Serre Des Ormes tries Vegan!
In Britain at least it seems you can’t go a single day without seeing a pro-Vegan or anti-meat program or newspaper headline and after watching, the acclaimed “The Game Changers, ” on Netflix, which is definitely worth a watch, we decided we should at least give a plant based diet a trial run. Our main motivation behind this was environmental but we were intrigued to see if it would also improve our, already pretty good, energy levels and it also gave us renewed motivation to try out some new recipes over the quiet(er) winter season.
It must be said that there were certain caveats to the new diet. I hesitate to use the word vegan as it can drum up a bad image, and reluctantly use the word “diet” as it implies restricting ourselves on what we eat. When I looked it up synonyms for the word diet include; regime, fast, restriction and even starvation but the a plant based lifestyle can actually open up a whole new variety of recipe options. The word “diet” actually comes from the Greek Diaita meaning “to live one’s life,” and from the Latin root word, “diaeta,” meaning a “manner of living”.
Anyway, I digress, the caveats…firstly we would continue to eat eggs laid by our free range chickens, not doing so simply doesn’t make sense to us. Secondly if invited to eat out we realised we may need to have some flexibility as we didn’t want friends or family feeling forced to change their cooking habits. The French restaurant scene has still not quite grasped the concept of a Vegan diet. Amusingly ,the menu on our local “vegan friendly” restaurant proudly presents Salmon served in a Vegan crust, on it’s A La Carte menu, no doubt served with a salad laced in mayonnaise and followed by a selection of local cheeses.
So November arrived and with no guests to cater for Kate excitedly started the meal planning. I am well aware we have a bit of a head start here. We have always had a fairly “flexitarian” diet, mainly vegetarian but with the occasional meat and fishes dishes. At this time of year the local market stalls are still overflowing with locally grown, organic fruit and vegetables, with more variety and colours than any supermarket back in the UK. Secondly Kate is a fantastic cook and will make the most out of the great ingredients to hand. Thirdly, our lifestyle at Serre Des Ormes allows us to have more free time for cooking, you will probably spend more time commuting to work than we do in the kitchen.
So did we feel healthier?
We wanted to find out for ourselves whether a plant based diet really made us feel healthier. We often wonder whether the celebrities who claim a vegan diet changed their life, saw the improvements simply because they had given up a lifestyle of late nights, drinking, drugs, smoking and a poor diet, rather than switching to Soya lattes for their morning caffeine hit!
We have to admit that there was no instant miracle feeling as some suggest, in fact we both felt pretty fatigued in the first week. However the timing of our trial also coincided with the end of a busy season at Serre Des Ormes and as the weather turns there is always a seasonal lethargy at this time of year.
For us this is the “Game Changer”. Many newspaper articles will harshly lead you to believe mass industrialisation is not to blame for climate change but daisy the cow is! Giving up meat, however, is probably the single biggest thing we can do as individuals to help climate change. In my opinion we would yes be better to reduce our consumption of meat but also show willing to spend more on local, responsibly farmed meat promoting local farmers and producers rather than Supermarkets driving down prices and cutting producers profits, thus leading to more efficient, less environmentally farming methods. When we return to the UK the shelves and shelves of cheap meat in the supermarket is quite staggering compared to France.
We have certainly learnt a lot reading into the benefits of giving up meats on the environment and in the future would certainly change some of our habits but probably without cutting out all meat based products all together.
Perhaps this was the greatest benefit to come out the “trial”. Kate enjoys nothing more than browsing through recipe books but this time with the added challenge of being dairy and meat free. There are so many vegan recipe books available and online recipes she was quickly dishing up amazing vegan burgers, delicious nut roast and I even managed a spinach lasagne. A plant based diet is not without its treats either; Vegan flapjacks and brownies will definitely be added to the assortment of bike snacks and I bet you didn’t know you can make meringues with chick pea water?
A plant based diet may need a bit more thought though and you can’t just open the fridge and make a quick cheese and ham sandwich but there is always a substitute, probably more nutritious and tasty.
Our OWN thoughts:
Remember one diet doesn’t suit all. Despite the headlines insisting one minute that a high protein / high fat diet is the way ahead and the next that a vegan diet is the new miracle cure for both your health and the climate very few headlines will conclude that perhaps somewhere in the middle is best. Eat healthy & exercise = feeling great!
Yes giving up meat may be the best way forward for the climate but don’t set yourself up for failure. If we just reduced our meat intake and treat it more as a luxury item supporting your local producer, farmer or butcher then we will drive out this obsession for low cost, bulk animal based products often coming from the far corners of the world.
Experimenting with a plant based diet has been a worthwhile and interesting exercise for us. Whilst I don’t expect us to change our habits significantly we will probably reduce our meat intake, particularly during the winter months when we have no guests staying at Serre Des Ormes. When we do buy meat or dairy products we will be certainly be prepared to pay more for local, responsibly farmed products. Spending a few more minutes in the kitchen experimenting with plant based recipes opens up a much wider choice of meals. One of the biggest benefits of the vegan craze is that there are so many food outlets offering a vegan menu… even the infamous Greggs Vegan Sausage roll! And there are masses of vegan recipes available on line.
So don’t necessarily give up on your turkey this Christmas but do have a think about where it has come from and perhaps consider alternatives such as a nut roast.