“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“My eating disorder also negatively impacted on my relationships as it made me insecure, moody and withdrawn.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.

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Veganuary

Veganuary is a global campaign designed to support people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January.

There’s a great website giving you loads of information on the reasons people should try and live a vegan life and masses of other helpful info such as interviews with committed vegans, a shopping directory, recipes, help on where best to eat out etc.

Check out the website here – Veganuary

Are you giving Veganuary a go?  If so, do get in touch – I’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

If you must eat meat, save it for Christmas

Here’s a great article by the wonderfully eloquent and engaging George Monbiot which was published in The Guardian on the 16th Dec 2014.

image via Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

If you must eat meat, save it for Christmas

From chickens pumped with antibiotics to the environmental devastation caused by production, we need to realise we are not fed with happy farm animals.

What can you say about a society whose food production must be hidden from public view? In which the factory farms and slaughterhouses supplying much of our diet must be guarded like arsenals to prevent us from seeing what happens there? We conspire in this concealment: we don’t want to know. We deceive ourselves so effectively that much of the time we barely notice that we are eating animals, even during once-rare feasts, such as Christmas, which are now scarcely distinguished from the rest of the year.

Christmas turkey

It begins with the stories we tell. Many of the books written for very young children are about farms, but these jolly places in which animals wander freely, as if they belong to the farmer’s family, bear no relationship to the realities of production. The petting farms to which we take our children are reifications of these fantasies. This is just one instance of the sanitisation of childhood, in which none of the three little pigs gets eaten and Jack makes peace with the giant, but in this case it has consequences.

Labelling reinforces the deception. As Philip Lymbery points out in his book Farmageddon, while the production method must be marked on egg boxes in the EU, there are no such conditions on meat and milk. Meaningless labels such as “natural” and “farm fresh”, and worthless symbols such as the little red tractor, distract us from the realities of broiler units and intensive piggeries. Perhaps the most blatant diversion is “corn-fed”. Most chickens and turkeys eat corn, and it’s a bad thing, not a good one.

The growth rate of broiler chickens has quadrupled in 50 years: they are now killed at seven weeks. By then they are often crippled by their own weight. Animals selected for obesity cause obesity. Bred to bulge, scarcely able to move, overfed, factory-farmed chickens now contain almost three times as much fat as chickens did in 1970, and just two thirds of the protein. Stalled pigs and feedlot cattle have undergone a similar transformation. Meat production? No, this is fat production.

Sustaining unhealthy animals in crowded sheds requires lashings of antibiotics. These drugs also promote growth, a use that remains legal in the United States and widespread in the European Union, under the guise of disease control. In 1953, Lymbery notes, some MPs warned in the House of Commons that this could cause the emergence of disease-resistant pathogens. They were drowned out by laughter. But they were right.

This system is also devastating the land and the sea. Farm animals consume one third of global cereal production, 90% of soya meal and 30% of the fish caught. Were the grain now used to fatten animals reserved instead for people, an extra 1.3 billion could be fed. Meat for the rich means hunger for the poor.

What comes out is as bad as what goes in. The manure from factory farms is spread ostensibly as fertiliser, but often in greater volumes than crops can absorb: arable land is used as a dump. It sluices into rivers and the sea, creating dead zones sometimes hundreds of miles wide. Lymbery reports that beaches in Brittany, where there are 14 million pigs, have been smothered by so much seaweed, whose growth is promoted by manure, that they have had to be closed as a lethal hazard: one worker scraping it off the shore apparently died of hydrogen sulphide poisoning, caused by the weed’s decay.

It is madness, and there is no anticipated end to it: the world’s livestock population is expected to rise by 70% by 2050.

Four years ago, I softened my position on meat-eating after reading Simon Fairlie’s book Meat: A Benign Extravagance. Fairlie pointed out that around half the current global meat supply causes no loss to human nutrition. In fact it delivers a net gain, as it comes from animals eating grass and crop residues that people can’t consume.

Since then, two things have persuaded me that I was wrong to have changed my mind. The first is that my article was used by factory farmers as a vindication of their monstrous practices. The subtle distinctions Fairlie and I were trying to make turn out to be vulnerable to misrepresentation.

The second is that while researching my book Feral, I came to see that our perception of free-range meat has also been sanitised. The hills of Britain have been sheepwrecked – stripped of their vegetation, emptied of wildlife, shorn of their capacity to hold water and carbon – all in the cause of minuscule productivity. It is hard to think of any other industry, except scallop dredging, with a higher ratio of destruction to production. As wasteful and destructive as feeding grain to livestock is, ranching could be even worse. Meat is bad news, in almost all circumstances.

So why don’t we stop? Because we don’t know the facts, and because we find it difficult even if we do. A survey by the US Humane Research Council discovered that only 2% of Americans are vegetarians or vegans, and more than half give up within a year. Eventually, 84% lapse. One of the main reasons, the survey found, is that people want to fit in. We might know it’s wrong, but we block our ears and carry on.

I believe that one day artificial meat will become commercially viable, and that it will change social norms. When it becomes possible to eat meat without keeping and slaughtering livestock, live production will soon be perceived as unacceptable. But this is a long way off. Until then, perhaps the best strategy is to encourage people to eat as our ancestors did. Rather than mindlessly consuming meat at every meal, we should think of it as an extraordinary gift: a privilege, not a right. We could reserve meat for a few special occasions, such as Christmas, and otherwise eat it no more than once a month.

All children should be taken by their schools to visit a factory pig or chicken farm, and to an abattoir, where they should be able to witness every stage of slaughter and butchery. Does this suggestion outrage you? If so, ask yourself what you are objecting to: informed choice, or what it reveals? If we cannot bear to see what we eat, it is not the seeing that’s wrong, it’s the eating.