A Little About Me...
Hey! My name is Kirsten, I'm 20 years old and a full-time architecture student with a passion for health and fitness.
In the hours that I'm not studying, I run, swim, cycle and take part in as many races as possible! Having a goal to work towards such as getting a record time in a new distance is what motivates me to train regularly.
Training as frequently as I do - nutrition plays such a vital role in my journey to keep fit. I need sufficient energy to sustain long distance runs whilst also consuming enough plant-protein to build up muscle.
What Made Me Want To Become Vegan...
After recovering from an eating disorder when I was 16, I became incredibly health conscious. I began to research more into nutrition and how foods that I have always known to be healthy, actually benefit the body.
This helped me to shift my mindset towards food and see it as fuel for the body. Following this healthy diet, I knew that I'd be able to further improve my overall wellbeing.
When researching, I came across a lot of information about veganism and how by following such a diet in a healthy way, you can:
- Reduce Cholesterol
- Improve Energy Levels
- Improve Vitamin Intake
- Improve General Well-Being
Over the summer of 2015, I began to cut out meat and dairy completely. Having tried the diet and really enjoying the food I was eating and the way that I felt as a result, in September '15, I made the decision to become fully vegan.
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went Vegan...
1. There are more plant-proteins out there than you think.
Lentils, beans and pulses can make for an easy addition to any meal and soy in its various forms works great as a direct meat substitute. I'll list some examples below to give you some inspiration!
It's very rare to be deficient in protein unless you simply aren't eating enough. If you follow a diet of vegan junk food alone then yes, your protein levels will be lower and you'll be more likely to feel constantly hungry or tired as a result of it.
However, if you try and make a little effort each day to include at least one of these protein sources then you'll feel a lot more satiated, energetic and in the long run, are more likely to stick to the healthy lifestyle.
- Soy Mince - works great as a meat substitute in dishes like Bolognese and/or chilli.
- Beans - butter beans with pesto, black beans in a salsa or chilli OR/ cannellini beans blended with tahini and lemon to make a tasty dip.
- Tofu - it's so versatile! Baked or fried in Asian dishes, grilled tofu 'steaks', or scrambled instead of eggs. You can marinade it in soy sauce and spices first to add lots of flavour!
- Lentils - these also work great in Bolognese as they soak up so much flavour and also make for a great addition to any soup or salad. My favourite way to eat these are in a curry or Dhal as they thicken up the sauce.
2. Almost all chain restaurants have a vegan option.
If they don't - I've found that anywhere, staff are happy to adapt vegetarian dishes for you by removing the dairy products. Don't be afraid to ask!
My favourite cuisines - and ones that have plenty of selection without meat and dairy - are Mexican and Indian. It's a lot easier than you think to eat out vegan!
What's more is following the recent growth of the vegan movement, popular street restaurants have started to cater for dietary preferences so much better than before.
Top Trick: VEGANUARY - no more having to filter through the allergens menu! It's a website which lists what items on each restaurant's menu are vegan friendly.
3. People's lack of understanding can be frustrating at times.
There will be times that you may not always feel accepted. The way around this is to learn to cope with it, to laugh off the jokes or comments that friends and family members may make and don't take anything to heart.
New people may question your reasoning behind being vegan, but 9/10 times, this is probably because they're genuinely interested!
4. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it most likely will be.
The reason behind this - you'll be more inclined to follow a healthy diet.
Many people go vegan for health reasons, myself included! Yes, vegetables can be cheap, but many health foods out on the supermarket shelves nowadays can be very pricey - I'm talking; supergreen powders, nuts and seeds, raw cereal bars and the likes.
You can certainly be vegan on a budget, it just may not be as exciting as being able to treat yourself to a smoothie bowl or quinoa salad!
5. You don't have to fit the weak and skinny prototype!
There are plenty of vegan athletes such as Carl Lewis, Ruth Heidrich and Fiona Oakes!
It is in fact possible to build muscle with plant-protein alone and these people prove it!
I have found it easy to maintain muscle mass and to sustain long distance running. swimming and cycling whilst being vegan. What's more - during this time, I have also maximised my sporting potential.
Check out kitchenofkirsten on Instagram!