Article by Alexandra Sutcliffe
It was about two days after a huge shop, following which our freezer was stuffed with chicken, pork chops and minced beef and our fridge full of dairy, that my boyfriend decided to go vegan.
As a keen cyclist and all-round athlete, he’d been floored earlier this year by his extremely high blood pressure, and was well aware of the health benefits of switching to a plant-based diet. An evening of watching YouTube videos by physician and committed vegan Neil Barnard, who works with patients suffering from diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions, was enough to seal the deal.
Couldn’t we introduce vegan days into our diet, I suggested, just as we already had several meat-free meals a week, and use up the contents of our kitchen first? But no, he went from omnivore to vegan in an instant, only agreeing to eat fish as an occasional treat.
I threw a big lunch party, during which we consumed most of our chicken and made a big inroad into the pork chops, while my puddings used up cream, milk and several eggs. If our guests were suspicious they didn’t show it, despite the boyfriend only indulging in rice and green beans…
Still, my innate frugality and inability to discard perfectly good food has prevented me from taking up veganism just yet. I am now down to the last yoghurt and about six eggs, and am trying not to think about the freezer, which still houses a whole chicken, some pork chops and three packs of minced beef.
Finding vegan websites
I’ve scoured the Internet, finding vegan websites run by beautiful, glowing, shiny-haired young women in their twenties. They all look so perky and just so darned happy to be spending their days soaking and boiling legumes, grinding seeds and oats, and roasting, mashing and spiralising their vegetables. I wish I shared their enthusiasm.
My days are spent obsessing about food. It’s exhausting. I never wanted to be the type who thinks about lunch from eleven o’clock, but that is what I’ve become, no longer able to cobble together a meal out of bread and cheese.
I find myself soaking and boiling beans to package up and freeze, which I then add to just about anything. I have even baked both banana and sweet potato bread, grinding my own flour from oats, and making a vegan ‘egg’ out of ground flax seed. Yes, really. (Actually, both were delicious.)
I am loving the Buddha Bowl concept of a mix of different goodies on one plate – such as roast cauliflower or broccoli, mixed grains and beans, a sliced avocado, a dollop of roast pepper hummus (a tremendous success) and beetroot falafel (likewise), enlivened by salad dressings made of tahini, sesame oil and maple syrup.
Anything Asian works really well, and my gingery tofu with bok choi and noodles is comfort food at its best.
At weekends, when I’d normally revel in preparing more complex meat dishes, I am still determined to try something special. My ‘Beet Bourgignone‘, made of beetroots and mushrooms cooked in red wine, was actually better the next day, but my lasagne made with ‘vegan ricotta’ – or tofu mixed with herbs – left me deflated, proving to be an awful lot of work for a pretty dreary result.
I will persevere. The cyclist reports that he is positively conquering the mountain routes, recording better times than ever before, and has the rest of his cycling club asking questions. His blood pressure has lowered and he’s feeling more energetic all round.
While I can’t say I notice any physical difference in myself, our shopping bills are certainly smaller, and that in itself is contributing to my wellbeing.
Once I have a few trusty dishes under my belt, I will feel more in control and less overwhelmed by it all. If I could just stop fretting about that chicken in the freezer…
Alexandra Sutcliffe is a Riviera-based life coach who is offering three specific course packages: Attracting Love, Attracting Abundance and Making Positive Change. For more details, please visit: https://alexandralifecoach.blogspot.com/