I’m sure almost anyone who becomes vegan will hear, at some point in their lives, the mildly horrified “but what do you eat?!”. My old (proud) response to this was “whatever you eat, I can make vegan!” But then I realised that what most people eat is junk food, and not something I should want to emulate! So what do I eat now?
Well, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. There’s nothing better than waking up in the morning knowing you have something super yummy waiting for you in the kitchen, it’s the best motivation for getting out of bed (my bed is one of my other favourite things in the whole world!). Usually I have a green smoothie for breakfast (I alternate between at least 5 different ones) or, in the winter, I live on porridge (as a good Scots girl should!). Starting the day with a green smoothie is super important to me, as it ensures that I get some green leafy veg every day (one of the best things you can do for your health). If I don’t have some for breakfast then I try to make sure that I have a salad for lunch. Otherwise lunch might be homemade hummus and raw veg, or leftovers from the night before. Dinner is the piece de resistance though; I’ll usually cook from scratch at least 3 times a week (with usually enough leftovers to freeze, or to last me the other days), and, because I’m constantly collecting new recipes, I usually force myself to try out one new recipe a week.
Before I changed my diet, I would have said I had a very sweet tooth – I couldn’t resist vegan cupcakes and biscuits! But having cut (refined) sugar out of my diet, I’ve definitely become more of a savoury kind of gal… I’ll make raw energy bites for snacks throughout the day (otherwise I mostly snack on fruit and nuts), but I only usually make dessert if I’m having people over, or for special occasions, as my dinner is usually filling enough and takes me quite a long time to prepare, so I usually don’t have the time or motivation for dessert!
So what don’t I eat? Well, as a vegan I don’t eat any animal products, including dairy, eggs, or honey. Having recently changed my diet, however, I now also try not to eat too much gluten (though I do still eat spelt and rye, because they’re fairly low in gluten), processed food, or added/refined sugar (you can read more about my new diet here). Instead of sugar I use either fruit, dates, coconut sugar or maple syrup (in moderation), depending on the recipe. My diet is not about deprivation though; I eat this way because it makes me feel better physically, and because I know I’m doing a great thing for my health and my body. At the end of the day, I eat to live, not the other way around (but I do still want what I eat to taste good of course!).
Personally, when I decide to do something, I go all-out, cold-turkey, throw myself in the deep end. So when I decided to change my diet I just swapped all my old foods for healthy alternatives… but I know that this doesn’t work for everyone. Some people might do better by adding in healthy foods (rather than cutting out unhealthy ones) so that eventually the good stuff crowds out the bad, and there’s no room for any more. Whatever gets you to eat healthy, and stick at it – it’s better to go slowly, if that will be sustainable for you in the long run.
One thing I will say is that vegan food (unless it’s literally vegan junk food from a box, like frozen pizza – yes, you can get vegan frozen pizza these days!) is not fast food; I’ve always been used to cooking from scratch, even before I became healthier. I’m also not very fast when I cook – chopping veggies takes me ages! – so it’s quite common for me to spend up to an hour and a half preparing dinner each night. That’s why freezing leftovers is a great idea (so that I don’t have to spend 2 hours cooking every night!), or cooking in bulk at the weekend if you don’t have time during the week. Having said that, some of my healthiest recipes are also the fastest (like quinoa salad, for example)… and if you really can’t face spending that long in the kitchen (or you prefer to eat fresh every night) then you can’t go wrong with a simple veggie stirfry, which can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes (including chopping time).
Since I really struggled, when I first started to eat a whole foods diet, to find recipes that followed those principles exactly, I’ve tried to make it as easy for you as possible, by only publishing recipes here that match both criteria: being super yummy and as healthy as possible. That means all my recipes are vegan, free from refined sugar, and predominantly gluten-free (or with gluten-free options). I hope you enjoy them; let me know in the comments sections!