Happy Veganuary (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

I recently decided I like beef after despising it for a lifetime.

All because I devoured a burger so good I couldn’t stop thinking about it since that first bite. I’ve eaten three more beefburgers since then and feel like I’ve unleashed a “bad” primordial hunger in my appetite.

Bad timing.

I thought about it as I headed to Tywyn, a small coastal town in Wales, where I wanted to become a strict vegan for four days, practice yoga twice a day, walk and hike in the area, and live in a converted home. chapel.

After a holiday season of overeating, being temporarily vegan was intriguing from a health perspective and appealed to my natural curiosity to try new things.

The extent of my “veganism” before that had switched from cow’s milk to oat milk five years ago for hormonal reasons. I also did a flexitarian diet as a student to save money. In general, I eat everything.

Upon arrival at Sunsetbay Retreats I was greeted with a vegan bread cake. Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard after all, I thought.

Home for the long weekend, Ty Capel (Picture: Tanyel Mustafa)

lunch is prepared

Kelly prepares lunch – I was happy to see potatoes on the plate (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

Between that and dinner, I had reflexology (which was fascinating – the practitioner said she could tell my strong will by how strong my toes are), an hour-long yoga session, and yoga nidra. My appetite had increased.

Then I got a celery steak and lots of colorful veggies with a garlic cashew sauce. It was delicious. Kelly Mason, a talented plant-based home cook, designed and cooked all of our meals – I quickly ate it all, hungry for more.


The first meal (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

dinner table

A cozy interior (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

Dessert followed (thank goodness, though it was small and healthy) and I realized that enjoying vegan food wouldn’t be the challenge here, as Kelly can make almost anything taste divine. Instead it would be the difference in portion sizes and a radical change from what I’m used to.

That came true the next morning when I did another hour of yoga on an empty stomach after a bath in the hot tub. As someone who has to eat breakfast first, it wasn’t easy.

Sunsetbay was already much more accessible than a juice or weight loss retreat, but it was all about taking care of your body, watching your intake and not overeating.


A healthy dessert (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

After yoga we were served a breakfast bowl of berries – though full of nutrients and wonderful to taste and see – which only did so much to fill my empty stomach before we headed to Bird Rock, a 40 minute craggy summit.

I love this kind of walk, but it was more challenging than usual, probably because of the energy I put into smaller portions compared to my usual buttered toast. I felt weaker.

However, on the third day things started to change. Still doing daily yoga and walks, although a little less strenuous than the day before, I noticed my energy levels were more balanced and meals were more supportive.


My heart sank when I saw how small this dessert was – even though it was so rich, it was enough in the end (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

Not once did I feel overly full or bloated. Instead, I felt “just right,” which actually increased my appetite, rather than snacking on stress and confusing emotional hunger with real hunger. That was a good feeling.

Those of our group who were already vegetarians and vegans during the retreat didn’t make the switch that often, but I was relieved when someone else admitted that they were still hungry after breakfast one morning. She also wanted a piece of toast.

Everyone’s skills and experiences were mixed, making the retreat a safe place for anyone wanting a long weekend and wanting to live a little differently and transition to a slower-paced life more deeply rooted in nature.


Locally grown mushrooms (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)


Wise use of these mushrooms (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

We ate locally sourced mushrooms, healthy grains and seeds, nuts, diary alternatives like coconut yogurt, ginger shots, turmeric latte (my favorite drink of the entire trip), homemade kimchi, seaweed, and more, in various forms of stir-fry salads. I can’t do justice to the flavor of the whole thing, even if it sounds too “green” for a carnivore.


My favorite lunch on the trip, a healthy take on stir fries (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)


A spicy curry-inspired dinner (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)


Waterfall Hike (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

Maggie Paterson and Graham Lyon who run the retreat (along with their sweet dog Smudge) were kind and understanding when I was hungry and happy to offer extra nuts and fruit. Her warmth made the experience even better.

Aside from the initial lack of energy, I noticed other physical changes, I peed a lot more – maybe because I took the time to drink enough water instead of waiting for a mild headache to suggest I’m dehydrated, but also because the significantly higher vegetable intake my body experienced.

Sorry if that’s a bit rude, but I also became more gassy (I blame the increased green intake and switching to other grains). It was a relief when another retreatee confessed to having experienced this as well.

nuts and seeds

Kelly gave us a nutrition lesson (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

Any radical change in diet (for reference, my dinner the night before was anchovy paste and chocolate mousse) should allow for some sort of adjustment period.

On the last day, I was sad to leave Kelly’s cooking, although after her nutrition class and cooking demonstration, I was armed with a few of her recipes to try at home.

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yoga class

I’m on the far right, my back straight (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

My favorite yoga session of all the sessions we did was the restorative yin session. I felt my body relax into the long held poses, loosening joints and slowly untangling my mind.


Beautiful (Photo: Tanyel Mustafa)

An eight minute walk from the beach, whenever we had free time I would head to the shore to catch a few gusts of wind and even watch the sunset one evening.

Welsh man sings

We sat around the fire and listened to songs (Image: Tanyel Mustafa)

One night a local singer and teacher told us local Welsh myths while singing in a traditional style. It was an unexpected but refreshing end to the day.

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Source: Metro.co

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