From Chicken to Chickpeas - A Heart & Soul journey to veganism

Chicken is vegan, right?

Licking the light, spicy KFC popcorn chicken dusting off my fingers, I found myself on my way to Heart & Soul Retreats in search of a lifestyle reset. I craved a retreat to escape the chaos of my life: the drama, the stress and the grind. This was my opportunity to return to wellness and to connect with myself. Heart & Soul ticked all my boxes: three yoga classes per day, gorgeous surroundings, uplifting workshops and healthy meals. But, these meals were vegan. Loving crispy chicken, salmon sushi rolls and spiced steaks, I was preparing for the struggles of missing meat, cheese, and all the delicious trappings of a carnivore. Or so I thought. Unsure of what exactly I was walking into, my mind endlessly asked: “What exactly do vegans eat?” Expecting sombre salads, I trekked into the dining hall ...

Meat who?

Defying my expectations, I experienced the ultimate foodie feast. Let me paint you a picture: There was an elaborate salad complete with nuts, fruit, an array of leafy greens, an equally colourful dressing, a hearty chickpea curry, fiery spiced rice, roasted pumpkin, carrot and butternut squash soup and baked crispy cauliflower. Where to even start? Piling my plate high, I sampled everything. A symphony of flavours exploded in my mouth. The sharpness of the salad contrasted and balanced the rich curry that seemed to melt in my mouth. The salad dressing made the greens sing and highlighted the subtle flavours. My tummy was thrilled and momentarily forgot about the world of meat and cheese.

Betrayed by my body

In the following days, I was met with meal after meal of delightful foods. I travelled the world with crunchy puris, fragrant stews and crispy arepas. I was being reintroduced to food like I used to know. My gut was happy as the food left me full, but not heavy. I felt more energised for yoga, for my hike to the Figure 8 Pools and other walks around the Royal National Park. My body relaxed in the rhythm of the plant-based goodness; it was hearty and healthy. Only my mind was still slightly sceptical.

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Coming into Alignment

But soup bowl by soup bowl, meal by meal I felt my mind sink slowly into alignment with my body. Exploring veganism left me feeling great, no matter how oblivious I had previously been in regards to diet and wellbeing. Rather than feeling restricted, I welcomed the exploration of this world of new opportunities. Like never before, I was feeding my body and my mind. Whilst my body was being satisfied and healed by this nutritious, plant-based and high fibre diet, my mind was becoming clearer, too. With amazement I discovered the other benefits, like better heart health, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of heart disease! I didn’t miss meat or cheese at all. My increased energy, glowing skin, and better sleep trumped anything meat previously provided me. Leaving Heart & Soul, I felt refreshed and more connected with myself, planning to swap chicken for chickpeas every day. My journey to wellness has only just begun. The world of falafel is at my feet …