Breathing Techniques To Calm The Nervous System

Balance Your Vegan Diet: Macros Edition

BSC in Food Science and Nutrition from Coventry

 

I am forever grateful for my degree, as I find the concept of nutrition comes into almost every conversation I have around wellness, veganism and even spirituality. And, when having those conversations, there is one key topic that frequently comes up – macros.

An important part of any diet, but perhaps even more important for vegans, macros are a valuable tool in maintaining your physical and mental health and reaching your goals. They are something I have spent a lot of time both in and out of my degree researching, and a factor I considered carefully when developing the recipes for my plant-based cloud kitchen, Plant Essence.

In this blog, I’ll be exploring what macros are, why each macro is important and how you can balance yours.

I have a BSC in Food Science and Nutrition from Coventry University. If you’d like to learn more about this qualification, or any others I have, you can find them on my about page.

What Is A Macro?

A macro, which is short for ‘macronutrient’, is one of three categories of nutrients that you eat most often: protein, carbohydrates and fats. 

Keeping track of your macros helps you to balance them out in a way that is right for you, your health goals and your activity levels. It helps you to make smarter food choices and reach your goals faster – both mentally and physically! 

Here is a quick run-through of the importance of each macro…

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates get a pretty bad rep, despite being one of the most important food groups we can consume. They are your body’s main source of energy, which is why  a “no carb” diet can often leave you feeling tired and sluggish. But there are many other dangers associated with a lack of carbohydrates, including headaches, difficulty concentrating, nausea, constipation, bad breath as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is then converted into energy to support bodily functions and physical activity. They are known to fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system as well as aiding digestion, helping you to feel full and keeping your cholesterol levels in check.

There are three main types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fibre. Sugar can be found in fruit, nectars and syrups, as well as some vegetables and germinating grains. Starch can be found in potatoes, bread, cereal products, rice, grains and pasta. Meanwhile, fibre can be found in vegetables like broccoli, whole grains, beans and lentils, popcorn and some fruits, like apples and bananas.

My favourite healthy and vegan-friendly carbohydrate sources are millet, potatoes and rice.

Vegan Carbohydrates

Protein

Protein is well-known for being crucial to building muscle and helping your body to grow and repair itself, but it also has many other important functions, too. Protein helps red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, supports normal digestive function and regulates hormones. It can also curb hunger (particularly those late-night cravings) and boost the metabolism, helping us to maintain a healthy weight. 

A common misconception of a vegan diet is that vegans often struggle to get enough protein, but that is rarely the case. Protein can be found in a wide variety of plant-based foods, including seitan, soy beans (including tofu, tempeh, edamame and soy milk), lentils, beans, nutritional yeast, spelt, quinoa, oats, rice, chia seeds, nuts, seeds and even fruits and vegetables! For example, did you know that spinach is equal in terms of protein per calorie to chicken and fish?

My favourite plant-based sources of protein are lentils, chickpeas, edamame beans and tofu. 

Vegan Fats

What Is The Right Macro Balance For A Vegan?

Many people talk about getting the “perfect macro balance,” but truthfully this all depends on many factors, including your personal goals, your activity levels and the type of exercise you do. However, there is a general rule that I often recommend. Ensuring your daily calorie intake is made up of approximately 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 20% fats is a great place to start.

Not sure where to start with your macros? Try aiming for 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fats.

While not every meal you eat will have the perfect balance of macros, it is important to try to create a balance like the one in my pie chart in the food you eat each day. Some of my favourite recipes with a perfect macro balance are hummus with flax seed crackers, chickpea & lentil curries with rice, and a breakfast burrito with tofu and avocado.  That’s why all of these recipes are part of the menu at Plant Essence!

Fats

Because the word “fat” has such negative connotations, we often shy away from fatty foods for fear of gaining unhealthy weight. However, a moderate amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself. These acids are vital energy sources for our body. They influence tissue and cell metabolism while affecting how they function and response to natural signals, such as hormones. Fat also helps the body absorb vitamins A, D and E, which can’t be absorbed any other way. They are helpful sources of energy, as they can be easily stored around the body. Plus, fats support cell growth, keep blood pressure under control and protect our organs! 

There are four main types of fat: monounsaturated, polyunsaturates, saturated and trans. The first two are ‘healthy’ fats, whilst the latter two are not so healthy.  

Healthy (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats can be found in nuts and seeds, olives and avocado, whilst unhealthy (saturated and trans) fats can be found in meat and dairy, palm oil and coconut oil, and, unsurprisingly, in many biscuits, cakes, pies and pastries.

My favourite healthy fats are avocado, coconut oil (in moderation, as it is a saturated fat!) and cashew nuts.

Balance Your Vegan Diet: Macros Edition

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra
Autumn Wellness Practices To See You Through The Season

Top 5 Autumn Wellness Practices To See You Through The Season

I love the potential of the transitional season, and my top autumn wellness practices will help you make the most out of this time of year. Our energy levels tend to ebb and flow as the season changes. Autumn is a notable time for introspection, slowing down and reconnecting with our mind, body and soul after the high energy of summer. Energetically, it is a great season to practise some self-care and recharge. 

I’ve already posted a blog about the Autumn Equinox, but I wanted to share some other favourite practices I use to help me throughout the season.

1) Holotropic Breathwork

I won’t lie, holotropic breathwork can be a physically and emotionally intense practice. However, when you come out of the other side, I promise you will feel like a new person. Holotropic breathwork takes you through controlled breathing patterns to produce an altered state of consciousness. Once in that state, you’ll find you can move beyond your body and ego, helping you to reach your true self. It’s here that you’ll be able to better connect to yourself, others and the natural world. It’s a great autumn wellness practice since it requires deep introspection to match the energy for this time of year. 

During a session, you will be guided through the fast breathing technique for a few minutes or hours. Due to the intensity of the therapeutic exercise, I would advise seeking a trained facilitator to guide you. A quick search on Google will bring up several local sessions where you can sign up for either one-day or week-long workshops to ensure you are in safe hands.

Meditation Holotropic Breathwork
Autumn Massage

2) Massage Therapy

While there are plenty of types of massage to choose from, including Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone and more, in general, they have similar benefits. In the autumn, we are likely to spend more time indoors being less active than in the summer months, and our bodies can stiffen up. Manually working the muscles aids relaxation as it helps reduce any built-up tension or anxiety in the body. It’s also great for staving off seasonal illnesses like the common cold since massage can remove toxins by improving your blood flow and immune system. 

Massage is also wonderful to incorporate into your autumn wellness practices to promote a better night’s sleep. We require more sleep in the autumn as our bodies slow down to conserve energy during the darker months. Ask your massage therapist to use oils with calming scents like lavender, ylang ylang or chamomile, and you’ll drift off in no time!

3) Sound Baths

Using sound for healing is an old practice dating back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians – who believed vibrations and sounds could positively impact the human body. Now, sound bath sessions are used to aid anxiety, tension, low mood and, in some cases, reduce pain. As a qualified Level 1 and Level 2 Sound Healer from Peter Hess Institut, I am very passionate about adding the healing powers of sound baths to my autumn wellness practices. This time of year is about settling into yourself and relaxing! 

I highly recommend finding a weekly sound bath session to attend. During a session, trainers will create soothing sounds using crystal bowls, Tibetan singing bowls, bells, gongs or a combination of all four instruments. The best thing about attending a session is all you need to do is turn up! While a sound bath can induce a deep meditative state, you don’t have to go that far if you’re still new to meditation. Instead, you can just breathe deeply and let the vibrations do the work for you.

Sound bath

4) Clearing My Space

Just as the trees shed their leaves in autumn, we, too, can shed anything that’s no longer serving us. We’re all familiar with a spring clean, but what about cleaning your space as part of your autumn wellness practices, too? Since we spend more time indoors during this season, you want to ensure your space feels cosy and comfortable. Now is a great time to declutter your space and prepare for the New Year ahead. 

Clearing out my wardrobe has also become a seasonal tradition. While the weather doesn’t change too drastically in my climate, I still like to honour the cooler seasons by swapping out my summer clothes for light jumpers. Autumn is the ultimate cosy season, so I like to dress the part! It can also be a more spiritual practice in noticing that you’ve shed your summer identity. By clearing your wardrobe and storing away out-of-season clothes, you’re acknowledging the person you need to be in the current season. 

Autumn wellness reading

5) Replacing Netflix with Reading

Don’t get me wrong. I love binge-watching a Netflix series as much as everyone else. However, as things slow down in the autumn, I prefer to swap my screen time with getting my nose into a good book. Excessive screen time is linked to increased cortisol levels. Similarly, action-packed TV shows can leave you feeling more exhausted despite your body being inactive. On the other hand, reading can help settle your nervous system thanks to the calming nature of taking things at a slower pace – even if it is an action-packed novel! 

Reading is the ideal cosy autumn wellness practice as it forces you to slow down. This is precisely what mother nature is asking us to do at this time of year. It also requires you to be more present as you are actively reading. You’ll find your thoughts are creative and inspired the more you read. If you need some recommendations, check out my previous blog on books on my personal reading wish list! 

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra
Things I learned after going vegan

Things I Learned After Going Vegan

As I mentioned in my previous blog on plant-based living, it wasn’t long into my spiritual journey that I found and committed myself to veganism. I have been eating a plant-based diet and striving to be vegan in many other aspects of my life, for three years now. I have learned so much about myself in that time, so I wanted to share some of the changes I noticed and some of the myths my vegan journey has busted…

Changes In My Mind And Body After Going Vegan

Going vegan has changed me for the better – and not just physically, but mentally, too. Here are the three ways my mind and body have changed since switching to a plant-based diet:

Change 1: Better skin

Having suffered from horrible acne most of my life, but particularly in my later teenage years, my skin significantly improved since I cut animal products from my diet. Now, my skin is noticeably clearer, more even in tone and texture and less painful than it was in previous years. As someone passionate about leading a completely plant-based lifestyle, I also made the switch to using only vegan and cruelty-free beauty products. Thanks to more natural and vegan formulas I’ve experienced fewer breakouts and allergic reactions as I am no longer putting harsh chemicals on my skin. 

Change 2: Better eating habits 

In terms of my mental health, I have found veganism has given me a much healthier relationship with food. Before I went vegan, I used to be a “gym girl” who would track my calories and macros every time I ate. I would force an excessive amount of protein into my diet and watch my weight daily, constantly striving to reach a “goal” number on the scales. Since going vegan, I haven’t followed a strict diet or counted my calories. Instead, I am more intuitive as I listen to my body and eat what I feel like (within reason!). Now, while my weight fluctuates a little (as it should), I can maintain it without even trying. Exercise is no longer a chore as I enjoy it without feeling the pressure to fuel myself with unnecessary amounts of protein beforehand. 

Change 3: Better compassion 

Overall, I have had a far more compassionate outlook on life since becoming vegan. Not only do I feel more of an emotional attachment towards animals and the natural world, but also the environment as a whole and myself. I know I am living and eating in a way that is better for the world around me and the creatures I share it with. I feel much better about myself as a result of that knowledge. If I make a mistake, I’m more empathetic with myself, because I know I’m doing my best.

vegan lunch
Lunch

The Myths Around A Vegan Diet

Everyone, whether vegan or not, has an opinion about it. As such, the conversation around veganism is heavily littered with myths about how it impacts the body. From rumours that a vegan diet lowers your energy levels to theories that plant-based eating will make you anaemic and vitamin-deficient, I have heard them all. And – spoiler alert – not all of them are true! Here are the three biggest concerns I had about going vegan before actually making the switch.

Myth 1: Carbs are fattening  

Since a vegan diet can often be very rich in carbohydrates, I was terrified that I would gain a lot of weight if I went vegan. In my late teens and early 20s, I had a huge misconception about carbs and would fear eating them because I was convinced they would make me gain unhealthy body fat. Now that I am actually vegan I realised there is nothing to fear from eating carbs, if anything they are a crucial part of a balanced and healthy diet. As mentioned earlier, I don’t track my calories at all now that I am vegan, and I’m pleased to say my weight has never been more consistent!

Myth 2: Vegan desserts taste bad 

I am not ashamed to admit that I love my desserts. One of my worries going into a plant-based diet was that I wouldn’t be able to continue eating delicious pastries, chocolate or desserts if I went vegan. Luckily, I was wrong! Vegan desserts are just as tasty as anything I ate before transitioning my eating habits. The best part is most of them are made from natural sugars, making them healthier whilst still being equally as tempting. As a self-confessed sweet tooth, I knew that healthy, plant-based desserts were one of the first things I wanted to put on the  Plant Essence menu – my Dubai-based cloud kitchen! 

Myth 3: Veganism is hard 

One of my biggest concerns was that adopting a vegan diet would be hard. The truth is, I found the transition incredibly smooth and I rarely find myself tempted by non-vegan options when choosing what to eat. Admittedly going vegan was a little easier for me than most as I had been vegetarian for over 12 years prior. Nevertheless, I still expected giving up sweet treats to be a tough challenge. Honestly, with all the amazing vegan options on the market right now, I feel spoilt for choice! 

Vegan dessert

Although many of my vegan friends have had similar experiences to mine, it’s important to remember that my experience of going vegan is exactly that: my experience. If you currently eat meat and/or other animal-based products and you choose to go vegan (which I hope you do!), remember that your journey to veganism will also be entirely unique. That’s the beauty of it, really, every vegan has a story to tell!  

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra
Vegan Books On My Reading Wish List

Vegan Books On My Reading Wish List

Forever a student, I want to continue learning and expanding my knowledge, so as an avid reader, I thought it was about time I expanded my list of vegan books to read. I am already a passionate vegan and bookworm, so I am excited to grow my personal library.

Many of the spiritual books I’ve read and the practices I follow promote kindness and compassion for others, and that includes all creatures. When embarking on my yoga teacher training I learned about the eight limbs of yoga as outlined in the Yoga Sutra – the theory and practice of yoga.

The first of the eight limbs is the Yamas, five restraints (social ethics) that when practised can lead to a deep self-awareness and inner peace. The first Yama often thought of as the most important is Ahimsa which means non-violence and respect for all living things. It entreats us to live in such a way that we cause no harm in our thought, speech or action to any living being, including ourselves. It is this practice that fuels my drive to be vegan and educate others on doing the same.

Here are some of the top non-fiction and fiction books about veganism on my “to read” pile.

Non-Fiction Vegan Books

Non fiction vegan books

How Not To Die by Michael Greger

Based on the latest scientific research, this book offers effective and scientifically-proven advice on why diet has such a huge impact on our overall health. It reveals how simple dietary changes can not only dramatically reduce our risk of falling ill, but they can even reverse the effects of disease.

As a former Food Science and Nutrition student, this book is something that really resonates with me and my belief that food can be medicine. I am excited to dive into How Not To Die to further my understanding so I can help myself and those around me live longer, healthier lives. 

 

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer 

I’ve heard that Eating Animals is not an easy read. It pulls back the curtain on the factory farming industry to reveal the gut-wrenching truth about what it takes to put meat on the table. The book exposes the prices paid by the animals, Mother earth and people in developing countries to make eating meat more convenient, cheaper and quicker to produce. 

As a first-person account that’s written as an intellectual journey, I am interested to see how Jonathan Safran Foer presents his findings to convince his readers to go vegan. 

 

We Are The Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer 

Another book by Jonathan Safran Foer, We Are The Weather takes a different approach to promoting a vegan diet and lifestyle. In this book he looks at how a meat heavy diet directly contributes to the climate crisis, but that if everyone made a small change we could collectively save the planet. 

I like the idea of making veganism a collective action that we, as humans, need to prioritise in the name of the greater good. 

 

Once Upon A Time We Ate Animals by Roanne van Voorst 

Similar to the previous book in this list, Once Upon A Time We Ate Animals asks the important question: if we all know that eating meat is detrimental to the planet’s health, why do we keep eating it? It attempts to answer this question by going back through history to a time when humans didn’t exploit animals for food or products. By doing so, it helps us imagine a plant-based future without factory-farming. 

I imagine this book will be incredibly persuasive for those that may be on the fence about going vegan – which is why I am looking forward to reading it so I can recommend it to others and hopefully get them to shift their viewpoints. 

Fiction Vegan Books

fiction vegan books

PopCo by Scarlett Thomas

PopCo centres around protagonist Alice Butler, who has been receiving messages written in code. The novel follows Alice as she tries to crack the codes and in doing so she delves deeper into a world of family secrets, puzzles, profit-hungry corporations and the power of numbers. 

While Alice isn’t vegan at the beginning of the novel, she meets some along her journey and is curious to learn more. I’m intrigued to see how the protagonist develops and what role veganism plays in her overall character. 

 

The Humans by Matt Haig

I’ve had so many people recommend Matt Haig’s books to me because of how beautifully they are written, so I am glad to add The Humans to my library. This book follows an alien who is transported into the body of a university professor named Andrew as he explores this new world.  

Far from a sci-fi novel, the book is an interesting way of examining the strangeness of humanity from an outsider’s perspective. One part of the book sees the protagonist question why humans eat other animals – it’s raised as something the alien protagonist cannot understand. 

 

The Bees by Laline Paull 

I know some vegans that still consume honey, however what they’re forgetting is that bees are animals too with advanced societies. The Bees is written from the perspective of a lower class bee as she navigates life in the hive and draws attention to the devastating effects of harvesting honey. 

What I love about this book is how well researched it seems to be. I am sure I will come across many eye-opening chapters that reveal the true and extraordinary nature of bees.

 


 

If you have read any of these vegan books or have any other recommendations, I would love to hear them! You can message me on Instagram, TikTok or Facebook @bytanyamm x

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra
Veganism beyond the plate

Veganism beyond the plate: How to be vegan in all aspects of your life

It’s no surprise that my spiritual journey led me to veganism. Once I began to recognise and understand the divine energies that are at play, I began to feel more connected to all life. More than just a diet, at its core, veganism is about minimising harm to the planet and the fellow creatures we share it with. That’s why I’m passionate about learning all there is to know about leading a vegan lifestyle in every sense of the word.

From choosing what beauty products to pamper yourself with, to what type of candle to burn in your home, there are plenty of ways to veganise your life beyond what’s on the end of your fork.

Here’s how…

Vegan Beauty

Searching for good-quality, vegan and cruelty-free beauty products can be a bit of a minefield. Just because a company claims to be against animal testing doesn’t mean its products are automatically vegan. Common animal-derived ingredients used within the beauty industry include milk, honey and even snail mucin – all of which have extraction processes that can cause harm to the animals. While the ingredients I’ve mentioned are easy enough to spot on the back of product packaging, the same can’t be said for all animal-derived ingredients.

Here are some surprising non-vegan ones to watch out for:

  • Retinol: an active form of vitamin A, retinol is found in animal liver, whole milk and fish. In cosmetics, however, most retinol is made from synthetic sources and should be vegan-friendly, but worth double-checking!
  • Collagen: a protein found in the hair, skin, nails, bones and ligaments of cows and fish. Whilst there are vegan collagen-boosting products, there isn’t yet a true vegan collagen alternative.
  • Lanolin: is common in lip and hair products to soften and moisturise, but it’s derived from sheep wool, meaning there’s no such thing as “cruelty-free” lanolin. Vegan alternatives include oils like coconut and olive, and butters like shea and coconut.
  • Keratin: another animal-derived protein. This time found in the hair and horns of farm animals. Vegan alternatives include plant proteins like hydrolysed wheat, soy and corn.
  • Shellac: a well-known nail product for its shine and durability, shellac actually comes from lac bugs, which are killed in their hundreds of thousands for people to have shiny nails.

Vegan Wardrobe

Curating a vegan-friendly wardrobe means avoiding clothing made from leather, feathers, fur, wool and silk. The thought of wearing another creature’s skin around my own while knowing the harm and pain it caused to fashion it into an item of clothing is deeply saddening. Rather than fill my wardrobe with cruelty, I like to shop for ethical alternatives without compromising my ability to self-express through fashion.

Luckily, there are lots of vegan-friendly options when it comes to fabric choices as many are plant-based by default, such as cotton, linen, bamboo and hemp. Being plant-based, clothes made from these materials are often more comfortable to wear since they allow our skin to breathe and our bodies to be at ease. There are also many natural alternatives to leather, such as cork and even plant-based leathers made out of oranges, apples and pineapples!

While textiles like rayon, nylon, PVC and polyester are also naturally vegan, there isn’t anything natural about them since they’re synthetic and commonly made from plastic. While you could argue that no animals are directly harmed in the making of a polyester jumper, once it is worn and washed, tiny bits of microplastics get released into the waterways and end up in the ocean. Underwater creatures eat the microplastics mistaking them for food which can cause harm. Instead, opt for clothing made out of recycled polyester or recycled ocean plastic and make sure to use a bag designed to stop microplastics from polluting the ocean.

Vegan Homeware

The home is our sanctuary. Our safe space. Our ritual setting. And, it’s where we can be our most authentic selves. This is why if you are committing to a vegan lifestyle and minimising your harm to other creatures take stock of the items surrounding you.

All items carry the energy of their previous owners. The same goes for items created at the expense of an animal’s life. You can feel the cruelty, pain and sadness vibrating off things made from ivory, bone, tusks, horns and teeth – they hold onto it. Avoid these items to maintain positive energy within your home, or if they are family heirlooms you don’t wish to part with, then try a cleansing ritual to reset the energy balance.

Again, as with your wardrobe, to have a vegan-friendly home, avoid textiles like leather, wool and silk. You can still add texture to your soft furnishings with other vegan-friendly materials like linen cushions or a woven jute rug. Or try out some of the alternatives mentioned earlier.

Any spiritual being will know how important candles are in your tool kit, but many candles are not vegan-friendly since they contain beeswax. Bees work incredibly hard to create the honey and wax designed to feed the hive through the winter. When these stores are harvested for human benefit, the hive’s health is compromised. Fortunately, there are many plant-based alternatives such as soy, coconut or rapeseed wax or a blend of natural vegetable waxes used to make vegan-friendly candles that smell and burn just as good.

I’ve only touched on three areas other than a diet where I think everyone would benefit from being more vegan. Once you start adopting and committing to a fully vegan lifestyle, you’ll really start to see how all creatures are connected and deserving of love and compassion. It’s a magical feeling that’s served to deepen my spiritual practice over the years.

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra