July 21, 2011

The Allergy Interviews - Martina Clarke - Vegan

Martina is a 27 year old based in Dublin. Although she doesn't suffer from any food allergies, she and her husband opted to follow a Vegan lifestyle 3 years ago. Just after finishing her thesis for a MA in Psychotherapy she took some time out to tell Survival Guide about her experiences living as a Vegan.

Why and for how long have you been a Vegan, Vegetarian or Raw Vegan?
Well I was a vegetarian for about 3 or 4 years before I became a vegan. I have been vegan about 3 years now and would never look back. I personally think it is a much healthier way of eating, that’s basically it really. I have flirted with Raw Veganism and Macrobiotic but life is hard enough already.

Do you find it difficult to stick to your diet? And if so, why?
Not really, I mean I never really liked meat to begin with so it was nothing for me to give that up to be honest. Going vegan was harder mostly because you have to read everything and take a lot more care with shopping and eating out. However, in terms of the food I found it remarkably simple to change, I wish other dietary changes were so easy

What is your favourite food?
Depends on my mood, chocolate (vegan chocolate of course) is always a firm favourite. On the slightly healthier side of things I am a fan of broccoli and/or cashews. My husband is always making fun of me for it as I manage to sneak them into most dinners I make.

What do you miss the most?
Honestly the simplicity of not having to think about it all. I mean you can't just go out to dinner without having to consider your options carefully or without making alterations to existing menu items. It can be inconvenient meeting friends for food too...

What do your friends and/or family think of your diet choice and how do they deal with it?
Well my husband is also following a vegan diet, so it's all pretty straightforward there. My family just don't get it at all. The idea of not eating meat or drinking a glass of milk with every meal is a foreign concept to them. For the most part they just accept it though. With friends it can be an inconvenience but most just accept it. I don't force my thoughts on veganism on others but if they are interested I will talk to them about it.

Where is your favourite place to eat?
Hmmm, I like a few places, but I have to say Juice, mostly because it is simple for me to see what I am getting before I order. I can order without making adjustments and the food is pretty good.

Do you or have you ever broken your diet? and if so, why?
Not intentionally, but on occasion from not paying attention or due to poor signage you eat something and you realise it has whey or egg or something in it.

How does it feel?
It depends on how much I have eaten. However, I can almost tell within minutes if I have eaten something with dairy in it, I can feel it in my throat and my stomach is temperamental for a while afterwards. It doesn't come up that often though.

How long does it take to get back on track?
Honestly I don't think about it. I just chalk it up to experience and remind myself to be more careful next time.

Have you learnt anything about yourself since abstaining from your unwanted foods?
It is interesting to notice the impact certain foods had on me. I suffered a lot from sinus related problems most of my life and occasionally still do but since cutting out meat and dairy etc I have noticed a huge change in the number of infections etc. I also feel a lot better, more energetic and less prone to illness in general in stark contrast to my pre vegan/veggie days. Going vegan in particular has really made me notice how much dairy in particular was impacting on my health.

If you could give advice to people practicing or considering a vegan/vegetarian/raw diet what would it be?
• Do a lot of reading around it. It is very easy no matter what diet meat or otherwise to be missing out on vital nutrients. So where possible make sure you are getting what you need.
• Make sure you do it in a way that makes sense to you, some prefer to gently remove out problem foods and add in new foods and others like me like to do it over night.
• Go easy on yourself if you slip up, we all do at some point

What is the best source of information and/or help that you have found?
Well I have lots of books, but mostly the internet. Although some books I love around the area are:

On Nutrition:
Plant Based Nutrition and Health – Stephen Walsh PHD

Cookbooks and General Info Books:
The Kind Diet – Alicia Silverstone
Skinny Bitch – Freedman & Barnouin

Can you share with us one of your worst, best and/or funniest experiences as a vegan/vegetarian/raw vegan?
Honestly the funniest thing in general is how little people know about it. But probably the funniest is the conversation I have with my dad on a regular basis. When making dinner and my dad says “I am making some steak, do you want some?” “No Dad, I don’t eat meat”, “Right, how about some chicken?” “No I don’t eat chicken”, “Would you not at least have some Salmon?”, “No I don’t eat fish either, but thanks dad”.

Would you like to share a quick and easy vegan/vegetarian/raw recipe?!
Well this is my adapted recipe from The Kind Diet
• Short Grain Brown Rice
• Shoyu to taste
• Brown Rice Vinegar taste
• Handful of Cashew Nuts
• Lots of Broccoli
• 1 Carrot
• 1 Red Onion
• 1 Leek
• 2 Cloves of Garlic
• Tablespoon of sesame oil

• First boil the Brown Rice for 40mins or so (ok so maybe not so quick)
• Chop the vegetables
• When done Saute the Garlic and Onions, add the leek
• Add in the rice, add shoyu and vinegar to taste
• Add veg and cashews, add more shoyu and vinegar as necessary
• Serve when heated through

If you would like to take part in The Allergy Interviews (all types of Food Allergies or Specific diets like Vegan, Vegetarian, Raw and/or Macrobiotic welcome) you can contact me by leaving a comment below or by emailing me at: aurea.conroy@gmail.com
I’d love to hear from you either way! And enjoy the rest of your weekend – come on sun!


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Aurea@Survival Guide said...

Thanks so much! so glad you enjoy it!

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