A vegan guide to Basel

Wow Basel, what an incredible city. I was lucky to spend an extended weekend there recently and really enjoyed exploring all of the landmarks and small winding streets. Walking and sitting along the Rhine river was a big highlight! Slow down and really take your time to notice all of the small pieces of architecture and the different sizes and detail in colour of the houses.

basel

Rhine river with a view during sunset

All of this exploring works up an appetite! Here are my vegan food recommendations for Basel:

1. Eiscafe-Acero (eiscafe-acero.ch)

This quirky little cafe is located on one of my favourite streets, Rheinegasse, which is the next street on the East bank of the river. This location is very popular with locals and tourists alike who like to take a nice swim and paddle in the warm Rhine river. Eiscafe-Acero is a very popular attraction for the ice cream and frozen deserts they have for sale at the front of the shop and I often saw a queue of half-naked swimmers cooling off here. If you are not too distracted;) have a look at the food menu and you will see some vegan options such as, hummus with flatbread, mezze-teller, green salad and various deserts made vegan if requested. My personal choice was the mezze-teller which was a mixed plate of oriental lentil balls, onion-chutney, hummus, olives, taboule and flatbread. The flavours were incredible and I would highly recommend trying this dish.

eiscafe

Eiscafe-Acero – Mezze-Teller

2. Tibits (tibits.ch)

So good I had to go there twice! Tibits is a self-service veggie and vegan restaurant located on the South side of the river. There are many vegan options which are clearly marked and everything is freshly prepared in the close by kitchen with friendly staff on hand to help. Once you have filled your plate, you go to the pay desk where your food is then weighed to determine the cost. This is great because you only pay for as much as you select unlike other buffets where you pay a set amount then realise your eyes were too big for your belly! So my advice here is to select an amount you know you will finish then if you’re still hungry go back for seconds. Again, there was so much choice and I would need a separate blog post to share all of the options but here’s some of the items I enjoyed: home-made vegan coleslaw, hummus, fresh vegetables, red cabbage and onion, falafel, pumpkin, vegetable curry and rice.

tibits

Tibits – Mixed Buffet

3. Hirscheneck (hirscheneck.ch)

If you are looking for a bit of entertainment and atmosphere with your food, Hirscheneck is the place to go. It’s about a 5 minute walk from Eiscafe-Acero mentioned above and has events on most evenings. The music ranges from rock/pop to electronic to punk. You can check the schedule listed on the website above to find something that suits your taste. The food menu is very basic but there are some good vegan options to choose from including pastas, pizzas and salads. I went for the Penne Arrabbiatta which you can see below.

hirsch

Hirscheneck — Penne Arrabbiatta

Another good tip for Basel is to make sure you change your money to the local currency of Swiss Francs. When using Euros the restaurants charge you a 1–1 rate which means you pay slightly more when using Euros. The exchange rate is very close but if you were to use Euros at every restaurant, it soon adds up! With the high tax in Switzerland as well, prepare for the bills to be higher than you expected.

It truly is an incredible city to explore! I hope this helps you plan your food options well and keeps you following your compassionate plant-based lifestyle.

A vegan guide to Maastricht

I spent some time recently in Maastricht, Netherlands, on a work trip and I thought it could be useful to share some of the vegan options available for anyone who wishes to visit this great small city.
But before I start distracting you with the mouthwatering food, I would like to give you a great tip for getting around and exploring the city. Simply… hire a bike, or better still, bring a bike with you! Pretty much everyone cycles here and it is so safe to do so and allows you to really explore the depths of this lovely city. There are many places to hire a bike and most of the city hotels will have their own hire service. For example, I stayed at the Van der Valk hotel ( http://bit.ly/2caSaUn) who charge only 10EUR per day!

maastricht

Now on to the food! Here are my vegan recommendations for Maastricht:
1. Burgerlijk (burgerlijk.eu)
As you can tell from the name, this is a burger restaurant located in a vibrant area near the Sint Pieter river. Polite service, cool decor and good atmosphere make eating in appealing. The menu requires placing your ‘vegan visors’ on as you will see options such as, Kalfsburger and Lamsburger, and if you’re thoughts work like mine, you will have to calm the internal rage before walking out 😉 However, if you make it through, you’re in for a treat! Vegan options on the menu include, Tempeh Burger, Sojaburger (soya) and organic vegetables and salads. My personal choice was the Tempeh Burger which was delicious. The texture of the tempeh was succulent, and the vegan gado gado sauce flavored it perfectly. The warm bun and fresh vegetables supplemented the burger nicely. The burger was plenty for me but you can add the option of fries or salad. There is no vegan option for desert but I doubt you will have room anyway!

burgerliijk

Burgerlijk  – Tempeh Burger

2. SAP Bagel & Juice Bar (facebook.com/sapmaastricht)
This modern and quirky restaurant serves warm bagels, fresh fruit juice and fairtrade coffee. Ample seating, excellent location and good wifi connection makes this place perfect for digital nomads or somewhere to relax with a good book. Choose your preferred bagel from options such as, sesame, spinach olive, and multigrain. The two vegan options for the filling are vegan chicken avocado and vegan BLT. I tried both (on different days;) and really enjoyed them equally. The use of fresh ingredients was obvious in the taste. Accompany your bagel with a soy cappuccino and a fresh fruit juice to go. SAP Bagel & Juice Bar offers quick healthy food with friendly service. Their marketing seems very innovative and forward thinking. I think they could make the transition to go completely vegan quite easily!

sap

SAP Bagel & Juice bar  – Vegan BLT & Soy Cappuccino

3. Umami (umami-restaurant.com)
Umami combines Asian flavors with a French twist. Warm and friendly service with a smile and the decor was stylish and interesting. It is located next to the above restaurant, SAP Bagel & Juice bar, which is just outside Maastricht train station. On the menu, the vegan options are located at the bottom of the page and are clear to see with a ‘v’ symbol located next to them. The eye-catching ‘v’ allows you to focus your attention to these options only without having to scan each option and frustrate yourself that it’s meat (the Burgerlijk example above could use this tip;). There are a good selection of vegan options to choose from. I chose a 3 course meal of chuka wakame (seaweed, cucumber, garlic oil and pine nuts) tempura mushrooms, and tomato zucchini.

umami

Umami  – Tempura Mushrooms & Tomato Zucchini

4. Loving Hut (lovinghutmaastricht.nl)
A little bit further out of town but definitely worth the trip. The only restaurant I could find in Maastricht that is completely vegan. Come with an empty belly to eat here as you will want to try everything on the menu. I was so full when I left and I could barely move! I have tried both of the Loving Hut’s in Brighton, England, where the menu’s are equally as impressive so I was excited to see just as much choice here. The menu has around 80 different, Asian inspired, items to choose from, all vegan! The atmosphere was very calming and is the perfect setting for a nice relaxing evening. To start I had crispy vegetable samosas with sweet and sour source. These little flavorsome bites definitely helped wet my appetite. For the main I had veggie duck with Chinese mushrooms and noodles. I had never seen or tasted veggie duck so I was intrigued to see what it was like. I was not disappointed. It was made with soy protein and the chef even managed to recreate the exact look and texture of real duck. The flavor of the sauce combined with the vegetables worked perfectly. Even though I had no space left, I was so impressed by the food that I had to have desert. I went the soy based vanilla ice cream which had the perfect texture and sweetness to end any meal.

loving-hut-maastricht

Loving Hut – Veggie Duck & Noodles

Another good tip in Maastricht which could also help if you are on a budget is to find a local supermarket. I used this option every morning for breakfast as the menu at the hotel sucked! I found one in Maastricht train station called Albert Heijn which had some great options such as hummus, fresh breads, fruit, salads, pasta, and even Nakd bars!
I hope this helps you enjoy Maastricht with some vegan options in mind. It truly is a wonderful city to explore. Thanks for reading and have fun on your adventures!

The happy side effects of veganism

The happy side effects of veganism

The health benefits of my journey without meat or dairy__

It’s been over 5 and a half months since I turned vegan. Guess what… I am still alive!

Not only am I still alive but I am actually thriving. I have never felt so good. The benefits I have seen from my new plant-based lifestyle have been incredible.

 Here’s what I have noticed so far:

Weight loss

I personally was not trying to lose weight when turning vegan. However, this was a welcome benefit from my new diet choice! I had always struggled with my weight since my teens. I was in pretty good shape in my early twenties due to a regular exercise habit but over the years I have noticed it gradually increase. I was 82.5kg when I was 23 years old. At 6ft 1in, this was my ideal weight. Turning 30, I had seen this weight rise to as much as 88kg. During that time I was eating quite healthy (or so I thought) and exercising quite regularly. I thought the weight gain was just all part of ‘getting old’ 😉

Since turning vegan, I now weigh 82.3kg which has now plateaued since reaching ‘a healthy weight’. All with a semi-regular exercise habit and never sacrificing a meal. I am actually eating more than I was during my pre-vegan diet. I never thought I would see my weight below 85kg again.

And for those of you who are thinking its because of muscle mass loss due to vegans being protein deficient (total myth by the way)… Take a look at my average monthly stats that I have been tracking which actually shows I’ve gained muscle and lost body fat:

  • November 2015 — meat eater 

Weight: 87kg, Body fat %: 21, Muscle %: 64.5kg

  • December 2015 — meat eater

Weight: 87kg, Body fat %: 21.1, Muscle %: 64.5kg

  • January 2016 — vegan

Weight: 85.6kg, Body fat %: 19.9, Muscle %: 64.8kg

  • February 2016 — vegan

Weight: 83.8kg, Body fat %: 18.8, Muscle %: 64.9kg

  • March 2016 — vegan

Weight: 82.8kg, Body fat %: 17.6, Muscle %: 65.1kg

  • April 2016 — vegan

Weight: 82.3kg, Body fat %: 17.7, Muscle %: 65.1kg 

  • May 2016  vegan

Weight: 82.3kg, Body fat %: 17.6, Muscle %: 65.2kg

(All stats were recorded from a Tanita body composition monitor which is widely regarded for its highly accurate readings —  http://amzn.to/1rDFLds)

Energy, Brain and Body Function

Another function on the scales mentioned above measures your approximate metabolic age. Metabolism can be defined as chemical transformations within cells of living organisms (1). Take a look at my results below:

  • November 2015 — meat eater — Metabolic age: 34 years
  • December 2015 — meat eater — Metabolic age: 35 years
  • January 2016 — vegan — Metabolic age: 32 years
  • February 2016 — vegan — Metabolic age: 29 years
  • March 2016 — vegan — Metabolic age: 27 years
  • April 2016 — vegan — Metabolic age: 26 years
  • May 2016 — vegan  Metabolic age: 26 years

As you can see, my metabolic age since turning vegan has rapidly decreased. I now have the metabolic age of a 26 year old (I’m 31:)))

As my metabolic age has been decreasing, I have noticed an increased efficiency in processes such as:

  •  digestion,
  • energy balance,
  • electrolyte and fluid balance,
  • brain function.

With the efficient transformations I have noticed heightened energy levels in my every day life. I have had more motivation, more ‘get up and go’. Exercise has become easier which is encouraging a more regular habit to form. I am thinking clearer and my decision making is sharper.

Ageing and Longevity

I have only been vegan for just over 5 and a half months so it is a little early for me to make any comments that my new lifestyle is slowing down my ageing process. However, a very inspiring video I watched recently, should be all the evidence you need. Allow me to introduce Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, the 101 year old vegan!

Immunity

In the past, my immune system has lacked some reliability to say the least. Every other month I used to be struck down by a cold (or man flu) for at least a couple of weeks. Since being vegan, I had a very slight cold at the start of the year which only lasted a couple of days. Since then, not one hint of illness (touch wood).

Skin Tone and Condition

I can definitely confirm that my skin is a lot clearer and smoother since making the change. There is an huge amount of research supporting that vitamin-filled foods help smooth and heal skin cells. Another benefit is the enhanced tone and colour of the skin. This can be explained by naturally eating more fruits and vegetables rich with carotene.


Oh and by the way… not only does a vegan diet have incredible health benefits, it is also environmentally sustainable (unlike meat eating;), and stops the mass murder of animals! WIN>WIN>WIN :O

Want to know more about where my vegan journey began? Here’s a link to ‘beginning my vegan journey’.

Why not try a vegan diet for yourself?

Take it from me, it really is not as hard as I imagined it would be 5 months ago. If you need any help or advice, connect with me on the following social media channels:

Twitter — @GoThryv

Check out the latest photos about the things I am discovering on Instagram

#GoVegan #GoThryv

Thanks for reading x

Beginning my vegan journey

Beginning my vegan journey

From animal consumer to animal advocate__

I have been vegan since 28th December 2015. After a rather indulging and busy Christmas, I decided to put my feet up for the day in front of the TV and Netflix. After catching up with some saved shows I kept getting the usual ‘because you watched (x)’, ‘you might also like (y)’. One that kept appearing was a really sad looking and gloomy cow…

No not the her!

Yes you got it, Cowspiracy! I was totally blown away and I knew something had quite dramatically changed inside of me. 

Just like Kip (documentary lead), before becoming vegan I had always considered myself mindful and aware of my actions relating to the environment.

  • I recycle as much as possible
  • I drive a small, low emission car and walk when possible
  • I turn off the water when brushing my teeth
  • I turn off the light when leaving a room… etc etc.

I had no idea that just by eating meat was more environmentally destructive than any of the measures I was implementing —  combined — and then some and then some more! 

Here’s a small selection of facts that literally blew my mind:

  • Consuming just one pound of beef requires >2,500 gallons of water!
  • Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals for food
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean deadzones, water pollution, and habitat destruction
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon deforestation
  • WTF!

References for these and MANY MORE facts can be found at http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts

  13 51(Picture adapted from http://www.cowspiracy.com/)

My curious mind was hooked!

 

Next up was Vegucated. This documentary follows three meat eating Americans who adopt a vegan diet for 6 weeks. This helped me comprehend the real misconceptions surrounding veganism. It also highlights the idealistic vision of the meat and dairy industry compared to the actual reality.

Picture below: Top — what we want to imagine. Bottom — Reality!

good cow bad cow(Picture – Top: taken from dairycrest.co.uk. Bottom: taken from occupyforanimals.net)

As Paul and Linda McCartney once quoted:

“If slaughter houses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

Due to rising populations and therefore growing demand, the meat and dairy industry have been forced to change the way they operate. The small little family run farms we all like to imagine have been converted into huge industrial factory farms to cope with the demand. This new age of chemically enhanced agriculture needs to be exposed. Not only because of the horrible treatment and mass murder of the animals, but also for the evidence linking meat and dairy consumption to diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

 

Last in my mindset change marathon, but by no means least, was Earthlings. This shocking documentary was hard for me to watch… I don’t even want to write about it… but I can safely say:

“I will never eat meat or dairy ever again!”

 

Animals have always been a part of my life. I had pet cats as a child and I have worked with horses for 5 years in my late teens/early twenties. I have always envisioned having animals in my life in the future. I have noticed the different personalities, emotions and other unique traits in every animal I have come into contact with. But somehow, until now, I have failed to comprehend that the meat on a plate once had it’s own personality, feelings and felt pain, sadness and fear just like every other living being. With this failing, I am now on a mission to make up for lost time.

When I first sat down to write this blog, I had no intention to rant and rave or persuade anyone else to follow suit. However, a quite emotional passion has developed inside of me since turning vegan and I want to help others lead a more compassionate and healthy life.

I would encourage anyone who cares about our planet, the animals we share this earth with and also your own health, to consider watching the documentaries I have highlighted.

Being vegan is really not as hard as I once imagined. The health benefits I have experienced in this short time have been staggering. Look out for my next blog and I will talk further about this. I can safely say though: 

“I am not just surviving, I am thriving!”

I will leave it here for now and let you decide your next move… but let me leave you with this:

one animals life(Picture adapted from www.cowspiracy.com)

I have now been vegan for 105 days and counting. I’ll let you do the maths!

#GoVegan #GoThryv

Thanks for reading x