“Going vegan changed my life”

The following article was published by the Daily Express on Feb 23rd 2015.  Thought it was worth sharing as is always interesting to hear other people’s stories, how they came to veganism, what they struggle with, what their advice is etc…

Healthy living guru Angela Liddon explains how giving up animal products helped her overcome an eating disorder

"I switched to whole foods and lost 20 pounds."

Veganism is a big trend for 2015. Beyoncé announced recently that she is launching a vegan food delivery service and she is just one of many celebrities who have decided to cut animal products out of their diet completely.

For healthy living guru Angela Liddon however, going vegan wasn’t just a celebrity fad. Instead she says that after years of suffering from an eating disorder, it gave her life back to her.

Angela’s problems started when she was just 11.

“When I hit puberty, I started to get curves and gained a bit of weight. I felt I wasn’t thin enough like the girls in fashion magazines so I started to diet,” she explains.

Starving herself for days on end, then binge eating, Angela, now 32, fixated on how much fat she was eating and the amount of exercise she could do.

“Even though I was very thin my body image was worse than ever. I thought that by losing the weight I would accept myself more but found I only became more critical of how I looked. It was a vicious circle,” she says.

It wasn’t until Angela was in her mid-20s that she decided enough was enough. “I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I lacked energy in my day-to-day life and I desperately wanted to change,” she says.

“My eating disorder also negatively impacted on my relationships as it made me insecure, moody and withdrawn. I knew something needed to give if I was going to have healthy relationships in my life and most of all learn how to accept myself.”

After hearing about how healthy a vegan diet can be she decided to try it out for herself. Soon, she was hooked.

“Eating a balanced plant-based diet gave me so much energy straight away,” she says. “I felt happier, balanced and like I could accomplish so much more. It was a revelation.”

Inspired by her new lease of life Angela, who lives in Ontario, Canada, decided to start a blog to share her struggles with food and how going vegan had turned her life around.

After its launch in 2008 she was inundated with messages from readers. “I was amazed and humbled by all the people who wrote saying that my blog changed their life,” she says.

During the past six years she has created more than 600 vegan recipes and built up six million regular readers. Now, as she launches her first cookbook, Angela says she hopes her journey eating her way back to health will continue to inspire others to go vegan too.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon, published March 4, (Penguin, £16.25) is available from amazon.co.uk

FIVE GOLDEN FOOD RULES

1 MAKE TIME

Set aside time each weekend to prepare food for the week ahead. Roast a couple of pans of seasonal vegetables, soak and cook chickpeas and prep kale and homemade dressing for salads. This will make throwing together weeknight meals much easier.

2 DON’T WORRY ABOUT OTHERS

If you want to make changes, do so for you and you alone. Don’t let outside opinions put you off. You never know, if you feel good, look healthy and your skin’s glowing others may want to do it too.

3 SWEAT EVERY DAY

You’ll feel your best if you get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. It can be as simple as walking outdoors but make sure whatever it is you enjoy doing it. Mix it up to keep it interesting. Try indoor cycling classes, brisk hill walking on the treadmill, weights and hiking.

4 EAT BREAKFAST

Skipping breakfast is never a good idea as you’ll end up starving by lunch and over-eating. If you want something light have a green protein smoothie or a bowl of vegan overnight oats.

5 MAKE ROOM FOR TREATS

Depriving yourself will only make you want something more. Therefore include room for desserts and treats in your diet, in moderation of course.

Try a raw chocolate pudding made with blended banana, avocado, cocoa powder, vanilla, and sea salt topped with roasted hazelnuts and whipped coconut cream. It’s easy to make and, while sweet, it’s full of goodness.

SMART SWAPS TO BOOST YOUR DIET

Ditch: COW’S MILK

Try: Almond milk. Choose the unsweetened kind and use it where you would normally use cow’s milk.

Ditch: DAIRY CREAM

Try: Full-fat coconut cream. You can whip it just like you would regular dairy cream. It’s great in desserts, puddings, soup and more.

Ditch: BUTTER

Try: Virgin coconut oil. You can use coconut oil in just about everything from raw desserts to baked goods to stir-fries.

Heart-healthy, it has antifungal and antibacterial properties. However if you’re not a fan of the flavour you can use refined coconut oil.

Ditch: MINCE

Try: Lentil-walnut taco “meat”. A mixture of toasted walnuts, lentils, chilli powder, garlic, olive oil, cumin and salt.

Ditch: DAIRY SOUR CREAM

Try: Cashew sour cream. Blend soaked cashews, water lemon juice, cider vinegar and seasoning until smooth.

Live and Let Live

Have just watched this feature length documentary on veganism and would highly recommend it to everyone, vegan or not.

It examines our relationship with animals, the history of veganism and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that move people to go vegan.
Food scandals, climate change, lifestyle diseases and ethical concerns move more and more people to reconsider eating animals and animal products. From butcher to vegan chef, from factory farmer to farm sanctuary owner – Live and Let Live tells the stories of six individuals who decided to stop consuming animal products for different reasons and shows the impact the decision has had on their lives.
Philosophers such as Peter Singer, Tom Regan and Gary Francione join scientists T. Colin Campbell and Jonathan Balcombe and many others to shed light on the ethical, health and environmental perspectives of veganism.
Through these stories, Live and Let Live showcases the evolution of veganism from its origins in London 1944 to one of the fastest growing lifestyles worldwide, with more and more people realising what’s on their plates matters to animals, the environment and ultimately – themselves.

And it has a lovely soundtrack too…

Missing the entire point!

Susannah Constantine has caused outrage by posting a picture of her ten-year-old daughter Cece proudly clutching a dead duck and with her face smeared with blood to mark her first kill.

Her first kill: With blood smeared across her face, a smiling Cece, 10, poses with the dead duck

I’ve been reading all the various reactions from people and mostly the debate has developed into whether or not you should be honest with your children about where meat comes from.  And this is missing the point entirely.

1. How much of the meat that you eat on a daily basis was killed on a country estate by posh people for ‘sport’?  The odd pheasant casserole possibly if you’re in the 1% of the country that takes part in these country pursuits but otherwise basically none of it.  So if ‘education’ is really what this is all about then you would presumably be as keen to take your kids around a slaughterhouse, a factory farm or a chicken shed? No I thought not… The reality is slightly less palatable isn’t it?

2.  Of course you should be honest with your children about where meat comes from – but not if you’re feeding them totally incorrect information.  Not if your moral compass is completely out of whack.  I was told from a very young age where meat comes from (I was raised on a small farm) but I never witnessed it.  The closest I came was when mum insisted we stay inside whilst dad strangled all the chickens that had stopped laying eggs so were now ‘surplus to requirements’.  Funnily enough, my parents weren’t shuffling us into ringside seats for this barbaric spectacle.  Alongside my education of where meat comes from I was also told that these animals were put here to feed us – that that was their purpose, their raison d’etre.   I was told that we needed meat to survive and that is was an entirely natural process.  What total nonsense!

3.  I was certainly not told the whole truth.  How most animals in the world are kept in horrific concentration camp conditions for their entire lives before being needlessly slaughtered at a dismally tender age.  I wasn’t told what happens to every single male chick born to the egg industry – minced alive at less than a day old by thousands.  I wasn’t told what happens to the dairy calves that aren’t wanted for veal – killed within the first week as ‘by-product’ of the dairy industry.  And I certainly wasn’t told that I could live a perfectly happy, healthy, compassionate life without ever having to eat, wear or use any animal products ever again.

So if the person guiding you through life’s moral maze is a member of the third reich and is telling you that it’s ok to gas someone because they are Jewish it’s probably not the kind of education I’d be wanting for my kids and its certainly not a defense to say that at least their being honest!

A child is incredibly easily influenced by what their parents say, as we all are by people in positions of authority to us, which is how otherwise decent human beings throughout history have been coerced into doing horrific things under the misguided guise of ‘doing the right thing’.

Teaching children that it’s ok to kill animals for sport or food is not okay in my book. It’s wrong, it’s confusing, it’s deeply irresponsible and it’s dangerous.  If we want to raise the next generation of children to be compassionate, free thinking, rational individuals then we need to start being honest about how inexcusable it is in this day and age to consume any animal products of any kind.

Rant over.

A vegan in Uganda…

We’ve just returned from 2 weeks in Uganda.

We had no idea whether we’d be able to continue being vegan or not and so were pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually pretty easy.  We were staying in an area called Masaka which is a large sprawling town 140 km from Kampala.

masaka011

Cooking and eating revolves around the weekly food market that descends on the town every Friday and Saturday.  Local farmers bring their produce in large wheelbarrows to sell and the streets are literally groaning with fresh fruit, veg and spices.  Every stall looks identical and is selling identical produce at identical prices so I have no idea how people decide who to buy their week’s bounty from!  But there are plenty to choose from.

Unused spices

What’s available is obviously entirely seasonal but there seemed to be plenty on offer in October.  Potatos of various varieties, colours and textures, avocados the size of pineapples, passion fruit, jack fruit, sweet potatos, tomatos, green beans of all kinds, pineapples galore, mangos, aubergines, chillies, bananas and plantain absolutely everywhere, oranges, lemons, limes, paw paws – absolutely plenty to keep you satisfied!

jodhpur_skyline.jpg

market

Avoiding meat was very easy as meat is such a luxury that it is actually quite difficult to come by.  The meat that was available was hanging very uninvitingly in the sun from large butchers hooks, dripping blood and still covered in fat, gristle and patches of skin.

Meat on sale. Uganda’s beef industry is facing quality and organisational challenges.

Dairy is relatively hard to come by also.  We didn’t see any cheese for sale in Masaka.  You can get it in supermarkets in Kampala but it’s very expensive so presumably is imported in.  We got long life soya milk in Kampala so we didn’t have to drink cow’s milk.  Vegetable butter is easy to get so that’s not a problem.  When eating out there was almost always a vegan curry option but I confess we had the occasional non-vegan pizza when we were all curried out!

I was interested to know how people would react to our being vegans and was surprised to find that everyone was very accepting and understanding of it.  As soon as we explained that we don’t eat any animal products people just nodded and seemed to understand.  Which just goes to show that you should never underestimate people.