From Vegan to Pegan
This is a hard post to write, because it means admitting to myself, and the World that I haven’t quite achieved what I set out to do…becoming 100% Vegan! To be honest I don’t really care what the World thinks, it’s more about my own goals, but anyway…
I started writing this post a week or so ago on a bit of a different tact after a fairly heated discussion with my hubby on people (read me) “labelling” themselves Vegan. I’m glad I didn’t post it then, as it got me thinking, and things have changed a bit…
Here’s the back story…I made the decision about 8 months ago to cut out meat altogether, having been dairy free for about a year at this point. For me the next logical step was to become Vegan. I wasn’t really enjoying the majority of the meat I was eating, and had been heavily influenced by some of the documentaries I’d recently watched such as Cowspiracy and Dairy is Scary. It all made sense to me, I have a lot of Vegan friends already and I was ready to make the change. I have loved finding new recipes and experimenting with new flavours and ideas and I feel richer for the experience.
This was a solo venture in our household as everyone else still wanted to eat meat, although we have pretty much cut out all dairy. I was happy to go it alone, and many of the Vegan meals I made for the family went down very well. So why stop now I hear you ask…well unfortunately my guts are none too happy with the Vegan diet. I have been trying to deny this to myself, hoping it would get better, but in truth, I’m now feeling worse. I go through waves of exhaustion, constant stomach discomfort and lots of bloating, so time to try and sort it out!
I was told by my homeopath at the beginning of my journey that maybe my body wasn’t designed to be Vegan…but for some reason, I decided to ignore this bit of advice! OK, so maybe I am a bit stubborn!
Here’s what I know as fact…Myself and Osito are both intolerant to dairy and gluten (I am in fact intolerant to most grains) and I would put money on it that Biz is too.
Cutting out dairy has helped incredibly with headaches and I genuinely feel a lot cleaner. I don’t miss it at all and have found no issues with leaving this behind. I do strongly believe that we are not designed as humans to drink the milk of another animal, it is completely unnatural, unnecessary and is increasingly known to cause all sorts of health issues.
I have however struggled with cutting out all grains, especially since stopping eating meat, and however much I enjoy a nice fresh crusty loaf of bread, I do suffer for it soon after…Not fair!
Unfortunately, it seems that my gut also struggles with most legumes, which doesn’t leave much left to fill out a healthy Vegan diet. Most of my protein has been coming from nuts, which luckily I love, but I can’t fill my plate with nuts everyday and I’m not happy to eat soya, so that has left me a bit stuck.
It has been creeping up on me for a while, but I’ve just made the decision to go back to eating a small amount of meat.
My reasonings for becoming Vegan were as follows:
- Health benefits of a plant based diet – I wanted to avoid all of the hormones and antibiotics that are routinely pumped into the animals, which then ends up on our plate.
- The destruction of the planet due to the way animal agriculture is managed – The vast regions of the planet that are being destroyed so that grain can be grown to feed livestock, for us to eat in vast quantities.
- Animal welfare in many farming situations – Obviously I am not speaking for all, but the treatment of the majority of farm animals is disgraceful. I don’t think I’m actually fully against raising animals to eat, however, they do deserve to be treated in the most respectful way for the duration of their lives.
Thinking about these points above, if my body wont let me be Vegan, then what is the next best thing? Well it has to be making sure I source high quality meat, from well managed farms that care for their animals. If the animal is cared for and is fed appropriately, then the quality of the meat is much better and a far healthier option to eat. If we support higher welfare farming, then it will hopefully produce a demand for more of the same, and standards will rise.
None of us need to consume the amount of animal products that we do on a daily basis, especially poor quality processed meat. We need to make more informed choices and care where our food comes from and what we are putting into our bodies. It is the quality of the food that we eat that is the cause of so much disease, along with a host of other environmental contaminants surrounding us on a daily basis. We cannot control everything, but what we can control, we need to make the healthiest choices for ourselves and our families. We also need to listen to our own bodies, because they will tell you something is wrong! With the majority of our immune systems housed in our gut, we need to get that healthy first before we move forward, and if your gut isn’t happy, you can be sure there is something else not quite right too.
So having gone back and done more research, and now understanding a bit more about my own body, I have decided to introduce small amounts of High Welfare, Organic Grass Fed meat back into my diet. I intend to work really hard on cutting out the gluten and reduce other grains too and leave the bulk of my meals as fruit and veg. I will remain dairy free, and as much as possible, sugar free too.
It turns out as I’ve just read, that this pretty much fits with a “Pegan” diet, a fusion of Paleo with Vegan… who knew! See, labels for everything!
So what is a Pegan diet?
Its basically 75% plant based, preferably organic, with small portions of high welfare meat making up a small part of the meal. More like a starter or side dish of meat, rather than it being the main part of the meal. No gluten, and limited other grains, beans and legumes. No dairy, and limited amounts of sugar, treats and processed foods. I read somewhere that if it contains ingredients you’ve never heard of or wouldn’t have in your cupboard, then stay away from it. This makes total sense to me and seems to be the perfect fit for me on paper!
Hopefully this will make meal times a little easier too, this Pegan diet sounds like a good fit for us all, maybe I wont have to make 3 meals every night!
To go back to my starting point, about labelling…this is such a confusing issue and I don’t have an answer, so here are my ramblings!
There are so many different types of people in this world, and each has a different view on what is right or wrong, what they like to eat or don’t, what their body will tolerate and what it wont. Do we have to label everything? The argument with Biz started because I had been calling myself Vegan, yet had knowingly eaten a bacon sandwich a few weeks earlier, I had ordered an orange juice from Wagamama which couldn’t be classified Vegan as there was beeswax on the skin, and I will still occasionally eat chips from a chip shop that fries its chips in the same oil as the fish. I don’t personally have an issue with any of the above, but he didn’t think I could truly call myself a Vegan. So what am I? 95% Vegan, almost Vegan? Does it matter? I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are so many varients in all walks of life, do we need to classify them all, or can we just be…us? And that “us” is free to change on any given day, without judgement, as I have decided to do today.
It was also pointed out that some friends/family don’t want to offer to cook for me anymore, as it is a minefield of what I can and can’t eat, and to that, I don’t know what to say. The last thing I want to be is difficult, but I do believe it is my right to feed myself and my family with with food that nourishes ourselves rather than causes discomfort. It is all a learning curve, it takes time to figure out the right diet for yourself, and even harder if trying to work it out for a child too. Veganism was my choice and I never forced it on my children, but I do my best to avoid the foods that I know they are intolerant to and do my best to avoid processed food. What do I do now I’m planning on eating meat again…how do I explain that I only want to eat High Welfare meat, without sounding rude or patronising…I really don’t know, but I’ll let you know how I get on!
This is the beginning of a new chapter for me, I will let you know how I’m feeling in a few months time. Wish me luck!