‘You must be so healthy!’ they exclaim, when I mention I’m vegan. I laugh and try to explain that well, while I generally eat healthy meals I can still eat cake, crisps and plenty of unhealthy stuff. They raise their eyebrows and nod sceptically, and the conversation moves on.
The above interaction has happened countless of times, and it always amuses me. I suppose that for many people, ‘vegan’ means only eating vegetables, which in turn translates to ‘healthy’ for many. While I love vegetables, my meals generally consist of more than just greens. Potatoes, pasta, bread, nuts, beans, lentils, sauces. And cake and chocolate — sometimes more often than is probably good for me…
I sometimes struggle with the different ‘vegan’ stereotypes. When my skin is bad, I’m tired and sporting massive eye bags as proof, or when I reveal that I’ve got about zero strength in my arms, I feel as if I’m a living proof of the image of vegans as unhealthy and weak (meat makes you strong, after all!). When I munch away on salads and greens, or I’m up at the crack of dawn, bouncing with energy, I wonder if people think I’m rubbing my ‘healthy lifestyle’ in their face.
The truth is, as a vegan your diet can be as varied as anyone else’s. I will have days of eating great, balanced meals full of greens and nutritional things. I will have days where I eat chips, a big bowl of pasta, or a massive slab of cake. And that’s completely okay. I always strive to strike a balance and find what works for me.
This Saturday I met up with two of my favourite vegan ladies — Nicole from Ginger Kitchen and Charlene from Tartan Mouth — for vegan afternoon tea at The Hidden Lane Tearoom. We enjoyed a selection of sandwich, scones and three types of cake. There was carrot cake, banana cake and raspberry cake, plus a nice wee biscuit. By the end of it I was so full I could burst, but it was 100% worth it as everything was delicious.
As someone who has had a complicated relationship with food in the past, it’s not always easy to find the balance — but it’s something that I constantly strive for. After the afternoon tea on Saturday, I walked home feeling happy and content. And that is what food is for — nourishing both your body and your mind.