Hello again. You may have noticed I haven't been around that much. That's literally true, because I'm about 7lbs lighter since the start of this year - hurray! So there's less of me. But we'll come to that in a minute.
I have been 'absent' because I've been busy with my blog Butterflyist, which was the result of a column I had in the Guardian. I was tied up doing all the work I needed for the column, and writing the blog, and I've been working on building it up. That's now milling along nicely overall.
I've also had a few ideas on how to give a bit of a revamp to Chocolate and Beyond too, because times have moved on since I began this blog, and it needs a new direction. Especially as I've taken such a new direction in my own life, regarding my diet and my general philosophy (that is, now I am a commited vegan). I think that I need to bring this blog in line with that.
Now I'm vegan
You will have read that last November, I did a vegan challenge. I had bit of a transitional period following that, but in early January after watching this lecture by Gary Yourofsky, I decided once and for all that being an ethical vegan is the only choice that I can sit comfortably with (and wrote about it all here in this post).
'Coming out' as vegan has been a strange period of my life, as well as exciting, of course, but there have been difficulties too. These do not come from my actual diet, since exploring vegan eating and creativity in my cooking has been nothing but a joy! But I knew many people wouldn't understand, and I knew life would change on many levels.
Like my relationships with family (there have been some arguments), friends (my choice to be vegan is currently something of a novelty, and there have been a few friendly jibes around it), going out socially and invitations to social events, and how I live my life in more ways than dietary - such as shopping, like no longer buying silk or leather, and taking extra care of purchasing cosmetics (I want to check that not only have they NOT been tested on animals, but also that they don't contain animal ingredients).
So, there has been quite a time of adjustment, and I'm continuing to learn and be on a journey. I'm still working out how to deal with various circumstances, as I have to admit - from my time of tucking into sausages, which is well-documented on this blog - I now feel quite sick and upset when I see other people chomp into animal flesh.
But in all the ups and downs, one of the huge bonues (other than knowing I am reduding my demand on animal products and therefore, no longer being complicit in the barbaric cruelty inflicted upon animals for their meat or produce, as far as I possibly can), has been a natural weight loss of around half a stone (maybe more). And this has happened without me even trying, or paying particular attention even to intuitive eating.
This weight loss has occurred over the last 4 months, and I'm now back in jeans that I had shoved to the recesses of the wardrobe, expecting to end up in (yet another) charity bag. I imagine cutting out cheese has had a major impact. This was the food item I always had in my fridge (and surprisingly, though I thought I couldn't live without cheese, it seems I can and very easily. I rarely miss it).
It's harder to make quick, junk food choices as a vegan too, unless you have a stash of vegan junk food in your home already. So I've been eating less in terms of confectionary or pies or other, not entirely, nutritious food items. If you're vegan and out and about and have a snack attack, a standard newsagent shop will maybe just have crisps that you can eat. Milk chocolate and many sweets (since they contain gelatine) are off the menu. So my diet has been altogether a health-fest.
And do I miss chocolate? Well, let's face it - I did focus the theme of my blog on the stuff! And yet I have not been going without. Thankfully, I have been amazed at some of the wonderful vegan chocolate choices out there (and may get to review on this site). So I can still write about chocolate, and eat it, but I just avoid milk chocolate (and this means not eating the most sugar-laden, unhealthy types).
As well, the other wonderful outcome for me is my health. The stomach problem that had been troubling me since coming back from Uganda cleared up within three weeks of going vegan. Result! The only time I get any bother now is sometimes when I drink too much wine, or occasionally when I've even eaten something which I think - unbeknown to me - must have had dairy in it.
So what about Chocolate and Beyond? Well, it's long due a revamp. Both in terms of style and content. I'm all for maintaining an intuitive eating, non-dieting approach blog, or at least with that being its fundamental position. But I'm now very passionate about veganism, so I'd like the site to develop more on that level.
Maybe this will mean recipes, discussion of vegan issues and politics, and I'd also like to use the blog to debunk some of the myths around a vegan diet (like about protein and calcium), as well as expose some of the risks, and falsehoods, of a meat and dairy diet.
So - if you have been a follower of this blog, I'd be very interested in hearing what you think about my ideas in taking Chocolate and Beyond forward. I know there will be some people who have been following only for the intuitive journey and help on that - though I like to think there will be something still for you here as I continue to post.
But veganism, I suppose, is part of my intuitive journey. It certainly feels like the intuitively right thing to do! And I'm so intensely passionate about it, I think this site has to now be my outlet for that passion and all I have to say and talk about on the subject.
As I say, I'd love to hear your comments.