Day 3 Veganuary: 30 Days of Vegan to Save the Planet
This is Day 3 of my grand vegan adventure. I have another 27 days to discover the wonderful world of vegans and most importantly, to help the planet heal from the terrible things we do. Here’s how it went.
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Dark times, my friends, dark vegan times.
I’m not feeling so hot. I wake up an hour before my alarm clock with a toothache (unrelated to veganuary) and a sour stomach (high & unjustified veganuary suspicion). By the time I’m in the kitchen, I want to throw up but there’s hopeful me thinking, ‘people have been mentioning it, going through a tough phase before feeling better. Hang in there.’ So I hang in there and get breakfast ready with the enthusiasm of an inmate on death row.
Not granola again. Two days in a row was too much for me. Let’s jazz things up. Yay. I’ve got sprouted sourdough in the kitchen. What should I eat it with? Not butter, obviously, although butter is the natural French thing to do. I’ll try something I tried last April in Aragon (northern Spain)–olive oil. Before you make a face, it’s the most delicious olive oil from the trusted Maison Gaillard in Pézenas.
So there. Olive oil on toast.
First toast is olive oil + brown sugar. Turns out this olive oil has a strong and bitter aftertaste. Usually, I’d like it. Today, I crave something more bland.
Second toast is olive oil + homemade pumpkin spread. Not bad. Might even be filling.
Third toast is a repeat of toast 2 but my stomach is feeling worse now. What’s wrong with me?
Bigger concern: Am I already tired of olive oil? This can’t be. I’m a big olive oil fan and yet, I’m overdosing on the stuff as it’s been in all my meals for the past 2 days.
Time to pack my swimming stuff and head to Hyde Park.
Cold Water Swimming
I’ve been wondering if a vegan diet would have any impact on cold water swimming. That’s something I do regularly and one of the few sports where people pity you for losing weight or being “skinny.” It just means that you’ll get colder in the water. Turns out that I’ve lost 3 pounds. I don’t want to lose more. You see, I swim in the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park three times a week. Right now, the water temperature is 3.3C/38F and even if I don’t swim long (200m this morning), it’s still a shock. This morning, the air temperature doesn’t bite like it did on Sunday when it was windy, but I still have to push to finish my 200m of slow breaststroke chatting with Caroline.
The changing room wisdom is as fun as always, with various friends sharing their support for Veganuary (they all get that it’s for environmental reasons), making hot tea without-milk-thank-you (Rob), spreading Veganuary love by telling people (Elina), commenting on my Austrian knit sweater (Catherine) or shivering after swimming with Elina (Ben). Jackie does comment that I should not lose weight because otherwise, I’d be too cold. Maybe she says that because I’m shivering so much that I struggle to sign a Get Well card for Alix. It’s illegible. Point noted, Jackie, I’m trying. I even find a formerly-vegan swimmer who shares nutrition tips with me and confirms that no, nothing can ever replace butter. I thought so too.
Honestly, the Serpentine Swimming Club is a never-ending source of happy surprises. Feeling in much higher spirits, I cycled to work and settled down in front of my computer.
Need to take care of my 5-a-day. In one smooth chopping board move, I prep a fruit salad with orange, apple and banana. Do I get bonus points for not peeling the orange? If you wonder, I like the taste of orange peel. You should try. It adds a great texture to the fruit salad.
Well, hello heartburn. Long time no see. Mildly hungry, I reheat last night’s tofu, eggplant and coconut rice leftovers.
Oh my, this is too much coconut milk in one go. By now, I’m frankly ready to throw up. I need to get out and take a refreshing walk…to a health store so I can buy multivitamins for my girls. So much health in my life this week! Walking, I ponder on Maximilien de Robespierre. Did he think that things would get worse before they got better when he joined the French Revolution? Because right now, I’m counting veganuary as a French Revolution on my body. Maybe I’m blaming the wrong culprit, just maybe.
2pm. After a 20-minute walk, I feel slightly better. Amazing what fresh air can do.
In former times, afternoon snack would have been called tea and cake. As luck would have it, we are celebrating Lucinda’s birthday at the office today and yes, there’s cake. I pass but not to be outdone, I prepare my own afternoon snack. Let’s see if the other half of Day 2‘s soy yogurt pot has survived.
It has. In goes a chopped pear. Tasty.
By the way, heartburn is gone. I’m feeling fine now. I even manage to convince Lucinda (and possibly others) to sign up for a baby Tough Mudder. It’ll be fine, I tell her, and I immediately think of the hardcore training sessions in An Officer and a Gentleman. Go figure.
I come back home in a jiffy — energy levels on hyperdrive, I even stay on speed 7 second gear most of the way — to find that my husband has been busy. He loves eating as much as I do and last night’s tofu completely depressed him. Extreme measures have been taken. He’s browsed through every single cookbook on our shelves and pulled out recipes that he offers to cook. It’s waiting for me on the table.
Look at this, doesn’t it rival a bookshop display?
Clearly, he’s trying to tell me something about future meals and I like that. While he was reluctant about veganuary at the beginning, he’s getting involved to support me and I’m guessing, to save the planet too. He’s cooked tonight’s dinner (as well as tomorrow’s but that will be discussed in tomorrow’s write-up) and it smells wonderful.
It’s pasta with roasted cauliflower, capers and pine nuts from Melissa Clark’s cookbook Dinner. It’s so good that the extra portion that my husband made for my lunch tomorrow ends in my girls’ plate. They are loving it and me too. It’s really yummy. I feel that I should plug it because it’s really a good cookbook. You get it here in the UK, here in the US.
My 12-year-old tells me that she’s been eating vegan at school. She had plain rice and an apple. I tell her that really, she should eat enough as she is growing and she doesn’t need to eat vegan. She ignores me. She’s made up her mind. She’s saving the planet too. We’re a bunch of crunchy granola vegan tree-huggers.
Why Nutrition Matters More than We Think
One thing I’ve noticed since starting this vegan lark. I pay attention to what I eat. Not saying that I was eating anything and everything before, but I certainly did not pay as much attention to the nutritional value of my food. If I was hungry, I always a quick snack on hand and whether or not it was healthy, I ate it without second thoughts.
Now, I think about my meals and make sure that I eat, on a daily basis:
- fresh seasonal fruit
I yet have to do better on grains and beans but I’ll get there. Since I’m also doing dry January, I have the added benefit of not drinking any alcohol. I could call Veganuary a detox and nobody would bat an eye. Effectively, I’ve fallen into bad food habits and this is making me realize that I need to be more careful about what I eat. What we eat directly impacts our health. It’s a no-brainer and yet, I’d never really given it much thought.
Note to self: re-read Judi and Shari Zucker’s book The Memory Diet (you get it here: UK | US) on how our nutrition directly impacts our brain. It’s self-advertised as “how a new diet can fight Alzeihmer’s disease and dementia” and inspired by Judi and Shari (they are sisters)’s mom who has dementia. Since Alzeihmer’s runs in my family, this is a big topic for me and it looks like many vegan ideas are very close to Judi and Shari’s findings.
Food for thought. It’s never sounded so true.