Sunday, February 15, 2015

What is a Plant-Based Diet Anyway?

I've had some questions lately about what it means to be on a plant-based diet. For ease, I just tell people I'm eating a Vegan diet, but that's not entirely true.

While it's true that I'm not eating any animal products, I'm also not eating processed foods. I really have made a huge change in my diet: absolutely no animal products, no refined sugar (really, no sugar... I've cut it all out), and no processed food.

What does that mean? It means that if I want pizza, I will be having cheeseless pizza. I know, I know, you're thinking, "But they make vegan cheese, you can eat that! It's vegan!" Yes, you're right, it is vegan... but how much processing did they have to go through to make that cheese?  Personally, even when I've given up meat for lent (its a religious thing...) in the passed, I never ate foods that tasted like meat products: No fakon, no tofurkey, no fake cold cuts... It's just not something I've ever been interested in because it might make me want the real thing, plus if I'm giving it up, why would I want to taste it.

In the past I've considered going Vegetarian and Vegan, but never thought I could or would. I've said that I've watched the movie Forks Over Knives before, but for whatever reason I wasn't ready... this time I was ready. I like what it says about the human diet; I like the results the couple of people on the documentary had; I like the studies they quoted; I liked the doctors they spoke with. It all made sense to me.

So, what else is different between being Vegan or being Plant-Based? Well, besides the food, vegans are vegans because of ethics and tend to be very passionate about animals and animal rights. They won't wear anything animal related or tested on animals: clothing or cosmetics. There's nothing wrong with that and, unless they're a crazy PETA advocate, I respect vegans for their decisions. While I've chosen to stop eating all animal products for purely health reason, I don't begrudge animal eaters.

A lot of people have told me, "I could never do that, I love chicken," "Life without cheese, I don't think so!" "Wait, you don't eat bacon anymore?" Will this be easy? No. My mother and I were invited to her neighbors for dinner last night and Mom was making a fruit plate, to which she added a stick of Cracker Barrel Extra Sharpe Cheese. I took it in my hands and looked at her, "This used to be my favorite brand and cheese!" to which she flatly responded, "Well, now you can't eat it." I know I can't eat it, but a SMALL part of me was jealous of them at dinner. Which, by the way was duck, the salad had cheese in it... but she made a side of beans and didn't put cream in the soup that was for me, and even her baked potatoes, she saved two halves with no butter for me. I had some beautiful fruit for dessert, and I was happy!

I didn't feel deprived. If you're going to do something like this, or really whatever you do that is new and different, you have to have your heart in it. It has to be a decision you make consciously and then you can do it. Kasia said to me last night, "Well you can have cheese once a week, there's nothing wrong with that." But I told her I don't feel deprived, I don't actually want it (She's so cute, she gave me a big hug and said she's so proud of me). I'm in this whole heartedly and I can't currently imagine going back to eating meat and dairy. That being said, its not even been a month just yet, so its still early, but I'm happy!  So if you're thinking This is too hard, maybe you're not ready! Or even better, Dr. Esselstyn said it best, "Some people thing the 'plant based whole foods diet' is extreme. Half a million a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn into their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme." 

Have you ever made a big change in your life where people have thought you're crazy or that you're being extreme? What was it?

Till next time!

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