As someone who has eaten their share of McDonalds, burgers, steak dinners and junk over the years writing a post like this makes me a little nervous and not wanting to seem hypocritical but I suppose blogs are supposed to be personal and honest so I may as well get started.
When I was about 19 I read a book titled Eat Right 4 Your Type, The Blood Type Diet. This book stated that being a blood type 'O' I should base my diet around lean beef, high protein and low dairy and grain. This became the ethos of how I thought I should eat for the best part of 12 years and I cut out dairy and lowered gluten based products in my diet. I knew where the best burgers could be found and felt somewhat hearty tucking into steak eating out. Initially I felt my diet guidelines were very beneficial and as if I had a handle on things.
When I was in LA I lived with people eating raw and vegan diets. At the time I thought this was unbelievably strange and limited, but I couldn't deny I adored vegan cheesecakes, which I first tasted there, and liked that you could get all the texture and taste of cheesecake without dairy. Also shakes made with almond milk, dates and raw cacao were equally incredible and I didn't feel bloated and ill like I would with dairy.
"I was intrigued but quite steadfast in believing that the blood type diet authors knew more than I perhaps did, or in fact my intuition."
With the arrival of Netflix over the past year I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,Vegucated,Earthlings, and Forks Over Knives and most importantly Leonardo DiCaprio's film Cowspiracy (all are on Netflix and most on youtube) and within those hours my mind was opened and also changed. I am aware documentaries are dramatised and also the ones I watched were US based where different food production methods are practiced than here in Ireland but it had an effect on me that's stuck.
A holiday in July in Juicy Oasis in Portugal where I completed a week's juice fast cemented the decision. My skin was clearer than it had been in months and contrary to what I might have assumed I was full of energy both mentally and physically by the fourth day.
Quite simply the way I had been eating no longer made sense, at all. The reasons for this are both personal and emotional but immediately I lost a taste for red meat and chicken. I hadn't been eating much, maybe 2-3 times a week, but assumed due to the blood type diet diagnosis, that it was somewhat essential for me to maintain my health. I decided to trust my instincts based upon how I felt after watching all those films and educating myself. It sounds naive but I hadn't really thought about the process that led to my being able to pick up meat in a supermarket. I made the decision to stop eating all red meat and chicken in June and haven't looked back. I still eat a little fish though.
The adjustment phase is quite strange and there are other elements that I won't go into in much detail as there are dedicated blogs on it but my body went into a massive detox for about 8 weeks and it's an uncomfortable process.
Initially I was so enthusiastic and full of curiosity trying out new recipes and my energy stayed the same but after a few months when I got lazy I noticed a massive drop in my energy levels. I picked up a supplement to make sure I wasn't missing out on any minerals that I would have been getting from meat and also I now make much more of an effort to include beans and vegetable proteins in soups and salads. It turned things back around and also made me realise how I need to make better decisions overall.
I now eat a little fish at home and socially maybe twice a week. I find this important when eating out as a lot of places don't cater healthily to vegetarian options can be loaded with butter, cheese and creamy sauce. A piece of fish and vegetables feels like a better choice than a buttery risotto.
I am sticking to mostly dairy free also and these are some of the things I love that suit-
Snack wise I adore raw chocolate which I either make myself or else buy. Ombar and Dr. Coys are widely available and neither contain any dairy. I'm such a chocaholic so these are all to regular treats that effortlessly rival Cadburys any day.
My boyfriend's company All Round Great Foods makes activated nuts (sprouted and then raw dehydrated) which are a perfect go-to snack. I steal or buy pots of them from him!
Kaph, Butlers, Cafe Nero, Coffee Angel and loads of other places all do incredible dairy free latte's with Soy or almond milk.
At times it feels like more work because it's not always convenient but overall it's not that much extra effort.
The reality is that things change. There was a time I loved chicken fillet burgers in Mcdonalds washed down with coke, but I'm much happier with how I am eating now. Maybe things will evolve in a few years to come but I feel above all else I will trust my instincts on things rather than read a book and assume the author knows it all.
The Dublin food scene is really evolved and these are a few places places I love that cater to plant based, dairy free eating easily, adding in or taking out animal protein as needed:
Green Beards - Great juices and also salads and protein balls.
Sova Foods Vegan Butcher - The owner Bart is a brilliant chef. Expect vegan fine dining and an amazing chia burger. I've been with my brother and boyfriend and all left satisfied and not feeling like they were missing out in any way.
Zakura Japanese Restaurant - I still eat fish and the sushi here is lovely and not over priced. They also do great tofu stir fry. It's BYOB with corkage of €4 so a brilliant one to have on the list!
Staple Foods - This place makes super clean gorgeous healthy food in huge portions. The guacamole is amazing.
The Green Bench - I used to work near The Green Bench and the queues were something else. They're worth it though. If you're ok with dairy the Halloumi sandwich is incredible. Or else they do a falafel and lovely salads.
Blazing Salads - incredible soups and salads and also Natasha's Living Food chocolate which I love.
Happy Foods at The Yoga Hub, Camden Place - Cozy and simple and totally vegan. As it's at a yoga school the atmosphere is lovely.
Umi Falafel on Dame Street - really good value hummus and falafel and great mint tea!
GoodnessGracious.ie - Amazing and beautiful vegan cakes. For my next birthday I am definitely ordering one. They are sublime and totally dairy free.
I hope you enjoyed this article and I am really interested if you have any suggestions of other healthy places I should check out!
Lots of love,