I am always reading about diet and health. What really has compelled me is my belief in the philosophy that environmental factors play such a huge part in our ongoing health. It is simple for me really. What we consume, inhale, absorb, etc effects our health and we can control that as little or as much as we can fit into our daily lives.
I feel blessed living in Australia as we have beautiful outdoor spaces to exercise in, positive and young restraunteurs pioneering new food culture and plenty of Vitamin D! After travelling for so long I am so grateful to live in a country where we can get access to the best produce at any time of the year right on your doorstep. That is not a luxury all of the world has.
I have read many health & wellbeing books, all with different schools of thought behind nutrition. Some of my favourites are: Nutrition & Physical Degeneration (Weston Price), Deep Nutrition (Catherine Shanahan), Wild Fermentation (Sandor Ellix Katz), The Omnivores Dilemma (Michael Pollen) and The China Study.
All these books explore different diets but focus heavily on the idea of keeping your food as simple as possible. The last book, The China Study, explores the links between the biggest human diseases and diet based on the research and findings of Colin T Campbell, a prominent American nutritional scientist. His book makes some confronting suggestions for long term health which buck the status quo as well as looking at why many of the ideas are not being communicated to the community. I highly recommend it, if only to challenge your thinking and keep you questioning what you eat and why.
The overall message of the book is that a plant based, whole foods diet is proven to be scientifically significant in reducing all major diseases of death in the US including cancer, heart disease and more.
This book has caused quite a stir in the scientific community with scientists, nutritionists, health advocates and the like – taking the book very seriously due to the rigorous procedures in producing and analysing the data. In my opinion, never has a more compelling book been written against the status quo.
It hasn’t been received well by everyone though, Denise Minger (a nutritional blogger) wrote a scathing article which Colin T Campbell schooled her on ever so elegantly. Read it for a bit of entertainment.
Now i’m not one to believe everything that you read in nutrition books, otherwise I think all i’d have left to eat would be dust, but I do appreciate the mountains of data and long term research which supports the findings and the down to earth and simple way in which the author explains it. Long story short, if you believe it, vegan is in and the carnivorous life is out. Simple as that right? Well not really.
If you are from the Western world like me I would assume a vast majority of you have grown up like me, eating meat and dairy your whole life so a transition to a vegan diet would be rather extreme. And in saying that, I do like to put into action the ideas that I formulate after reading a variety of texts and conduct my own experiments! As a result I have been committing to a mostly animal free diet over the recent months to see how my body, inside and out, responds. Okay the last few weeks haven’t been easy (I am in Italy after all!) but I do it as much as I possibly can.
I’m not saying that if I go to a cafe and they don’t have Soy, that I will go without my coffee or if there is butter on my toast I will send it back (C’mon, I’m a Macadame), i’ve just been cutting it out in all areas I have total control of without denying myself my guilty pleasures. I still tried Traditional Spaghetti Bolognaise and I do still treat myself to the occasional plate of ribs, bacon & eggs or gelati (at the moment I am on the hunt for Italy’s best gelati), but I’ve definitely significantly cut down.
At home (currently a camper van) I’ve been trying to cook completely vegan and have had a lot of fun discovering new recipes and creative ways to replicate my favourite foods animal-free. I also discovered a great cook book released by the daughter of the author of The China Study, although I haven’t actually used it, it could be a good start for those contemplating this sort of diet.
So far I can honestly say I do feel better, my skin is clearer and I am sleeping better than I have ever before. That could be down to the fact that I am currently on holiday or a serious placebo effect, but I am happy none the less and enjoying this new exploration in cooking. I will note though I have found it incredibly difficult while travelling to get enough vegetables/plant protein into my diet and I have been relying far too heavily on carbohydrates for energy, so I am interested to see once I am home and have access to a full kitchen the challenges in ensuring a fully balanced nutritional diet.
You will see more and more vegan recipes coming from me as I explore what is, and isn’t possible, when cooking without animal products. Please feel free to suggest things as I am up for a challenge! My first task I want to master when I return home is cheese! I have seen some great aged cashew cheeses and am going to explore nut cheeses myself but my ultimate goal is to replicate the creamy flavour and texture of Tiramasu, but for vegans! Not possible you say? I love a good challenge.
If you are on the same journey as me, or have any thoughts on any of the books I have mentioned, I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s always great to discuss these complex ideas with people and get a wide range of perspectives.
Anisa – The Macadames. xx