I recently watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives and it was about the health benefits of consuming a plant based diet. I thought it was a pretty interesting topic to learn about so I watched about 4 (or maybe 5?) more documentaries about plant based / vegan diets. All of the documentaries had the same basic information about transforming your overall health by changing your diet. Some documentaries focused more heavily on the environmental impact of the meat and diary industry and others focused more the healthcare industry. You could certainly place a few on the overkill / conspiracy theory list but I would say that the basic overall message is that it all comes down to choice. If you choose the preferred plant based diet, you will in turn decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. and decrease your carbon footprint which has a direct impact on our global warming crisis. WOW.
Of course, just like with EVERYTHING I do, I jumped in head first and started obsessing about the idea of eating ALL THE VEGETABLES. Need I say that I have trouble staying focused at times?
In all reality I have been thinking about food a lot lately, especially since my tiny baby (she’s really a toddler) is eating everything now. I have often struggled with creating a variety of meals for her to eat that is wholesome and balanced. I suddenly feel strongly compelled to keep her diet free from highly processed foods, sugars, and all the crap I’ve have been eating my entire life. I didn’t really think that deeply about my diet in general until she started eating solid foods. I have to laugh at that a little. If I wouldn’t feed her processed meats because it’s absolutely terrible for you to consume, why the heck would I eat it?! Why wouldn’t I read every single food label before consuming whatever food has labels? I do this for my baby but why not for myself, too? For my husband? What about the environmental impact of our household? Shouldn’t we try to reduce our carbon footprint as much as humanly possible for the sake of her future?!
These documentaries that I watched recently turned out to be the gentle nudge that I needed to commit to making a change in my diet. I gave up eating meat about three weeks ago and I can’t say that I miss it. To be honest, I’ve thought about leaving meat behind for years. It never really stuck for me because my husband likes bacon, burgers, steaks, fish, and all the other meaty things. Cooking for two people is hard enough but cooking two individual meals because we don’t eat the same thing is silly and impossible when you’re a lazy cooker – like myself. I need easy recipes for meals that we can both eat. Luckily for me, my husband is on board with giving up meaty meals for a while.
Giving up the meats was easy for me but I am struggling with eliminating animal based foods like dairy and eggs from my diet. I LOVE CHEESE. I mean, I put cheese on top of cheese sometimes. And when I was pregnant with my baby, I ate ice cream every single day. I love yogurt, too! And good heavens, eggs are in EVERYTHING!!! The strange thing is, I’m oddly excited to challenge myself to eat a healthier diet and really try hard to eliminate those foods from my plate, my fridge, and my grocery list. I have found the strength to opt out of “sprinkle cheese” on top of everything I eat. I haven’t been able to quite cold turkey, but it feels like it gets easier and easier with every meal.
Of course people will ask and I will wonder; would I get enough calcium and protein on a plant based diet? After reading and researching I’ve come to the conclusion that YES – you can absolutely become vitamin/mineral/protein deficient if you do not eat a well balanced diet which includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, legumes / beans, nuts, etc.
The thing is – I haven’t eaten a well balanced diet in years even while eating meat and dairy stuff. For me, the key is to become aware of what goes into my body. I try to consider my food as fuel. If the fuel SUCKS then I stand a good chance of damaging my health over a long period of time. Everything in moderation, right? If veganism doesn’t stick with me then at the very least, I need to think about switching to whole foods. Food that doesn’t come in packages. Food that is ready to eat right from the vine, the tree, the ground, no label needed. REAL FOOD. And BALANCE. Incorporating a well balanced diet with a variety of foods will ensure that I’m not missing something essential. And if I treat my own body with love and respect, that is what my sweet baby will see. She will see me taking care of myself and I will show her how to do the same.
This will certainly be a journey and maybe a serious struggle. I don’t plan to give up any time soon. Naturally I should be losing weight by now on this serious veggie diet, but I guess I need to stop drinking so much beer next. 😉