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Finding Healthy, TASTY, Vegan Food in France – Part 2 – Paris

After our decidedly underwhelming dining out experiences in Avignon and Lyon, which I documented here, we were positive that Paris had to be different. We actually spent two nights in Orleans before arriving in Paris, but we were there to see friends and so didn’t eat in town. However, I’d noticed a place called Djaam in central Orleans that did great-looking African bowls, several of which were vegan, using traditional West African grains and sauces. We’d definitely have tried this out if we’d had time; my taste buds were yearning for some actual taste by this stage in our holiday 😄

I mentioned this in my previous France post – we eat a whole-food vegan diet, as it has served us well health-wise for many years now; so we’re looking for healthy food (with the odd cheeky side of sweet potato fries of course 😋) that is tasty as all hell. There’s just no excuse for mediocre, boring healthy food any more.

We arrived in Paris and right off the bat we discovered this vegan, gluten-free and refined-sugar free chain of restaurants called Wild and the Moon. We went there our first night in Paris and I nearly cried to see their dish of the day was a hearty bean chili. This was honestly the first time in two weeks I’d eaten food that was the same standard in both ‘healthiness’ and taste to what we make at home. My partner had their ‘Jack’s bowl’ – a tasty Thai-inspired concoction. We had a second bowl of chili between us, so starved had we been of spices for the previous two weeks.

Wild and the Moon, in typical French fashion, is hard to define. They sell healthy cold drinks and snacks in fridges near the entrance and at first glance could be mistaken for one of the ubiquitous juice/chia/smoothie bars that you get pretty much everywhere these days. Only when you venture in further do you see the hot food menu, and realise it’s a gorgeous space in which to sit down, relax and enjoy your lunch or evening meal. It’s hard to glean information on their hot food on the website too, as their home page just shows detox juices and superfood snacks. A quick skim would have you thinking it was a juice bar in a yoga studio. Only right at the bottom of the drop-down does it say ‘menu at restaurants.’

They also have a range of sweet bakery items available every day. The Wild Brownie is worth coming here for alone. In fact I’d probably jump on Eurostar for it alone 🤣 Unlike most ‘healthy’ sweet treats, while the ingredients list of the brownie is holier than thou, the taste and texture are pure sinful choc-gasmic delight. I may have eaten more than I should have of these and I ain’t repentin.’

We ended up eating at WatM three times in four days. We wanted to be adventurous and try lots of different places, but after our next experience (which I’ll get to in a sec), and because we’d been so starved of taste for two weeks, we thought f**k it, let’s just eat here from now on. We ate at the Rue Charlot and the Rue St Honore branches, though there are several others. They are in, I guess, the more upmarket areas of town, which is a shame because we were all over town visiting places I used to know when I lived in Paris, and my favourite areas are decidedly NOT the more bougie parts, but I guess they think they are where their market is. You could say it is expensive, but only in the way that everywhere is expensive in Paris – I certainly didn’t find it more expensive than anywhere else.

The next night we thought we’d try a restaurant I’d heard a lot about – Le Potager du Marais – that specialised in vegan French cuisine. It was a Sunday night. We got there before it opened and there was a big queue outside waiting to be let in – which was promising in terms of what the food might be like. Many of those in the queue seemed to be North American, or tourists from elsewhere outside of France. I guess they’d heard the same good things I’d heard.

When the time came to open up, we filed in and the crowd in the queue filled the restaurant entirely – how many restaurants can boast a full house right off the bat on a Sunday night?

I picked the French onion soup as a starter and my partner had a roast potato with tapenade and pesto. For the main course I chose a cassoulet dish. When I lived in France years ago, I loved a good Toulousain cassoulet. Cassoulet is a slow-cooked dish of white beans and sausage – I was never bothered about the sausage but those scrummy melt-in-your-mouth flavoursome beans were everything. I was hoping for a vegan recreation of this. My partner chose a buckwheat mushroom crepe.

The French onion soup is a popular dish of ‘Le Potager’, and rightly so. It does taste exactly the same, even better perhaps, than I tasted in non-vegan days. The melted cheese, onion, and wine flavouring all meld together perfectly. If you’re a vegan lover of French cuisine it’s definitely worth going just for this.

Yummy French Onion Soup

However, I’d forgotten that so much is flavoured with wine in French cooking, and that I am allergic to sulphites (of which there are an abundance in wine), and when the back of my throat started itching to remind me of this pesky affliction, I had to abandon the soup. My husband’s roasted potato thing turned out to be a small baked potato – nice enough but not what he was expecting.

And the main course? To be fair to the cassoulet it was advertised as a ‘Cassoulet de Mer -Pink lentils with smoked tofu, fresh seaweed and fennel grated with hazelnuts.’ So obviously I was wrong to expect something similar to a traditional cassoulet, but this was just…taste and texture-less. Edible but boring. Why you’d use lentils (that were undetectable – they’d just turned to mush, as had the tofu) instead of lush, slow-cooked bigger white beans is unfathomable. There was a subtle seaweed and fennel flavour I guess, but it wasn’t nice enough to make me want to devour this dish as I remembered doing previously. You’ll see it doesn’t resemble cassoulet, and the potato thing you see on the side was like pureed, then compressed potato, that didn’t taste of much either.

This is Cassoulet?

The buckwheat crepe, again, sounded so much sexier than it tasted (‘buckwheat pancake stuffed with leek fondu, carrots and mushrooms’) but was pretty much the same as the cassoulet – OK and edible, but really not stellar. You wouldn’t bother going there for it if you had to travel more than a couple of metro stops.

All the dishes we tried ticked the (sufficiently) healthy box. But they could all (barring the French onion soup, which was excellent) have done that while being crammed full of rich and exciting taste, and they just weren’t.

Again, as with our Lyon vegan restaurant experience, it’s the sort of food we’d have been grateful for 10 years ago, but nowadays there’s just no excuse for not wowing the socks off of vegans just as you’d try to do with non-vegans.

It’s possible other dishes at the PdM might be amazing, just as the soup was, so if you’re a vegan lover of French food I’d still recommend going – definitely ordering the French onion soup, then something other than what we had.

It’s also true to say that I love very taste-full cuisines like Indian, Ethiopian and West African – I live in London and have great examples of these close to hand – so it’s likely my taste buds have grown accustomed to very strong flavours, and the subtle herby thing doesn’t really do it for me any more.

So for the rest of our stay we ate at Wild and the Moon – as well as the chili I can heartily recommend the Banh Mi and the burger – and bought snacks from Naturalia (that I mentioned in my previous France post).

Top burger and Banh Mi

Of course there are other great restaurants that we never got to – some were closed at the beginning of the week, some may have been too far to travel. Restaurants I’ve learned of since my return and VERY MUCH WISHED WE’D HAVE VISITED are Jah Jah Le Tricycle which specialises in healthy Caribbean food – particularly galling as we were on Rue des Petites Ecuries where it is based but just didn’t see it; and L’Embuscade, again Afro-Caribbean, again healthy, and again annoyingly in an area we were in but just weren’t aware of its existence. These restaurants will be top of our list on our next Paris trip.

I surmised several things on this France trip. Unsurprisingly, Paris is the best place for a vegan in France. However, it’s still fairly difficult to find that mix of stunning taste and healthiness in a vegan restaurant meal. In my experience other western capitals seem to be ahead on this and US cities even more so. On a subsequent visit to Paris, outside of Wild and the Moon, I’d probably stick to ethnic restaurants to ensure a tasty meal. The problem I noticed with the restaurants I visited that try to recreate French cuisine for vegans is that they don’t seem to know how to do it for the best. There is an overuse of mushrooms; I didn’t see many (any?) bean dishes – how easy is it to make beans taste delicious!? You could say that French cuisine doesn’t lend itself to vegan conversion in a way that could be healthy and tasty, but I think that would be a cop-out. This lagging behind is perhaps something to do with a French reluctance/stubbornness (yes, I’m stereotyping) to change traditions (I noticed the amount of people that still smoke in France, despite restrictive smoking bans), and perhaps great vegan French food will come as more and more people in the country go vegan and demand excellent versions of their traditional food.

I can’t wait to revisit. I love Paris – I lived here for a while and it still feels like home. Next trip I’m gonna be all about the Caribbean food; with trips to Wild and the Moon to gorge on enjoy their Wild brownie.

Finding Healthy, TASTY, Vegan Food in France

Part 1 – Avignon and Lyon

I’ll start by saying that this post is entirely biased and informed by MY taste in food.

There- it’s easy to declare conflicts of interest and biases when you have a mind to – take note governments, regulatory bodies and mainstream media 😄

We just spent two weeks in France, specifically: Avignon, Lyon, Orleans and Paris. I feel this gave me a pretty good indication of how it might be in most of France for those seeking to eat great plant-based food.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting it to be much better – I guess on a par with the UK – maybe not as great as in the US, but at least similar to how it is here. We visited Beirut, Portugal and Austria in the last few years and had pretty good experiences so I was expecting France to be at least as good as these places, if not a little better.

I eat a whole food, plant-based diet, because I believe it is the most optimal diet for health – both physical and mental. So far it has served me well. Thus, what I’m looking for is food that is not just vegan, but as far as possible made with whole foods – so brown or black rice instead of white, wholewheat (or other whole grain) products instead of those made with white flour, and as little white sugar and oil as possible. I don’t act like a fanatic on holiday however and will eat things I know to have SOME oil and sugar in them.

It goes without saying that every meal must be tasty AF too!

I found France to be very much a mixed bag when it comes to healthy, tasty vegan food.

We spent six days in Avignon, a charming city in the Vaucluse region of Provence. We didn’t eat out once, unless you count the one time we stopped at a make-your-own poke bowl place, or the time we grabbed some sorbet from a branch of Amorino.

The problem isn’t that there aren’t lots of restaurants with vegan options – to be perfectly fair, most Avignon restaurants DO have a vegan option – though it usually is just one amongst an absolute meatfest of a menu. The problem for me is that the option is usually either a burger or something yawn-inducing like butternut puree and quinoa (I have noticed that trend on London menus too). That wouldn’t be a problem if there were also specific vegan restaurants in Avignon, but there aren’t. I should mention that there are plenty of juice, smoothie and chia porridge type places – but these are not the kind of places you can sit down with your partner and have a romantic meal 😄

And forget about it anywhere in the region outside of Avignon. We visited a few other places in this region – Fontaine de Vaucluse, Gordes and Le Sentier des Ocres – all beautiful and absolutely worth a visit, but no bueno for vegan food. This time not even the burger or the quinoa/squash deal. I figured we could do what we’ve done in the past when in the depths of Mississippi or Louisiana and there has been no vegan option – just explain we are vegan and order a salad and fries – which has always been responded to with careful and creatively presented salads. Whack a bit of Cajun spice on the fries and boom, you got a tasty meal – something healthy and something cheeky – balance!

This didn’t wash here however. Every salad was at the very least covered in egg or cheese, and the wait staff I spoke to didn’t know what vegan was. Unfortunately the first excursion we were woefully unprepared and I hadn’t even packed my bag with the fruit, dried apricots and crackers that I’d normally carry, so we ended up buying some ‘artisanal’ crisps and hummous from a rip-off joint deli for 11 euros. Yes I’m still bitter 😂

Now the good:

There is a chain of health food stores in France called Naturalia. Most cities will have at least one. These stores saved my life while in the south of France. Thankfully we were staying in Airbnbs so we could cook for ourselves. In Naturalia we found plentiful healthy, tasty food. The French tend to sell many products in jars – I guess ‘cos it’s better than a can – so we found things like jarred ratatouille, beans and lentils pre-flavoured with herbs and spices, curried tofu; but the absolute gem for us were the Jay & Joy vegan camembert and chevre. I don’t buy vegan camembert often in the UK as it’s so damn expensive. In France it’s much cheaper. I’d never tried vegan chevre before and it was not disappointing – it tasted just as I remember chevre to taste. This made up somewhat for the uninteresting restaurant scene.

Food aside, Avignon is a beautiful city, but I was excited to get to Lyon, France’s third biggest city, for some top tasty grub.

First night in Lyon, we tried an all-vegan restaurant, which I’m about to excoriate so I won’t name them.

They had a set menu only, with a choice between two starters and two mains. They say they keep the menu small to avoid waste. Hmmm. Nothing on this menu was really calling out to me. You might ask ‘didn’t you know this in advance when you looked at the menu online?’ HAH! Finding accurate menus of restaurants online in France is damn near impossible as they… pretty much do what they like every day. It’s rare that a restaurant will have the menu on their website. Most of the time the restaurant may only have an FB page so either you are relying on a photo of a menu someone took two years ago, or they say up front that they change their menu seasonally and if you’re lucky, they may give a few examples of what they serve.

I had a miso soup for starters which was, I guess, fair enough, nothing wrong with a good miso. My main course – that this restaurant believed was their ‘piece de resistance’ – was a cannelloni made with courgette and was filled with cold, wet, mushroomy..stuff. There was black rice and butternut puree on the side – see the picture that heads this post. I was grateful for the healthy squash and rice but it didn’t really taste of much. The courgette cannelloni was just wet, cold and pretty tasteless. The waiter came up to me when I’d finished and said enthusiastically ‘did you experience a marvel?’ And to my shame, for (uncharacteristically) I had no fight left in me that night, I lied ‘yes.’

This restaurant thought it was so much better than it was. I would have been grateful for it ten years ago, but now I just want great-tasting food, like everybody who ISN’T saving the planet gets to eat 🤣

The next day, I was excited to go to Lyons branch of The Copper Branch. This is a Canadian chain of vegan restaurants (with branches in the US and a couple in Europe) that have tasty looking burgers – with healthier options for the bun, and the patties made of yummy spicy beans rather than the ubiquitous Beyond Meat burgers – I don’t like these and Bill Gates isn’t getting a penny from me (HA, he’ll be sorry! πŸ™‚ ) The menu also showed chilis and other delicious looking bowls.

It turned out that The Copper Branch in Lyon is in a Westfield shopping centre – I mean, who wants to be in one of those monstrosities on holiday?? And it also turned out the menu of the Lyon branch had only a fraction of the items on the Canadian menus – and the tastier, healthier burgers and bowls were not available. I think I had a soggy portobello mushroom and some sweet potato fries.

It was back to Naturalia to find food for that evening!

We were only in Lyon for two nights, and it is possible there is a vegan jewel of a restaurant that I just didn’t come across. I had researched pretty extensively on Happy Cow, but that isn’t always 100% comprehensive, so don’t sue me if you know the best vegan restaurant ever in Lyon.

To summarise: you can eat as a vegan in Avignon, Lyon and bigger cities in the south of France in general, if your only requirement is that your food be vegan and nothing else. You will not starve. You may however end up either getting ‘burger-ed’ out, or your taste buds will go on strike out of boredom.

If you want to eat not only vegan but great-tasting healthy food, my advice is to stay in an apartment or Airbnb and use Naturalia, with the occasional meal out if you get bored of cooking. Take plentiful little snacks with you when sight-seeing – fruit, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, good chocolate, nut bars etc.

Next week – Paris!

A Vegan Diet and Iron

assorted cookies with chocolate and strawberry on top
These beauties are chock-full of iron!

The mineral iron is vital to the human body for many reasons, but primarily because it makes hemoglobin – a blood protein that transports oxygen to all parts of the body.

If we’re not getting enough iron it results in us not getting enough oxygen in our bodies, and so we become fatigued – that well-known symptom of iron deficiency.

It’s also well known that iron deficiency can lead to anaemia. Symptoms of iron deficiency and anaemia include fatigue, dizziness, weakness and palpitations (though if you suffer from any of these symptoms don’t automatically assume you have an iron deficiency. These symptoms are compatible with lots of conditions so go see your doctor and find out what’s up).

Many people who go back to meat-eating from being vegan say they felt tired and weak and think it’s because they weren’t getting enough iron, believing that ALL the iron is in the red meat.

The sad truth is that many doctors still recommend upping red meat intake to those that are low in iron – I’ve even heard this within the last year.

Unfortunately, most doctors have so little nutritional education, they will advise their patients to eat food that is carcinogenic and full of saturated fat, cholesterol and antibiotics rather than study modern science on how BEST to acquire sufficient iron levels from food safely.

So what IS the truth?

The confusion arises because iron from meat (haem iron) IS more quickly absorbed in the human body than iron from plants (non-haem iron). THIS is why the medical profession will often prescribe red meat or liver to patients low in iron, thinking that this will be a quick cure.

I guess it IS a ‘quick cure,’ but because this haem iron is known to be more quickly absorbed, people think that haem iron is better for us, period.

BUT…

…This is NOWHERE NEAR the full picture.

That haem iron is more quickly absorbed is not a good thing. It is absorbed by the body quickly WHETHER WE NEED IT OR NOT. It is not a balanced way for the body to receive iron and can result in iron overload. This increases risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Non-haem iron from plant food is slower to be absorbed by the body but is absorbed as our bodies need it (isn’t this clever?)

All the main health advisory bodies – ADA, BMA, WHO, PCRM – concur that iron deficiency anaemia is no more common in vegetarians than it is amongst meat eaters.

And in the UK in 2002; a study of 33,883 meat-eaters, 18,840 vegetarians and 2,956 vegans found that vegans were found to have the highest daily intake of iron.

As we’ve seen, iron overload is just as dangerous as iron deficiency – but we stand far less chance of over-dosing on iron on a plant-based diet.

Great plant-food sources of iron are whole grains, green leafy veg, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds; and vitamin C-rich fruit and veg help us absorb the iron, but really, if you’re eating a varied whole food plant-based diet, you don’t need to stress over it.

It’s actually harder to NOT get enough iron on a whole food, plant-based diet!

The Carnivore Diet

What to say about the Carnivore Diet?

white tiger eating raw meat on rock
An ACTUAL carnivore

As I understand it, the advent of this new fad for eating ALL THE MEATZ, ALL THE TIME started with a surgeon and weight-lifter called Shawn Baker appearing on Joe Rogan’s podcast, announcing that with an all-meat diet he had managed to regain his energy and strength, reduce inflammation in his body, and control his blood pressure and weight among other things.

Since then he wrote a book called The Carnivore Diet, in which he promotes an all-meat diet for the health benefits he has perceived (I should say mostly meat, it seems he will sometimes eat eggs), and other well known figures like Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson have revealed that they too are on a 90-100% carnivore diet.

It’s not me who will tell Shawn Baker that he’s not feeling better if he says that he is. He’s a grown-ass dude, a surgeon no less, and knows how he feels.

He should also know however, that there could be a multitude of reasons for his health improvement, there is no way of establishing exactly just what the cause is.

It could be as it is with the paleo diet – when people eliminate dairy, refined sugars and processed food from their diets they can experience major health improvements. The science would say that this is more likely to be due to the elimination of these other foods than to the increase in meat.

There are lots of other factors we don’t know. He could’ve had a food intolerance or allergy to anything he was eating previously, perhaps one he didn’t know about, that cleared up on elimination of the food allergen.

There are so many possible other reasons for his health improvements, it’s just not scientific or truthful to categorically state that they were definitively due to an all-meat diet.

And Baker never tried a whole food plant-based, or even junk food vegan diet, so we can’t compare how he felt on either of these to how he feels on an all-meat diet. For all anyone knows, all his health issues could’ve been solved by transitioning to an all-plant diet, he may even feel even BETTER than he does now if he were to try it. We just don’t know. And neither does he… because there’s not any science behind it as far as I can see, his claims all seem to be anecdotal.

On Googling ‘The Carnivore Diet’ I was startled to see many books, not just Shawn’s, with the same or similar titles, all promoting an all or mostly meat diet.

Here are all the reasons why this sh*t is insanity I believe we are not meant to eat this way:

There are so many reasons why eating only meat isn’t the best idea – I’ll stick to 8 so the post doesn’t get too long. I’ll include some obvious arguments and a few less so. I’ve left ethics out of it because it’s blindingly obvious that a Vegan Coach would find a meat-based diet unethical! πŸ™‚

  1. Saturated fat. Animal products contain far greater levels of saturated fat than plant-foods. High consumption of saturated fats, especially from animal products, are linked to inflammation; oxidative stress; liver disease; diabetes; breast cancer; cognitive decline and Alzheimers.
  1. Cholesterol. Only animal products contain cholesterol. All animals (including us) produce cholesterol. If you are consuming animals, you are taking their cholesterol on board, on top of your own. Having high cholesterol maximises your risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  1. The planet anyone? Even the highest quality organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised (or whatever the f**k the latest feelgood marketing term is) meat is at best, as bad for the planet as intensively-farmed meat; at worst it is more harmful because intensively-raised meat has a shorter lifespan and so emits less climate destroying methane. You’d have to really not give a shit about future generations to be happy eating an all-meat diet.
  1. Sustainability. The high quality meat that these human carnivores supposedly eat is not sustainable. It needs much bigger areas of land to be raised and produced. If everyone wanted to eat that kind of meat, we’d need several planets!
  1. We are not carnivores. Lions and tigers are carnivores. Our bodies and digestive systems do NOT resemble theirs. They have:
  • Long canines (all the better for piercing the jugular veins of their prey), which we do not.
  • Very short intestines, so they can digest meat in an effective way and in the correct amount of time. We have very long, narrow intestines, designed to digest fibrous plant food in an effective way, while meat can get stuck in them and can fester and putrefy there for years.
  • Acid in their stomachs that can kill any pathogens, to stop them getting sick when they eat raw meat. We have to cook meat to kill the bacteria; otherwise we can get very sick.
  • Speed. They can run extremely fast to catch their prey. If we were to try and catch any animal other than those that are advertised to us because of their docility and cheapness to feed and shelter – if we were to try and catch a gazelle or an impala for instance, just as other carnivore mammals do, we’d fail miserably. We’d need tools like guns to shoot them. Real carnivores don’t need guns.
  • Long claws – so they can better kill and then rip their dead prey apart. We have rather pathetic nails in comparison. Again, we’d need tools like knives to achieve what carnivores do with their claws.
  1. Fibre is one of the most important nutrients for our bodies. There is no fibre in an all-meat, or all animal product diet. Fibre is only found in plant foods. We need fibre for healthy digestion, healthy weight loss, heart health, and cancer prevention among other things.

Fibre is the main nutrient that helps us attain great gut-health . Maintaining gut-health is arguably the most important aspect of achieving optimal health. In case you haven’t heard, 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut, and it’s now thought that dodgy gut-health is linked to many, many diseases, including fibromyalgia, ME, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, some cancers, and all the currently ubiquitous mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bi-polar syndrome and schizophrenia. We know that red meat is bad for gut-health, so how on this sweet earth can eating an all-meat diet (at least one of the self-professed ‘carnivores’ eats only red meat), be beneficial long-term?

  1. Hormones. Even if you are eating the best quality meat in existence, you are STILL consuming extra mammal hormones. Doesn’t matter if this meat is labelled as ‘hormone free’ – this just means there are no added hormones. But animals, just like us, produce naturally-occcurring hormones. These are over and above what your body needs, and may mess with your own hormone levels.
  1. Blue Zones and Inuits. There is a book by Dan Buettner called The Blue Zones. The Blue Zones refer to all the areas of the world that have clusters of centenarians. Buettner investigates what the determining dietary, social, economical, spiritual and community factors are behind so many living to 100+ in these regions. In terms of the dietary factors, all ate either a 100% plant-based diet or very, very close to that.

Inuits on the other hand are an ethnic group that, due to their location and climate eat huge amounts of meat – more than most other populations. Their life-span tends to be 10-15 years less than that of non-Inuits.

All of this (and ethics!!!) aside, eating only one type of food for every single meal is some crazy shit though, isn’t it?

NEW: The Allergi App

Allergi

Isn’t it about time there was a free App that was super easy to use that you could consult whenever you wanted to eat out that told you where the vegan dishes were?

I thought so too.

Well now we have one.

Yes we have Happy Cow and that is always brilliant, I use it often, but the new Allergi App is unique in that A) It ALSO tells you the dishes that are free of any allergens you wish to avoid (nuts, gluten etc) and B) It tells you all the restaurants and cafes nearest your location that have dishes that match your vegan and other allergen requirements.

We don’t always have access to a bangin’ vegan restaurant in our locale, and I’ve found there are some excellent vegan-by-default meals at various restaurants – especially at Middle Eastern, Indian and other Asian restaurants, and we deserve to get our hands (and taste buds) on them!

The Allergi app will completely take the pain out of asking the server which meals are vegan, and having to check and double check if you are still unsure, or if the server doesn’t really understand what you’re talking about. Trust me, this is invaluable. I can’t tell you how many confusing, cross-purposes, awkward exchanges I’ve had in restaurants with waiters over the years. To be fair, I’ve had some great convo’s with waitstaff too, but you don’t want to take that chance, especially if you’re going out for a special meal, or first date meal, lol!

The app was founded by Charles Burns, who some of you may remember as a candidate on The Apprentice a few years back. We had a chat, and he is incredibly excited to debut this app. He was motivated to create it as he suffers from food intolerances, and knew he could develop it so it would be useful to vegans too. He is interested in veganism, has watched all the vegan docs, and of course I couldn’t let him escape without encouraging him to take the plunge πŸ™‚

Some of you know I mainly coach a health-oriented whole food, plant-based diet, and at some point I hope there will be the facility with this app to find out the places where whole foods (like whole grains – brown rice, wholewheat products) are served instead of refined starches. In US restaurants you often get a choice between white and brown rice, wholewheat and white burger buns etc, and it would be great to know who offers this choice.

No worries if your phone is Android or iPhone – the Allergi app is available at both the App Store and Google Play

Did I mention it was FREE??

While the app isn’t a strictly vegan resource, it’s one that has been created taking vegans into consideration, and I believe it will be invaluable to vegans. For this reason I have no hesitation recommending it to you all.

Happy eating!

Let me know how the App works for you, and OF COURSE let me know of any surprise yummy vegan dishes you come across!

Powerful Antiviral & Immune-Boosting Foods To Help Combat Covid-19

(Give yourself the best chance of avoiding – or recovering quickly from – Covid-19 with these plant-based, antiviral immune system protectors and boosters!)

These beauties will fight the good fight for you!

I’m not going to add to the fear porn about the virus here. Nor will I go on about the facts and figures for this illness that most of us are in lockdown for – you’ve already read/heard lots of information on TV and the internet, and there is lots of conflicting, confusing information around. We are not being given full context around figures of deaths from flu this year compared to deaths of flu from previous years; who died OF CV compared to who died WITH it etc, and I’m not going to add to this holy clusterf**k.

However however however….

….all that aside, one thing we can ALL agree on is that we don’t want to contract COVID19 (or any other flu) and if we DO contract it, we want it gone ASAP.

Agreed?

Right. So you should be all aware of your government guidelines on what we can do physically in terms of distancing, hand-washing etc, but here are my expert nutritional tips for giving yourself the best chance possible of avoiding the damn thing, or if you have it already, getting shot of it pronto.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known for its anti-viral properties . It seems they even used vitamin C in Chinese hospitals against the virus.

This is a no-brainer, but I’m still gonna say it dammit. Include (more than ever) lots of green leafy veg and plenty of citrus fruit in your diet. Clementines, oranges and grapefruit are all vitamin C bombs, but also powerful is lemon juice. Now you’re obviously not gonna peel a lemon and eat it! Eeeww – I’m making the sour lemon face as I type πŸ™‚ So a great way to ingest some lemon juice is to squeeze half a lemon into a tall glass of warm water. It is thought that the warm temperature is better for extracting the vitamin C than if it were cold. Don’t forget to either drink it with a straw, or rinse your teeth once afterwards, as you don’t want the citric acid sticking around on your tooth enamel.

I’ve been doing this every day for over 2 years now, and I’ve definitely noticed the difference in terms of the reduced number of bugs I’ve picked up. If you need an extra incentive – it’s great for the skin too!

Gut health

As we learned in this post, keep up the health of your gut, as this is the majority of your immune system. Make sure to eat some fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso or plain plant-based yoghurts several times a week; or at the very least, take a non-dairy probiotic every day throughout flu season.

Garlic

Garlic is your best winter friend. It is good for your immune system by helping keep your gut in order, and on top of that it has anti-viral properties. You can crush it and put it in dishes at the end of cooking, and it will do it’s darndest to prevent you getting sick.

If you’re a garlic hater, first of all – BOO; but don’t worry, you can take garlic capsules.

Water

Another no-brainer, but I know how easy it is to get absorbed in your work and forget to drink adequate water. As well as keeping you hydrated, water is going to keep flushing your system, helping you to all the quicker rid your body of anything undesirable.

If you don’t have a routine for drinking water, now is the time to get into one. Drink several glasses at convenient times throughout your day. Drink more if you’re exercising, less if you’re not. There are conflicting opinions on how much water to drink exactly per day; and it depends on your body size, whether you’ve perspired that day or not, whether you are eating especially dehydrating foods that day or not – but a common suggestion is 2 litres, so aim for that.

Fibre

We actually know that dietary fibre protects against flu viruses. Like water, eating plenty of fibre is gonna keep your system ticking over nicely and will help you to expediently eliminate that which your body doesn’t need! It goes without saying that a vegan/plant-based diet is gonna give you the most fibre, what with there being ZERO fibre in animal products. Obviously look more to whole foods (whole grains and cereals; lentils; all beans; all fruit and veg) as opposed to refined and processed products, and you’ll be a fibre champ!

This one connects into gut-health too because a high-fibre diet will ensure you have a healthy balance of gut microbiota. So like garlic it’s a 2 for 1 πŸ™‚

Green Tea

I am thrilled that my drink of choice is actually anti-viral! It seems the green tea catechins (compounds from the tea leaves) ‘especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate, have antiviral effects against diverse viruses.’ Green tea extract is effective against enveloped viruses – of which Covid-19 is one.

So it’s great for me, but what if you’re a coffee or a Yorkshire Tea fanatic? Look, no-one is asking you to give up caffeine, least of all me – I love it. But there is plenty of the stuff in green tea honest! All I can say is try it. Try it a couple of times a day, then try and make it your go-to hot (or iced!) beverage of choice. Have it with a slice of lemon, a few mint leaves, some cardamom and agave nectar, whatever you fancy. I quite like Clipper White Tea (same as green – just younger leaves) because it’s quite strong with a nice caffeine hit πŸ™‚

These next two are based on empirical evidence solely. I know they work for me, and that they will not harm you should you decide to try them (as indicated) too.

GSE

There is a product (available online or at health food stores) called Citricidal (GSE in the US). It is grapefruit seed extract and is a very powerful anti-viral, anti-biotic, and anti-fungal.

Obviously the anti-viral properties are what we are interested in right now (although the anti-fungal properties will also keep your gut in check), and GSE has been scientifically proven to be effective against what are called ‘enveloped viruses‘ of which, as already mentioned Covid-19 is one.

I’m currently taking 5 drops in a double whisky shot size of water 3 times a day as I’ve just recently been on a plane. After 2 weeks I’ll do this twice a day throughout this period. It’s a good idea to dip a cotton bud in the water before you drink it and then wipe it around one nostril while inhaling with your mouth closed, then doing the same with the other end of the cotton bud for the other nostril.

If you want to read up on this product, you can read the US and UK Amazon reviews of it. It’s probably one of the only places you’ll get some truth. There was a campaign to try to discredit GSE a while back, but as you can see in the science I linked to above, the claims were bull. As it’s a natural product, big pharma can’t make money from it, so it’s very possible that might be the reason for the bogus claims.

Umeboshi

Umeboshi plums have also been shown to have anti-viral compounds.

If I feel like I have the first signs of a cold – the bone-ache, the slightly swollen feeling in the back of the throat etc, then I take half an umeboshi plum. If you don’t know these already, they are salted Japanese plums (available in health stores) and are the sourest little mofo’s you ever did taste – and that’s the point. They are extremely acidic, but they have an alkalising effect once in the body and as you may be aware, the more alkaline your body is, the less disease it can harbour. If I remember to take half a plum in time, the cold-feelings are gone by the next day. Just remember to take a couple of mouthfuls of water afterwards, to rinse excess acid from your teeth.

If they are too sour for you to eat as they are, then you can mash half a plum and stir it into some cooked brown rice. This actually flavours the rice nicely, and kids like it too. They are around ten pounds for a jar (around fifteen bucks in the US?), but if you only take them when you need them, they last an absolute age.

Bonus (non-nutrition) tip:

Avoid rolling news and fear porn

This isn’t technically my remit but just to remind you that fear will reduce your body’s capacity to prevent or fight illness. Fear causes the body to transfer its energy away from the immune system into ‘fight or flight.’ Therefore a great thing you can do for your immune system right now is to throw your TV out of the window (or I guess you could just turn it off, that would probs be more responsible :)). The mainstream news seems intent on giving us bad news and numbers without full context, which only serves to create fear and panic. Bad news is good news for ratings but not for your sanity.

You’re on lockdown. You don’t need the news on. I haven’t had a TV for years and I always end up knowing exactly what I need to know, and not what I don’t. If you get your news from social media as I do, just check the few accounts you trust then leave it alone.

I hope these tips are helpful. Eat plants; stay well; breathe deeply; question EVERYTHING.

How To Be A Healthy Vegan – 11 Basic Tips

 

Science says eating 100% plant-based can be the most healthful diet there is – but of course it has to be done right. Coke and vegan marshmallows do not a healthy vegan make.

There are many tantalising, colourful new vegan products out there now, and ‘dirty’ vegan hipster joints are popping up in East London (what seems like) daily. And this is all good, and harmless to indulge in once in a while. But a new vegan could be forgiven for thinking that this is the stuff vegans eat ALL the time. And the worst thing in the world would be for a new vegan to partake of this kind of food only, and end up feeling so bad that they mistake the fact they are feeling gross to be due to a lack of meat. Or eggs. Or salmon.

Another reason some vegans turn back to meat is because they’ve been influenced by Youtube videos where (slightly crazy imo) people eat 50 mangoes for breakfast, 20 bananas for lunch etc and end up believing that buckets of fruit are the answer to all their health and wellness problems. When they don’t get the desired health outcome they expected from eating all the fruit all the time, they blame it on not eating animal products.

Firstly, none of the problems I’ve ever heard these ex-vegans complain of are because of a lack of animal products.

The one and only time you may NEED to eat meat is if there is no plant-food around anywhere; no chance of you coming across any in the next few days; you are already malnourished and semi-dead of starvation; and an unsuspecting animal walks by. In this scenario, go for it. Otherwise, there is no medical need to eat animal products.

Being a healthy vegan isn’t a mystery, but it’s not about guzzling a fuck-ton of fruit, or buying all the pretty new vegan products. And it’s a good idea to get a blood test done with your GP after a couple of months to check your levels of vitamins and minerals to see how you are going. Then, should you be deficient in any, you may well be able to make up the shortfall through diet.

I wonder who could help you do that?????

*coughs loudly*

**waves manically**

Oh……me?

*blushes demurely*

Well, since you asked, here is my nutritional therapy page πŸ˜€

But for right now – here are 11 helpful tips that should keep you on the straight and narrow health-wise:

1. Whole Foods. I was going to say ‘if its brown, gobble it down’ but that sounded a little…weird πŸ™‚ What I mean is, always choose the whole versions of grains. So – brown or black rice; wholewheat products over white wheat products (whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, whole wheat couscous etc); and try using more natural sugars over white sugar – agave and maple syrup are a better choice than white sugar and they don’t spike your blood at the same rate.

When you DO buy pre-made products, try and ensure they have minimal ingedients, and that you know what all the ingredients are – no unpronouncable chemical rubbish needed!

2. Watch your oil consumption. It’s very easy to overdo the oil, especially with all the tempting new junk food vegan places around. Even the better plant oils (olive, coconut etc) count as processed foods. Unless you have chronic disease it’s fine to include a little, but restaurant food very often contains a LOT.

Eat at home as much as possible and take your own lunch into work. Eating out occasionally is fine, it’s when you do it constantly that the excess oil can be harmful to digestion, weight maintenance and health in general. If you have to eat out a lot for whatever reason, try and space it out so you’re not doing it on consecutive nights, and eat oil-free meals the days in between.

3. Beans, grains, greens baby! It’s always gonna be your beans and whole grains that will give you the energy and fibre you need to maintain good basic health, with root veg like sweet and white potatoes making a regular appearance too for the same benefits. The greens are a great source of calcium. When you make a meal, try and incude ‘a bean, a green and a grain’ – or a root veg in place of the grain. So that can incude fabulous chilis, curries, pasta dishes, couscous, hearty salads – pretty much most dishes can contain these elements. I know it doesn’t sound as sexy as ‘Sloppy Joes’ or ‘Dirty mac n’ cheeze,’ but it’s not sexy having digestive issues from too much oil either, so… πŸ™‚

4. Eat the rainbow. The colour of each fruit and vegetable represent different nutrients, so try and eat a variety of coloured fruit and veg throughout your week. For example; red – tomatoes, red peppers, red apples; orange -carrots, sweet potatoes, canteloupe; green – um..greens :), kiwi, okra; purple – beetroot; yellow – bananas, yellow peppers.

5. Love your kitchen. Dudes, there’s no easy way to say this and not sound like an authoritarian school head teacher. But you HAVE TO PRIORITISE SPENDING TIME IN THE KITCHEN. You want the health? Good. I want that for you too. Now GET YOUR ASS IN THE KITCH.

If there was a professional goal you desperately wanted, I don’t doubt you would do whatever it took to achieve that. I never understand why people don’t prioritise their health in the same way when health is so basic to happiness and wellbeing. Health, imo, should be a starting point, and everything else comes out of that. If you feel good, you’re gonna be so much more productive – and fun! πŸ™‚

If you make as many of your own meals as possible, YOU can control the oil that goes into your food, and make sure there is no pesky sugar or white flour added. God knows there are plenty of vegan cookbooks and recipe websites out there. Pick one, get a podcast up on the laptop to help you enjoy your kitchen time, and get cooking.

6. Pamper your guts. We now know that gut-health is key to overall health. Your guts contain 70-80 % of your immune system, and bad gut-health can be responsible for all sorts of issues such as leaky gut, IBS, and fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, and mental illnesses such as depression, bi-polar and even schizophrenia. Sugars and white, refined starches feed bad gut bacteria, so yet another reason to avoid or at least minimise consumption of them.

Eat a portion of fermented foods every day. Pick from sauerkraut, kimchi, soy/coconut yoghurt, miso, tempeh, or a drink like kombucha, vegan kefir, water with apple cider vinegar. This will help re-establish the good bacteria your gut needs to thrive. Me? I make my own kimchi, because I’m a hippie that knits her own sandals πŸ˜€ But seriously, it’s yummy. My recipe here.

If you have any of the health issues mentioned at the top of this paragraph, think about taking non-dairy probiotics.

7. Face the flax. Try and include 2 x tbspns ground flax seeds in your diet 6 days a week. There are SO many reasons why this is a good idea for overall health. Firstly; they provide masses of fibre. Secondly; they promote great gut health. Thirdly; they are thought to be cancer-protective. Fourthly; they are thought to soak up any heavy metals lingering in our bodies and help them to..er…exit the body πŸ™‚ Fifthly; they will help keep estrogen levels stable, again, by helping your body to excrete any excess. Sixthly; they are a great source of omega 3.

Sprinkle it on oatmeal, soups, stews, salads.

8. Vitamin B12. Supplement with this. No backtalk. Do it.

9. Hydrate! Well yeah, it’s obvious I know, but you’d be surprised how many people still don’t. Hydrate even more if you consume alcohol and/or coffee. Water and single herb teas are the ONLY liquids that count as water.

10. Sleep well. Another obvious one, and not really my remit, but I DO know it’s best to leave 3 hours between your last meal and going to bed. You wanna be resting in bed, not digesting.

11. Move it! Move it! Move it! Exercise is key. Pick whatever works for you and be CONSISTENT. If nothing more, then get out and walk briskly for half an hour every day – you get even more points if some of the walk has an upwards gradient.

Iodine – More Important Than I Knew

I need to preface this post by saying that if you have any health concerns at all, go to your GP. I present you my experiences in case they can be of help, but I am a nutritionist, not a doctor.

Recently, I had an iodine issue, and once I’d resolved it, I thought ‘I really should update and repost my article on iodine, so that anyone who needs to can benefit from what I just learned.’

So I searched my website and everything I’ve ever written EVER. Turns out I’ve never written a dedicated post about iodine! I couldn’t believe it. I thought I’d written about every nutrient and health issue pertaining to veganism that existed.

Yet nope.

But now I know more than I previously did about iodine, it’s probably just as well.

So I’d previously thought iodine was mainly for thyroid health, and that we should try and eat sea vegetables whenever we got the opportunity, monitor our levels, and if we needed to, take a kelp supplement occasionally (as kelp is a great source of iodine), but that it was important not to overdo the kelp, as it could pack too much of a punch.

Iodine is in other plant food too, but the levels aren’t reliable because it depends how much iodine was in the soil the plants were grown in – and we know our soil is pretty depleted of nutrients these days.

Thus, vegans are definitely at risk for iodine deficiency, in fact this study shows that they can be quite worryingly so. Do not mistake this to mean it’s better to eat animal products, because it’s not, for a multitude of reasons.

Anyway, I followed my own advice faithfully, and took kelp supplements occasionally, or whenever I became aware that I wasn’t really eating much seaweed.

Until I didn’t. Until I ran out of kelp supplements and firstly forgot to buy more, then kept putting it off for no reason other than I thought it wasn’t a priority. I probably went for a good three months without taking any – and to be honest, I hadn’t been that great at taking them on a regular basis even when I had some. I felt fine and didn’t think it was a priority.

Then I started getting the following symptoms (to any men reading this – don’t stop, this post will apply to you too very shortly!); breast tenderness throughout the whole cycle as opposed to just before a period, and a dry skin rash near my temple which was…well…weird.

Now it’s true that you can have weird cycle things happen as you get older, but I felt like these symptoms were specific, and could not be explained away that glibly. So I did my research like a good little health freak, and eventually I had the thought ‘ah, iodine, I wonder if that could have had an impact?’

It turns out it had more of an impact than I could have known with my previous knowledge.

Obviously there’s a whole juicy scientific explanation but in a nutshell, iodine has a really huge influence on our estrogen levels. If you are prone to estrogen dominance as many people are (I am, it’s in the genes), then an iodine deficiency will mean estrogen can get out of control. So despite the fact that I was doing everything to keep my levels balanced (including flax in my daily diet, exercising, eating whole, plant foods etc), I was still getting those symptoms of estrogen dominance.

I quickly bought some kelp supplements and started taking them. Within a few weeks, everything was back to normal, and the dry skin weirdness vanished almost immediately. I wish I’d discovered this earlier, but it took the breast and skin thing to make me take notice.

Further reading revealed that iodine is super important for fertility in both women AND men. I’m definitely not trying to get pregnant but you might be. Men – you need adequate iodine levels for optimal semen quality.

An iodine deficiency can also be responsible for irregular or anovulatory periods, fibroids and fibrocystic breasts.

The other thing is that conventional doctors, and even the plant-based doctors, will tell you you need a very small amount of iodine daily – 130-150mcg, and that to take any more is excessive.

However, people that specialise in reproductive health say that larger amounts can be needed. It is believed that people can take up to 1100 mcg daily safely.

There is also so much that even doctors don’t yet understand about the way iodine works in our body, and even prestigious vegan websites aren’t giving clear information. For example, The Vegan Society website gives some facts on iodine, and their advice is ‘every vegan needs a reliable source of iodine in their diet’ and ‘in the UK, the recommended daily iodine intake is 140mcg.’ What is that saying? Take a supplement? Don’t take one?

What am I saying?

I’m not saying everybody should rush out and buy a shit-ton of kelp.

I’m saying that I’ve discovered that iodine is more key to basic health, especially reproductive health in both men and women than I’d previously been taught.

I’m saying know your body. If you get any symptoms like the ones I was experiencing, go to the doctors and get a blood test to check your iodine levels. Those symptoms could have other causes, but then you’d want to go to the doctors in any case, and it does no harm to get a blood test while you’re there. If your iodine levels are low, supplement. Start by taking the recommended daily amount, and have another test after a few weeks to see if your levels have improved.

If you have a thyroid issue, you WILL need to take extra care supplementing with iodine so definitely inform your doctor and get their opinion first.

I’ve learned that sometimes the available information about some nutrients just isn’t set in stone, even amongst medical people. Even amongst eminent plant-based medical people. Sometimes we have to be the CEO of our own health, know our bodies, and research all we can. Iodine is one of those nutrients where it’s worth doing this. 


Vegan YouTube ‘Stars’ that Stop Being Vegan For Health Reasons

In recent months there have been several high profile vegan Youtubers that have gone back to eating animal products; and Twitter, FB et all has had much to say about it.

The one I knew the best is Tim Sheiff, who I followed pretty consistently at the beginning of his transition to veganism. I followed him less over the years because, I don’t know, I just became less attracted to his persona.

I have to admit, I was pretty shocked when I heard he was no longer vegan, because for all of my going off his vibe, I still really thought he fully comprehended all the reasons to be vegan, and thought he understood about health – which was the main reason for him stopping his vegan lifestyle.

I understand that he felt like crap, and that it’s crap to feel like crap. And that his excessive fasts and other slightly outlandish-seeming dietary experiments were in his pursuit of health. I get that. When you feel like shit and you read something that gives you hope, you’ll try it, even if it seems a bit crazy. I’ve been there and empathise with this. A few years back, I discovered I had chronic candidiasis, manifesting in horrible skin….stuff…on my body. I won’t even tell you the most horrendous symptoms because I don’t want to put you off your cocoa πŸ™‚ That’s one of the things I DID like about Tim, he wasn’t afraid to go there with the gross body stuff πŸ˜€ Anyway, at this time I would have tried pretty much anything just to feel better.

Thankfully, I eventually found a way to overcome my issues. I went on an anti-candida diet, took grapefruit seed extract, and used apple cider vinegar and manuka honey (yes I know honey isn’t vegan, but it was medicinal. Lots of medications aren’t vegan, so shut up). It was a long, slow process, but I got there.

From the symptoms he described, I believe Tim’s issues were also candida and digestion-linked. He seemed to end up associating these issues with his vegan diet.

I’m not trying to blow my own horn here. Ok, maybe I am just a little, but at no time during my couple of years of candida hell on earth did I think my suffering was because of my vegan diet.

It didn’t make sense that that could have been the cause. And now there is enough research to show that a varied whole food, plant-based diet is the best diet to keep candida at bay (listen to this doctor who is an expert in the field). You may, like I did, need to try a more restricted anti-candida diet at first if you currently HAVE candida, but once you are free of it, it’s a whole food vegan diet that is best.

I remember every time I saw videos of Tim, he was guzzling ridicuous amounts of fruit. I mean, fruit is a snack or a dessert. We are not meant to eat 50 frickin’ mangoes for breakfast FFS. Of course eating fruit in those quantites can contribute to candida overgrowth. That’s wayyyy too much fruit sugar fermenting in your gut! Admittedly sometimes I did see him eating a nutritionally balanced meal, but this didn’t seem to be a consistent thing. It often seemed to be one new food philosophy or another.

The YouTuber Rawvana – the vegan who got caught eating fish – I knew less about. From what I did see, she seemed, like Tim, to constantly be trying new things, whether all raw food, or water fasts, or whatever it may be. Her health issues seemed similar too – yeast and digestive issues. She thought that eating fish and eggs would be the answer to her health problems.

Although it’s disappointing that these people amassed huge profiles and thousands of followers by proclaiming how vegan they were, and personally profited from this – then stopped – thereby probably causing a significant amount of their followers to stop too, my reason for writing this is not to judge Tim or the others (even though if I’m honest they do piss me off a little. Hey, I’m human). I’m not interested in anyone’s path except my own (she says trying to sound grown up and shit :D).

But seriously, my point in writing this piece is as follows:

1. To reassure you that a whole food vegan diet is suitable, health-wise, for everybody at any stage of life. No ifs, no buts. To also assure you that animal products in the diet are not a cure for anything. Unless you are dying of hunger on a desert island and there is no vegetation anywhere, just the proverbial cow… That’s it. Some people may need to avoid certain plant foods in the case of intolerances or allergies – but this is the same with a non-vegan diet. For example, I am highly allergic to eggs. So, um..it’s a good job I’m vegan.

2. To encourage you to watch whoever appeals to you on social media. We all follow people for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes I’ll follow an absolute moron just because they make me laugh. BUT, if you are following a vegan on a particular platform for the sole purpose of learning how to be a healthy, happy vegan, PLEASE make sure they refer to science (peer-reviewed if possible). If you’re not sure how to do this, you can just cross-reference what your new vegan hero is saying with the works of the eminent plant-based doctors – Dr’s T. Colin Campbell, Michael Greger, John McDougall, Caldwell Essylstyn, Michael Klaper, Neal Barnard – they all have plenty of resources online.

Make sure your new vegan gal/guy is consistently eating/cooking (and advising you to eat) a diet rich in whole grains, beans, lentils, root veg, leafy greens and other veg, fruit, nuts seeds, herbs and spices. If they start talking about fasting or being 100% raw, or eating 50 mangoes for breakfast – throw your phone or laptop in the garbage instantly and run as far away from it as you can πŸ˜€


When Non-Vegans Ask ‘…But Why Do Vegans Eat Fake Meat If They Don’t Like Meat?’

My Tofurky roast from a couple of years ago


When discussing veganism with non-vegans; hot on the tail of ‘…but palm oil will often follow: ‘why do vegans eat fake meat if they don’t like meat?’

It’s a misconception that people go vegan because they don’t like the taste of meat. Some may quit meat for that reason – wasn’t a huge fan myself – but the main reason people go vegan is because they’ve stopped believing that animals are a commodity put here for our use, and the main way that manifests is in them stopping participating in the cruelty and barbarism that is animal agriculture.

Bearing this in mind – why shouldn’t some vegans want to recreate the taste and texture of meat with an animal free product? I mean, why not? In terms of the ethical reasons, a meat alternative serves the purpose of avoiding the cruelty but still having the taste, so win-win no?

People often find that even if they start off eating alternative meat and cheese products as a vegan, they’ll gradually learn how to make amazingΒ dishes themselves consisting of veg, beans, lentils, grains, herbs and spices etc – think chili’s, soups, curries, pad thais, tagines, porotos granados and all manner of dishes that just don’t need a meat substitute.

Alternative meats can be a great help to people who want to move towards veganism but are a little fearful their new food will be too ‘different.’ It can be helpful, then, for them to have their ‘new’ plate resemble the old one. For this reason I am thrilled about all the alternative meat products we now have available to us – vive la Gregg’s sausage roll!

People also go vegan for health and environmental reasons as well as the ethics (for me all three are interconnected).

So how does ‘fake meat’ fare compared to meat in terms of health and the environment?

Fake meat will never contain cholesterol, anti-biotics or hormones, so already it has that over meat. The chances are very high it will also contain less fat. Another score. So while it may not be a super healthy product, a meat alternative will pretty much always be healthier than a meat one.

As for the environment, even if non-vegans are quick to point out the meat alternative contains palm oil (and I kill that line of argument dead here), it will still be much better for the environment than meat. Animal agriculture is the prime driver behind ALL FORMS of environmental destruction.

And did you know we have 12 years to avoid planetary ruin, and we’re advised to move away from animal products NOW?

So yeah – bring on the fauxsages, and quick!