Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail
5th January 2019
Happy New Year to you all, and I hope it’s a successful one, personally and professionally. As predicted, I spent most of my Christmas repairing and rebuilding the 15 yards of dry stone wall that had collapsed in my piggy field. As the lower side of the wall was taller than me, it was the biggest walling project I have done and I was a little anxious about it. Laying the foundations stones is so important as is tying in to the remaining wall, but I needed have worried. I had some help to start from a local stone mason who just stopped and got stuck in, because ‘he loves stone walling’ and of course my brother helped, as like me, he was glad of an excuse to be outdoors!
On Boxing Day a neighbour brought me a steaming cup of hot chocolate and I drank it sitting on an ever-decreasing pile of walling stone, with my pigs snuffling about my feet, filled with gratitude for the peace and quiet and for life itself.
And never mind, luxury mince pies, luxury cakes or luxury presents, the only real luxury there is, is a deep, hot bath after a hard days work; so my bliss-filled days were followed by more quiet contemplation in a hot bath and then lying in front of the woodburner with Yogi. I suppose it was a sort of meditative, retreat-style break, with the added bonus of physical and creative satisfaction too.
I appreciate it wouldn’t have been everyone’s cup of eggnog, but for me it was the perfect way to spend the festive days. My brother quipped, “You’ll be pushing a piece of wall down to rebuild next Christmas!”
To date, over 250,000 people from 193 countries have taken a month-long pledge to try veganism for January, or ‘Veganuary’, and by the end of the month a further 300,000 people are expected to have joined the journey towards adopting a plant-based diet.
I have been ‘mostly vegan’ for several years and whole-heartedly recommend cutting out meat and dairy products for health benefits, as well as the numerous other benefits. I do eat eggs from my own chickens, which excludes me from being totally vegan, and which seems to bother other people more than it bothers me.
Whilst I highly recommend a plant-based diet, I also recommend being kind to yourself as you explore it and fit it into your own lifestyle. I have advised friends who have wanted to give up diary and meat, not to be hard on themselves as they make the transition. You do not have to earn any title. Eating healthily, consciously and sustainably is the key, and the wonderful thing that I found is that the more healthily you eat, the better you feel, so the more motivated you are to maintain that way of living organically. It has got easier and easier to eat a plant-based diet with most supermarkets having a vegan range, but try not to become seduced by the ready meals.
I suppose my diet is more plant-based than vegan; I do exploit the Quorn and Seitan options occasionally, but also put the effort in to cook veggie tagines, stews and curries too. A slow cooker will become your best friend!
www.veganuary.com has loads of tips, advice, ambassadors, restaurant suggestions and recipes for you, and is a great support. But don’t beat yourself up if you slip off the vegan bandwagon, it’s ‘O-Kale’ just to get back on.
Years ago I spent a little time with former Dirty Sanchez frontman, Matt Pritchard, and also interviewed him for my column. Despite his bad-boy reputation, he was just starting to grow his own veg and was finding it ‘very therapeutic’. Fast-forward ten years and the endurance athlete and vegan, now has his own cookery programme, Dirty Vegan. Hosting the BBC’s very first vegan cookery show, Matt is on a mission to show that vegan food is not ‘rabbit food’ and can sustain the most physical of lifestyles. Light-hearted, comical and inspiring, it’s well worth a look. Pritch’s catchphrase used to be, ‘Sleep When You’re Dead’, perhaps now it should be ‘Sleep When Your Fed’.
Dirty Vegan is on BBC 1 at 7.30pm on Wednesday and you can of course catch up on iPlayer.
Thanks to Steve Thomas for snapping it and to Yogi for being ‘woman’s best friend’.
As a clever friend said, “It shows there is always light at the end of the tunnel.” What better attitude to go into a New Year with?