Vegan vs plant based 

Let me start by saying I have not eaten meat in almost 19 years (over half my life). I eat seafood 3-6 times a month. A year ago I cut out dairy on the advice of a Naturopath & introduced organic eggs (after never really enjoying eggs previously). I am 85-90% vegan.

I feed my children organic beef, lamb, chicken & sustainable fish. I occasionally buy nitrate-free ham for them. Quality is extremely important to me & I am always willing to pay more for this. They have some non-organic meat (such as when we go to sushi or they get a bacon & egg roll at the Farmer’s Market). They also consume dairy – I ONLY give them organic milk & organic butter. As a side story, I bought my sons a different organic milk a few weeks ago & they refused it, saying they would only drink “the one with the green lid”. If they said they no longer wanted to eat meat, or consume dairy, I would support them but get the advice from a health professional as to what substitutions they may require.

Everyone could benefit from eating less meat.

I am stereotyping here but I don’t believe the extreme approach of some vegans is beneficial & actually encourages people away from a more vegan/vegetarian/plant-based diet. In fact, some omnivores just end up picking fights because of the inability of some vegans to see any different. Ironically a lot of the vegans I follow on Instagram, grew up eating meat & animal products; yet cannot see beyond being a strict vegan, despite having previously led this lifestyle. Let’s assist omnivores by showing them what amazing vegan combinations can work so well to create a delicious salad / curry / roast / soup. Invite your omnivore friends over & present them with a vegan meal & see if they think something is missing. Ask them to consciously write a food diary to see how many times they consume meat a week. Or like a brilliant lecture I watched in my IIN study, commit to being a vegan for certain time frames-  eg this lecturer committed to being “vegan til 6pm” every day, which he had committed to for over 5 years. That meant a plant-based breakfast & lunch, then when he came home for dinner, he could choose a vegan meal, but also wouldn’t feel guilty for consuming good quality meat.

Let’s work as a team – we know there are environmental benefits to consuming vegetables over meat such as what is needed in terms of water/food/land/antibiotics/cost to make an animal from birth to plate. We also know that many people can thrive on a vegetarian diet (although there aren’t as many lifetime vegans). We need to factor in bio-individuality, & what one person can thrive on, others can’t. There are some beautiful role models like @thebalancedblonde who was vegan, then admitted the lifestyle didn’t work for her & of course polarised opinions (I say you go girl & you have every right to eat what your body thrives on). Also @onehungrymami – who was raw vegan a while, then vegan with the odd egg thrown in (again, good on you for being you & your transparency). There is another babe whose name I’m annoyed I can’t currently recall who is predominately plant based but recently posted an image accompanied with a caption about the smell of the roast/bacon in her house. Instant outrage & vitriol was spewed by the ‘loving’ vegan followers. What about the fact this awesome human supports a vegan diet 95% of the time? Does that really not count for anything? I support vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians & omnivores. Not everyone thrives on a vegan lifestyle. Some people try diets including Paleo, eating for their blood type & Ayurveda, but the only thing that can really teach you what you will thrive on is trial & error. I dine out with friends & family, & am not offended by them eating meat. I am encouraging my Mum to try bone broth to assist in recovery from knee surgery. Ironically, vegans are not always the healthiest of people, with many enjoying a high-fructose diet; & monomeals of particular fruits. There is also debate over how healthy soy products are, with many experts encouraging us to avoid them.

I would like to encourage those who follow an omnivore diet to try at least 14 out of 21 meals per week to be plant-based. Part of why I post the food I enjoy is to show how easy this can be. I am not the type to eat 50 bananas a day, I don’t have a diet high in fructose, I don’t like potatoes or pasta.

So what do I eat?
I eat organic gluten-free bread because it makes me feel better than gluten-based bread (my absolute favourite is Naturis buckwheat bread).
In winter I love to make a buckwheat ‘porridge’ with apple, berries & of course, a big dollop of almond butter.
I eat nuts or nut butters, & seeds – almost every meal I have has sesame, pumpkin or sunflower seeds sprinkled over the top for a little protein hit.
I enjoy whole fruits – current favourites are strawberries & pink grapefruit (obsessed), as well as the occasional whole apple (usually slathered with peanut butter) & oranges (which were brilliant for morning sickness)
I love vegetables – sweet potato is a staple (we go through about 4 a week), I love lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, pumpkin, celeriac, tomatoes, avocadoes, cucumber, beetroots, snow peas, eggplant, parsnip. I use tons of herbs & spices to add flavour – ginger, thyme, basil, parsley, mint, coriander, cumin. I can’t tolerate onion or garlic.
I have legumes a couple of times a month – in a chickpea fritter, or a curry.
I use a lot of olive oil (perhaps too much), & love organic mustard & apple cider vinegar, as well as salt, pepper & chilli to season.
I make my own chocolate from cacao butter, cacao, tahini with either stevia or rice malt syrup as a low-fructose sweetener.
I make my own muffins using usually a nut-based ‘flour’, carrots, banana, berries sometimes apples & do add organic eggs to them.
Sushi is a treat which I enjoy & I almost always have some form of seafood – tuna, salmon, prawns; but also happily enjoy avocado & veggie-based sushi. I don’t eat the soy sauce!
I don’t eat soy-based products often, but used to drink soy milk in my coffee from 2008-2015. I don’t eat store bought sweets or cakes but used to LOVE both & indulge regularly in my sweet tooth – like eating a whole pack of sweets on the way home from work.

We are fortunate that there is a growing community of vegan restaurants & nowadays the word ‘vegan’ is not just associated with tie-dye t-shirts, the smell of incense & dreadlocks. Being vegan is cool. It shows you care about your own health; but also the environment. Check out Sadhana Kitchen, Earth to Table, Nalini’s in Bondi Junction or many of the ‘healthy cafes’ like Paleo Cafe, Bondi Wholefoods & Henley’s Wholefoods, have vegan options.

I am not trying to spark debate here, as a predominately plant based person (I don’t want to label myself as vegan as I am not 100% vegan), I agree that steering towards plant-based is the way of the future. Let’s build people up, educate & help them be more imaginative about eating more vegan meals, not tear them down for doing things that many vegans used to do themselves….

I welcome your feedback.
Peas, love & healthiness xxx Alice

What defines me as a Health Coach?

One of the greatest parts of my study through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) on my path to become a Health Coach was that we were not just taught; we were constantly asked to question who we are, why we are doing this & who we want to work with. Not only this, but all the questions that we would potentially pose to future clients, were posed to us. We were the client in essence. Through the Coaching Circles (online groups we had to participate in), I was coached into leaving a job I was unhappy & unappreciated in.

My path seems quite forward to me. I want to work with people who I can relate to & assist in an area I have experienced myself.

My background IS important as I want my clients to know I have been there, experienced the tough days, but also the overwhelming love & little moments which make everything better.

  • I have two sons.
  • I have always been a working Mum. I worked 2-3 days a week from when my first son was 5 months old. With my second son, I finished up a job the day before I went into labour with him (admittedly he arrived 10 days early). I started a new job 3 days a week when he was 12 weeks old. I was still breastfeeding (& expressing in the shared bathroom that I shared with one young female colleague & 4 male colleagues). I LOVED my job so was happy to be there & was extremely fortunate to have my Mum looking after my son all 3 days a week for the first 2 months, when he was too young to commence daycare.
  • For the first half of 2016, I was working 3 days a week, managing both sons, studying through IIN, & a single Mum 5 nights a week. Pair this with pregnancy & managing the planning of a renovation single-handedly. Somehow I still found time to procrastinate on social media – how is that?!
  • I am due with my third child early November & am currently working 4 short days a week.

Two years ago, as we were selling our house, my husband was offered a job 2 hours drive away from Sydney. Being the independent (insert stubborn) woman I am, I encouraged my husband to take the role which was a huge career leap for him but told him I would be staying in Sydney with our sons so I could continue to work & give my boys stability of not changing Daycare/School. He took the job & still commutes so is home with us 48 hours a week. I managed the removal; a mini renovation in the new house; & the subsequent move into the new house.

I am extremely fortunate to have an incredible Mum who helps me with the boys & often leaves me lovely treats on my doorstep (usually freshly picked veggies from her Community Garden). I am a single Mum Sunday evening to Friday evening every week (a solid 5 nights).

We’ve been told not to glorify the word “busy” so I’ll just tell you my life is “full“. From March to June 2016, I was working 3 days a week in a Restaurant office. I was also juggling a second job in my spare time (which then became my only job in mid-June). I was studying through IIN, which took up about 6 hours a week of my ‘spare’ time. I have been playing hockey for 20 years (1 training & 1 match per week).

In the mornings, I do the same as most people (get dressed, brush teeth, wash face, pack bag for work), in addition to making two school lunches, making sure the boys are dressed for school, putting on suncream, checking the days’ activities are sorted (News items, library bags, sports uniforms, homework books). Until June 2016, I walked the boys to school, & was walking/jogging to work as this was the best way for me to fit exercise into my day. For three & a half years, I walked from work (about 3km) around 5pm to pick up my sons from after school care, only to get home, cook them dinner, assist with showers, get them to brush their teeth & then get to read them stories at bedtime. After that, I would toss up whether to do some study, work on my 2nd job, prepare some of the boys school lunchbox for the following day, put out the boys uniform for the following day, put out my clothes for the following morning….or just roll into bed & read my book! I am not a TV watcher but do spend too much time on social media. I choose to put down my phone about an hour before bed & don’t look at it again until the following morning. On Fridays after school I take my sons to swimming lessons & on Saturday as a family we take the boys to their rugby matches.My work hours are now shorter so I don’t race from drop off straight to work which is lovely!

I also have a passion for healthy eating & educating children from day one. If you only have healthy food in your home, this is what your children will eat. When I shop with my sons, I get my older son to read food labels if there is a product he wants to buy. I tell them quite freely that we are not buying products because they are full of sugar. I let them know we don’t buy ice-cream but we can make our own at home. I also know if I give in once, they will relentlessly bug me again!

So that’s me. I would love to work with working Mums juggling a full schedule. I want to show Mums how they can manage a household whilst working with young children. This is my area of expertise because I have lived & breathed it so I genuinely know how it feels.

What is  your number one obstacle to finding balance between your relationships, career, spirituality & physical activity?

PS I am not perfect. During school holidays our treat is to go to Sushi Train (they love the deep fried stuff), they go out for Pizza about once a month(which inevitably means having the free scoop of ice-cream).