About: Stirring the Pot
Welcome to Stirring The Pot! While plant-based food provides a nutritious and delicious way of eating, most of us have grown up as omnivores. This can make the transition to a healthy plant-based diet seem like an insurmountable challenge. Stirring The Pot is here to help. By drawing on my own experience of navigating that path from meat-eating to plant-based, as well as my knowledge of Nutritional Medicine, I hope to encourage and support you to make the changes you desire in the healthiest way possible.
Follow my blog for strategies on how to transition to a healthy plant-based diet, including links to helpful recipes, videos and information sources so that you can develop your own online plant-based community. You might like to join one of our group courses which teach you how to use the power of the plant-based diet to achieve health goals such as long-term weight loss, improved diabetes control or blood pressure reduction.
About: Plant-Based Eating
To embrace a plant-based (vegan) diet means to fill your plate with fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains and to leave out all animal-based products such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey. Broadly speaking, there are three reasons why people adopt a plant-based diet: health and weight loss, animal welfare and environmental impact. Not uncommonly, a person will adopt a plant-based diet for one of those three reasons, but over time become motivated by an increased awareness of the other two reasons.
A 2015 study from Oxford University brought together the findings of eight major nutrition studies which looked at the long-term health of people in relation to their diets. It found that vegans consistently had the lowest body mass index (i.e. were slimmest) when compared with omnivores. Those who ate a plant-based diet were also more likely to have lower rates of Type 2 Diabetes, lower overall cancer rates, lower blood cholesterol levels and lower rates of high blood pressure. For these reasons, the British Dietetic Association fully supports a plant-based diet. One of the magic health-promoting ingredients associated with these lower disease rates and found in abundance in a plant-based diet, but completely missing in animal-based foods, is fibre. Fibre is the indigestible part of the plant and most people do not eat the recommended 30 grams per day. Fibre provides the food for the good bacteria that live in our large bowel, and comes packaged with a vast range of nutrients each of which plays an important part in contributing to a healthy body. Follow the blog or join a course as we discuss in greater detail the health benefits of dietary fibre and plant-derived nutrients.
The British have a reputation as a nation of dog lovers and none of us would knowingly condone the suffering of animals. For those who are interested in looking into animal agriculture welfare issues in more detail, the Surge Activism or Viva! websites are worth a look. Please be aware that much of the material is difficult to watch.
It will have escaped no one's notice that climate change and loss of biodiversity are critical challenges facing us all. There is an abundance of evidence that animal-based diets have a more detrimental impact on the environment than do plant-based diets. The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition produced a far-reaching report in September 2020 looking at how the world's food systems are driving biodiversity loss and climate change. One of their conclusions was, "Animal-sourced foods in particular, generally require high inputs in terms of land and feed quality, generate relatively high green house gas emissions, and are one of the major contributors to natural resource degradation". A 2018 Oxford University study in Science looking at the global impact of food production came to the same conclusions, "Moving from current diets to a diet that excludes animal products has transformative potential, reducing food's land use by 76% and reducing food's greenhouse gas emissions by 49%".
Following a plant-based diet can have its challenges, especially in the first weeks and months. It's important therefore to have a strong 'why' to draw on. The 'why' can be to stay healthy, regain health or manage weight. For some, the 'why' is to treat all animals as equals. For others, it's a desire to have a lighter step on the planet. Whatever your reason for wanting to follow a plant-based diet, let Stirring The Pot support you and become part of your plant-based community.
I am a born and bred Canadian. I obtained my BSc in biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal, before leaving on a gap year to the UK. Thirty-five years later, and I'm still here. I went on to study medicine at Cambridge University and Guy's Hospital in London. I worked in the NHS for twenty-seven years and retired as a Consultant in 2018. I am currently studying for my MSc in Nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey and have completed the Plant-Based Nutrition Course at the University of Winchester. I am a licensed Food For Life instructor with the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am also a member of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK.
I changed to a plant-based diet almost four years ago to support my teenage daughter who wanted to go vegan. As a healthy omnivore, I wasn't expecting to see any health benefit in going plant-based. That made it all the more remarkable when some extra weight dropped off, my joints felt better, my energy increased and I simply felt lighter. As I started to educate myself about a plant-based diet, I discovered that there is a wealth of research supporting its role in the prevention and treatment of many of the chronic health conditions that affect us.
My hope is that you will join me as I share with you the knowledge that I have gained over these past four years, to help with your plant-based journey so that you can enjoy a life full of fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains and legumes and all of the health benefits they can bring.