This post has been a long time coming, but I’ve been so afraid to talk about my new diet!
You may remember a while ago I visited the nutritionist Angelique Panagos to discuss my history with food, antibiotics, stress, and turning vegetarian (you can read my full account with her here). We ended with her sending me a diet guide, a few recipes, and some diet tests to do. In the end, I found keeping up the perfect diet she had set out was too much maintenance, but there were some good takeaways – such as getting more protein, omegas, and vitamin B12.
Since then, I upped my supplement game, taking daily flaxseed oil capsules, vitamin D and vitamin B12. I did feel better for it (whether that’s in my mind or not, I couldn’t tell you), but I still felt a little nervous about the quality of everything, considering it’s notoriously difficult to absorb the nutrients from these supplements.
By the time January 1st came round, I’d made my mind up: I was going to start eating fish.
Bye bye vegetarianism
It’s probably worth levelling with you here – the moral argument behind me becoming vegetarian has always been the treatment of animals, not for health reasons (although there is a health bonus to going vegetarian if you eat a lot of meat, especially red meat). So to be eating fish was firstly a little daunting, as I wanted to find the best-treated type possible, as well as break my vegetarianism with something that doesn’t make me feel uneasy.
I ended up taking around a week to really work out what would be the best option. With meat, I feel like there is a much more sacred ritual for them – raising, slaughtering, preserving, and cooking all deserve much more time and thought both morally and to really gain the best nutrients.
The best seafood
According to a few sources, the best diet is actually to eat vegan, and once or twice a week eat molluscs. This is what I’m basing my new diet on, however molluscs just aren’t appealing to me – I barely want to eat fish – and if I’m honest, I would rather stick to vegan protein than shellfish.
Instead, I looked to fish, and something palatable. I started my search by looking at their welfare; in my opinion, farmed fish is not the way to go. Exposed to antibiotics, they live in restricted water, and their meat is often more flabby and less nutritious. The farms they live in also tend to employ practices to kill any wildlife around that threatens the livestock, for example killing seals found in their waters.
Charities such as Oceana and Seafood Watch are advocating the consumption of smaller fish, such as sardines and anchovies. This is where I’m heading to – these fish are much more sustainably farmed, and are actually the fish fed to larger fish that we as a nation are much more preferential to. To cut down the demand for these, why not eat their food instead?
But really, as someone who never liked seafood and now would like to start eating it to be really healthy, I wanted something with a typically good taste, not too salty, and easy to eat. Salmon was my answer – but only the best.
So, now I go by the CIWF guide to fish, choosing the highest standards possible. First, my salmon has to be Soil Association approved. The organic certification body demands a few strict standards are met, such as not using certain forms of medicine, fair food treatment, etc. Second, they have to be caught in the wild, meaning the fish has had a better life and is also better for me!
Vegan… sort of
Alongside eating fish once a week, I also eat one or two portions of (free range!) eggs and continue to graze on vegetarian high protein sources like beans and pulses. However, I’m now going without dairy completely – no cheese, butter, cream, milk… It’s been tough, but it’s positive effects are already showing in the form of clearer skin and a calmer digestive system. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion I’m lactose intolerant for a while now, and whether I am or not, a reduction in sugars in general and lactose in particular has helped quite a bit.
What I would like to know is what diet choices you’re making, and your reasoning. I know I have a lot of vegan readers, and cruelty-free beauty fans too, so I hope this hasn’t been too controversial… It’s hard to be in this position and change my previous opinions, especially on something as controversial as diet.