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The best of VegFest London – in my (ever so not) humble opinion!

So this weekend, I spent most of my weekend inside part of the Olympia exhibition centre in West London at the first London Veg Fest – http://london.vegfest.co.uk/

It was a huge event, with loads of stalls covering lots of topics from Raw Food and Vegan Meet Ups to Urban Foxes and Vegan Ice Cream plus everything In between.  Two food theatres for demos, two cinemas, discussion areas, talks, and a kids zone.  Even a bicycle powered smoothie maker – damn, I should have taken a pic of that!

The event was attended by almost 10,000 people over the weekend and showcased the best in vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and products with some music and comedy thrown in.

Why did I go? 

Since starting on my plant-based journey to improve my health, I wanted to see what else is “out there” in terms of plant-based nutrition in the UK, as much of my contact and experience has been with the plant-based community in the US.  I also wanted to do some research for my blog.

What did I find?

I found a wide diversity of offerings as i said earlier.  I found very little specifically “no-added fat, whole-food, plant-based nutrition”, which really surprised and disappointed me.  I think that maybe because we already have strong veggie and vegan communities here in the UK, and that the research into how plant-based eating can improve your health, has mainly been conducted from the USA.

What was good?

There were many good things about the event.  One of the best for me was talking to other attendees about their reasons for attending.  They all seemed to be enjoying the event and getting a lot out of it.

I found many people passionate about their products or what they are doing and here are my highlights….

  • Inspiral -who are a North London eco cafe/bar and create the yummiest kale chips – http://www.inspiralled.net/
  • Nama – Another North London business, this time a raw food company with delicious sweet treats http://www.namafoods.com/#
  • Chad Sarno – A terrific highly skilled chef who is taking plant-based culinary education to the next level through Rouxbe.com.  I learned a lot from watching his demos, which hopefully will show in my upcoming recipes.  Find out more about this man at http://chadsarno.com/
  • Another passionate chef – This time the adorable Rebecca Kane who presented some delicious raw food recipes in her cheeky and engaging style- http://www.shineonraw.com/
  • The Heavenly Cake Company – A South London team, from Sunny Sydenham, making the most amazing and delicious cakes from wholewheat spelt flour which are egg free, dairy free, gluten free and sugar free!  I loved their work so much, that i bought Mr G a Red Velvet Cake which he is devouring with relish!  www.TheHeavenlyCakeCompany.co.uk
  • Sutra Kitchen – London’s first veggie and vegan cooking school.
  • Muscolo di grano – Roast Wheat  – I am not one for fake meats but this is good and low in fat too. They make the most delicious “wheat meat”.  Basically it is Wheat+Lentils=Italian Culinary Genius.  I make my own wheat meat, but this is just superb.  www.muscolodigrano.com
  • Livesey Bros – Fungi Fusions – a great company providing amazing mushrooms.  They sell mushroom packs such as the Quattro Fungi – for dishes like risottos & pasta, Fungi Wok – for stir fries and oriental cuisine and Fungi Ensalada – for Mediterranean dishes.  see www.mushroommeals.co.uk
  • Alara – A company selling organic, gluten free and fair trade Porridge, Muesli & Granola and a range of superfoods.  www.alara.co.uk
  • The lovely ladies behind Ladle & Larder produce amazing chutneys.  http://ladleandlarder.co.uk/

So…of all of the people i met, who did I rate the highest?

Drum-roll, please….

In 3rd place: Ladle and Larder, for products that are tasty and healthy.

In 2nd Place: The Heavenly Cake Company – who are making products that are not only delicious treats but good for you too!

In 1st Place: Chef Chad Sarno who is bringing plant-based nutrition to a wider audience!

Thanks VegFest London – See you next year!

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Depressed man

Eat Plants to help beat depression?

So many people experience depression to varying degrees in their lives. Personally, I’ve experienced mood swings and fairly regular bouts of “being down”. I had one major episode , many years ago brought on by stress at work and being bullied by a particularly horrid boss.

I am fortunate that I have not experienced long periods of depression or the severe effects of the condition. Many people do have a terrible time with what is often an easy condition to cover up. which means people suffering in silence. I recall that when I had my bad time and talked about it, I was hugely surprised by all the people around me who said that they too had had similar experiences.

Whilst there are lots of options to address the symptoms of depression, doctors typically reach for a prescription pad and prescribe a pill.

What if we could reduce the impact of depression on the individual through diet?

Take a look at Dr Greger’s latest summary of the research in this area and please share it with friends and family.

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/improving-mood-through-diet/

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More healthy options….a good thing? Take a look at this article

I just read this article and have to say that it comes as no surprise that the Fast Food Chains are now adding healthy options to their menus:

http://kevindenny.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/vicarious-goal-fulfillment-healthy-menu-options-can-have-the-wrong-effect/

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Excited? Well I am…. A New Plantalicious Blog

I am chuffed to announce that we will shortly be launching an entirely new version of my blog – this will go live soon.  Thanks to a lot of hard work by the very wonderful techno wizard – Mr Tim Groves  (If you want any web-design work done – Please contact Tim – He is a genius and has done wonders with the new Plantalicious).

Do not worry – all of your favourite content will still be there.  (In fact, it is just as well, as so often now, I have to consult the blog myself, as I cannot remember a particular recipe – the perils of old age).  Once the new new site is live you will be automatically re-directed.

Additionally –

  • The blog will have a new professional look, with much better navigation.
  • It will work on mobiles and tablets easily.
  • The recipes and videos will be re-organized and will have a much more professional and easy to use layout.
  • There will be a lot more photography – as we eat with the eyes, and I want you to see what the dishes should look like.
  • The site will be linked to separate Facebook and Twitter accounts specifically for Plantalicious (so you get what you want and not the musings of Barry James Honeycombe)!

Finally, and what I am most excited about, is that the site will give us the opportunity to create a “Plantalicious Community”.  What is one of those? You may ask! It will be whatever we make it.  What I hope,  is that we can create a supportive and sharing environment where we can share recipes and tips as well as our experience of living a whole-food plant-based nutrition lifestyle.

As you may know, my goal is to share my journey and to inspire and help others to change their health destiny for the better and these site developments are designed to help me achieve exactly those goals.

I do want to thank you for all of your support to date.  I hope that you will continue to join in and be part of Plantalicious as it would not be much point my sitting here cooking and blogging if no-one ever read, noticed and shared what I did.

As you can tell, I’m excited about these developments and want to thank Mr Tim Groves again.  Thanks also to my wonderful and talented cousin, Glynis Smy http://glynissmyauthor.com/ who kindly set up the initial Plantalicious Blog for me.  Last but by no means least, Mr G who came up with the name Plantalicious in the first place and who not only provides his love and support, putting up with me, he also eats most of my output as a cook!

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VegFest London – Is this why Plant-based foods and Vegan Food have a bad name?

One of the joys of being at Veg Fest was that I could sample foods on the stalls and from the cookery demos.

Highlights for me included the raw food cooking demos of Rebecca Kane and Chad Samo.

Despite the taste tidbits on offer it got to a point in the day when my breakfast smoothie was a long distance memory and I needed some healthy delicious fuel to get me through the rest of my day.

I was in the right place, with a huge choice of stalls selling a wide variety of options for lunch. But what to have?

There was a burger stall selling good smelling veggie burgers but with deep fried chips. Hmmm. Not for me. They may be cooked in vegetable oil but they are still unhealthy. I decided on a vendor to try (who shall remain nameless) and I ordered a wrap containing a delicious sounding mix of butternut squash, tofu, spinach etc. It sounded great and at. £6 seemed reasonable.

What I was handed was a damp cold wrap filled with the meanest serving of bland and unseasoned tepid vegetables. It had virtually no flavour and would not have sustained a mouse. It came garnished with a napkin and “Eco” biodegrade able fork. I ate it and say there feeling that I’d wasted my £6.

A little later I was still hungry as the wrap had failed to satisfy.

I looked about for another item to satisfy my hunger and decided to avoid the “faux foods” of burgers and sausages which on investigation seemed to contain high levels of both fat and salt.

This time I choose a melange of veggies assembled into a croquette or ball. It sounded lovely. I sat down at my plastic pic-nic table and unwrapped my prospective lunch item. I took a bite and my heart sank. This concoction was damp and dull. It might have been better baked and served hot. Maybe I missed the point and should have taken it home and reheated it, but it was so unappetising that I left 2/3 of it.

Is it me, did I just make bad choices or were these items examples of how difficult people find it to make plant-based or vegan food healthy, tasty and filling? Am I asking too much?

I was also hoping that there might be a stall selling juices. I spotted one and my heart lifted only to queue up and abandon my plan when I discover the juices are all fruit and no vegetables, so high in sugar.

I’m back at Veg Fest today and will continue my search for a delicious, substantial lunch.

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butchers shop SA

What do you know. A plant- based triumph at The Butchers Shop, Johannesburg, SA.

I’m on a business trip to Johannesburg this week.

One of my clients accepted my dinner invitation and as I do not know the city, I asked them to book a table somewhere nice for dinner.

They booked “The Butchers Shop” a famous restaurant that features the best of South Africa’s meat, poultry and fish. The menu even says if the steaks aren’t big enough they’ll cut one to size for you.

I shared my dilemma on Facebook. Should I tell them that I’m plant-based. I didn’t. It was their choice.

The dinner was this evening. We had a great time. I really enjoyed their company and the conversation flowed as did a delicious South African Red Wine.

The menu although heavy on meat had lots of choice which either worked for me as is or with slight modification. I had a starter of a tomato and onion salad. So straight forward but with some balsamic vinegar it was divinely simple. The tomatoes fresh and delicious. It could have served 3 people so I ate less than half.

For main, I asked about the “vegetable platter”. The server said no one had asked for it or about it, in all the time he had worked there. With the exception of the grilled halloumi, I had it.

I have to say that this was probably one of the absolute best veggie meals I have had. It comprised of: slow roasted pumpkin, dusted with cinnamon, asparagus, squash, peppers, spinach cooked with onion lemon and garlic, a proper crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside baked potato, crisp fried onion strings and a medley of other veggies all cooked to perfection. It was a whopping plateful that I devoured as one of my guests ate chicken and the other a delicious looking sole.

A fabulous plate of food, beautifully cooked, and shared in great company. That’s what food should be about.

They asked me about my food choices and I explained what I am doing. The conversation ranged from that to SA Politics, banking, schooling and everything in between.

I came away feeling healthy and “clean” and whilst this is not a diet and I could have eaten fish or meat, I was delighted that such a restaurant provided such an excellent plant based choice.

As Frank Sinatra (almost) sang in New York, New York: “if you can get plant based food here , you can get it anywhere…”

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Making every meal count.

I read you wrote an article entitled-commitment. In it I talked about what commitment you are prepared to make to improve your health destiny. I got some feedback from a number of people, some of whom attended my cookery demonstration that they had indeed made some changes to their eating habits which had had a positive effect. What I realised, was that it’s not all about making the big gesture, sometimes it’s the small things that have an effect. Just reducing the amount of meat, fish, dairy in your diet one meal at a time can have a significant impact when you compound it over a period of time.
Imagine that every day when you go to work, you choose to eat a plant based meal, and that once a week you choose to go meatless on a day where you previously ate meat. Over the course of a year this would all add up to a pretty significant change in the food that you’ve eaten, both in terms of your caloric intake and in terms of your health. It’s all about baby steps, one step at a time in the right direction will have a significant impact.
It’s good to look at this in this way rather than with a diet mentality, which says as soon as I’ve gone “off my diet”, that’s it, “I failed”. Any change for the positive can have an impact. Just remember that your health and weight as you are today, is a result of what you’ve eaten and what you’ve experienced over many years. Making small changes that you can sustain into the future, will have an effect in the opposite direction, improving your health and well-being over time.
Please share your thoughts, and how you get on.
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The Plant-Based Nutrition Movement – Poised to Cross the Pond

ImageThe burden of obesity finally reached the point in the United States where plant-based nutrition is being heavily promoted. Now this trend is set to come to the UK as the National Health Service is under heavy strain due to the expense of an obese nation. Carrying way too much weight leads to serious health problems, and the NHS is feeling the squeeze. Nutrition is one of the keys to fixing the national weight related health crisis.

 

Switching over to a plant based diet isn’t easy, however. T. Colin Campbell, one of the foremost proponents of plant-based nutrition, has commented on the fact that our society places roadblocks in front of us when we try to get on the road to better health. Simply being different may confuse the people around us, and even cause well meaning friends to question our dietary decisions. It may result from feelings of guilt over the fact that they aren’t doing something to improve their own health. They may tempt you with processed comfort foods with the encouragement that you should enjoy your life. But won’t better health be what truly brings you more pleasure? Part of the plant-based nutritional movement is about encouraging people to be different for the sake of their overall well being.

 

The Forks Over Knives plant-based diet is designed to help overcome obesity. Just check out the website to see examples of Americans who have lost a hundred pounds or more by sticking to a plant-based diet. The fact is that once word gets out about the life changes that this diet is having on people, more and more individuals will start to make the switch. This will make it easier to maintain the diet. But don’t wait for everyone else to do it. Social change takes time. Don’t go to your grave chowing on burgers and fries from the local fast food joint just because it’s what everyone else is doing. Be a pioneer, and show others the way.

 

Matt Lederman, the doctor who is also the executive producer of Forks Over Knives, is convinced that a plant based diet can help to prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer. It even has beneficial effects for those who already suffer from the conditions. He admits that once information for the film was gathered, it became obvious that there was so much more than could be included in one feature length documentary.

 

Americans are jumping on the healthy bandwagon more and more. You can expect the craze to reach the UK soon, and it’s not a bad thing. Click the links below to learn even more.

 

Additional Sources:

http://www.drmcdougall.com/

http://www.heartattackproof.com/qanda.htm

 

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A New Queen of Kale? Plant-based Nutrition Seems to be a “Hot Topic” in the UK

Tonight’s Evening Standard contained the following article/promotion/pr for Calgary Avensino (Yes – that is her name – and an amazing one at that).

She is UK Vogue’s Contributing Editor.

How ironic that this article should be published on the day that I was working on a piece about how plant-based nutrition is coming to the UK from the US. So either, she is following in my tracks or her in mine…Who cares, as long as people wake up to what positive effect that Plant-Based nutrition can have on their lives and well-being.

Here is the article – http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/goodbye-gwynnie-hello-calgary-8838564.html

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Is being a Plant-Based disciple as boring as being a Religious Zealot?

So I am getting worried that I am becoming a bore. Well maybe not a bore Per se, but more boring than I was. Why? Because I just keep finding myself waxing lyrical about my no-added-fat, whole-food plant-based diet. Almost everywhere I go, it becomes the topic of conversation.

Last night I was out with clients. We had a lovely evening. Discussing business, how the Bank is doing this year, their plans for next year, how my company is doing and new innovations etc., Suddenly they commented on what I was eating. I’d not seen these folks since I went plant-based. We then talked at length about what I am doing and why.

My reason for my plant-based adventure is to change my health destiny, given we have a history of heart disease in my family. We talked about what I eat. “You mean you do not eat any meat, fish or dairy”? I also answered the “P” question – “but where do you get your PPPPP-Protein from?

I guess that maybe I am not boring others, just myself with a rather repetitive story of what brought me to plant-strong eating and my personal journey. Maybe I should print a standard text of what brought me to this and how I have progressed to date?  Given that I am still overweight, I sometimes feel a bit of a fraud talking about this, especially to people who are thinner or outwardly healthier than I.

Then I remember something. To many people this is new. It is a new concept that they have not really heard and understood. They know about vegetarians, they walk amongst us and we are used to them. Vegans, hmmm. The V word. It seems to strike fear into people. The fact that you do not comply with the received wisdom on eating that dominates our culture.  This seems to strike fear into people.

When I then explain what eating a no-added-fat whole-food plant-based diet involves and how it differs from veganism, I am met with a mix of horror, disbelief and interest. “Why would you do this?”

When I explain how this way of living may help to improve my health destiny and make me more resistant to the chronic diseases that we are all so familiar with these days, of heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc., there is suddenly a glimmer of interest. Often there is a comment of oh that’s good but I could never give up xyz food, or my favourite alcoholic beverage.

I am not suggesting that you do for a moment. I am not asking you, or telling you to do anything. I am merely sharing my experience and my enthusiasm. What you choose to do with that information is up to you.

If you choose to include more plant-based food into your diet, or if I inspire you to learn more, that is great.

If you catch me going on about it and find me boring – The tell me and let’s change the subject. I can opine on virtually any topic!

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