months with all the house refurbishment and family birthdays, not to mention 7 weeks of watching sweaty men in lycra, cycling Les Tours de France, Spain and Britain! I need to take better care of myself.

Pain Awareness Month – a personal reflection on Chronic Pain (but don’t worry, this isn’t a moanfest and I suggest tips to help cope!)

This is Pain Awareness Month and boy, have I been aware of pain 😉 Chronic pain is a widespread but often invisible disorder, it interferes with every part of your life and affects those around you as well as those in pain. It affects mood, mobility, the ability to work or create, family relations – I have missed so many important family events, often having to let people down at the last minute – and you can lose friends very quickly.

img_6480It is difficult for people, especially the medical profession and often some family members, to understand why one day, or even hour, you can do something, but the next day it is completely impossible; why – even though you’re smiling – you are still in deep, often agonising pain. In this photo, I had had no sleep for a couple of nights due to deep persistent pain, but I was up on Christmas morning ready to join in the family gift-swap.

You are often damned if you do and damned if you don’t: over the years, I have been regularly taken to task for not trying hard enough, then berated for trying too hard and making things worse! It can be impossible to find the right balance.

I have had to spend long periods of time in bed – I’m talking months and even years at a time – unable to look after my children, but I have had people say to me: ‘you’re in the right place’, when it’s cold or wet, or ‘I wish I could lie in bed all day and not have to go to work!’ Don’t say it!

Natural Therapies

Doctors can only offer me prescriptions for pills that don’t work and make things worse with their side effects. So I choose natural therapies like craniosacral osteopathy for realignment (a gentle form, not the bone-crunching type!), music and aromatherapy oils for relaxation and meditation, herbal remedies for inflammation, homeopathic gel for bruised muscles, audiobooks for stimulation, heat pads for spasms and poor circulation, Rescue Remedy for shock and stress – and my diet helps. It includes copious amounts of raw chocolate! And laughter really is the best medicine.

(Raw cacao is a mood booster and anti-inflammatory and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise;-) It contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries, is a rich source of magnesium which is heart-healthy, helps relax muscles and prevent depression; it contains more calcium than cow’s milk, iron, zinc, B vitamins, omega oils and protein. And it tastes amazing).*

Gratitude

The regular giving of thanks helps prevent and reduce the onset of depression when dealing with chronic pain. Starting a gratitude journal when severely depressed saved my life. Knowing you have to write something down at the end of the day makes you look for the positive and helps to change your mindset. Nowadays, I don’t need to write it out but I express my appreciation every day, even for the little things, especially for the little things. And even when at my worst physically, I still try to perform random acts of kindness.

Thinking of others, looking outwards instead of always looking inwards at my pain, helps me cope. It is partly why I began this blog, to pass on what I have learned and researched in the realm of diet, health and wellbeing, in the hope that someone reading it might be helped just a little bit to improve their lifestyle, their health and their outlook and enjoy a happier, healthier life.

Juicing for Health

IMG_8106Juicing and adopting a vegan diet eased my aches and pains by reducing inflammation, removing extra weight from my joints, resetting my hormones, calming and relaxing me, providing energy and a positive outlook – you can read about my first juice fast and the positive effects on my health here: Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!

Keep Calm, Plants Have Protein!

Altering my diet has improved so many health issues: since changing to a plant-based diet I no longer use an inhaler or have asthma attacks; losing the extra weight reduced the pressure in my spine, improved my mobility, brought my cholesterol levels to normal and improved my digestion. Pain causes tension, which impedes digestion. In addition, years of pain medication has damaged my stomach lining. Dietary changes also helped cure a sudden-onset itchy scaly rash that almost drove me mad. (see How I Juiced My Skin Clear).

(There are several posts in the menu about the nutritional and environmental benefits of adopting a vegan diet).**

IMG_3797Looking and feeling better does have its drawbacks however! People sometimes think that because I look healthy, smile, study, make cards and write a health and wellness blog, everything is hunky dory in the pain department. Sometimes it is hard not to feel a bit of a fraud when I see myself through other people’s eyes. The more I do the more I am expected to do, my health improvements tend to be taken somewhat for granted. I, however, appreciate every little thing I can do, but I do have a tendency to get over-confident and my body will soon let me know how it feels about that!

I’ll be signing off on Tuesday, 12th September but I have scheduled some posts for while I’m away to keep you on the straight and narrow, so don’t be off bingeing on doughnuts and chips just because I have my back turned!

A Bientôt!

See also Brigid’s excellent and positive post on coping with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Illness, also using natural methods.

*My favourite raw chocolate is from the award-winning The Raw Chocolate Company It’s vegan, gluten-free, organic and Fairtrade.

**Some posts about changing to a plantbased diet:

Veganuary

Veganuary – results

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Plant Powered New Year

Please Note: these are my personal thoughts based on experience and research. Please see a doctor before reducing or stopping medication or beginning a juice-cleanse for the first time.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Chilli Spiced Black Beans, Veggies & Buckwheat with Cumin & Coriander

28863488_UnknownWell, it’s mid June and still we are wearing long socks and woolly cardis while cowering inside from gale force winds and rain, but worry not, we Brits are a hardy bunch and we know how to keep our peckers up! Here’s an easy wholesome dinner that will not only warm your cockles but is satisfyingly healthy too.

Buckwheat is a good alternative to rice and quinoa and very versatile. You can even eat it without cooking: it’s a nce crunch in muesli or energy balls, goes well lightly toasted in granola or with other seeds and a splash of tamari. It’s gluten-free, a vegan source of protein and magnesium, B vitamins and fibre. It’s satisfyingly nutty – suits me then! – and filling.

Black beans are also a great source of vegan protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre.* This recipe uses some fresh summer vegetables: you can mix and match the types of fresh beans, mushrooms and tomatoes, use fresh chilli if you like it – I’m a bit of a wimp so this has a little chilli powder in it.

The thing is not to overcook it. It took about 30 minutes. How you serve it is entirely up to you – my husband decided to fry a (veggie) burger and some onions to have with it, I drew the line at the chips (fries) he proposed to have too :-)) I had it with some green salad.

All measurements and timings are very approximate.

Serves 2-3

All ingredients are vegan, gluten-free, and organic where possible and unpeeled

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Ingredients

1 Tsp Coconut Oil, melted in a frying pan

1/2 Tsp Chilli Powder

1Tsp Dried Cumin

Onion, chopped

Pressed Garlic

Fresh Green Beans, washed, topped and tailed, chopped

Half a Courgette, washed and chopped

Few Chestnut Mushrooms, washed and chopped

Sweetcorn

1/3 Cup Buckwheat

Approx. 250mls Vegetable Stock

Few Fresh Baby Plum Tomatoes, sliced

1 Tsp Raw Coconut Palm Sugar

Fresh Coriander, chopped and some reserved

Tamari

Black Pepper

1/2 Tin Black Beans, drained and rinsed

Method

Cook the spices, onion and garlic in the coconut oil for a few minutes, stirring

Add green beans, courgette and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, stirring

Add the buckwheat, stirring, then the stock, sweetcorn, frsh coriander, a splash of tamari and black pepper.

Cover and cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When almost done and most of te liquid absorbed, gently mix in the black beans and scatter the sliced tomatoes on top.

Cover and allow to heat through for a couple of minutes.

Serve in a hot bowl with fresh coriander.

****

*See also  Vegan Black Bean & Walnut Veggie Burger

Red Lettuce & Black Bean Protein Salad

Rice Bowl with Mildly Spiced Veggies, Vegan Black Bean Burger & Cashew Cheese Sauce

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Spiced Chickpeas & Veggies with Brown Basmati Rice & Wilted Spinach

img_3213As often happens, this came about as my alternative to a meal my husband was having which had potatoes and tomato sauce in (his favourite items to cook with). I avoid nightshade foods* because they are reputed to increase inflammation in people who have auto-immune conditions like psoriasis or arthritis.

It was the day Storm Doris hit and Hb had been out in it all afternoon, delivering our local free mag, while clinging on to fences as he went along in order to stay upright! He was chilled to the bone when he returned home and so decided to have a hot bath and then some vegetable curry out of the freezer.

I devised this version for myself and we shared the rice and steamed green vegetables. It is quick and easy to make.

The spices were heated in a little coconut oil, the veggies were chopped up finely, added to the spices and sweated for a few minutes, then a little vegetable stock was added and it was all cooked for about 20 minutes before adding the chickpeas. Meanwhile, the soaked and rinsed brown basmati rice was cooking alongside and just before serving we put some sugar snap peas in the steamer, after a couple of minutes 2 handfuls of washed spinach followed for just long enough to wilt slightly. This shouldn’t be overdone as it will carry on wilting on the plate.

Spinach is one of those vegetables that is better lightly cooked than raw (as are broccoli, tomatoes and carrots) in terms of making the nutrients more bioavailable, in this case the iron content.

The chickpeas are also a good source of iron and calcium. 

Plenty of B vitamins in this meal, too, along with protein, potassium, antioxidants, dietary fibre and so much more!

Vegan, Gluten-free, Organic where possible.

Ingredients

Enough for 2 servings

img_3206

1 Tsp Coconut Oil for cooking

A little Fresh Ginger, chopped finely

A little Fresh Turmeric, chopped finely

1 Tsp Cumin Seeds

Large Handful Chopped Carrot

Large Handful Chopped Broccoli

2 Chestnut Mushrooms, chopped

Leek, chopped

Small Chioggia Beetroot, chopped

A little Vegetable Stock, below the level of the veggies in the pan

Squeeze of Tomato Purée

Black Pepper

Twist of Pink Himalayan Salt

Lightly Toasted Pine Kernels for garnish

Add the ingredients to the hot but not smoking oil in the above order, stir about then reduce the heat, put on the lid and sweat for about 10 minutes. Stir once or twice.

Meanwhile, cook 1 Cup soaked and rinsed brown Basmati rice in 1 1/2 Cups Boiling Water on a low heat with the lid on until just done and the water absorbed, with the grains still separate, about 20 minutes.

img_3207Add the remainder of the ingredients (except the pine kernels) to the sauce, replace the lid and cook until just done but not mushy.

Blend the sauce a little with a stick blender to thicken it a bit but so that you can still see some shape and colour.

Stir in the chickpeas and replace the lid to warm through.

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When ready to serve, add some sugar snap peas to a steamer for a couple of minutes, then the spinach for a minute.

Serve in a large, hot bowl, sprinkle with lightly toasted pine kernels.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Veganuary – results

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For anyone who read my post, Veganuary , or who participated by trying to go vegan for a month, I thought you might be interested in seeing this results graphic. This was their most successful sign-up yet since its inception in 2014 when a mere 3,300 signed up.

The statistics make interesting reading: the vast majority of participants were in the 18-44 age group which is encouraging, but probably not surprising. Veganism is the fastest growing social movement among young people at this time. They are also tech-savvy and more likely to have seen the campaign on social media.  However, I was most struck by the percentage of women who took part: 88%! I was expecting them to be in the majority, but not by quite such a margin.

Women have the greatest influence on the family diet and consequently their health, and in the education of their children, especially in their early, formative years, so this is also an encouraging statistic.

Another surprising but encouraging statistic is the large number of omnivores willing to try out a vegan lifestyle, I expected that the vast majority of participants would be vegetarians.

If you took part, well done! How did you get on? 

Don’t forget, all the recipes on this site are vegan (and gluten-free). If you need more information on Becoming Vegan, look under that category in the Menu. Here are some links:

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Where to Get Nutritional Advice for Young Vegans and Newbies

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Spicy Chickpea & Coriander Veggie Burgers (vegan & gluten-free)

img_3236We don’t like to throw away our almond milk pulp and didn’t really want another batch of bliss balls, despite the impending visit of the little grandchildren at the weekend (there were other treats awaiting them), so we made burgers as there were none left in the freezer. (You can substitute the almond pulp, see below)

These were the best of our burger experiments in terms of holding together easily, they were no problem at all to form into patties.

These burgers are full of essential nutrients, including protein, iron, omega fats, b vitamins, calcium, antioxidants.

Vegan, Gluten-free, Organic where possible.

Makes about 6-8, depending on size.

All measurements are very approximate.

Ingredients

1 Cup Chickpeas, drained & rinsed, left to dry out a little

1 Chia Egg (1 Tbsp Chia Seeds soaked in 3 Tbsps Water to form a gel)

1 Cup Almond Milk Pulp (or use a substitute, eg ground almond or other nuts, ground sunflower seeds, you may need to adjust the liquid required).

1 Very Small Onion, finely chopped

Crushed Garlic,  if liked

3/4 Cup Coarsely Grated Carrot

1/4 Cup Chopped Sweet Apricot Kernels (or Almonds or other nuts/seeds)

1/2 Tsp Vegetable Bouillon Powder

1/2 – 1 Tsp Ground Ginger

1/2 Tsp Ground Turmeric

1 Tsp Cumin Seeds

Good Splash of Tamari

Squeeze of Tomato Purée

1/2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, melted

Chopped Fresh Coriander

Black Pepper

Twist of Pink Himalayan Salt

Extra coconut oil for cooking.

Method

Process all ingredients until it will come together when you press it.

img_3225Using small handfuls, gently press and shape into rounds in the palm of your hands and then flatten on a board.

Refrigerate to firm them up.

(We had sun streaming through the kitchen window, trying to make amends I think after Storm Doris had blown herself out!)

Fry in a little coconut oil or bake in the oven on an oiled tray.

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We served them with a mixed salad, tamari-flavoured toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and I had mushrooms and sweetcorn whilst my husband had jacket potato and cheese.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

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Vegans are often held to a higher standard when it comes to dietary ethics, be it the environmental impacts of their food choices, animal welfare or health benefits. We all have our own line in the sand, we do what we can given our circumstances and our resources.

Here are some of the ways a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle can be beneficial not just to our own health as individuals or in terms of animal husbandry but for our environment and the world’s populations too.

First, water.

img_6549(Graphic from Vegan Community)

This is quite a startling graphic given the water shortages in some parts of the world. And it doesn’t end there.

Chemical run-offs from farming and processing livestock also contaminate water supplies.

Climate:

Intensive livestock farming and its support infrastructure are a major contributor in the production of greenhouse gases, both from the production of methane but also from transportation, and at current rates this could rise by 50% by 2050. According to a Guardian Environment article which quotes a study from Oxford Martin School, ‘adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63% by 2050.’*

I have seen many articles like this from various sources advocating the reduction of meat and dairy consumption for environmental reasons and the knock-on beneficial effects on human health.

Deforestation:

According to the film Cowspiracy, beef production accounts for 90% the destruction of Amazon rainforest. Many activists have lost their lives or been injured in land disputes with meat producers and indigenous peoples removed from their land.

Growing Food to Feed Animals to Feed Us!

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One of the reasons I first became vegetarian many moons ago was because it didn’t seem right to me that so much land was given over to growing crops to feed animals to feed us when we could just cut out the middle ‘man’ and just eat the crops! When there are so many starving people, it seemed so inefficient and such a waste of resources.

Here’s another graphic to illustrate the point:

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Developing Countries Having to Grow Cash Crops for Animal Feed in Developed World:

Another reason I became vegetarian was that so many poor countries in the developing world have been forced to grow cash crops to sell cheaply to Western countries for animal feed in order to pay off unpayable loans when they should be using them to feed their own populations and earning appropriate prices.

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Overuse of Antibiotics and Bacterial Resistance:

A major concern for human health and that of livestock is the overuse of antibiotics. 

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This is a shocking statistic! This is bad for the animals, bad for the environment, bad for our health. There is widespread concern about resistance to antibiotics and this is the main reason, the antibiotics given to animals end up in our food and the bugs are getting wise to them.

Last but not least is the issue of genetically modified feed and hormones used in the meat and dairy industries. Wherever you stand on the use of GMOs in food, the widespread production of single crops and consequent depletion of the soil, there is great concern among the scientific community as well as environmentalists about how adding and removing genes to alter the behaviour of plants and crops will affect the behaviour of our own genes and dna, as well as that of the animals, birds and insects that feed on them and the consequent ecological ramifications.

Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone is banned in most industrialised countries but is widely used in the US dairy industry. Milk from such cows contains higher levels of a hormone linked to breast, prostrate, colon, lung and other cancers. *

Many other GMOs are banned in most other developed countries, being linked with various cancers and other inflammatory conditions, as well as environmental pollution and crop contamination, but deemed safe in the US. There is little to no regulation of their use and unlike European consumers who have food labelling, for the most part US consumers are not privy to the information. (For example, a US company is about to begin selling packaged GMO sliced apples that don’t go brown in some mid-Western stores but consumers will not be told which stores nor will they be labelled as such).

A series of programmes made about these issues were forced to be postponed and the makers threatened.

There is an informative post on this here by The Organic Consumers Association and another on Unregulated gene editing by Natural Health 365.

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Just after I published this post, I came across this quote on Instagram which starkly but neatly sums up all the issues:

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Finally, on a lighter note:

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https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/eat-less-meat-vegetarianism-dangerous-global-warming

https://ourgreennation.org/2017/01/02/gmos-in-dairy-institute-for-responsible-technology/

Copyright: Chris McGowan