THE LAST 12 months have flown past, and while it was a year of many challenges and even more rewards, it occurred to me that 2013 was my first full year as a vegan, so perhaps a report card is in order.
Diet C (Must Try Harder)
I didn’t get nearly as far into the raw side of things as I’d hoped, mostly due to working in the city and eating lunch out almost every day with friends and colleagues. I started off with a hiss and a roar, bringing in my trusty Tupperware full of salad most days, but the temptations of quick and easy ethnic food proved to be too much and in any event, I’d inhale the huge salad by 11h00 and would then still need lunch (I eat a lot).
So a truckload of vegan meals from restaurants around the Auckland CBD have crossed my path this year, most notably from the legendary Food Alley food hall on Albert Street, where Go Believe’s steamed buns and dumplings have been a mainstay. And the little sushi place in Queen’s Arcade has seen me almost every morning for my five-piece snack. Sadly, since Revive moved uptown, my raw quotient has dropped further.
It’s all been a selection of relatively healthy meals though (bar the very rare foray into Burger Fuel) but still, thank goodness that weekends and evenings were much rawer and even healthier, with salad and fruit being pretty much a staple.
Giant bowls of fresh fruit salad on a Saturday and Sunday morning were followed through the day with massive salad sandwiches or huge salad plates, with the sandwiches being my supper on many weeknights. Let’s not even mention winter however, when toasted wraps were eaten night after night for months. Nothing wrong with them because they’re loaded with veggies but they’re not exactly raw, and raw is good. I replaced bags and bags of whey protein powder with NuZest’s amazing Clean Lean Protein in much smaller quantities, yet made more progress in the gym than I have in years.
I can safely say that I’ve eaten just as much as ever this year – I’m not a total glutton but I do weigh over 100kg and train often.
The results of all that eating sans dairy have been interesting.
Energy Levels B+
There’s no doubt that my energy levels have been fabulous this year; certainly better than the year before, particularly in summer when the raw percentages in my diet were much higher. On my previous vegetarian diet, there was no way that I was going to manage a Bikram Yoga session on a Saturday morning, followed directly by a gym session with another Yoga session in the evening, but that proved entirely doable this year (I did however, sleep like a whole forest of logs on days like that).
Changes in Body Composition A
Eating like a hungry hippo in 2013 caused me to gain six kilos. Surely that’s bad news? Not at all – despite eating less protein than I can recall in many years, I actually lost body fat and put on substantial muscle, so much so that some of my work shirts are borderline too tight in certain places. Not bad at my age.
Considering that I couldn’t come close to making that kind of progress in past years when I was scoffing as much milk, cottage cheese, cheese and whey protein powder as I liked, there has to be something to just feeding your body the best possible, natural unprocessed fuel and letting it thrive.
The Numbers B
I’ll have my semi-annual blood test early next year but the one I had in April or so after six months of being a vegan showed improvements in certain areas and no problems at all – my B12 and iron levels in particular were totally unaffected by the shift in diet despite dire warnings to the contrary from random individuals who think that vegan equals puny and unhealthy.
It’s been a good vegan year and I’ve got no complaints at all. I don’t miss any of the foods I gave up although that may be down to my particular mental makeup but when
there’s so much tasty vegan food out there, why on earth would I even entertain thoughts of cheese or milkshakes?
Next year, my diet will be rawer, that’s for sure and I’ll find a bigger repertoire of simple recipes to make eating raw even tastier and easier. For example, roll on hundreds of the yummy home made rice paper rolls I was recently introduced to – once I figure out how to make them without overloading them and causing explosions and implosions, life will be even better. And once the diet is sorted, the results can only improve…
If I could make one suggestion to people thinking about trying the vegan lifestyle in 2014, I’d say give it a shot. It’s easy, delicious and there’s the not inconsiderable benefit that it’s cruelty free, and that’s good for the soul at levels that have to be felt to be believed. ASHLEY KRAMER