showing all articles for the category "food"
1/26/2024 - for an updated look of what this looks like in my house with a 10 and 14 year old, check out this blog
The Division of Responsibility in Feeding is simply this: at mealtime, the parents have specific jobs only they should do, and the child has specific jobs only they could do. Notice the difference in should and could. You cannot force your child to do anything, let alone eat their food - let that be their job. Don't allow these responsibilities to sway back and forth between parent and child, that could make for a nasty power struggle. Only you should be the one to do your job as the parent, and only your child could do their job:
- what is being served at each meal,
- when the meal takes place, and
- where the meal will be eaten.
- if they will eat what has been served, and
- how much of it they will eat.
I am not comfortable calling myself a "vegan."
I intentionally stay away from eating meat, eggs, and dairy as a basic rule. So, I eat like a vegan, and when I'm out to eat at restaurants I ask for "vegan options." Which, depending on the place, means I just have a side or two of steamed broccoli.
When I first went plant based it was so much easier to just tell people I was vegan. I didn't really know what that meant except that I didn't eat animal products anymore. But the more research I have done the more I have found that eating plant based and going vegan are two very different things. (more on that here)
I do so many things that aren't considered "vegan." For example,
- I go to the zoo and aquarium with my kids, which a true vegan would never do unless they were picketing
- I eat honey, and sometimes use it as a facial mask, which a vegan would consider wrong because it's exploiting bees and stealing their food
- It doesn't bother me if my husband wears a leather belt
- I pay a company to come and spray my house and yard for bugs and scorpions regularly, which is probably not vegan considering it's intentionally killing a living being
- I am unsure if my makeup or shower products are vegan friendly, and if I found out they weren't I would still buy them
- I choose to eat one small slice of turkey or ham at Thanksgiving, and then again on Christmas
- I reserve the right to compromise when I'm out to eat and order something that may have eggs or chicken broth in it (I haven't done this, but I reserve the right to!) I will not, however, compromise with dairy - click here if you care to read why
My family and I have been living a whole food plant based lifestyle since July 2017 and one of my biggest takeaways is what I've learned about dairy.
The first thing I had noticed after switching to a whole food plant based diet was this: dairy and I did not get along.
We didn't have the beautiful relationship I thought we had. Dairy did not love me like I loved it. I never knew that I was lactose intolerant (as was my oldest son) and that dairy was causing my horrible cystic acne.
I don't think I had gone an entire day without cow's milk my whole life. So I just grew up thinking it was normal to have a full face of acne and regular stomach cramps.
After doing more research on the link between the effects cutting out dairy has on stomach/bowel issues and acne - it all became clear (pun intended). Dairy was causing (or at least aggravating) these issues I tried so hard to remedy with medicines and prescription face washes. After only three days without any dairy, my digestive health was much better and I had no new cystic acne breakouts. I remember telling my husband three days after cutting out animal products from our diet that I will never go back to dairy. I loved milk, cheese, and ice cream as much as anyone else, but I did not love having painful cystic acne or the discomfort of being constipated all the time.
When we cut out dairy we realized how much it was shamelessly added into so many packaged foods unnecessarily. Packaged convenience food that doesn't require dairy "contains milk." Why? Well, the dairy industry knows that it's addictive and they want you addicted to their product. Not only is dairy addictive, it is also one of the top allergens among Americans. Not to mention that it is linked to causing and aggravating many health issues and diseases.
This made us angry, and sad. Just like any loving parent, we fed our kids milk and cheese because we were told that they needed it, it's nature's perfect food after all, or so we thought. Cow's milk, even in its most natural form - organic, from grass fed cows, added hormone free, raw, completely unadulterated - is still a potentially unhealthy and possibly harmful addition to anyone's diet. Unless you are a baby cow. But I am assuming if you are reading this, you are in fact not a baby cow, therefore there is no reason you should consume cow's milk.
Nutrition and Health
Let's talk nutrition. Vitamin D, potassium, iodine, calcium etc. Our "not baby cow" bodies certainly do need these things, and yes, if you read a nutrition label on the gallon of cow's milk, it will show that these nutrients are in there (artificially added, by the way). What you won't see is all of the bad stuff - naturally present bovine pregnancy hormones, toxins, protein quality not fit for human consumption, and no warning of the dangers of saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Vitamin D is actually a hormone, but it doesn't come from animals, it comes from the sun. So if your cow's milk has Vitamin D in it, it was added via supplementation either to the cow's diet or to the milk during the production stage. You're better off cutting out the middle cow and just taking the supplement straight up. Or even better, allowing the sun to hit your bare skin for only a few minutes a day is all your body needs to turn that sunlight into Vitamin D. If you live somewhere that sunlight is rare half of the year, buy Vitamin D fortified mushrooms and cereals or take a Vitamin D supplement. A safe supplementation amount is 1,000 - 2,000 IU of D3 per day.
- Potassium. With cow's milk, the lower the fat content, the higher the potassium level. In one cup of skim milk you can get almost 400mg of potassium. The recommended daily amount is between 3,500mg-5,000mg, so milk isn't actually that helpful considering one large banana has 500mg of potassium, and a cup of leafy greens can have over 1,000mg of potassium. You are much better off getting your potassium from plants than from milk.
- Iodine. Cow's milk does not naturally contain iodine. The cleaning agent used to disinfect the milk tanks and the cow's teats contains iodine, and that leaches into the milk. Unfortunately, for cows with staph mastitis, the iodine treatment increases the amount of pus content in the milk by up to 60%. Yum. The current recommended daily amount of Iodine is 150 micrograms per day, with the safe upper limit of 1,000 micrograms per day. Sea vegetables (sea weed) are an excellent source of iodine, but if you're like me and don't care for the taste of the ocean, use iodized salt or a sea vegetable salt alternative naturally high in iodine.
- Calcium. Now for the big one - Just like Vitamin D and iodine, cows don't create calcium, either. Yet it is in the milk. Calcium comes from plants, cows eat plants, and the calcium they eat is recycled and excreted through their milk. When a human consumes the milk, they receive the leftover regurgitated calcium. Plant sources of calcium like broccoli, kale, bok choy and other dark leafy greens are absorbed twice as well as cow's milk calcium. Plus, plant calcium includes fiber, antioxidants, folate, iron, and vitamin K (which is good for bone health). None of these nutrients are found in dairy. The current recommended daily amount for calcium is 1,000mg - but that's assuming you're on a diet high in animal proteins, which has a high excretion rate, forcing you to consume more calcium to replace the lost calcium. Getting enough calcium is totally obtainable on a whole food plant based diet. Tahini, blackstrap molasses, almonds, and fortified plant milk are a few more examples of plant sourced calcium.
But "milk builds strong bones," right?
Well, science can't back that statement up. There is no scientific or medical evidence that milk actually builds or protects bones. Actually, it's just the opposite. Hip fracture risks are highest where there is greatest milk consumption. Populations where dairy consumption is extremely low or non-existent have no instances of osteoporosis. But here in America, where dairy is our number one source of calcium, we have 54 million people with osteoporosis or low bone density - over half of people over age 50 in America are at risk of breaking a bone due to poor bone health. If milk was really protective, shouldn't Americans have stronger bones?
Bone health is so much more than just calcium intake. There are so many vital nutrients in beans, fruits, and vegetables that are associated with better bone mineral density and overall better bone health than milk. In fact, studies show that antioxidant rich fruit reduces bone loss and therefore lessens risk for osteoporosis.
Dairy products may be the number one source in America for calcium, but it isn't all its hyped up to be. Dairy comes as a packaged deal, and it is quite a gross and scary package. Sure, just three servings of dairy per day provides your daily calcium requirement but you're also getting too much saturated fat and cholesterol, not to mention pus, manure, antibiotics, pesticides, and all the naturally occurring bovine pregnancy hormones. In America you can expect over 300 million pus cells in each glass of milk - the highest allowable concentration in the world. The Dairy Industry argues that the infection and inflammation of the udders in factory farmed dairy cows is irrelevant because of pasteurization protocols - cooked pus poses no food safety risks. Still, ew. There are better ways to get your calcium.
What about some other components of dairy?
- Casein is a milk protein that when consumed and digested forms an opioid compound in our stomach called casomorphin. This compound binds to the opioid receptors in our brain and gives a sort of high. This is why cheese is known to be addictive, because casein in cheese is more concentrated than regular milk. The casomorphins formed from casein in human breast milk is actually beneficial to babies in the way it keeps the baby coming back for more of his mommies nutritious milk - nature's perfect food, created specifically for baby.
- Lactose is milk sugar. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body doesn't create enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose. Lactose is the main carbohydrate in human breast milk as well. When we were babies feeding on our mother's milk we had all the lactase we needed. But naturally as we grew, and our bodies no longer needed our mother's milk, we stop creating it. Being able to digest lactose as an adult is a strange genetic adaptation. 60% of the world's population is lactose intolerant. Per a quick google search, 75% of African and Indian Americans and up to 90% of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant!
- Trans fats are the most dangerous fats, in fact, artificial trans fats are now illegal in the American food supply. Trans fats are naturally present in dairy products (and other animal foods) but they are in low enough amounts (less than .5g per serving) that they are legally allowed to be labeled as 0% trans fats, or a trans fat free food. Which is a blatant lie. The only safe amount is none. Half a gram per serving adds up quick.
- IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor 1) is produced by out liver when we consume animal proteins. This causes cancer cells to grow.
- Hormones, including estrogen naturally occur in cow's milk and is a known health issue for humans. Acne, premature puberty, obesity, and increased cancer risk are associated with regular hormone consumption.
Dairy is a packaged deal, and if I were you, I'd stop buying!
Whole food refers to the state of the food. Food in its most natural form, unrefined and unprocessed (or very minimally processed considering washing, chopping, and steaming veggies can be considered a form of "processing"). The dictionary definition of "process" is "to perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on something in order to change or preserve it." Unprocessed food has nothing bad added and nothing good taken away. Processed food is easy to spot because it will come in a box or package and have a long list of complicated ingredients with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and a bunch of other added unnecessary ingredients. Whole foods include grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds all in their whole and most natural form. This would also include milk fresh from a healthy cow, a free range chicken egg, a wild caught fish, etc.
Plant based refers to the food itself. Food comes either from the ground or from an animal. All food items can be traced back to their plant or animal origin. Plant food excludes all animal based foods, sounds simple enough, right? Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans are all plant foods. Corn syrup, cane sugar, Oreos, and even some cakes and donuts are technically plant based (if they contain no milk, eggs, or other animal byproducts). Other animal byproducts which may not be obvious would include gelatin (made from animal bones), lard (animal fat), lactic acid (from animal muscles and blood - but is also found in beets), casein (a dairy milk protein), rennet (from calf stomach mucus), and many more.
"Vegan" and "whole food plant based" are not the same, although they can be seen as pretty similar. A vegan eats entirely plant based, but not necessarily whole food. Plant based does not always mean whole food and vice versa. The terms vegetarian and vegan primarily refer to what somebody doesn't eat: any food product that is derived from animal origin. While the term whole
food plant based refers to what somebody does eat: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes in their most
whole and natural forms, unprocessed and unrefined.
If more people treated their body with this kind of love and care, there would be far less instances of obesity, heart disease, certain cancers, and other preventable food related illnesses. Unfortunately, too many people don't know how to love or care for their bodies.
Animal foods and highly processed foods are more calorically dense, while whole plant food is more nutritionally dense.
When choosing foods, I often ask myself these two questions: Did this come from a plant? Is it in its most whole or natural form? If the answer is yes to both then I am good to go! I know that the calories I am consuming aren't empty or harmful, but filled with all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients my body needs. And if I feel like compromising (I love Oreos) I try and make sure that it isn't a regular thing.
My goal is whole food AND plant based, not junk food veganism.
A common misconception about the plant based/vegan diet is that it can lead to protein deficiency.
"But where do you get your protein??"
If you've ever heard that from someone who just found out you don't eat animal products, here's a good scholarly answer ;)
While protein needs may vary depending on your fitness goals, you don't actually need to consume animal proteins to get all the protein your body needs. A varied whole food plant based vegan diet is sufficient in protein. That is, as long as you are eating enough calories.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein (is this ringing any biology class bells?). The protein in our food and body are composed of 20 amino acids - 11 of these we can create in our own bodies using nitrogen, the other 9 need to be consumed from food since we cannot make them.
An essential amino acid is one our bodies need but cannot make on its own, therefore we must consume and absorb them through our food. The 9 essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Non-essential amino acids are ones our bodies need, but make enough on their own. We don't need worry about consuming these in order to fulfill our bodies need for them. The 11 non-essential amino acids are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutemic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
All plant proteins have all the essential amino acids. Plant proteins are just as good and as complete as animal proteins. Although not all plant proteins contain the same amount and proportions of each amino acid, they are perfectly adequate in providing what our bodies need.
Many people believe we need meat for protein even though the idea of plant proteins being incomplete and inferior to animal proteins has been dismissed by the nutrition community decades ago. The American Heart Association has officially stated on their website that the protein found in plants is perfectly adequate and supplies all of the essential and non essential amino acids, and there is no need to combine protein sources in order to meet the needs of our bodies. (I had a link to the specific webpage, but it has since been removed, and I'm unable to find it again.)
As long as you're eating enough calories to meet your energy needs, you will not be protein deficient. In fact, it is nearly impossible to design a diet with a variety of whole plant foods that is sufficient in calories but deficient in protein, based on the way our bodies store and recycle protein for its specific needs. Our skeletal muscles keep a sizable storehouse in the intracellular spaces of free amino acids to regulate our protein levels. Every day, about 90g of protein is dumped into our intestines to be broken down and reassembled to whatever proportion of amino acids we need. We do not need to be concerned with the amount of protein we are consuming, or if we are getting all of the essential amino acids. Our bodies were designed to prevent this type of deficiency by storing and recombining the amino acids to be used as our body requires.
So don't worry about if you're getting enough protein, just eat enough calories with a variety of plant foods including whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, etc. and you will have what your body needs.
In the Fall of 2014, I came across a website called 100 Days of Real Food. After browsing some of Lisa Leake's recipes and reading into her 14 day challenge to cut out processed food, I bought her book. This changed my life. As a wife and mom of two boys, I wanted to be fully aware and educated about everything going into my families bodies. I had a unique challenge, my husband is overweight and my oldest son is underweight. I had fed them thus far, junk. I didn't know it was junk at the time and I didn't really think about it. Freezer lasagna, easy Mac, ramen, etc. I was working full time before my youngest son was born in early 2013 and I didn't really have the time or desire to prepare home cooked meals that required thought and prep. Opening a package and tossing it in the microwave was just easier. Unfortunately, easier isn't better.
So I read 100 Days of Real Food and made changes. I completed the 14 day challenge (as did my family, because mommy buys the food and plans the meals) and I was shocked at how easy it was! The feedback I got from my family was good. We learned so much. What is real food? What is whole food? What does processed really mean? Oh, that's an ingredients list? What are all of those hard to understand ingredients we used to just put into our mouths without question? I truly became an ingredients list master. Shopping took a lot longer, as I would practically sit down in the isle with packaged foods and Google each individual ingredient, most of the time out of sheer curiosity of what my family and I used to consume daily. Often times just doing that research on site made me despise that product all together and just put it back on the shelf, unfortunately for the next unsuspecting consumer.
This new knowledge and way of preparing, shopping, cooking, and eating was so exciting! I felt rejuvenated as a wife and mom, I felt so good about the decisions we were making and the way our bodies were feeling, I just had to share. I told my friend and bought her the book for her birthday and she loved it, too. She made the same change with her family and we became each other's support system. We would share recipes, make large meals to enjoy together, get each other's feedback on new things we would try, and even go peach picking or to the local farmers market together.
Fast forward a few years. June 28th 2017. My friend sends me a text about an interesting documentary with a vegan message that she wants me to watch, and that her and her husband are going to try out a vegan diet for 30 days and see what they think. I shared this with my husband and we both laughed. We said we wouldn't watch it because there is no way we would ever go vegan. We love what we eat: ribs, steak, burgers, cheese, whole milk, eggs and bacon. All organic and cruelty free, grass fed beef and free range eggs, no added hormones whole milk and expensive cheese. I made specific purchasing choices to make sure the animal products I was feeding my family were as healthy as possible, and I felt good about it. After all, we need them in our diet, don't we?
So my husband and I completely disregarded it as a phase, they'll realize how much they want and need animal products and then life will go back to the way it was. Well, a few days later, we hosted a brunch party and I had prepared a beautiful spread. Bacon wrapped cream cheese filled jalapenos, egg casserole, mini sausages, homemade Crock-pot apple crisp with vanilla ice cream, avocado toast and mimosas. My friend and her husband were there, talking about what they're learning and avoiding all the delicious food I have prepared, except the avocado toast. After the party, once everyone else had gone home, she pulls up Netflix on my TV and in a very loving, friendly way, forces my husband and I to watch this documentary, haha. Let me just say, I am so glad that she loves my family enough to drill past my hesitant and stubborn ways to make sure that I had an opportunity to gain this knowledge, so I can make an educated decision about food and health. I did this for her years earlier, and now she's upping the ante. We watched What The Health.
We sat through this documentary, to appease her, with no real intention of making any further changes. But once they started talking about the politics and money being paid out to confuse the public and advertise these animal products as health promoting or necessary or even SAFE, that was it. The science, studies, and expert opinions presented were all the evidence we needed that more research had to be done, we cannot disregard these claims. In fact, my husband was convinced enough at that point to get up right then and there and start throwing stuff away! Two packages of $8/lb grass fed ground beef, at least $10 worth of cheese, two gallons of milk, a carton and a half of eggs, all the bacon! I was very surprised. And if you knew my husband, you would be, too. I pleaded with him to let us go through what we had first, and then start this 30 day trial period my friend and her husband were doing, but he was convinced, we were starting now.
After What The Health ended, we went on a rabbit trail of documentaries and online research. We were hooked. It's like a whole new world was opened up to us that we never knew about. We've heard about veganism, but what's this whole food, plant based thing all about? Looking back, I am very grateful that we didn't go from the traditional American diet high in processed food and junk straight to a whole food plant based lifestyle. I believe that making the change to real food using Lisa Leake's resources, challenges, and books over the course of a couple years first was like a stepping stone for us to make the bigger and better change to whole food plant based nutrition. But this all happened so fast, within a day (so now came the fun part) telling the kids.
My boys were easy. They had a routine. Every day there were a few staples they could rely on. Milk, scrambled or hard boiled eggs, yogurt, string cheese, etc. Mom and Dad are about to change everything. My husband and I prepared ourselves for the conversation. We pulled up a few videos on YouTube, particularly Bite Size Vegan's videos for kids (just say no to milk and 5 reasons why we don't eat meat) and called the boys into the room. We told them, flat out, we won't be eating animals anymore. They didn't seem to care, so we moved on. We also won't be eating anything that comes from animals. This confused them. They didn't understand the concept. So we let them watch the videos (Bite Size Vegan does a really good job explaining, so we let her do it).
They were on board! They didn't realize that their favorite snacks and foods were actually causing harm to animals AND their own bodies. Before this, we never really explained (or even understood) the concept that when we consume dairy, we are in fact stealing from a baby calf, and even more sad, that baby calf (if male) would be killed just so we can consume his mommies milk and eat his body! And if it's a female calf, she will be forced into a life of repeated rape and having her babies kidnapped and milk stolen as well. I do not believe any child would choose to consume dead animal flesh or food retrieved in this way if given a choice, but they aren't given a choice, are they? In a way, parents brainwash their children into believing they need meat, dairy, and eggs without educating them on the facts first, mostly because parents don't actually have the facts in the first place!
My husband and I were learning that the food industry is a scary place. They want us to be confused enough about health and nutrition and diet that we just eat what we want, and we usually want what isn't always best for us. Many food producers have people on staff for the specific purpose of making a food product to be crave-able and addicting. This infuriated us. We made the switch overnight, cold turkey. I went shopping that next day, and we pretty much decided to wing it the first few days. The next few months would be jam packed with research, YouTube videos, more documentaries and an understanding that we may never fully understand it all. But that's ok, because what we do know is enough to make the changes we need.
If you are considering adopting a whole food plant based lifestyle, you have some questions to ask yourself.
What are your goals?
What's your motivation?
What do you care about?
What changes do you want to make?
I have learned that it's not really about what you do, it's your motive and purpose behind doing it that makes for long lasting change.
For example, if you go on a diet to lose a few pounds, when the pounds have been lost and the diet ends, you will gain that weight back eventually.
But let's say you adopt a whole food plant based lifestyle with the intention of preventing disease, managing chronic issues, becoming a healthier you etc., sure weight loss may be a side effect of eating clean, but the motivation and purpose is to live a healthy and wholesome life.
There are many different reasons people decide to switch to and remain on a whole food plant based lifestyle.
It's more sustainable for the planet
There's less (if any) effect on the health and welfare of animals
Prevention and reversal of many debilitating ailments
Meeting healthy weight goals (loss or gain)
When done with care it is perfectly nutritionally adequate
Lowering inflammation in the body, leading to less instances of acne and chronic pain
Better gut and digestive health due to higher fiber intake
More energy and less feelings of being sluggish and fatigued
Personally, I have chosen to adopt this lifestyle because of the health benefits, both for now and the future.
some evidence to consider
The World Health Organization's website states that over 17 million people die each year from cardiovascular disease (that's 31% of all deaths worldwide). According to the Center for Disease Control, over 30 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, that's more than 9% of our population. They project that one in three people will be diabetic by year 2050. The CDC's website states that in 2015-2016 almost 40% of U.S. adults were considered obese, that's over 93 million people nationwide.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and a group of researchers led a whole plant nutrition intervention study in participants with heart disease. They found they were able to drastically reduce the amount of major cardiac events and even reverse heart disease. There are also studies that show a balanced whole plant food diet can reverse morbid obesity. Even people with diabetes are able to drastically reduce their need to take insulin or medications after just a few weeks of a whole plant food diet intervention.
A whole plant food diet can be better than modern medicine in the way of actually preventing and reversing the disease. Medications treat the symptoms, but rarely the root cause. Our bodies were made to heal themselves, we just need to give them a chance. Start replacing foods that are detrimental to our health with beneficial whole plant foods that allow our bodies to heal.
Some would say that making this kind of change is extreme, but I personally believe open heart surgery is extreme; being on blood pressure or cholesterol lowering medication for the rest of your life is extreme. The amount of suffering animals go through just to provide us with unhealthful food products is extreme. The damage the agricultural industry is doing on our planets soil and air is extreme. But it's your choice. Make an educated decision.
So whatever your goals or motivation - for the health and wellbeing of your body, of the animals, or the planet - a whole food plant based lifestyle is a personal choice that each individual should make for themselves. You cannot make this choice for someone else, whether to please them or to change them - the obvious exception is parents, you feed your children based on your best educated choices.
I think the world would be a better and healthier place if everyone switched to a whole food plant based diet (or at least mostly), but I am obviously biased.
Are you curious about going "whole food plant based?"
How do you do it?
Well, don't eat animal products or junk food.
Ah, if only it were that easy.
Lifestyle | Diet
If you are coming from an already whole / real food lifestyle, or if you're already vegan for the animals, then this should be pretty simple.
If you are starting from the typical Western diet, high in processed meat, dairy, and packaged foods, then this will be hard. But it is possible! You just have to want it.
First, I want to clarify the difference in the term "lifestyle" and the word "diet" as most of us know it.
"Diet" as a noun is simply a word used to describe the kinds of food a person habitually eats. It is not always referring to "diet" as a verb, a special course of food a person restricts oneself to for a limited amount of time in order to achieve weight loss or other health goal.
A "lifestyle" is a way of life, your diet (the foods you eat) is a part of your lifestyle. This also includes athletic habits, products you choose to buy, and a mindset you have.
What is your motivation?
Many people transition to a whole food plant based lifestyle over a certain period of time, which could be days or weeks. Others, like me and my family, do it overnight cold turkey - pun intended ;)
At first, it may be overwhelming. Especially if you eat meat, eggs, dairy, or junk / highly processed food regularly.
The idea of cutting out all of those foods may be daunting.
In order to make this change stick you need to know why you are doing it. Is it for your health? That's why my family did it.
While it may be possible to eat junk food and animal products every day and still be considered "generally healthy," these foods are not clean eating foods, even if they are organic and ethically raised.
Animal products or highly processed foods will not promote health or help you meet significant health goals.
Besides, "generally healthy" compared to who? The heart disease ridden, obese population with diabetes on multiple different prescription medications?
Extreme exercise regiments and restricting calories will most likely help you lose weight, but how healthy is your heart? What about your endocrine system? Are you at risk for developing cancer or diabetes? Are you deficient in any essential nutrients?
Your body needs food, we all know this, but just like a car that needs gasoline to run, our bodies need the right type of fuel to run properly. A whole food plant based diet is evidence based nutrition, proven to prevent and reverse diseases and other ailments.
A well planned diet revolving around whole plant foods is the perfect way to properly fuel your body.
In our culture, it is socially acceptable to eat junk food and animal products every meal.
It is also socially acceptable to be overweight, diabetic, have blood pressure or cholesterol issues, and be on any number of prescription medications. I am not saying that all medications are bad, but some medications are just being used to treat the symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle.
It is easier to pop a pill for your heart every day than it is to eliminate dietary cholesterol, drastically reduce saturated fat intake, and increase your consumption of whole plant foods.
It is easier to follow a fad diet for a few weeks to lose weight than it is to dramatically change your lifestyle and engage in a regular workout routine.
If you want to live a life independent of drugs, free from the symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle, then you have to get up and do something about it.
That choice and responsibility is yours.
So once you know that switching to a whole food plant based diet is the right choice for you to make for your health, you're almost there. This is more of a mental change than a physical one.
You'll need to unlearn all of the untruths you've been taught about food since you were a child. It's shocking to see who really benefits from the ads pushing our "need" for dairy or animal protein. Anyway, that's a whole other topic right there. But go and do your research. As I do more research, I plan to share what I learn.
But let's get back to how to make the switch.
Making the Switch
If you are not confident that going cold turkey is sustainable for you, then go slow. Take it one meal at a time.
Go through the food you already have in your fridge and pantry, but don't continue to buy the foods you are working to cut out.
Try switching to vegan convenience foods while you transition. Meat and dairy alternatives like vegan hot dogs, burgers, and vegan cheeses, can help to make the transition smoother and more tolerable. The goal is to eventually cut these out too since they are highly processed and contain a number of artificial ingredients that are definitely not health promoting.
Remember, you chose to make this change for you. So go easy on yourself, and don't feel guilty for not succeeding perfectly right away.
Decide whether you are switching overnight, or transitioning slowly. To switch overnight was easy for my family because we already had a good understanding of what whole food was.
But if you want to make the switch slowly over a few days or weeks, consider the following six steps to make it an easier transition.
- Begin adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, beans, etc first, before you start eliminating the animal foods or highly processed packaged foods.
- Don't buy more animal foods, it is OK to go through what you already have first if you want. Don't be afraid of vegan milks, cheeses, and meats. This will make cutting out animal foods easier.
- Look for recipes that don't require animal foods and implement one meal a week completely void of meat, dairy, or eggs, and then work up from there.
- If you usually have a snack in between meals, only snack on fresh fruits or veggies. Apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, carrots, sugar snap peas, raw broccoli, etc.
- Become a pro ingredients list reader, learn all of the sneaky names for harmful ingredients and start buying less and less packaged foods.
- Slowly decrease the amount of vegan cheeses and meats you purchase. Remember, although they are vegan they are still highly processed and not whole foods. (check out my post for more details on this difference) Over time, pick up recipes to make your own "cheeses" and "meats," for example, there are many amazing cream cheese and queso recipes using whole plant foods that are simple and delicious. There are also a bunch of ways to season and cook certain vegetables, grains, and jackfruit to mimic the flavor and texture of meat. Do a google search, there are so many recipes out there!
Do not be hard on yourself. This isn't an impossible transition.
Make progress and continue taking steps in the right direction.
You can do this!