A Plant-Based Year

How do I feel as 2019 comes to a close? well, probably the best I have for a couple of decades. How do I feel as I step into my early fifties? probably better than I felt in my thirties!  What do I owe this new lease of life to? ….. a full year eating a 95% plant-based diet.

Having been vegetarian for over 25 years now – I reckoned I was pretty healthy, no meat, very little processed food, not too much sugar etc. I have been making food from scratch for years now – with the odd convenience food thrown in (we all have days when we just run out of steam right?!) I didn’t think there was much to alter in my diet that would bring any major benefits…………………………………………..WRONG!

I was still having days when I felt sluggish, bloated and a bit under the weather. Some days my skin didn’t look that great and I didn’t feel 100% but I put it down to ageing, stress and a busy life. I truly felt like I was eating a very healthy, balanced diet. When I looked at what other people ate – I was!
My eczema which had miraculously disappeared during my last pregnancy was returning – patches of dry, sore skin began appearing on my face again. My scalp had started to flake again – this was another symptom which disappeared during my pregnancy and the following few years. (My diet was different during pregnancy as I went off pretty much everything!)

I continued to research the blue zones of the world and look at what these nonagenarians had been eating all their lives – the bulk of the diets were very low in meat (ok – got that one sorted) but also pretty low in dairy. I have to say I felt that a diet without cheese would be pretty miserable – it was a favourite of mine – lovely gooey toasted cheese sandwiches 🙂 That was until I watched a video called What the Health and saw just what the dairy industry was putting into the milk and what we were drinking. My love of cheese soured pretty quickly. We made the transition to oat milk and after a few weeks, my youngest child’s eczema started to clear up and disappear – with no creams or ointments. (yes, my kids moaned their backsides off about the oat milk – but now don’t bat an eyelid – hold your nerve!)

The biggest and best decision I made in 2019 was to drop the dairy. (here’s another handy video trailer to watch Forks over Knives) I wasn’t able to completely stop it in one go – I still occasionally had a little bit of feta or halloumi but the biggest breakthrough was getting rid of the cheddar. After a few months of the oat milk and no cheese – I noticed my eczema had gone, so had the dandruff and best of all my clothes were feeling a little bit looser – without having made any effort at all! The next thing I noticed was I had more energy  – this was such a bonus – I would get into bed feeling pleasantly tired not crashing into the pillow!

Then my oldest son had a bout of tonsilitis  – this had been a recurring problem for him since he was very young. The difference this time?………no antibiotics, no medication, within 3 days he was over the worst and back on track. (He had been on various courses of anti-biotics before and always had to go back for a stronger course as the first ones never worked). Also, both the kids has only one cold each and both had nothing but a bit of cough mixture to get them through. They requested honey and lemon drinks instead. 

I kept going over the same question in my head – if we are so advanced in medicine and have raised so many millions of pounds for Cancer Research and heart disease etc – why are people getting sicker and living with long term illness? why are our children getting diabetes? why is the NHS crumbling under so many people with so much illness? and why is this such a new phenomenon? we are supposed to have more knowledge and wisdom than our ancestors but seem to be on a downward spiral in terms of health? 

I kept coming back to the same conclusion – the main thing that has changed over the last few decades which correlates with the upturn in illness – is our diet. A diet full of refined sugar, highly processed foods with the goodness removed and additives put in. Convenience is killing us.
As a Christian, I look to the bible for guidance on all matters and a verse kept coming back to me over and over and over again:

In biblical times you were in danger from wild animals, getting run through with a sword or a lack of food but not hypertension! An animal was sacrificed on a special occasion if you were wealthy enough. You lived on a diet of pulses, fruits, nuts, dates and seeds. God has given us everything we need to live healthy, disease-free lives – man’s greed is what has got us to this nice mess – pesticides, hormones, additives and the good old pharmaceutical companies who thrive on our sickness. You are too lucrative to be healthy! so they keep us ignorant and sick.

So I have spent the majority of the year eating foods that are God-given and the result? ……………….I feel amazingly better! I am not perfect and have changed my diet in incremental steps and am about to make some more changes. I am not trying to convert anyone but wanting to share how eating this way has given me back energy, good sleep, good skin and vitality. I am not an advocate of biblical fasts etc. There is no point in doing that and then returning to the rubbish food – its a way of life not a short term fix.

I was the only person in an office full of people dropping like flies with a flu virus who remained well – in 12 months the most I got was a slight sniffle.  Yes, I have had days when I have felt a bit rough and have had a few headaches mostly because I let stress get to me and didn’t drink enough water – a good litre of water later I was feeling better again 🙂 Walking and cycling have also been a staple part of my life.

So as I look back down the year I realise how much better I have felt, how much more I have achieved and learned and how great you can feel on a plant-based diet. As I look to 2020 with a grateful attitude what will I be doing differently?  Well, I will be removing all forms of dairy from our home and embarking on a whole-food, plant-based year (no more meat substitutes!)  If you want to come to visit me to eat this year – then you eat like we eat – no concessions! but I guarantee you will leave my home feeling full, having eaten tasty food and better for it! I will keep you posted 🙂
Happy New Year and all the very best for 2020!

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