As many of you will know, the last couple of months have involved big changes for me. I started running regularly, training for a half marathon next month, and also became vegan. I moved into my own flat with my own kitchen at last and have been trying out lots of new recipes and generally aiming to be healthier overall.
I’ve also been pretty tired all the time, depsite getting an average of nine hours sleep a night and not doing anything like as much as I used to. For a while I put it down to bad sleeping habits (staying up late and then sleeping in) or simply burnout after my busy and intensive final year at university, but then a friend mentioned something about ensuring I was getting enough protein to build muscle for running and a lightbulb went off in my head.
I’ve always fiercely resisted the idea that vegetarians and vegans can’t get enough protein from their diets. But I realised that I have never actually known what “enough” constituted – and not really known how much I was getting. I did a bit of internet digging, made a few calculations and realised that my diet probably does not contain enough protein for someone of my size and level of activity. Does this mean I can’t be vegan? No, of course not! I’m not someone who backs down that easily. What it does mean, though, is that I need to start making a conscious effort to get protein into my meals.
The first step has been to make a list of all the sources of protein I can think of that I enjoy and can already cook, and then a couple of new ones that I want to try. Over the next few days and weeks I’ll be blogging about the new recipes this will doubtless lead to. As a sneak preview, here’s the list so far: high-protein breakfast smoothies (this has the added advantage of getting me back into eating breakfast), hummus, lentil curry, “cheesy” lentils, smoked tofu in salads, quinoa, refried beans, chilli, high-protein guacamole, silken tofu desserts. If you have any delicious vegan suggestions to add, please let me know! I’m hoping to avoid food supplements or protein powders, at least unless it is evident that they are necessary, because I prefer my food to be, well, food…