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Posted in Personal Blog

When you choose to change something in your life you can never know exactly how things will work out ~ so you leap and trust in your ability to adapt and change.

This January I made the decision to focus on self~care and health, to try to get to a better level of “wellness” by finding my baseline in physical health and building on it. I have started work with my physio on a bespoke regime every week in the hydrotherapy pool. During these sessions we work on my weaknesses, this is my right side being weaker than my left which has cause exacerbation of stiffness and pain on my compensating left side. The plan is to strengthen the right side to become equal to my left ~ this is by doing more reps and other strengthening exercises specifically for my right side ~ then stretching and releasing exercises for my left side. Once both sides are equal we are hoping to be able to return to dry land to work on core and strength but I think I need to extend the hydrotherapy initially to start this process. I have podiatry appointments booked to have inserts made for my shoes and boots to support my arch and lift my heels to help take the pressure off my poor old hips.

As well as taking the time to focus on my physical health I am also focussing on my mental health too. I have created a meditation area which I love to sit at and create a mandala and listen to ambient music or guided meditations. I just empty my mind and create patterns with stones, buttons, beads and other bits and pieces I find.

To work along the physical and mental health changes I also decided to look at my diet and see what I could do to potentially help my health improve further. I don’t like to do things by half so instead of becoming vegetarian I decided become vegan, something I have resisted for some time because of my love for a nice piece of lamb or a good sausage.

My first two daughters are vegan and observing how they eat and how they feel in themselves made me consider more seriously making the leap. My youngest daughter is dairy free, doesn’t eat meat but does eat eggs, fish and honey. All three girls were instrumental in my decision~making process ~ plus the support of my husband who said he would do the dairy free, fish, egg and honey diet with my youngest but couldn’t go vegan himself.

So January found our kitchen free from dairy and meat. We now have an awful lot more space in our fridge and freezer plus our shopping bill has reduced significantly. I’m not too keen on the artificial meats and cheeses but there are one or two products that are palatable and I am using to replace the meat and dairy.

I’m finding many restaurants have a vegan menu now, which is pretty .awesome ~ plus the range of foods in various supermarkets is increasing too. I prefer where possible though to cook at home and batch cook with fresh ingredients and minimal faux foods, and so cook dishes such as bean chilli and mushroom minces. I love sweet things too and so have a sterling cake recipe which I can adapt to be different flavours. I’m also going to experiment with coconut condensed milk to make homemade plain chocolate bounty bars ~ as I miss them they are/were my favourite chocolate bar.

I don’t know whether it’s because I have eaten meat and dairy for all my almost 50 years that I’m finding I’m having a few issues. The first new experience is that I am needing to open my bowels 3 to 4 times a day ~ food seems to go straight through me. Plus the transition has left me very fatigued and my pain levels have increased. However, after two weeks of being vegan I’m thrilled to say that for the past 6 days I haven’t needed to take my diverticulitis medication ~ which is awesome.

I think it will take some time for my body to adjust and presume having chronic health issues is making the transition harder due to the exacerbation of some symptoms.

What I am going to do though is track symptoms and flare ups over the forthcoming months and am predicting the flare ups decreasing, the pain and fatigue lifting and hope to find a baseline from which I can then experiment and see if I can reduce other medications or not. Thing is ~ it’s all got to be done slowly and not my usual wanting things yesterday approach.

My first taste bud adjustment was getting used to Oatly milk in my coffee as it was best out of the ones I had tried ~ and believe me I tried them all! It tastes very creamy but at least it doesn’t curdle ~ at first it was just a splash but now I can drink my coffee with it if I make my coffee strong and don’t put too much milk in it. I make my porridge with water and then add a little Oatly milk at the end to make it eating temperature. The plus side of the Oatly milk is that it makes great sauces being so creamy in taste ~ and it’s lovely when you make a rice pudding.

I have to put my hand up and admit to being a dry January failure as I had a glass of wine or two the other night. I was craving a lot of sweet foods and so decided a balance is what is needed ~ having the odd glass of wine and eating less sugar is now my thinking. Drinking less booze has also helped in reducing our shopping bill each week.

Overall I feel the transitions due to the changes I am making are worthwhile and will be helpful. I am aware the physiotherapy is a long~term ongoing process and although frustrating I will have to do as I am told and minimise my physical activity now. The process of building up slowly is to prevent a big relapse which could set me back significantly ~ I hate being this weak but know that it won’t be forever and keep apologising to my family for always resting and being unable to “do”.

The mindfulness is also something I need to work at because when I do it it really helps me, yet it is so easy to not fit it into the day ~ but I’m getting better at doing it and enjoying feeling more zen.

The food and diet change is the easiest transition for me regarding eating but the one causing most side effects regarding de~toxing and adjusting my gut and body to the new regime.

I’m not a militant vegan, I respect every ones dietary choices and in fact have no issue regarding the consumption of eggs and honey. We get our eggs from the local farm where my husband has his work unit and we walk through the roaming chickens who are very friendly and have full freedom of the field and driveway ~ they often have a little wonder into my husbands unit to say hello and have a wee look around before wondering off again. We also buy local honey ~ our bees need saving and so support our local beekeeper.

Our planet needs both meat eaters and folk following plant~based diets ~ if we all ate just plant~based our fields would become infertile and unproductive. We need livestock roaming and grazing on the land to maintain the fertility of our fields to enable them to then be used for crops, a good rotation of crop growth and livestock grazing to balance out the use of our land would be, in my mind, the best solution.
If everyone ate less meat, not necessarily no meat, then we would reduce the need for the intensive and cruel farming for meat. I am aware intensive farming came about to make it more efficient and cost~effective to keep up with demand but it doesn’t make it right. I would support a more organic way of meat production with the livestock being free to graze on the land and not cooped up in barns where they never see daylight, smell fresh air or have the freedom to move about. Surely a happy animal would then give better quality and tasting meat.

To reduce the demand for meat and therefore the need for intensive farming we could reach a balance of meat eaters eating less meat ~ perhaps having a day or two a week without it. That combined with the growing numbers of vegetarians and vegans could potentially change the landscape of animal farming and meat production.

I have found articles that support the need for livestock to graze, trample and digest the food on our land to then maintain the soil fertility to grow crops. This means we cannot realistically say going vegan saves the planet ~ what is realistic is meat eaters eating less meat and vegan and vegetarians to give meat eaters a break and accept we need a balance of all diets to create change.

This article is interesting in that it explains why veganism alone isn’t the answer ~ we also need meat eaters to create a balance to save our planet..

“Veganism has rocketed in the UK over the past couple of years – from an estimated half a million people in 2016 to more than 3.5 million – 5% of our population – today. Influential documentaries such as Cowspiracy and What the Health have thrown a spotlight on the intensive meat and dairy industry, exposing the impacts on animal and human health and the wider environment.”

Rather than being seduced by exhortations to eat more products made from industrially grown soya, maize and grains, we should be encouraging sustainable forms of meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. We should, at the very least, question the ethics of driving up demand for crops that require high inputs of fertiliser, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides, while demonising sustainable forms of livestock farming that can restore soils and biodiversity, and sequester carbon.
There’s no question we should all be eating far less meat, and calls for an end to high-carbon, polluting, unethical, intensive forms of grain-fed meat production are commendable. But if your concerns as a vegan are the environment, animal welfare and your own health, then it’s no longer possible to pretend that these are all met simply by giving up meat and dairy. Counterintuitive as it may seem, adding the occasional organic, pasture-fed steak to your diet could be the right way to square the circle.”

I personally don’t want to eat meat but I won’t ever tell anyone else to give up meat, I would just say to all vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters to check the source of your products and try whenever and wherever to eat responsibly ~ that is the answer in my humble opinion to balancing the demand. Then farmers can use less intensive farming means and still meet demand.

Livestock are necessary for maintaining healthy soil food webs on our agricultural land. Their trampling, grazing, and digestive systems cannot be replaced by wild animals or by technology. Additionally, maintaining healthy soil food webs is a basic prerequisite to sustainable food production. Without healthy soil food webs we agriculture simply cannot sustain our needs into the future. In order to provide all agricultural land with grazing, trampling and manure we need large numbers of livestock.”

Therefore, for food production to be sustainable, large numbers of livestock are a necessity!”

I do feel as consumers we need to be more careful about where we buy food and what we buy. It is so easy to feel we are buying something that is okay to eat when in reality it’s the product of cruel intensive farming where the animals suffer horrendous short lives to keep up with the supply required by our demand for affordable food.

I found this video about marketing which I found interesting ~ talking about how they spin where our food comes from to make it acceptable to us and okay to buy and eat..

Obviously there are farmers who do care for their animals and give them freedom to roam the fields ~ I love to see pigs wondering the fields as it is a rare sight ~ it literally makes me squeal with delight. I also enjoy seeing wondering chickens, sheep and cattle too ~ I am sure meat eaters would feel much happier eating meat that comes from an animal that has had a life of fresh air, grass and freedom to roam over livestock which are crammed in tiny spaces and live a horrendous life of cruelty.

At the end of the day I will give cows milk and cook meat for friends and family when they visit as I have no “beef” with their dietary choice. I think, at the end of the day, that there is plenty of room in the world for all dietary choices ~ let’s just check where our food is coming from and all eat responsibly, support local farmers and eat foods in season and try to cut out when possible imported foods.

And that’s all I have to say about that!


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