My vegan-ish experiment.

by Tara Fitness

Ok, let me throw the truth on the table right now… I still eat meat.


In 2016, I discovered I had a list of food intolerances longer than Santa’s naughty list – at least it felt that way. Suddenly, I could no longer eat 24 foods that were a staple of my diet and had been for most of my life.

The normal culprits were all there – wheat (not gluten, wheat), spelt, rye, dairy, eggs, peanuts and soy.

Plus a few unusual additions – bananas, pineapple, mushrooms, green beans, and kidney beans.

To say ‘I was devastated’ is an understatement.’

Add meat and a few more vegetables, and you’ve listed 90% of my diet.

Suddenly, I had to remove all of these foods from my fridge and still eat. The problem, I don’t see food as fuel.

I love cooking and I see every meal as an experience.

Little Johnny, taking pride of place as the first name on Santa’s naughty list, took my favourite cookbook and burnt it.

The first 6 months were incredibly difficult.

I’d finally gone to the doctor because I had excruciating stomach cramps so bad I couldn’t stand up straight. So when I got ‘the list’, I committed to removing all of it from my diet. If it could be causing the pain, it had to go.

Since then, I’ve been slowly adding foods back into my diet to see what I can cope with.

But sometimes I slip, like a few weeks ago when I ate wheat and dairy 5 days in a row.

→ Burger with cheese

→ Crepes with ice cream

→ Sandwich with cheese

→ Apple turnover with fresh cream

→ Pastie with creamy mash

At the time, I really enjoyed the indulgence. I’ll spare the gory details, but the following week wasn’t so nice. Importantly, I realised it’s so easy to slip into old habits and keep choosing food that’s bad for me.

I’ve been watching some vegan nutritionists on YouTube lately…

After my recent binge and subsequent fallout, I decided it’s time to step outside my comfort zone again and take some drastic action. The problem, google ‘healthy food’ or ‘high protein foods’ or ‘best post-workout foods’ and the lists are packed full of dairy, eggs, soy, peanut and wheat.

When I’m looking for an appropriate tasty treat, I go for the ‘gluten-free’ and ‘vegan’ option, because I know I’m generally pretty safe. Then it dawned on me… why can’t I take a leaf out of a vegan cookbook?

It took a little while to find the right mentor.

After swiping left on a few tofu laden YouTube profiles, I stumbled upon Simnett Nutrition.

Finally, a vegan who consistently doesn’t build most meals around tofu and meat substitutes!

After watching a few ‘what I eat in a day’ videos, I had a bucket full of healthy, tasty ideas.

So I wrote a two-week dinner menu, with 5 of the meals containing no meat.

That’s why I said vegan-ish… 5 meat-free meals in a fortnight is a huge change for us.

After 2 weeks:

I’m really enjoying eating more vegetables and adding side salads to most meals. I feel more energetic and alert, and I’m sleeping better. Last week, my 3 workouts felt amazing.

I was worried about how many carbs I was eating so I tracked my calories and macros for a few days. I’m not getting as much protein as I normally would, but I’m also eating fewer calories than normal. Last week we had risotto, a pasta dish and baked potatoes. On each of those days, I ate around 1500 calories. The best part, I felt completely satisfied with that amount.

The only downside I’ve noticed so far is it’s taken a while for my digestive system to get used to the increased fibre intake. I’ve been conscious to increase my water intake though, and this has helped.

Moving forward:

Based on the last two weeks, I plan to continue eating more whole foods and making 2-3 vegan meals per week. I can’t ever see myself giving up meat for good, but at this stage, I feel I’d be relatively happy to forgo dairy and eggs from here on in providing I can indulge on the odd round of baked brie.

But hey, three years ago I was devasted by the thought of giving up gluten and eggs. So, I guess time will tell.

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