From ready-meals and processed food to a mum at 49, Jean Dayton shares her vegan journey…
I’m Jean, also known as Beanie. I’m a 49-year-old vegan cook, I’ll be 50 this year and feel the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m an avid food blogger and mum for the third time to my baby Freddie, who is just eight months old.
I put my vibrant health down to my healthy lifestyle that involves eating a plant-based diet, which I believe is the main reason I was able to conceive my third baby naturally at the age of 48. Eating this way has significantly improved my fitness and recovery time, stamina, energy levels and overall zest for life, which in turn has enabled me to enjoy a healthy pregnancy, even though the medical profession was concerned about my diet and my age. I amazed them and proved them wrong.
My blog ‘Beanies Vegan Kitchen’ was born over two years ago from my passion and love for food, and a desire to help others who are transitioning to a plant-based diet. There are more than 100 recipes on my blog created from my kitchen, all created for their amazing taste and nutrition.
Furthering my passion for food, I’m publishing my first recipe book which will be available as an e-book this month. I want to show that creating plant-based meals is by no means difficult or boring. My book contains a good balance of newly created easy vegan recipes, meal plans, how to get organised in the kitchen and a list of ingredients to stock in the larder.
Feeling the strain
I haven’t always been this healthy though. Ten years ago I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, I was just over 10 stone, I felt frumpy and middle aged, I drank too much wine and although a vegetarian (and temporarily a meat eater for two years before going vegan) I ate all the wrong things, which included a lot of cheese and pasta! My diet was mainly processed foods and the dreaded ‘ready meal’. I gradually put on weight and when I tried to shift it through exercise, no matter how much I tried the weight just didn’t want to come off, which made me feel even more frustrated with my body. I felt really unhappy and gradually my self-esteem plummeted – I remained the same weight until I changed my diet.
My health changed for me when I became vegan! My eyes were fully opened. This felt so right for me to pursue this way of living, not just for body health, but ethically, spiritually and emotionally too. My vegan awakening was quick, overnight in fact. When I found out the real truth behind the farming industry and how the animals are treated so abhorrently in all aspects of ‘the process’ of bringing meat and dairy to the consumer’s table, I decided I wasn’t going to eat meat or dairy ever again!
My baby story began prior to me becoming a vegan. I’d fallen pregnant at the age of 46 and during this time I was consuming meat and dairy. I sadly lost the baby at 11 weeks. It was a very difficult and stressful time, I picked myself up, dusted myself down and got on with my life.
At 48 years old I wasn’t expecting to fall pregnant again as I thought my one and only chance of having a baby again was probably gone. My pregnancy was a natural conception, no IVF. I thought at my age I would soon be showing symptoms of menopause. In fact, during the months leading up to my pregnancy, I’d experienced a few night sweats. I blogged about my vegan pregnancy, my experience as
an older mum and what I ate.
Onwards and upwards
It’s three years since I became an ethical vegan and I have never looked back. My health is the best it has ever been and my body has found its natural weight with no effort at all. I exercise regularly, but I don’t train hard – I just do what I love. My skin has a constant healthy glow, I’m more flexible, I feel younger than my 49 years, more vibrant, more positive with a healthy lust for life. My return to my pre-pregnancy weight and fitness has been effortless. I put this down to my plant-based diet together with a positive mindset about life.
Connect with Jean at BeaniesVeganKitchen.com, on Instagram, or her blog at VeganBabyDiary.com