Diet & Nutrition

Robyn Malcolm sings the praises of veganism

I can’t seem to go back to eating animal products.

A year ago when I was trawling the ‘What’s the healthiest diet that will improve everything in my life and make me live until 150’ food websites, I read an article by food author Michael Pollen. Pollen had studied the healthiest people on the planet and their diets. His conclusion was brilliant, pithy and is now stuck on my fridge: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.

I’m a red-blooded meat lover from way back. I do the best roast lamb ever, and I cannot walk by a good sausage roll. I eat the fat from a chop, even a cold one. When I was pregnant I would roast just meat, stare at it through the oven window until it was cooked then haul it out and tear pieces from it like some throwback cave dweller.

I’ve always assuaged my growing meat guilt with only buying organic and free farmed, but it’s not feeling quite enough these days.

I believe, theoretically, if you’re going to eat the animal you should be part of its demise. After all, the lion kills the gazelle, the crocodile the water buffalo, the wolf the rabbit – why should we get off lightly?

But like most people I compartmentalise that thought. I can’t shoot Daisy in the head and skin her and pull her body to bits, but I can buy sirloin off the shelves easy and chuck a bit of Daisy’s back into my trolley next to the Weet-Bix.

I’m currently in Australia shooting a series about a forensic pathologist. The other day we were looking at a decomposed limb (made by the props department) and I said out loud, “Crikey – that looks like one of my roasts” – reminding me once again that we are animals too, with the same basic musculature/meat on our bones.

I’ve also noticed when I eat meat I’m becoming increasingly sluggish. I don’t know whether that’s menopause in one of its more devilish forms, but meat is feeling ‘less good’ for me these days. And when I look at the destruction that the production of meat and animal products is having on our planet, it seems a tad hypocritical to be still supporting this industry.

So when SAFE suggested I do the Vege Challenge I decided it was a logical progression.

I and my two boys were to get rid of all animal products from our diet for six weeks. No meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs. That was seven weeks ago, and I can’t seem to get back to eating animal products again.

Why? I feel better. I feel lighter. I’m more ‘regular’. I have more energy. My morning flat white is with almond milk and I love it. My beloved scrambled eggs are now a perfected scrambled tofu which is, as it happens, more versatile.

A friend passed on a genius ratatouille recipe with pomegranate molasses, olives and dates which I’m addicted to. Lentils are awesome. Tempeh is a massive hit with the kids. We are big Indian foodies so going vegan was a no brainer. In fact, it’s fascinating to notice it’s really Western food which has animal products so firmly in the front line.

It’s cheaper. Truly. By about $50 per week. That’s money for red wine and no-dairy chocolate right there. Massive win. And I’m not eating Daisy. I feel good about that.

The other compelling argument is how easy it is. The most complicated thing I make at home is granola, but I did that anyway and it’s worth it, because as well as the best roast, I do the best granola. Ever.

I didn’t want to be a food fascist so I’ve let the kids have their spag bol back, and maybe I won’t be able to walk past a sirloin at some point, but I am much closer to Mr Pollen’s recommendation. Here’s to the carrot!

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