The Accidental Vegan
In this third and final instalment, Anna Mansell's relationship-evolution with her body and her food is coming to an end. You may remember that she started out a few months ago with intuitive eating, she then hit a blip of self-consciousness thanks to a swimming pool changing room. Now she's in a place she never saw coming - living life as a vegan! (Minus the odd Yorkshire pudding...)
The Accidental Vegan
by SWS guest writer, Anna Mansell
The accidental “vegan”.
Well, I didn’t see that coming. There I was (un)happily working hard on my relationship with food, with my body, with everything I’ve fought for almost my entire forty years, and out of the blue came a shift in unexpected form.
A friend posted something about a month-long vegan challenge. Having toyed with the concept for a long while now, I thought, ‘sure, I’ll give that a go, how hard can it be? It’s only for a month.’
That was two months ago. I’m still off meat and dairy. And you know something, I feel… amazing! I sleep better, I have more energy, my hormones are better balanced, my mood swings have abated, I feel… amazing! I’ve lost a very small amount of weight, but more importantly, I don’t care. Because I feel… amazing! My relationship to food has completely changed and I like it. I am cooking from scratch, something I’ve neglected to do for a long time. I crave vegetables… weird, but true. I look at food as fuel, I don’t judge what I’m eating by its calories, more by whether it’s what I fancy eating. Am I hungry? What’s in the fridge? What can I cook? What can I experiment with and, will the children eat it? (The answer to that last question is often, no. I may have ruined it the night I cooked them ‘Wings and chips’, the exact description on the recipe. Barbecue sauce, chips, and wings made of broccoli! Well, I liked them. I digress).
So was this the answer all along? Radically change my diet to radically change my relationship to food? Probably not, and I’m not suggesting it’s the solution for everyone. But for some reason, it’s worked for me.
Now, please know that this is not one of those posts in which I judge anyone who is reading this over a ham sandwich and a bag of Cheese and Onion crisps. Unless you’re eating Ham with Piccalilli. Nobody needs that. No, I’m not like an ex smoker, or a smug married, or a distant aunty who pretends not to groan when you top up your glass with your third Christmas sherry. I don’t care what anyone chooses to eat or drink in their life. I still cook meat for the family… not as often as I did, but I’m not averse to it for them, I just won’t partake. If you ask me if I’m vegan, I’ll say no. Whilst I’ve cut out all meat, and I’ve pretty much cut 95% of dairy out of my diet, I confess that – like vegetarians who waver over the smell of Bacon – I waver over a decent Yorkshire pudding. I’ve talked obsessively about them for years. I pride my Sunday dinner on a decent Yorkshire. I get withdrawal symptoms if I’ve not had them for longer than a week, and I’ve yet to nail the Vegan alternative. Also, I live on a Dairy Farm. A gorgeous dairy farm with a few hundred, beautiful cows. They’re well looked after, they’re cared for, they graze the land 90% of the year and when they don’t it’s because the conditions for land and beast are not good enough. I respect the farmer and his livelihood. My beef… as it very much were… is not with those farming or consuming meat with respect.
In fact, I’ve no beef with anyone, myself included, if living with respect. And that’s something I’ve not given myself for many years. I know I’m not alone, and I’m certainly not declaring myself out of that zone forever, each day at a time. One step. Start again when I forget. But for today, I choose to respect myself, my body and my choices. It just happens that to do that, my diet unexpectedly changed. The accidental vegan… now there’s a book title, if ever I heard one!
Thank you so much for taking us through your journey, Anna!
Anna has been keeping us updated with her progress with intuitive eating as the months go on, and she's really interested to know your thoughts - have you given this a go? Did it work for you, and help you feel better about yourself (about life)? Have you been inspired by anybody through social media that's made you come around to a body positive way of thinking?
You can keep up with Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMansell, Facebook: /AnnaMansellAuthor or Instagram: MrsAnnaM, or buy her awesome books, The Lost Wife and How To Mend A Broken Heart, over on her Amazon page.