GREEN BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE

Do you ever wake up craving a healthy smoothie? Because I certainly do!

After a week of surviving off pasta, courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines, and a ton of olive oil, I was happy to come home and be able to eat a more varied diet. I spent the week in a resort in Sardinia where the meals were presented in a buffet style and although delicious, without much vegan variety. Breakfast was the most complicated meal as the options consisted of: eggs, bacon, sausage, cake, bread, and corn flakes. So of course, I was glad to come home and finally enjoy the most important meal of the day again. I loved my week in Sardinia but I had missed drinking a delicious and nutritious smoothie in the morning!

What’s important to know about green smoothies is that you cannot just throw a bunch of greens in a blender and hope for the best (been there, done that). A good green smoothie consists of 60% fruits and 40% leafy greens, all mixed with either water or apple juice. Before I was aware of this fruit to leafy greens ratio, my green smoothies were never very tasteful. So I decided to do some research and try to create a healthy green smoothie that I actually enjoyed, and I am very proud of the result. It has been tested and approved by my mother who usually does not enjoy smoothies, so it must be good!

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 mango
  • 1 banana
  • 1 kiwi
  • half a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger

method:

  • put the spinach and water in the blender, blend until liquid.
  • add the mango, banana, kiwi, and ginger. Blend until smooth.

That’s it! If you prefer the smoothie to be cooler, you can freeze the banana and/or mango the night before. This smoothie is perfect in the morning as it has all the nutrients that you need to successfully start your day, and it’s delicious! No need to chug it as you whisper to yourself “this is healthy, this is good” (something that I used to do when my green smoothies did not turn out too well).

enjoy!

Marion ★

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VEGAN SPRING QUINOA SALAD

Here I am with yet another recipe!

As the weather is getting warmer, my meals are getting colder. I am back in Belgium for the summer now and we’ve had to deal with 30°C + weather for the past week. My mother ran out of ideas for meals acceptable in this heat, so I introduced her to my favourite spring/summer quinoa salad! An easy and nutritious meal I put together when I was too lazy to cook back in Edinburgh.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 salad tomatoes
  • half a cucumber
  • 1 red pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Salad mix (Iceberg lettuce, spinach, rocket,…)
  • 3 or 4 falafels (home-made or store bought, I used Cauldron Foods)
  • Hummus (I used Tesco’s Chilli Hummus)
  • 1 peeled and sliced apple or pomegranate seeds (if you enjoy the combination of sweet and savoury)
  • Pumpkin seeds

method

  • Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil, then add the cup of quinoa
  • Wash and cut all your veggies, then put them in a salad bowl
  • when the quinoa is ready mix it with the veggies

this is it! I’d recommend adding the seasoning, hummus, and falafel to your liking after serving. This recipe makes enough for two so I like to keep the leftovers in the fridge and eat it again later in the week. At that point there is nothing to cook or heat up so it’s super easy! It’s also great as a salad on the go. You could cook the quinoa the night before and keep it in the fridge overnight so making the salad the next day is super quick. I have made this on different occasions and still haven’t gotten tired of it!

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Enjoy!

Marion ★

 

VEGAN CREAMY MUSHROOM PASTA

After Monday’s serious article I am here today to share something much lighter, a delicious and creamy pasta sauce that I tried yesterday and fell in love with!

My cooking has been very boring this past month. I was so busy with writing essays and our annual dance show that cooking food had become more of a chore than something I enjoyed. Even after my essays and the show was done I still found myself eating junk because I couldn’t be bothered putting much effort into cooking. However, food is fuel and I could feel that I wasn’t fuelling my body properly; I felt tired, unmotivated, and just unhealthy in general. So this week I have decided to fix this and retrieve my love for cooking and eating well. I looked up recipes, did a proper food shopping, and got to work.

For some reason I found myself craving a creamy pasta sauce yesterday and as I realised that since becoming vegan I had only once made a béchamel, I thought that it was time to make one again. So here is a recipe of a pasta sauce that is quick and easy, and most importantly very tasty!

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Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 8 to 12 oz. sliced mushrooms (I used closed cup white mushrooms)
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • chopped fresh parley
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pasta of choice (I used spaghetti)

Method:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta (check packaging for time instructions).
  • Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms and minced garlic in a pan with olive oil until soft (4 to 5 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add a splash of olive oil and cook the flour for about one minute. Gradually add the milk and stir until smooth.
  • When you reach the desired consistency of your béchamel, add the mushroom and garlic mixture, salt and pepper, chopped parley, and lemon juice.
  • Drain the pasta and mix it with the sauce.

Voila! Easy, isn’t it? This is such a delicious and quick little recipe that I will definitely make and remake. Hope you like it!

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Marion ★

HOW TO STAY PASSIONATE ABOUT VEGANISM

Hi everyone!

As most of you may or may not know, I became vegan exactly one year ago now as I participated in The Great Vegan University Challenge organised by Animal Aid. I was vegetarian before but switched to a 100% vegan diet in February of 2016 as part of this challenge. It is similar to Veganuary but takes place in February and is organised for students all across the UK. After being vegan for one month I decided to keep it up as that was what I had wanted to do since deciding to become vegetarian and to my surprise, the switch was much easier than I had originally expected.

Although becoming vegan is one of the best decisions that I have ever made and I am currently the healthiest that I have ever been, after one year I have come across a few struggles and there were moments when I lost my motivation. This is a lifestyle after all, and you have to be passionate about it to stay happy about it. So here are a few tips to help you stay in love with this amazing lifestyle!

Stay educated.

There are new researches coming out every single day on the benefits of a plant based diet, the terrible consequences of the meat and dairy industry on global warming, and most importantly on the changes that are happening right now thanks to the rise of people choosing veganism. There are so many documentaries out there and new ones being made all the time. To stay passionate, you have to stay educated. You have to remind yourself every so often why you chose this and why you want to keep choosing this every single day.

Don’t say that you can’t, but that you won’t (normalise veganism).

When I first became vegan and people would offer me non-vegan foods I’d say “no thanks, I can’t eat that”. Truth is, I can eat it, I just choose not to. This may seem simple but just choosing your words more carefully and saying “I won’t eat that” instead of “I can’t eat that” helps you and others have a more positive mindset on your choices. Saying can’t is first of all is a lie, but also has a negative connotation and makes it seem like you’re restricting when you really aren’t. Saying won’t makes it obvious that this is your choice and that you are comfortable with that choice, which will make other people normalise it as well.

Never stop trying new recipes or restaurants.

If you are lucky enough to live in a vegan-friendly city, you will realise that new vegan places open every few months and that more and more chain restaurants are offering vegan dishes. Go and check them out! Also, do not forget to look up vegan recipes or buy new vegan cookbooks. To be vegan is to love food and to love cooking, you have to enjoy trying out new foods and places to stay excited about veganism.

Go to vegan events, volunteer at information stalls, meet people with the same interests.

Stay active in this community! Vegan festivals are happening every year all over the world, go to one and try new foods and meet new people. Go to talks, join vegan Facebook groups, volunteer, educate yourself on vegan organisations in your area, etc. Feeling a part of this community will definitely help you stay motivated about it. You could also even try activism!

Don’t beat yourself up on the days that you are not 100% vegan.

Do not restrict yourself, I repeat, do not restrict yourself. Restricting makes you unhappy, and we don’t want that. When veganism starts feeling like a restriction instead of a choice, then you have to change something. I am passionate about this lifestyle but I won’t lie, this past year there have been some days where I went back to being a vegetarian. Family parties are an example, at a marriage last summer and this Christmas I have eaten vegetarian simply because there were no vegan options and I had not prepared anything in advance. One of the first parties I went to I forced myself to only eat vegan and the consequence was that I basically starved myself all night, got a little too drunk as I was drinking the same amount of wine as everyone else, and I had a miserable time. So I told myself, fuck it, I can make this exception once or twice a year. Of course I do my best to eat vegan all the time, but I try not to beat myself up if I don’t.

Stay informed on nutrition. 

This is so important. To thrive on a plant based diet you have to know how much of what you need on a daily basis. Most ‘unsuccessful vegan stories’ are because the person in question was not informed on nutrition, they simply cut out animal products which is the unhealthiest thing you can do. You have to replace them, you have to know how to get your daily amount of protein, calcium, potassium, vitamins, iron, omega 3, and so on. Also don’t forget to take a vitamin B12 supplement as that it the only vitamin that does not exist in the plant kingdom. Meet up with a nutritionist and get your blood tested about twice a year. Be aware of your body, what it needs, and most importantly how to take care of it.

Remember, veganism is not only about food.

Most of these tips are based on food but veganism is so much more than that. It is about being against any type of cruelty towards animals. This is probably the most difficult transition to make; replacing your household products, beauty products, and clothes to vegan alternatives. Also not going to zoos, aquariums, or anything else that is using (and hurting) animals for humans entertainment. Staying educated on animal rights and cruelty-free products is important to feel good with your lifestyle choice. However,  know that it is almost impossible to be 100% vegan in that regard as we live in a world where most things contain animal products. Anyhow, making an effort to find vegan alternatives and staying educated already goes a long way.

Here’s a nice article I just found today on the progress of veganism, check it out!

Marion ★

MONTREAL // VEGAN FOOD

Bonjour!

As mentioned in my previous article I spent a week in the province of Quebec in Canada during the month of July. The main reason we went to Canada was to visit family, but that didn’t stop us from going around and enjoying this beautiful place as best as we could. As we had already been to Montreal a few years ago, this time we only spent two days in the actual city and the rest of the week we did more nature-related activities in the surrounding area. Even though we didn’t spend that much time in the city and mostly made our own food at home, I was still able to drag my two meat-eating parents to a couple of vegan places during our stay.

LA PANTHERE VERTE ★★★★

This is a chain restaurant offering delicious organic and local vegan food. There are five of them in the city, but we went to the one on Chemin Queen Mary. It has a very nice staff and lovely white and green interior with lost of plants (which is aways a win). As that one was very close to where we were staying, we went multiple times and I had the chance to try out different things. My favourites: BBQ tofu pita and the baloo berry smoothie.

website: http://thegreenpanther.com

LA LUMIERE DU MILE END ★★★

This is a vegetarian restaurant situated in the Mile End who also offers quite a few vegan dishes. It’s quite small but has such a great atmosphere. The woman who served us (and who may or may not have been the owner) was the kindest human being and you could tell she really loved what she was doing. For some reason I can’t seem to remember which burger I had, and to be completely honest it’s probably because it didn’t really stand out from everything else I ate that week. However, my father ordered the vegan pad thai and loved it! They also had a lot of coffees/teas/milkshakes which I unfortunately wasn’t able to try, but they definitely looked delicious.

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website: http://lalumieredumileend.com

If I find the courage I may write an article on everything that we did whilst in Quebec, but for now I hope you already enjoy this one!

Marion★

 

ED RECOVERY AND VEGANISM

Hi everyone!

This article is going to be a lot more personal but it is something that I have wanted to write about for a long time and in honour of mental health week (which was actually two weeks ago, it took a while to finish this article), it felt like a good time to finally share this with you.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I have only transitioned to a vegan diet last February but that I have been a vegetarian for almost a year now. However, since writing about vegetarianism/veganism I have never actually written an article about why I personally chose this lifestyle. I have mentioned the meat and dairy industry, which I find absolutely disgusting, but to be completely honest that was not the main reason for my dietary choice.

The main reason was my mental health.

DISCLAIMER: I am not trying to generalise eating disorders nor am I generalising veganism. I am not saying that switching to a vegan diet is the best way to recover and will cure your eating disorder, because it is not. It is helping me recover, yes, but it is not curing it in any way. Eating disorders are complex mental health issues that are different for every individual experiencing them and to truly recover takes so much more than a change of diet (e.g. therapy). This is my personal story, not a recovery guide. Thank you.

I will try not to bore you with my entire mental health story, mostly because there is just too much and because I still don’t feel 100% comfortable talking about it, so this article will only cover my struggle with food. Here goes.

I started dieting when I was twelve. Nothing harmful at first; I tried to eat more fruits and veggies, drink more water, excercise more, all the good stuff. Except that I was twelve, had a low self esteem, and consequentially became a bit too obsessed with the number on the scale. When I was thirteen and sick with a stomach bug I discovered the efficiency of self induced vomiting, so as my mental health got worse, I started using more and more unhealthy dieting methods as a coping mechanism. At that point it wasn’t even about losing weight anymore, it was about self destruction. A year later my parents found out and send me to a therapist. Four therapists later and a terrible relapse which made my parents and my best friend cry, I realised that my self destruction was everything but a self destruction. By hurting myself I was hurting everyone that was close to me and I couldn’t live with that, so I decided to genuinely do my best to recover (I was 16 going on 17 at that point). I found a new therapist and went to a nutritionist to get tested to see if anything was physically wrong with me. From my blood to the chemicals in my brain, everything pointed towards a slight depression: my dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline levels were lower that the average human being, but not low enough for antidepressants. So we decided to try it the natural way: a change of diet and supplements (iron, magnesium, omega 3, etc.) plus a tiny bit of lithium, in order to control the mood swings. That was it.

Then came my exchange year in the US. When I first started working on my application with AFS they told me that there was very little chance of me actually getting accepted into the program because of my struggles with my mental health. I worked extremely hard to cooperate in therapy and eat well in order to prove them that I was not a danger to myself anymore nor the people around me. It was exhausting, but it paid off. When I finally got accepted it made me the happiest person ever. However, there was one thing that terrified me about going to the US: gaining weight (I had already gained a healthy amount of weight back during my recovery, but I was nowhere near being fully recovered, so gaining more weight than was necessary frightened me). During the first month or so I tried not to eat too much but I quickly realised how sad that was making me. I was happy with my life in the US, the happiest I had been in years. I learned there that I did not need self destructive coping mechanisms to survive, I was fine without them. So I decided to educate myself on nutrition by watching documentaries and by joining a fitness class. If there was one thing that I had learned that past year was that taking care of your body also meant taking care of your mind.

By watching documentaries on nutriton I realised the health benefits of a vegan diet, this is when I decided that I wanted to reduce my animal product intake. Step by step though; first no meat or fish, then no milk, then no egss, and finally completely vegan. This transition took about nine months because it’s a transition that has to happen carefully. Going from an omnivorous to a herbivorous diet is not easy, and to not only survive but thrive on a plant based diet one must have a good enough knowledge of nutrition and how much of what the human body needs on a daily basis. This is why I tried to educate myself as much as I could before actually making the full transition.

Going from an eating disorder to veganism may seem like an radical switch, when you think about it they are complete opposites: one is extremely unhealthy, the other (if done right) is extremely healthy. One is centred around pain and destruction, the other on avoiding pain and destruction. One thing they have in common though, is the sense of control. My eating disorder was mainly about control over my food intake/weight/body because I couldn’t control anything else that was going on in my life. It was a sort of reassurance, knowing that I had this power. This is why for me becoming vegan was the best thing for my recovery: I still have that sense of control which helps me feel in control of everything else that is happening in my life, and I feel better about myself because I’m healthier and each day, on a vegan diet I save 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.

I’d be lying if I said that I was completely okay now, that I never find myself skipping a meal or crouched over the toilet anymore. I’m still recovering and I will be for a long time. Recovery is a slow, exhausting and painful process and as I said, a change of diet is not enough to recover from something as complex as an eating disorder. The good news though, is that I’m better. I haven’t had a drastic relapse in years and I haven’t been to therapy in a while either. I’m more comfortable with my body and am learning that self destruction is not the answer, that being healthy and compassionate is what’s going to make me happy.

Marion★

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VEGANISM AND “CHEATING”

Hey guys!

Sorry I haven’t been very active on here, I have been quite busy trying to figure things out and concentrate on my wellbeing. Anyways, I am doing better now and this is an article I thought about writing a while ago, so here we go!

Before becoming vegan I was aware of the fact that being fully vegan at all times was not going to be easy. I am very passionate about this lifestyle and I could never imagine eating meat or buying dairy products again simply because I could never support an industry that is hurting millions of animals and our planet on the daily.

However, this does not change the fact that our society is omnivorous; meat and dairy are everywhere. Going to a dinner party as a vegetarian was already difficult enough, never mind being vegan. I remember thinking that if I would go to a family dinner where the biggest part of the meal would be the meat and dairy (we have a cheese course for christ’s sake) I would probably partake in the consumption of the dairy. Yes, it would go against my morals but at least I would not be starving myself. Also, I would not have payed for it myself so technically I would not actually be supporting the industry, right? Also let’s not forget that accidents happen; wether you forget to the check the label, are at a dinner party where you have no other option, or maybe you are just craving milk chocolate, everyone who is vegan has probably ‘cheated’ at some point.

Here is something you should know about cheating on your vegan diet: it is okay.

A friend of mine once told me that she was interested in becoming a vegetarian but she did not think that she could do it 24/7, I remember telling her not to worry, there is no vegan God that will punish you if you eat an animal product once in a while. Research has shown that even just reducing your meat and dairy intake makes a huge difference.

Personally, I prefer being fully vegan because at this point I am too aware of what happens behind the scenes to ever feel comfortable supporting this industry. Also, I have realised that my body simply does not accept dairy products anymore. I have only been vegan since February but in these three and a half months I have accidentally eaten dairy again a couple of times and every time I have gotten physically sick, which consequentially has made me even more grossed out by these foods.

However, this is just me and does not mean that everybody should transition to a 100% vegan diet to make a difference. Of course it would be nice, but it is simply not realistic. Reducing your meat and dairy intake or sometimes cheating on your vegan diet is completely okay and already makes a huge difference.

My point is: first of all, to all the omnivores who are aware of the damage this industry is causing but say that they ‘don’t think they could ever become vegan’ I say: that is okay, you do not have to become fully vegan right now in order to make a difference, this is not a black and white issue. Reducing your meat and dairy consumption is already a lot so please just try it, it is really that easy. Secondly, to the  vegans who sometimes feel like cheating or have (accidentally) cheated: don’t feel bad about it. You are already making a huge difference and saving a lot of animals. It is all right to give into cravings sometimes and it is all right to make mistakes. But never forget why you are doing this and what made you go vegan in the first place.

I just felt like this was something worth talking about, so there you go.

BYEEE

Marion★