My name is Lindsay and for my day job I work in marketing, communications and business development, but in my free time I write a blog called Leicester Veggie where I post reviews of local vegan-friendly restaurants and occasional plant-based recipes I love to cook at home.
How long have you been eating plant based foods and what made you get into plant foods?
I started the transition from a vegetarian diet to a plant-based diet in February 2014 and am now fully vegan. I had been vegetarian on and off most of my life, with a few periods of meat-eating as a teenager and young adult. My decision to embrace plant based foods fully was initially for health reasons - I had watched the movie Forks over Knives which was really powerful, and I had also seen how much my mom and her partner had benefited from a whole-food, plant-based diet. My mom’s partner is an ER doctor in the US, and his health has improved so much that he now extols the virtues of this way of eating to people that he treats.
With all that being said, while it was initially for health reasons, today I stick to plant based foods for the animals. When I was a vegetarian I had no idea that dairy cows suffered just as much (if not more) than cows raised for meat. And when I discovered that baby chicks are killed because they’re a by-product of the egg industry, my heart just broke.
Do you like making food and what are your favourite foods?
I love love love to cook. I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen, but it wasn’t until I became a vegan that I started to feel really inspired. It started through my mission to recreate all my favourite non-vegan dishes and now I am constantly researching and testing out new meal ideas to keep things interesting. Some of my favourite go-to dishes include miso soba noodle bowls, tacos of any kind (potato, jackfruit, roasted veg, etc), lasagne, curries…. We eat very well in this house!
Describe your day with plant foods.
For breakfast I almost always have my favourite of avocado on toast. I mix this up sometimes by adding different toppings such as tofu, cress, sautéed mushrooms, etc. I also have the occasional bowl of porridge with almond milk and fruit.
For lunch I either have leftovers from dinner the night before, or I make courgetti (also known as zoodles or courgette noodles) with pasta sauce and sautéed mushrooms. But if it’s hot I’ll keep it simple with a salad.
For dinner I try to make something different every night of the week. I love soup, so we usually have some type of soup a few nights a week (miso, tomato and red pepper, carrot and red lentil, etc.). I also make a lot of Mexican food which I miss from my native Arizona. And of course we eat out a fair bit – but purely for the sake of my blog ;)
What’s your favourite kitchen tool/gadget?
I love my spiralizer. I eat courgetti all the time, so I get great mileage out of it. It basically turns any vegetable into long, thin noodles, so you can use them in place of traditional spaghetti in pasta dishes, or you can eat them raw in a salad. My second favourite utensil is my food processor – which is essential in any plant-based kitchen.
What one food could you not live without and which food do you miss the most since switching to plant based foods?
I don’t think I could live without avocados - what a depressing thought! At every stage of my evolving diet I have missed one type of food or another for a little while. When I went vegetarian it was chicken, and going vegan it was eggs. I was never a big cheese-eater, so that wasn’t a problem, but I do still occasionally miss the odd poached egg. Luckily cravings disappear over time, and I’ve certainly noticed that has been the case for me. Plus, while I wouldn’t normally advocate eating processed foods, there are some great meat and cheese alternatives out there for when you find yourself craving those types of dishes.
What do you consider the most important foods in your diet and why?
I wouldn’t say there is one specific, particular food that’s the most important, but all are important in general. I think it’s essential to get variation in your diet so you get all the vitamins, protein and minerals your body requires. An easy way to do this is look at the colors of your food and try to “eat the rainbow” every day. I also try to make sure I incorporate good, whole grains into my diet along with protein-rich foods such as nuts and legumes.
Would you say you look and feel more healthy?
I would say yes. I haven’t noticed a huge change, but then again I was already eating a mostly plant-based diet even when I was a vegetarian. The biggest change for me has been psychologically; I feel so much better knowing that no animals had to suffer for my palate.
How has eating plant foods changed you?
I would like to hope it has made me a more compassionate person at most, and a better cook at least!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting into plant based foods.
Just go for it! Arm yourself with knowledge – there is so much out there - and jump right in. Don’t worry if you slip up in the beginning - it’s easy to be hard on yourself but remember that by adopting a plant-based diet you are improving your health, helping the environment and eliminating needless animal suffering. I would also recommend joining a local vegan group and getting active on Twitter – the online community is incredibly supportive. This will sound a bit hippie-ish - but just listen to your body and enjoy the journey!