- Who am I?
- Why do I write this blog and what sort of stuff do I write about?
- Why should you trust me?
- Food and me: a love/hate story
- My 18 everyday habits
- 10 of my favourite things (in no particular order)
- The 12 foods I consume EVERY day
- 3 healthy things I wish I liked but don’t
- …and 8 less healthy things I wish I didn’t
- The 11 best things I love about being vegan
- The 7 biggest challenges for me as a vegan
- My top tips for virgin vegans
Who am I?
At last! You’ve found me.
I’m George Dryden (officially, it’s Georgina, but only when I’ve done something extremely naughty and my Dad’s found out).
I’m a slightly-off-the-wall-but-in-a-good-way journalist, blogger and mostly-raw vegan. And before you ask, I was born in 1975. Based in Leicestershire, in the UK, I’ve been sitting at my paper-strewn dining room table at least three times a week since September 2013, producing posts on my battered laptop for a steadily-expanding audience, quite literally spilling the beans on what it’s like to be a vegan day to day. Read more…
I live in a close-knit, quintessential English village in a cosy little cottage with a courtyard garden and a river nearby. And yes, I do adhere slightly to the stereotype of a non-meat-eating, singleton female, as I share my home with a cat. But only the one. And his name is Eric. He’s Burmese, but somehow we manage to work around the language barrier. And I love him.
In April 2014, I graduated as a Certified Health Educator from the Hippocrates Health Institute, in Florida, USA, proudly following in the footsteps of one of my vegan heroes, the formidable Kris Carr. Without doubt, I am infinitely richer for the experience, both as a writer and as an evangelist of all things healthy, happy, shiny and green.
I am a Reiki master, and I’m also proud to be a member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Why do I write this blog and what sort of stuff do I write about?
FACT: This blog is NOT just for vegans.
I had to get that point in straight away.
If you’re familiar with Abraham-Hicks and the Law of Attraction, you’ll already know this principle: all that matters is that you feel good. And that’s what writing this blog does for me. And if it benefits you too, then all the better.
It makes me feel good because writing has always been my go-to channel of release and expression. But equally, it floats my boat because for some reason, and for many years now, I get a kick out of helping people –friends and strangers alike – to make healthier choices. Or at least I like to arm them with the knowledge to make those choices. Whether they do or not is a different matter and one which I accept as being beyond my control. As Abraham-Hicks would say, it’s not “my pie”.
I love putting people in the picture. And sometimes shocking people, particularly when something I’ve found out had that same effect on me.
And perhaps most of all, the time-consuming research involved in most of the posts you read expands my own awareness as well as yours; this blog is real – I practise what I preach. But let it be said that “preaching” is not something I want you to feel I’m doing. I’m simply sharing what I found out.
But rest assured, I’m no angel – I have my weaknesses, just like you. And when I succumb, I share that too.
Whether you’re still munching away on meat, dairy, fish and eggs or not, no matter: my blog is here to serve as EVERYBODY’S on-line, no-nonsense guide to realistic, practical advice on a random range of health- and food-related topics.
This kind of advice has never been more important than it is today, because allopathic (mainstream) medicine is failing the long-term chronically ill. The only person who can take charge of you and your health is YOU. Vibrant health and vitality is accessible to EVERYONE, primarily via their lifestyle choices.
Topics covered to date include my own experience of the Health Educator Program at Hippocrates Health Institute (a whole 9 weeks’ worth – click here and look for posts between February 15 and April 20, 2014); the amazing power of far infra-red saunas, GMOs, dairy (and why you shouldn’t do it!); the so-called Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen; the real reasons why our ancestors ate meat (severe desperation); the diet trap; water purification and filtration; why my (mostly) raw vegan diet caused my doctor to test me for HIV; my “before” and “after” Hippocrates blood test results; the “secret” cure for depression; child nutrition and eye health. And that list doesn’t even scratch the surface – get keyword-creative with the search bar!
But while you’re taking all of this in, I will make you laugh, too. Or at least that’s my intention. Whether at my expense or along with me, I don’t mind – just remember this is designed to be a positive experience for all.
Why should you trust me?
“Do you the best you can until you know better. And then do better.”
Herein lies the ethos of my blog. I’m learning too, see. Just like everybody else. And there will be bumps in the road and many occasions when I will learn of a better way of doing something.
Dr Brian Clement, co-director at Hippocrates Health Institute, says that the people who are worthy of trust are those who are continually learning and changing what they tell you as they grow. Those who churn out the same message time and again should be treated with caution. I’m hoping, over time, that you decide I merit a big, fat tick in permanent marker alongside option A.
And I will always own up and confess when I’ve told you something that wasn’t quite right. As soon as I know a better way, so will you.
Food and me: a love/hate story
Food. Where do I start? It’s one of the best reasons to be alive, in my opinion. From the moment I was on solids, I have savoured and adored almost every mouthful ever to pass my lips (apart from the evil parsnips my mother used to insist on putting in EVERY casserole she ever made). I just LOVE food. I love eating it, I love talking about it, and I love preparing it and sharing it with the people I love.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t help it. Just like I can’t stop myself from Sky Plussing every episode of the UK’s TV show, “Come Dine with Me”. Sure, it’s banal. It’s chewing gum for the mind, and it invariably features people preparing and eating things I don’t eat, but it’s my ultimate guilty pleasure.
Just like most of you, I was brought up on meat, two (or three, or four) veg, and whole milk. But at least I grew up during an era when buying fresh and local – as my mother did – meant it was all organic, but without the need for a label declaring it as such. How far we have fallen.
So, what changed? In short, my belief as to what constituted genuine nourishment. It all started when I lived in Bondi Beach, Australia, for 6 months, way back in 2006. It was there that I did my first ever DIY detox, and from that point, I started reading everything I could lay my hands on about natural health and nutrition.
But my relationship with food hasn’t been all plain sailing. Food has always occupied a central part in my life, but this focus has not always been a force for the good; from my mid-teens through to my early twenties, I grappled with two eating disorders, primarily brought about by the sudden, unexpected death of my mother when I was 14. She was only 44.
Since then, slowly, with a few relapses en route, I’ve turned things around. One of my favourite jobs as a reporter when I worked at the Leicester Mercury was writing restaurant reviews. In other words, I’ve converted my obsession with food and nutrition from a destructive force into a positive one.
I’d dabbled in vegetarianism since my teens – maybe when I was in the grip of my eating disorders, it was a sub-conscious way of “criminalising” a number of foods in order to justify excluding them, but I really don’t know how my mind was working at the time.
Inevitably, it was always sausages and roast chicken that would get the better of me, shoving me off the veggie wagon with full force. Oh yes, and fillet steak, medium-rare, with a side serving of Stilton cheese sauce.
But I always came back to it (vegetarianism, not the meat). Two key principles lay at the heart of my desire to be vegetarian: a concern for animals and an equal concern for my health. Eating meat just didn’t seem right somehow (I knew nothing about the horrors of dairy until a couple of years ago).
Yet I continued to munch merrily away on fish whenever the fancy took me (which was quite often; my grandmother’s family ran a fish and chip shop, so I’m going to be completely unfair and blame my up-bringing for ease of argument). The turning point came when, on holiday in India, I saw a huge display of dead fish outside a restaurant, waiting to be chosen by diners. There were so many different kinds, and they were every colour of the rainbow. But they were all dead. “How can anyone kill and eat something so beautiful?” I thought. And that was it. No more fish.
The dairy lingered on (I was just kidding myself – cheese was one of my favourite things – the stronger, the better) until September 2013, when I decided to do an at-home, 10-day juice fast.
As I reached the finish-line, I had a strong sense of my body feeling so clean and rested. And equally dominant was the thought that consuming anything animal-related would pollute it once again.
And that’s how and why I became vegan. And I’ve never felt (or looked) better! (That’s what they tell me, anyway).
My 18 everyday habits
- Hot water, lemon and cayenne pepper: first thing every morning. At least a litre of the stuff.
- Far Infra-red sauna: It took 2.5 months to get it here from the US of A, but now I’m in it every morning, hot water and lemon in hand, at 125 degrees, for 45 minutes, usually listening to Abraham-Hicks clips on Youtube. And if I can, I have another session at night. Click here to find out why I can’t function at my absolute best without it. Or click here to buy one exactly the same as mine!
- Conscious thought: As I sit in the sauna, I think about the key things I intend to accomplish during the day ahead. I visualise and describe how brilliantly each one went, as if each has already happened. It’s an old Abraham-Hicks technique which works a treat in terms of pre-creating the day you want and raising your vibration accordingly. Try it!
- Wheatgrass: As you know, the daily shot is not an activity I relish, but this stuff could probably generate world peace if it tried. It’s the ultimate in necessary evils. And I wouldn’t be without it. 3fl oz every morning. Nose tightly pinched. Eyes closed. And swallow.
- Hippocrates green juice: I make a double serving (32 fl oz) in one go, which keeps my energy levels stoked until mid- to late afternoon.
- Daily Express cryptic crossword: As you may know, my love of words comes only a close second to my passion for food. For me, it’s an active meditation. And it’s ‘me’ time.
- At least 1.7 litres water/herbal tea: Following the simple formula for my daily required water intake (body weight in lbs divided by 2 = no. fl oz per day). Plus more if I’m playing squash, tennis or practising yoga.
- Add liquid chlorophyll to my water: For its alkalising properties, as well as its high nutritional and mineral content. I do this with at least one glass a day.
- Earthing mat: I’m way too busy to ground myself by walking around in the garden in bare feet (isn’t everyone?!), so this is an excellent compromise, laid out under my “desk”, with my bare feet on it. Since I started using it, I can feel the difference in my mental clarity and sense of calm. I’m far better at taking things in my stride now.
- EMF protector: As well as having stick-on EMF protectors on my mobile, my laptop, my hair dryer and other key everyday electrical appliances, I also wear one around my neck, given to me as a gift. Crafted from a plant, it also doubles as a balancer and harmoniser. And it looks good too. I don’t sell them directly, but if you particularly like the look of this one, I can get one for you.
- Body brush: I don’t actually use a brush – just a flannel. It’s all you need, or so says Lovely Linda the Lymph Lady, resident masseuse and lecturer at Hippocrates. Every time before you get in the shower. Why? Because it gets your lymph moving, the key to your immune system. And – bonus – it keeps the dreaded Cottage Cheese Syndrome (aka cellulite) at bay. For detailed instructions, go to this post.
- Tongue scraper: Just as with every bodily orifice, your mouth is a channel of excretion for toxins. When you run this piece of kit over your tongue a few times after each brushing session, you’re removing zillions of toxins and bacteria – and helping your breath stay as sweet as a summer breeze (well, kinda).
- Water pick: An electronic device which shoots water in between your gums and teeth after brushing. It’s an extra item in your dental hygiene arsenal which gets rid of spirochetes, a nasty little bacterium which increases your likelihood of strokes, heart disease and – for the fellas – prostate cancer. A water pick also blasts out those stubborn bits of food which flossing may have missed.
- Coconut oil: The only skin quencher ever to get me eager to moisturise every day. Amazing.
- Oil pulling: I swish 1 teaspoon of coconut oil round my mouth while I’m in the shower. It’s an Ayurvedic technique which is existed way before Aquafresh and Ultra-brite. My gums no longer bleed when I brush, my breath stays fresh and my teeth are dazzling white.
- Supplements: Be warned: there are a lot. And they are ALL vegan. But everyone – without exception, should be taking B12, Vitamin D3, iron and a high-culture-count probiotic EVERY DAY. Then there are the non-essentials which are my anti-ageing army: Astaxanthin and Hyaluronic Acid (both powerful anti-oxidants); Biosil, packed with silicon for the skin and joints, and O-Tropin, recommended to me by Brian Clement as time-reversal in a bottle. (And given how young he looks, that’s good enough for me!) Ocean Energy and/or Body give me my daily hit of top-grade blue-green algae, and Internal Cleanse I take one month on, one month off to keep my insides squeaky clean.
- Enzymes: ESSENTIAL. A cornerstone of the Hippocrates principle. Read the book “Enzyme Nutrition” if you don’t believe me. They minimise the body’s digestive burden, which takes up more continual energy than any other bodily process. The more you eat (especially the animal and cooked stuff) the more digestive enzymes your body has to produce. But this also means it can’t make all the other types your body needs. Even thinking uses enzymes. And if you’re enzyme-deficient, ill health and serious disease may come a-calling. HHI Zymes are the best all-rounder, containing a spectrum of different enzymes for different foodstuffs. Melt Away digests cholesterol and fat (even the globules which have been on your thighs since you can remember), and Systemic Enzymes munch away on all your unmetabolised protein. Excess protein = acidity = perfect breeding ground for serious disease.
- Appreciation: Every night, just before I go to bed, I think of at least 5 things I appreciate, either that have happened that day, or just generally. Why? Because if I go to sleep in a high vibration of appreciation, I ALWAYS wake up in the same state the next day.
10 of my favourite things (in no particular order)
Thai massage: I go once a month, no exceptions. A bit like an intensive yoga session, but with someone manipulating your body into the various postures (talk about win, win!). It stretches every inch of your body, gets your lymph moving and makes you feel EPIC afterwards. As far as I’m concerned, it puts all other types of massage in the shade.
Yoga: In my opinion, everyone should do it. It moves your lymph, gives you strength, maintains and improves flexibility and clears your mind. The Rolls-Royce of active meditations. Bikram (the hot one everyone is always talking about) is the ultimate challenge for me, but it’s about finding the style that suits you.
Far-Infrared saunas: Daily. Twice on a good day. I got hooked while I was at Hippocrates, which is why I didn’t hesitate to order one and get it shipped. Want to know why I think it’s so unbelievably amazing? Read here.
Travel and sunshine: There’s something about arriving at an airport which makes me feel free in a way that no other scenario can. I love the unexplored and the unfamiliar . And, of course, I LOVE sunshine. It’s what makes me tick. I LOVE India, but I also fell for Australia in a big way when I lived there for 6 months. I also travelled from Kenya to Cape Town over two months in a truck and a tent (tough, but rewarding), and my passport also bears stamps for New Zealand, Turkey, Thailand, Singapore, Spain, Tunisia, and, of course, the dear old USA.
Cryptic crosswords: Daily. They get my creative energy flowing. And few things beat the satisfaction of completing one.
Squash and tennis: As may times a week as I get time for. Both make for a great workout, they’re fun, slightly aggressive and competitive – a bit like me!
My home: The place where I lay my proverbial hat. The same place I’ve lived since 2001. Bit by bit, I’ve adapted every inch of it to be an extension of me and the things I love. And it has a great energy.
“Come Dine with Me”: As I said earlier, it’s MOR telly viewing, where previously-unacquainted members of the public sit around eating dead food and talking gibberish. But I love it. People-watching with calories!
George Michael: What can I say? It’s a thing I have. And one which I’ve had ever since he was in Wham! (and I was only 8). And just for the record, he’s NOT gay. It’s just a phase. It’s been a pretty long one so far, I grant you, but patience is its own reward…
Eric: My beautiful Burmese cat. Full name: Eric Louise Jane Hubbard Dryden Pod (don’t ask). Nicknames: The Pod; Batfink Yoda Pod; Sultana Face (again, don’t ask). I had to leave him ‘til last on this list, as I love him the most. He’s clocking up the years now (born in 2001), but still has a spring in his step, thanks to all the wheatgrass, sprouts and raw meat he enjoys every day. And his Far-Infrared pet pad. His dark side? He occasionally catches squirrels, eats them and leaves the tail under the dining room table.
The 12 foods I consume EVERY day
- Cayenne pepper
- Celery (raw)
- Cucumber (raw)
- Dulse/nori (sometimes raw, sometimes lightly pre-toasted)
- Garlic (raw)
- Hummus (not raw)
- Lemon (raw)
- Olives (raw, in oil, not brine)
- Sprouts: fenugreek; alfalfa; pea shoots; sunflower greens; buckwheat lettuce (all raw)
- Spring onions (raw)
- Turmeric (raw)
- Wheatgrass (raw)
3 healthy things I wish I liked but don’t
Sauerkraut: Or maybe it’s just the Hippocrates version which turns my stomach. It’s like eating a rubbish dump.
Wheatgrass: No surprises here. But I grin and bear it daily. And I wrote a poem about it.
Raw soup: After years of warming winter soups, my brain just will NOT accept it. Especially the green ones. The one exception? Brian’s Fiesta Soup. Yum.
…and 8 less healthy things I wish I didn’t
- Indian food: Look, I live near Leicester, where the population is at least 50% Asian and there are excellent Indian restaurants at every turn. They are an occasional treat these days, but I REFUSE to give them up. I’m a sucker for a tarka daal and a saag bhaji.
- Coffee: I don’t have it every day or even every week, but I’ve always been a bit of a buzz-junkie. And of all the buzzes I could be pursuing, this surely qualifies as one of the safer bets.
- Chips and mushy peas: And they have to be from a traditional English “chippy”. But only once in a blue moon. And the funny thing is, whenever I indulge, they are NEVER as delicious as I imagined.
- Raw vegan ice cream: Especially Booja Booja’s Keep Smilin’ M Gorilla Vanilla and Hunky Punky Chocolate. A tub at a time. I know, I know.
- Vegan brownies: Especially the ones made by my good friend and Abraham-Hicks black belt, Kim.
- Cacao: Caffeine hit? Check. Stairway to heaven? Deffo. But only every once in a while.
- Vinegar: Yep, even the apple cider version counts as contraband at Hippocrates. It causes fermentation within the gut, unless you drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. But I’ve come a long way: once upon a time I would slurp the dregs from my empty salad plate with a spoon every time. Now, I use sparingly and only sometimes.
- Nutritional yeast: If you’re vegan and you miss cheese, this is a go-to, nutritionally-dense (especially the Vitamin B complex) condiment that mimics the flavour pretty well. It makes salad dressings come alive, and it’s also a fair substitute for parmesan. But if you’re susceptible to candida, steer clear.
The 11 best things I love about being vegan
- Oodles of energy, like a five-year-old.
- Clearer, glowing skin
- Fewer wrinkles
- A clearer conscience and a higher vibration
- Clearer thinking and a more alert brain
- Feeling “clean”
- Virtually no period pain
- Leaner, stronger muscle
- No love handles or muffin tops
- A more efficient digestive system
- I’m (very, very almost) always healthy. My immune system rocks.
The 7 biggest challenges for me as a vegan
- Eating in a “normal” restaurant when I’m out with friends.
- Finding a vegan restaurant. And a raw food one? Think Holy Grail without a map.
- Explaining what a vegan is – especially to a busy, disengaged waiter.
- Having to be prepared on the food front at all times – ringing ahead when you’re eating out, carrying an emergency food stash (and usually my juicer) when away from home.
- Checking everything is truly vegan before you buy it – from toiletries and make-up, to food.
- Dealing with other people’s views on your diet, particularly your nearest and dearest.
- Accepting that dairy is lurking in almost every sweet treat you can lay your hands on. Generally, the only solution is to make them yourself. Or not!
My top tips for virgin vegans
- Sign up to receive every post on this blog – now!
- Buy a juicer – a good quality one (the Omega 8006 (UK) is my current favourite
- Start sprouting – fenugreek; lentils; alfalfa; clover; radish; mung – and eat with EVERY meal for your protein hit. Find all the equipment, seeds, or ready-grown stuff you will need in this site’s Stuff I Love: Sprouting & Wheatgrass section.
- Understand that you may feel a little ropey to begin with – it’s simply your body dumping all the old rubbish and adapting. It will pass.
- Be clear on your reasons for going down this route, whether they are ethical, health-related, or both.
- Read around the subject.
- Don’t let your friends and family deter you – if you act with conviction and don’t moan about the changes you’re making, they will have little reason to comment. And if they do, just smile and say nothing!
- Remember that you can have an unhealthy diet even if you’re vegan: processed foods – even the vegan ones – are to be consumed with caution. Vegan cheese is a case in point. (The UK ones are pretty abysmal anyway). And those raw fruit bars are PACKED with sugar!
- Be prepared to feel like the odd-one-out. A lot (I always have been, so it wasn’t much of a change for me!).
- Stand firm, be proud of your choice and EMBRACE it.
- Take everything one step at a time – you WILL make mistakes, and you may occasionally fall of the wagon. It’s a process, and it’s completely normal. Just like every other vegan on the planet, I didn’t get to this point over night.