Food is such an integral part of life. I have many nostalgic memories of meals shared with friends and family, filled with laughter and storytelling. My Father was a particularly impressive cook, always experimenting with new flavours; he loved impressing people with unique dishes using unusual fruits and vegetables. When I went to university, meals at home became sacred. My favourite meal upon my return was beef stew, usually accompanied by a glass of red … the ultimate in Winter comfort food.
A few years ago I got sick and after much research looking for things that could ‘heal’ me, a lot of data suggested a vegan diet. My deep love of charcuterie boards, roast beef, steak, lasagna, cheese would make it hard to cut out – but I was also desperate to feel well again. I’d reached a place where it was difficult to work, difficult to eat and was often in and out of hospitals and doctors’ surgeries – so I took the plunge.
Following a vegan diet means not eating meat, fish, dairy or animal biproducts such as eggs, honey or gelatine. I seem to have inherited my Dad’s love of cooking, so the creative side of trying new dishes was fun, but I felt like I had to keep reading research papers to convince myself I was doing the right thing. Not eating a meal made up of meat, carbs and vegetables on the side, felt wrong, as though I would somehow be weakening my body, not strengthening it.
One thing that is important if you give up meat (vegetarians listen up!), is to take a daily B12 supplement (in liquid form) as it is an important part of helping the nerves work and without it can lead to nerve damage. I have to plan meals thoughtfully to ensure that I’m getting the right nutrients from the food I eat but, after several months of experimenting with new vegan dishes, I began to feel better. I’m not ‘healed’, but I was able to return to work, eat solid food again, and even start weaning off some of the medication I’d been put on. I’ve found new favourite meals and enjoyed taste-testing lots of different products to find replacements for the foods I ‘miss’ the most.