Back in December I challenged all our members to "Be Better" and promised that, as a Chamber, we would do everything we could to support those goals. At the same time, I starting thinking about how I could be better, and about all those things I had been putting off.
So I decided to do something new and challenging every month. January's challenge was to give blood for the first time, which was actually very easy and almost completely painless. The nurses there are nothing short of incredible - and it was totally worth it for the post donation coconut macaroons alone! I'm already signed for my next appointment and excited to think that by taking a few minutes out of my day I may have saved someone's life. I mean, seriously, how awesome is that?!
Then came February. With nothing planned. So I did what every sensible person would do: I asked Facebook for ideas. The response? Go vegan. For 28 whole days. A full 672 hours without meat, fish, dairy or eggs. At first I dismissed it thinking that a) I wouldn't be able to do it and that b) even if I did, I would be thoroughly miserable. It turns out though that there's an annoying bit of my brain that just can't say no to challenge, and before I knew it I had agreed.
Well, the challenge is now complete. Bar one bite of honey on toast (who knew vegans don't eat honey??) and a forkful of cabbage in margarine (of ALL the things to slip up on....) I stuck to it completely. There were some challenging moments along the way. Most notably the quick service station lunch that required me to make hummus sandwiches in the car, and the now legendary "cauliflower soup as a pasta sauce" debacle.
Overall though, it was pretty great. Restaurants happily created new meals (even a six course taster menu) just for me, I discovered a new vegan cafe (with SCONES!), and my recipe collection is brimming over with exciting new treats. I can now whip up gin & lavender truffles, a delightful chickpea & coconut curry and even a vegan pie. Almond milk is actually nicer on cereal and amazing in vegan hot chocolate. I feel healthier than I have in years and, much as I hate to admit it, I have no plans to go back to my old diet. I'm not saying I'm not looking forward to my next steak, or eggs Benedict, but these will be occasional treats. I am now officially a whimsical vegan.
I'm really, really hoping that this new healthier lifestyle will help with March's Be Better Challenge: running the Coniston 14. That's 14 miles and the furthest I will ever have run. Eeeek. If you're feeling uber generous and want to help spur me on up that final hill (it's a killer) then please donate to SAFE@LAST here.
The rest of the year has yet to be planned so if you have ideas of challenges for me, please shout up! And please also consider undertaking your own. It's tough, yes, but ultimately very rewarding and you'll be surprised just how many people around you will want to help.
Good luck and share your stories with us!
2014 JCI Sheffield President