A few weeks ago you guys might remember I was a guest speaker at a Raw Food and Juice Masterclass at The Core in Old Town here where I live.

It was an amazing opportunity for me to talk about the subject I am most passionate about and answer your questions about my journey and experience with veganism! I was also taking part in a 30 day raw food challenge (Rawgust) at the time, so it worked out perfectly!

It was a fantastic event and it was great to answer questions about raw food and veganism, and hopefully inspire the people who attended the event to make more healthy and ethical choices in their day to day lives.

I also made 2 of my favourite raw dishes – a courgette noodle & macadamia nut pesto dish, and an avocado chocolate mousse!

I hope any of you who came enjoyed it and if anyone who lives locally would be interested in other events like this, get in touch.

Here is a little snap shot into what went on at the event:

Thank you to Ottr. for filming the event and creating this beautiful video, as well as taking these gorgeous photographs.

   

Going vegan was honestly the best decision I have ever made in my life from a health perspective. I have documented by initial transition to veganism on my blog before, but now I have been vegan for over a year and a half, the benefits and value of the change is even more evident and I wanted to share this with you guys.

As you may know, I suffered really badly from IBS for around 13 years. It came on suddenly when I was 13 and I didn’t ever have longer than a week or 2 in that 13 year period where I didn’t suffer from an IBS attack of some sort. I was FOREVER taking Imodium after meals as a precautionary measure, I wouldn’t go to an event or leave the house without it in my bag in case I needed it. I took indigestion tablets all the time, I avoided eating if I thought my gut would be bad a particular day, I had to be selective with what I ate if I was out socialising. And I had my fair share of embarrassing and awkward attacks, not to mention incredibly painful, draining, stressful, unhealthy and frustrating occurrences.

I felt trapped by it. But also had this underlining acknowledgment that that’s just how it was with food and I needed to live with it.

The shortened version of this story is that I decided to eat plant based for 4 weeks to ‘cleanse’ before I reintroduced foods to try and see what was causing the main issues. But those 4 weeks were transformational and I didn’t have one single IBS attack. Not only that, the benefits I felt were life changing and I didn’t feel the need to reintroduce any animal products. This was also teamed with learning a huge amount about the production of animal products and the ethical and environmental impacts of this, so for me, I went vegan overnight and have never looked back.

The benefits were both observable and measurable and I was blown away by the results.

The main changes I experienced were:

–          Less sleep (I now average 6 hours a night)

–          Increased energy – I experienced such a boost in my energy. I feel such energy for life and I’m rarely tired in the evening or even before bed

–          Weight loss – I dropped a stone in the first year

–          Improved skin – my skin improved dramatically

–          Improved digestion – my insides are healthier than ever, I don’t suffer from any stomach or gut issues

–          Mental wellbeing – this isn’t a fluffy benefit, it is 100% a tangible benefit of going vegan. My self-confidence and self love noticeably increased, when you are challenged on your views quite regularly you reallllyyyy get comfortable in your skin pretty fast! In addition, my compassion increased hugely – this is natural when you connect with others, appreciate the earth and accept animals as co-inhabitants of our earth rather than commodities for us to use, believe me, your compassion and connection to others is life altering

–          Improved patience – being vegan can sometimes be challenging especially when your views are scrutinised, added to a frustration of your close friends and family quite often not sharing the same views as you – so my patience has increased massively and I would like to think I’m a lot more understanding of other people’s views.

 Going vegan gave me back my alignment to the earth, nature, animals and my health. It really is life changing.

If you would like more information from a health perspective, I would recommend watching Forks Over Knives and What The Health on Netflix.

Photos by Ottr. 

Throughout August I decided to challenge myself to eat raw vegan for a full month (aptly named Rawgust).  Whilst completing the challenge I got quite a few questions from you guys about the process and foods I was eating, and so I thought it would be helpful to answer them in an FAQ style post!

So here goes:

What does raw vegan mean?

Eating raw means consuming nothing that has been heated above 42 degrees c (118F). So lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, salads, smoothies etc.

What are the benefits of eating raw food?

I have done a whole blog post on this which you can find at the bottom of this post.

What did you eat?

Lots and lots of fresh fruit and veggies! Salads, lettuce wraps, dips, courgette noodles, sauces, crackers, pickles, juices, smoothies, shakes, dehydrated foods, raw desserts – the list goes on. Although initially I found the diet a little restrictive as I felt like I was cutting a lot out, by the end of week 1 I found eating so easy and all my meal prep was under 10 minutes!

I would also recommend taking snacks wherever you go! Bananas, dates, nuts, avocados, crackers – anything that you can reach for if you need something to eat at short notice.

Can you eat hummus?

Unfortunately no. Hummus is made from chickpeas and tahini which are both cooked, however I made an amazing raw hummus from cashews, raw tahini & sundried tomatoes – you can find the recipe here.

Can you eat tofu?

Nope. It’s processed and cooked.

Did you lose weight?

Yep I lost weight but I also ate more food than I normally would! So I didn’t lose weight because I was restricting myself in anyway. I lost around half a stone in 31 days.

Can you drink tea/coffee?

I think it’s really up to you where you draw the line, but I opted to only drink peppermint tea and cut out soy milk (as it’s processed and heated) – I also wanted to cut out caffeine. Coffee is generally roasted, so I avoided this too, although I’m not a big coffee drinker anyway.

My adding a tea bag to water just under boiling you’re stewing the dried leaves rather than cooking them, so herbal teas are just find!

Can you eat oil?

Yes! Just make sure it’s cold pressed oil!

Did you miss warm food?

Initially yes, but after the first week no. I felt like my diet was really varied so I didn’t get bored of anything I was eating. If I needed something warm I would have a tea or hot water.

But another trick is to stir warm water into soups and sauces or pour it over courgette noodles to warm them slightly. The trick is just not too hot and make sure you’re not actually cooking anything.

What did you miss the most?

Tofu, beans, cooked spinach, steamed broccoli, potato, pizza.

How did you manage 31 days?

You can see my weekly updates below. But a lot of willpower and amazingly supportive friends, family and boyfriend also played a huge part. 

What was the hardest part?

I felt limited going out for dinner – or I felt like this could have been a limitation if following a completely raw diet. I find eating vegan out really easy, but raw dishes tend to be limited to salad. 

Also people thinking it’s next level weird to just eat raw food. But hey, you do you!

Do you need any special equipment?

The short answer is no – you can easily eat raw with no special equipment. However to make things more interesting and to ensure you’re getting an many vitamins and minerals as possible, I would recommend have juices and smoothies each day. I used my juicer and NutriBullet almost daily – this included making sauces and dips as well. I also used my spiralizer to make vegetable noodles – mine was £5 from TKMaxx, so it really wasn’t expensive and allowed me to make more creative dishes.

Can you eat peanut butter?

Nut butters tend to be roasted, so I bought a selection of raw nut butters by Raw Health which were delicious.

Did you go to the bathroom all the time?

This was the question I potentially got the most! I’m not going into detail, but let’s just say everything was very healthy and I felt cleansed on the inside. But no, I didn’t spend the month hovering around the bathroom.

Did you drink alcohol?

I personally did drink alcohol yes, around once a week.

To read about my raw challenge, hit the links below:

Rawgust Week 1

Rawgust Week 2

Rawgust Week 3

Rawgust Week 4

Photos by Ottr.Works.

Week 4.

We’re in the final week and last few days of my month long raw vegan challenge! I’ve eaten raw for 29 days today! I’m going to do a round up post with all the cool questions I’ve got from you guys about Rawgust when I’ve completely finished the challenge, so watch this space.

This week has by far been the easiest week – it has flown by, I’ve really enjoyed the food and I’m completely in the flow of eating raw. I’m not even particularly craving cooked food – it just hasn’t been something that I’ve been thinking about which I think definitely shows how quickly habits can be changed and behaviour adapted.

I also ate out this week and managed to piece together a salad at Pizza Express that I could eat – I’ll admit, it really wasn’t the best. Homemade salads are SO much better and varied – it comprised of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and peppers. Bassssic. And it was £11.

It really made me realise how much cooked food is part of our society and how unusual it is to eat raw – even when salads are offered in restaurants they tend to have grains, beans, vegetables etc in them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ALL for a salad – but it would be great to see more raw foods on our restaurant menus, especially given the health benefits.

So let’s hit it again with the benefits:

My skin has been the clearest it has been in 8 months – and 2 people have actually told me my skin is glowing. I’m over the moooon at this change. I’ve been really suffering with my skin for the last few months and I can’t believe what an impact diet has had. I believe I eat quite a naturally healthy vegan diet normally – I avoid junk and sugar wherever I can, and eat lots of whole plant foods, but clearly raw food has an extra level of nutrients that I perhaps wasn’t achieving before. It could also be because I’ve introduced lots of juice into my diet, consisting of mostly vegetable juice – I’m drinking about 1 litre of juice a day on average.

My energy levels are way up.

My appetite is less than normal, which could be taken either way – it isn’t necessarily a positive, but if weight loss was your goal, this could be seen as a benefit as I’m not constantly thinking about food.

I’ve also noticed a difference in the price of my food shop – you can get a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables for your money compared with foods you typically cook. I think there can be a misconception that eating vegan is an expensive way to live, but if you consider the price of meat and dairy products, it is the complete reverse. I noticed a big dip in the cost of my food shops after going vegan; a block of tofu costs on average £2.50. A packet of chicken at least £6.

I would say weight loss slowed down this week, which is a good thing (you’re welcome back any time boobs!). Eating raw has been satiating as I’m always full after meals, but with the benefit of losing weight and having a flatter stomach at the same time. I find diet plans SO frustrating – go vegan and watch the weight drop without limiting calories throughout the day!

I have loved experiencing Rawgust and I’m really proud of myself for sticking to it and cleansing my body in the most natural and healthy way. I feel like it will be an annual thing (if not more frequent) and I will definitely take forward all the things I have learnt about raw food and keep a consistent level within my diet and routine from this point onwards.

You can catch the full Rawgust journey here:

Rawgust Week 1

Rawgust Week 2

Rawgust Week 3