Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Vegan festival food

After my first festival season as a vegan, I thought I'd share my tips. Most of these translate to vegetarian or other diets too.

Tips for eating vegan at festivals:
  • Prepare - If you have a food allergy or restricted diet you are likely used to taking food places with you anyway. I plan to take at least - granola/cereal bars, instant porridge pots (just ask vendors for hot water if you aren't taking a camping stove and kettle, sometimes it's free too although sometimes they charge), a few bananas and oranges, a couple of packs of sweets and some uht portions of soy milk (I got mine off ebay) for cups of tea.
  • If you are not taking food then at any festival (even smaller ones) there are always going to be chips, jacket potatoes, some form of potato wedges/waffle/hash brown, some falafel type wrap and if you're lucky a veggie burger that's vegan. Also look out for mexican food as often that can be altered by asking for no cheese and sour cream. If you're going to a large festival there may be more choices like a vegan or vegetarian food vendor (at download this year there were 3 I went to!), some decent salad, vegan cakes or baked goods, pizza you can have without cheese or lots of healthy food vendors which will include some options for us. 
  • Some festivals release their food vendor list prior so you can research and know whether you need to take food or not.
  • Some festivals allow camping stoves or BBQ's, some do not, you can usually find out on their website. If you can take one this will of course broaden your food options and you can take some tins of beans, bread, veggie sausages or burgers. It depends how much time you want to spend cooking at the tent and whether you want to carry it all in (I do not)
  • Alcohol - I know what UK brands are vegan in cider and most festivals will be sponsored by certain brands so it's easy to find out what's going to be available (It is likely plastered all over the website). If you rely a lot on researching what to drink at the bar, then maybe look a few up before or ensure you will have phone battery the whole time by taking something to charge your phone with like a solar charger or battery pack. If in doubt go for spirits!
Basically you won't starve, and the festival food options have come on a lot more than the greasy burger van, but it's always worth taking a few snacks in case!

Also some of my general festival tips:
  • Take more bin liners than you think you will ever use, they are a godsend for putting wet muddy clothes in, keeping your camp litter free, and in a pinch double as a fetching waterproof coat.
  • Take wellies and a waterproof coat even if it's not meant to rain. It will probably still rain at some point. I have a cheap pac a mac that has been a godsend as I can just pop it in my bag even if I don't think I'll need it.
  • Take a tent that is easy to put up (not a massive 4 room one with 500 poles) but that is waterproof and sturdy, we have a dome tent we borrow from my mum for festivals. It goes up quickly but is a good tent and doesn't collapse at the first sign of wind. We have a big tent for proper camping but for festivals it's just too big and takes ages to put up. 
  • Take more socks and pants than you would usually use, if you get soaked through dry socks and pants will sort your life out!
  • Take something to sleep in, nothing worse than trying to get dressed hurriedly in a tent when you need a wee in the night! I am not usually a PJ wearer so have been caught out by this before.
  • Get a good camping spot, not on a slope and not at the bottom of a hill. You do not want to be flooded or sleep on an incline, you might have to walk up a hill to get back to your tent every time but it's worth it to be dry and not in the run off from the tents above you.
Have fun! Let me know if you have any vegan eating or festival going tips :) xx

Monday, 11 April 2016

Training for Kilimanjaro

I touched briefly on my fitness build up and initial goals back hereThis post is a more in depth training guidance for anyone planning to climb Kilimanjaro. Obviously you may have a different fitness level than I did and you should take into account any health conditions or injuries etc. before taking on such a challenge – so this plan assumes you are reasonably healthy with no injuries, and you haven’t done anything like this before.

Basically my thoughts on the challenge are that you do not need to be running ultra-marathons or be mega fit to make the summit, but the fitter you are the better time you will have and you need to be in good shape. Having had time to think about my training and what I did right and what I could have done more of it’s good to write it all down, hopefully it will help someone!

The top things I did to train were:

Walking

In the year or more leading up to the trek you should go on at least a few challenging hikes (at least 10 miles, and involving rugged terrain and steep ascents), and generally walk as much as possible. Once a week, or a few times a month. Running or walking on a treadmill is fine for some of it but you also need to get used to uneven terrain, unpredictable weather, doing it in boots with a heavy bag etc.
The Malverns

Walking is what you will be doing on the mountain and lots of it, get your boots as early as you can and walk in them. Also get used to carrying your backpack on long walks with 2L at least of water inside it as well as waterproofs, layers, food and suncream etc. We did a night summit of Snowdon to try to simulate summit night, nothing actually does simulate summit night but it was worth it to have at least some experience what walking in the dark for hours is like. We also got in the habit of walking everywhere via the hills nearby, BBQ at dad’s…lets walk there (12 miles)! Sunday dinner at mum’s…walk there (14 miles)! Food festival in a nearby village…let’s walk it (10 miles)! I did a walk as often as I could mostly on a Sunday, sometimes with Tom sometimes on my own. We joined some organised walks too at a local walking festival.

Forest of Dean
We are lucky to be in a city area but with nearby access to countryside, I found some walks nearby that I could do in a few hours so could squeeze them in if I didn't have all day. I made sure these all included some steep hills to go up, one day I just went to one nearby hill and walked up and down it as many times as I could in the time I had available. However if you aren't able to access walks easily then you will need to set aside some time to go on trips to places where you can. I drove out to some areas like the Malverns (the walk from Herefordshire Beacon to Worcestershire Beacon and back again along the spines of the hills is a nice one, easy to follow path and parking available, with lots of hills) and we went to the Peak District and Wales - Brecon Beacons and Snowdon. The Snowdon night summit was an organised trip with Action Challenge who we did the climb with, they had other options for training walks and other companies we looked at did similar. It was actually really nice to get out and about in the countryside and made me appreciate our local area and the UK countryside.

Local Hillside
Cardio

Improve your general fitness and cardiovascular health. When I wasn't walking I did a bit of running, climbing and lots of gym classes. The best one for kili training I think was circuits once a week, lots of burpees, lunges, kettlebell swings etc. I also did gym circuits on a Saturday which used more of the machines, a tabata class (short bursts of body weight or cardio exercises) on a Friday and another class on a Wednesday/Thursday which changed every so often like boxing, TRX, running club, circuits again…to be honest I can’t remember all of them but it was basically classes mon, weds, fri and Sat. I usually did 3 classes a week out of those 4, then the rest of the days were either climbing or running. When we stopped climbing so much as Tom sprained his ankle I picked up the Saturday morning gym circuits and did 4 classes a week.

Running

You want to improve your general fitness, my personal goal was to get to running 5k reasonably often. I wasn't a runner before I started training so it was a benchmark for me on how my fitness had improved as to how easily I could run 5K. If you are already a runner then maybe work in some interval training and hills too. I found the kili trek to be a lot of epically hard parts interspersed between not so hard parts, so some interval runs and hill running will help build your endurance and power.

Legs

Basically I spent 2014 doing leg day over and over. Your legs are the main part that you will use, so I did loads of squats, lunges, leg presses, walking, running, cross trainer and stepper. Have a leg day at least once a week - If not more!

Conditioning

Get outside! We spent just under a week climbing in Stanage Edge following a night summit of Snowdon, which was great for testing our kit. The conditions are the hard part really of the trek, being outside for a week straight (or more depending on your route) is hard, getting wet, hot, cold, bitten by bugs, sun burn, wind chill and exhausted...in the space of a day. Go camping a few times if you aren't outdoorsy already, practice packing up your tent every day and check if you can sleep well in a tent, do you need ear plugs? Is your sleeping mat comfortable enough? See my post here on kit. 

Snowdon night summit - watching the sun rise
Other than that you can do altitude training to get used to the altitude effects, we didn't and I don’t regret that. My thoughts were that if I was going to be affected by the altitude I’d deal with it when it happened, we read enough to know what to expect if we did get altitude sickness and had experienced guides and a team doctor, if I knew before that I was going to get bad altitude effects what would that change for me other than make me anxious about it? 

What could I have done more of? Well we made it so it seems our training was enough, but I felt that I could have done a little more training generally. I basically did no exercise until about 10 months before we went, so I think just having longer to prepare would have been helpful as I was starting from unfit. Other than that maybe some more strength training or weights, as I feel MUCH stronger now than I did when we went. However I'm unsure if this would have made a huge difference in how well I managed the trek other than in my mindset!

You can read about my Kili experience on my old blog, and I will copy them over to here at some point. Any questions please comment and I'll do my best to answer or direct you to someone who can!

Monday, 25 January 2016

5:20...AM?!

Honestly who gets up at that time to exercise? Apparently me...

In my post here on having a break over Christmas I talked about being back to crossfit more in the new year, and also about finding a better schedule and going more when I could use the car. So the first week back to work in January I tried out going in the morning before work.

Sounds a bit counter-intuitive to get up earlier so that I get more rest, I reasoned that if I went to the 6am class I could be home in time for Tom to take the car to leave for work, and enough time for me to then shower and get to work.Then my day goes on as usual but I've already done a solid hour of exercise.

Now I can't say I ever thought I would want to go to the gym in the morning, I love my sleep, I love my bed, and I hate getting up early for work as it is. I never thought I would be volunteering to get up earlier!

So how did it go?
First the obvious drawbacks, I won't lie getting up at 5:20am when it is dark and -5 outside is not high on my list of enjoyable things to do, and it is just as bleak as it sounds. However putting my clothes out on the radiator to warm and having a nice breakfast ready helps. Also I repeat to myself 'If you don't go this morning in the car you'll only have to cycle there this evening' over and over and over...

The only other negative is having to go to bed earlier the night before, but we rarely do a lot on week nights anyway as we both work full time.

The benefits?
Time wise it's a win win trade off for me, I have to get up earlier but it means I have my evenings free, which means my weekends aren't taken up by all the chores I didn't do in the week. Which means I can go and see family and friends, or go on a long run, or even have a nice rest day, maybe even relax and read a book. I actually found the first weekend free a struggle to remember what to do when I have nothing to do!

I can go more often, because I'm not having to sacrifice my after work or weekend time any more I can go as many times a week as I feel like. It's also sometimes like your workouts happen as if by magic, hard to explain but it's like you go so early it's a bit surreal sometimes and you forget you went this morning...but you are still making progress and getting fitter!

I actually go every time I plan to, with going after work there is always the risk that something comes up and I end up having to rearrange my session. I also haven't had a chance yet to have a horrible day and be tired by the time I get there!

I don't have to cycle there every time. This was really the main reason for me!

I find I get to work feeling more awake and motivated, and I don't need to stress about rushing off to get to my evening class on time. You know that high after a great workout? I get to take that into the rest of my day!

There's also a certain sense of satisfaction, or smugness maybe haha, that I've already killed (or erm completed) a hard workout before work, before most people have had breakfast.

If you are thinking about it, give it a try! Preparation is key for an early morning start though, I get my breakfast ready the night before (overnight oats), as well as my lunch for taking to work. I also get all my gym clothes out as well as my work clothes for when I get back. Down to socks and underwear even. I even fill my water bottle and put my car keys, cross fit notebook and protein bites in my coat pockets. This means I can literally roll out of bed into my gym stuff, brush teeth and hair, and go. Then get back and just shower, eat quick breakfast and go back out. No flapping around looking for my keys or trying to find a clean sports bra. All means an extra 10 minutes in bed too!

All in all I'm finding it a lot better, and it is working out for both my training plan and my new years resolution to make life a bit easier for myself.

Anyone else an early morning exercise convert? I'd love to hear any tips x

Monday, 18 January 2016

My Fitness Story

I talk about my fitness on here, but those of you who don't know me in real life (or some who only know me as myself now) will not know my fitness back story. I feel like some context might help you to understand some of my future posts on training...


Over the past 2 years I have practically transformed my lifestyle, body and mindset on fitness. I feel like I want to share how and why this happened…this makes for a long rambling post so please stick with me, I've broken it up into a few different parts to try to make it more easy to read. 
Back story and reasons to get fit
Back story on my fitness is pretty short. I was unfit. I was never a ‘sporty’ person, and didn’t feel at home in the gym or on the running track. I have always been slim (ish) but never really done any regular exercise. However I gave up smoking a few years back and I’m also not getting any younger, so the weight crept up on me a bit. All of a sudden I couldn’t fit into my jeans, and I felt heavy and unfit.
I tried fitness DVDs, running, and various gyms over the years. Nothing seemed to stick. A story I hear over and over again from others too.
With regards to diet…I am not good at ‘dieting’. I was a strict vegetarian (now vegan) so my diet is already pretty limited and limiting it more makes me miserable. That said I think I have a healthy attitude to food, and while we eat out every so often we don’t have lots of takeaways or fast food and our meals at home are quite healthy. I think on balance my diet is ok, room for improvement, 8/10. I did used to eat a lot of cheese and butter and carbs but going vegan has naturally limited that.
So I was a person who ate reasonably well, and I didn’t have any regular exercise that I enjoyed but I wanted to get fitter, and forever not for summer or for the wedding. I don’t really care whether I’m a size 8 or a size 18 but I cared that I felt unhealthy. I believe there is no quick fix or magic formula other than eat better and exercise more. I wasn’t going to take diet pills or do fad diets. I don’t want to be a size zero or have a thigh gap and I have no goal weight or dress size. I just wanted to feel better, and do things I wanted to do without being held back by my lack of fitness.
First steps
Just after we got engaged I asked Tom seriously how to start (he has always been in good shape) and he took me bouldering with him, I enjoyed it and haven’t really looked back. I just needed that opening into exercise. Getting engaged did kick start me back into trying, but I wouldn’t say it was about looking good in the dress at that point. Just the thought of having my wedding at a time where I was probably at the lowest point in my body confidence made me think ‘why the heck have I not done something about this already?’
My advice is to find something you enjoy and value. We’ve not been climbing so much over the last year as Tom sprained his ankle pretty badly bouldering in February 2014 so has been a bit hit and miss with it, he did start back up but found it set his recovery back so didn’t go again until we were back from the Kili climb. When we haven’t been for a while I actually miss it! Missing an exercise is an odd feeling for someone who has never liked fitness before.
The mind set is really what I want to talk about here, I can see now why I never lost weight before. If you don’t really exercise then you won’t get fit or lose weight. Looking back I hear myself saying things like ‘but I do exercise….’ when bemoaning why I couldn’t lose weight but really I didn’t, I took the stairs occasionally or went for the odd jog but I didn’t have any real regular exercise. Now I’m focussing more on being fitter, not thinner, but the weight loss is a very welcome added bonus!
In for a penny…
After having been climbing for a while I let Tom talk me into climbing a mountain, Kilimanjaro, something I never would have agreed to before.  I really looked at my fitness and what I needed to do to be ready and realised I could do it. I was already climbing or bouldering 3 or 4 times a week, I just needed to add in some more cardio and to improve my general fitness.
I bought a groupon deal for some classes at a local gym in January 2014 when we booked the Kili trek, and after that joined on their classes membership. It meant I didn’t actually go to the gym just classes, but it definitely got my confidence up to be in a group of like-minded (and similar fitness level) people.
I even went to the running club, and actually didn’t hate it. I didn’t used to like running but since I’m a bit fitter I feel a little less like a stampeding hippo. Going with a club was good as it gave me motivation to keep up, I reasoned my first few attempts I didn’t need to be first, but I couldn’t be the slowest. I’d definitely recommend a beginners running club to anyone wanting to get started. Sadly the one at my gym never really got off the ground and has stopped now, but I’ve completed the couch to 5K program and can’t recommend it enough. It really is designed for complete beginners and gets you up to running 5k within a couple of months! My aim was to be able to run 5K before we go to Kilimanjaro, and now that’s done I’ve started the 10k version! Before the wedding I was up to 8K, however I’ve not been sticking to it recently due to the honeymoon and wedding and training for other things but I think I’ll restart it sometime. I do still have mixed feelings about running, I can’t say I love it but I don’t hate it as much as I used to, it gives me a good cardio workout and I like to do races and events of which running is a part.
The outcome and the new me
Now 2 years after I started bouldering, and 18 months after I started gym classes and running…I feel great, I have a lot more energy, I feel strong, healthy and fit. I am starting to enjoy exercise in and of itself rather than as a means to an end which has to be tolerated. I like to get out of breath and sweaty and tired, rather than avoiding it at all costs. Seeing what my body can actually do is amazing, all that was holding me back was my lazy brain! I have also branched out into a lot more areas since my first foray into bouldering and the gym, and have changed to a larger gym, then quit that and started crossfit, and even done the lead climbing course (although we still don’t go climbing a lot) which is not something I ever thought I would do.
Having something to train for has really gave me such a boost and helped to keep me motivated, so if you’re struggling to keep on track, then book something in…maybe don’t book a mountain trek and wedding within 6 months of each other though! That was an intense year.
I enjoy being able to do things I couldn’t do before, and I am starting to get motivated to set and achieve goals that have nothing to do with Kili or losing weight. I am a person who needs a plan and a goal otherwise I lose focus, but I am starting to progress to a point where I can set my own goals. This is the mindset you need to develop, take ownership of your body and your mind rather than make excuses.
What’s next?
I’ve done some of the mud run type events and liked them so I’m always up for those, it keeps the motivation ticking over, and I am booked in for the Superhuman games next year. Yikes! Serious! I was a smoker, who couldn’t run for the bus 3 years ago, and ate whatever I felt like and never gave 2 seconds thought to how much I could lift. Now I’m looking at a weight training plan to improve my strength, planning climbing holidays and entering actual competitive events.
If I can do it anyone can!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Giving yourself a break

The 2 weeks before Christmas I did no exercise. None at all. Some of it I was ill so didn't worry about not exercising but once I was better I felt like I should get straight back on the metaphorical horse.

Problem was I didn't want to.

For someone who has been doing something (running, climbing, gym or crossfit) at least 2 or 3 (or 7) days a week for the last 2 years this was a bit scary.

I realised though that I just needed a break, I decided on being back stronger and more often in the new year, and called it a day until after Christmas.

This was hard for me to do though! I felt burnt out, tired, I'd been ill with tonsillitis or a virus, I was feeling pressurised to get everything done before Christmas....and yet I still felt guilty for not going to crossfit for 2 weeks.

Sound familiar to anyone? I'm an all or nothing kind of person, I don't half ass things so I find it hard to give myself a break sometimes. Looking back though I've been full on this year and last with training, wedding planning, work, life, races, mountains, and an attempted social life around that.

So if I want to skip crossfit once to eat a mince pie and wrap some presents while I watch Love Actually is anyone actually going to judge me? Probably not, I'm not a professional, I have nobody to prove anything to other than myself. I'm training for Superhuman next year but am already pretty on track for that, actually better than I thought I would be since starting crossfit.

We're our own harshest judges sometimes, so I decided that for a new years resolution I don't need to lose weight, eat better, give up smoking, drink less or any of the usual ones. I'm already doing the best I can.

This is my new years resolution: CHILL OUT! Help myself to do better and make life easier for myself, instead of pressuring myself to do everything. To do this I will:
Sort a better schedule to include rest days strictly for rest. With some longer breaks of a few days here and there to prevent getting burnt out.
Get myself a foam roller, and get massages regularly.
Get a new bike so that I am not battling up hills on the way back from crossfit while stuck in a high gear. It is not helpful when trying to go more often that I hate getting there and back. Also work out a way to go more often when I can take the car.
Remember my flat is not a show home, and my life is mine only. Nobody cares but me if there is laundry all over the bedroom and the dining table is covered in craft stuff.

So far I have done ok, I've not got a new bike but am taking the car more often and have started going in the morning so I have my evenings to myself after work.

How are you doing with your resolutions?

Monday, 4 January 2016

What will NOT happen when you go vegan?

Following my post here on unexpected benefits of going vegan, I started thinking about the things that people told me would happen and didn't. Those things you hear all the time as a vegetarian or vegan, like protein, B12 blah blah blah.

You'll never get enough protein
Nobody ever cares about how much protein you are getting until they learn you are vegan. I get plenty of protein in my diet, and can supplement it if I need to. Protein is in so many more things than meat and dairy anyway.

Food will be really boring/Doesn't vegan food just consist of lettuce?
There are thousands of plants, spices, carbs and pulses we can eat. Why does cutting out meat and dairy mean that I will not have any variety? My diet the last couple of months has been more varied and interesting in some ways. In other ways I can still eat everything I could before, like pizza, burgers, pasta, cakes, biscuits, sandwiches, chilli, roast dinner etc etc etc.

I could never go vegan/vegan food is gross
Well you could go vegan, you just don't want to. No need to insult my food just because you don't want to eat like me. People often tell me they don't like vegan food, or they could never eat vegan food. What you've never eaten fruit? Or oreos? or a salad?

What about B12?
Yes B12 is hard to get from a plant based diet, but lots of things are fortified with it and I take a vitamin daily. There are lots of vitamins not found in meat too you know.

It'll be so expensive you won't be able to keep it up.
Vegetables are cheaper than beef in my experience, I can buy a whole bag of vegetables for the same price as a few steaks. With that I can feed myself for dinners for a week. Yes some vegan stuff is expensive, but in the same way some meat or dairy foods are expensive, It's all down to taste and budget.

But bacon!
But pigs. Also by this time I usually know the person I'm talking to is either:
A: An idiot.
B: Completely out of valid points so is just bringing up one food that I don't eat.
C: Actually feeling very defensive so just trying to end the conversation.

But chocolate!
I can eat chocolate, just not milk chocolate. I can have oreos and bourbon biscuits, and chocolate almond milk, and hot chocolate, I had an advent calendar and regularly make chocolate cupcakes.

What if you were on a desert island and the only thing there is a pig? Or some cheese?
OK who put the cheese there and why is it not completely gone off? Also what is the pig eating? Also why am I on a desert island? Also WHY do people KEEP asking this GODDAMN question?? If I were to be stranded on a desert island I would eat coconut as they populate most islands, if not yucca, if not then fucking grass or something. I would probably not even have tools with me to kill the pig as I tend not to travel with weapons, and wouldn't have any idea how to even go about hunting and killing it anyway so even IF I tried to I would probably fail miserably. I would be more concerned about how the fuck I ended up on the mystical island with only a pig or a glass of milk for company. Seriously people stop asking this question it makes you look moronic.

NB for those sick of hearing this the best response I ever heard was 'what if you lived in a civilisation with an abundance of plant based food and drinks? Would you still continue to torture and kill animals for no good reason?'

But vegans don't save any animals really, you're just one person.
Actually going vegan saves a lot more than animals, it saves water, pollution, deforestation, my carbon footprint and many many more things. Yes I am just one person, but it was just one person who started a lot of things. Just one wierdo started drinking cows milk in olden times, and now you think it's completely normal.

Milk is good for you!
No it's not. I get plenty of calcuim elsewhere, we were not built to drink breast milk all our lives. ESPECIALLY that of another animal.

But cheese!
But pus, but baby cows taken from their mums, but farmers being forced to sell milk at a loss, but the forest cleared for animal grazing, but PUS.

What do you even eat?
Uh loads. Literally I never stop eating.

Ugh but tofu is so gross.
Me - Really how did you cook it?
Meat eater - Um actually I've never really tried it.

That's the conversation most times, I mean at least I know what I've given up eating. If cooked properly tofu is great, I agree raw it is gross but then so is chicken...

If we stopped eating meat and dairy then cows would go extinct.
omg no. We aren't all going to stop eating dairy and meat as a species overnight, so it's not like there will be billions of cows left in abandoned farms. Cows are not a man made species they used to be wild.

What about if you had kids? Surely that wouldn't be fair to them?
What? Unfair to give these completely hypothetical children a healthy, well thought out diet that is well balanced and nutritious? Yeah poor kids. What about your kids? How many times do they have fatty processed meat a day, a week? None of my business? Yeah, none of yours either.

Vegans only care about animals, what about starving children?
Why can't I care about both? Also I'll just leave these here...


You can find these pictures on my pinterest page with their sources

This is just for a bit of a laugh, so any meat eaters reading please don't be offended. I have truly been asked or told all of these things numerous times, by otherwise intelligent and normal people. I just wanted to make people think about the silly things they say to vegans and vegetarians. Let's all just get along :)

Monday, 21 December 2015

10 unexpected benefits of going vegan

Having recently gone vegan I noticed a few things happen that I didn't expect and I've been making a note of these things as I go, as I know once I get a bit more experienced this new phase gets forgotten! I didn't give up dairy with the aim of any of these things happening, but they are all very welcome.

If you are thinking of going vegan, or just curious as to how it goes, then these are the benefits you may not expect:
  1. You will automatically start eating better, even if you aren't trying to, I expected to eat more fruit and veg but didn't think about the fact that I would eat more variety of fruit and veg or that I would make healthier food choices due to choosing vegan options. It's not all health food though if that's not what you want!
  2. You will get excited about food again. I'm trying new recipes, new foods and new ingredients that I never considered before. 
  3. You will learn to appreciate your supportive family and friends, and learn who your real friends are. Tom has been great, my family have been great and most of my friends and colleagues have been great...some others not so much but it's comedy gold for me to watch people try to pick apart my eating habits. Why do they care so much what I eat or don't?
  4. You will get more organised about food, especially when away from home. I prepare batch lunches for work and freeze them, or always make sure I have sandwich ingredients at home. This is great for saving cost and eating better, as instead of grabbing pizza from the canteen I have a sweet potato bake with tofu or whatever else I've prepped that week. This is mainly due to lack of vegan choices at my work but I also find I am more organised about having food shopping at home, as more fresh produce is needed so I get more organised about using it up before it goes off.
  5. You will discover local shops or restaurants you never even knew existed. There are 2 vegan restaurants in my town, and numerous shops with loads of vegan options, and there is a vegan fair every year, and there are vegan clubs, and there are restaurants which are now on my must visit list as they have good options. It's like rediscovering my local area and like I've joined a new community. 
  6. Weight/bloating loss. I lost a lot of 'mass' from my middle, I say 'mass' as I've not lost any weight on the scale but I am a lot slimmer and I think a lot of it was bloating from my cheese and carbs heavy diet before.
  7. On that note, the amount you can eat. Cutting dairy and meat cuts a lot of calories and fat, so you have to replace that. For someone like me whose meals are quite healthy and balanced that means adding in snacks, and lots of them. Most of them are healthy, but I found out recently I can have Jammy Dodgers and most bourbon biscuits so a few packs of those have been done away with over the last few weeks :)
  8. Better skin. I've been trying to clear my skin for years, and being 27 and still having teenage spots is a right downer. I'm not saying it's gone, but it's on the way there! I still get breakouts especially linked to 'that' time of the month, but they are getting less and less and my skin generally is less greasy, my blackheads are reducing and I think it looks generally a lot better.
  9. I feel AMAZING. Where people get the stereotype that vegans are all weak and tired I will never know. I do a decent amount of exercise, and have noticed no drop in my abilities or energy levels. Quite the opposite in fact, I feel like my energy levels and mood are more even throughout the day. Instead of feeling more tired as they day goes on I feel like I have the same energy at 6pm as I did at 10am. I can only put it down to cleaner eating and less hormones etc from dairy.
  10. My conscience is lighter. I've finally taken the last step in stopping dairy and my lifestyle is cruelty free. I use less water, greenhouse gases, pollution and deforestation that an omnivore diet and I know that no animals were exploited to make my food. It's quite calming :)
Have any of you noticed any unexpected benefits?