Whole Food Plant-Based Diet

Last night I watched Forks Over Knives, a documentary about how animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, etc.) and processed foods affect our lives and promote diseases. Now, none of this is new to me. In fact, I KNOW you don’t need meat for protein. And I’ve always been weirded out that we drink another animal’s milk. I mean, one friend’s child was almost fed another mom’s  breastmilk and freakouts ensued. We won’t let our baby drink another mom’s milk, but we’ll drink a cow’s milk? So weird. In college I was told we’re the only mammal who drinks another mammal’s milk. I’m sure in human-intervened cases this isn’t true. But since I was told that, it opened my eyes. Why do we do the things we do?

Shortly after that I tried to go vegetarian. I thought about one human eating another human’s meat and was a little grossed out. So why’s it OK to eat another animal. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT judging eating meat. I’m from the midwest. Eat away! But for me, I don’t even LIKE meat that much. Occasionally I’ll crave this pacific rim steak I make with a bunch of veggies over rice, and I swear it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. In those cases, eating meat is worth it for me. But in most cases, I don’t even care for the meat that much, I just feel like it needs to be there to keep me full. Because protein keeps me full, right? I mean that’s what I’ve been told!

Now, don’t freak out. I’m not making drastic changes. My goal is to still be as healthy as I can. And I’ll be honest, chicken breast does fill me up for a relatively low-calorie count. And I know I can get that protein other ways. For example, beans and rice combine to make a perfect protein. And beans and rice do keep me full. But I can only eat so many beans and rice. And not too long ago I stumbled upon a vegan chili that sounded really good. It was. I did “cheat” and use beef bouillon for the broth, so I know it wasn’t theoretically vegan. Or vegetarian. But it was meat-free, as far as physical meat goes (I know, I know, I know, beef broth is made from meat, but I’m talking physically missing meat), and I didn’t feel deprived AND stayed full. I replaced meat with lentils and barley. And was very satisfied!

I’ve been craving white chili and have a recipe I really like. I plan to make it this weekend and replace the chicken with barley and lentils and see how it goes. If I hate it, then I’ll add chicken in. No biggie.

But the thing this documentary talked about that I’d never heard was the relationship between animal products (meat, eggs and dairy) and diseases like cancers, heart disease, diabetes. In fact, the show said one in three people will get diabetes. That’s astounding! I don’t want to be that person. I’ve also told my doctor I don’t want to take cholesterol medicine. She’s said I can somewhat control my cholesterol with diet and exercise, but much of it is genetic. That’s so frustrating to think of since it makes you feel out of control and a loss of power over your own life. This documentary says otherwise. I even saw drastic improvements in cholesterol specifically. I get my cholesterol checked next week. I’ve made some improvements to diet and exercise since last year’s test (and most specifically the past 9 months). So I’m hoping to see improvements this year. And even greater ones next year. If a whole foods plant-based diet can keep me off of medicine, that’s enough to motivate me. It really is. My dad claims his medicine is what’s caused a spiral of other issues in his life. And many people claim their meds don’t let them sleep as well, make them feel weird, and like my dad, lead to bigger issues. I don’t want that.

So the hopes of improving those numbers has motivated me over the past year. Here’s hoping those same number improvements will motivate me over the coming year to continue to eat animal products (cheese will be my biggest challenge) more and more in moderation. Starting with less meat-focused meals will be easy for me since lots of times I don’t even care for the meat. But eggs and cheese will be much harder. I don’t know that I feel I need to limit my eggs at this point, but I do feel like I eat far too much cheese. So after I focus on increasing the number of meatless meals, and really doing research to find healthy meals, I plan to start to slowly limit the cheese in my diet. I believe in all things in moderation, but if you knew how much cheese I ate, you’d agree there’s lots of room for improvement!

So if you have any fantastic healthy vegetarian or vegan recipes, send them my way!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jennewby71
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 11:44:55

    Roasted Sweet Potato and Corn chowder: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Roasted-Sweet-Potato-Corn-Chowder/Detail.aspx
    FANTASTIC! I’ve never liked or cared for sweet potatoes but after this recipe, i love them!


  2. Dan Westford
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 13:48:20

    Thanks for the post about “Forks Over Knives.” I’ve been following Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. for about two years now, as well as his father (a distinguished phsycian and researcher) and son (a world-class athlete and author). Thanks to the writings of Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and Dr. Esselstyn and family, I lost 90 pounds and kept it off for good. A whole plant based diet has enabled me to maintain perfect health since I’ve made the change. I’ll start following this blog for future posts.


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