***Author’s note: When this article was first published in mid-August 2017, I was still evolving toward a plant-based, vegan diet. Now that I have, I see how much of an evolution this has been. I’ve learned about the benefits of eliminating all animal products from my diet. And I am very happy with my decision. As you can see in the article below, I was recently writing as someone who was “almost vegan.” Regardless where you are on your journey, just make sure that your choices are conscious and you feel good about your ability to provide your body with the utmost in good nutrition. Here is the original article, below.***
Before — when I was younger, less-informed, and more ignorant — I would be judgmental of people who described themselves as being “Vegetarian, but I like fish.” It was wrong of me to think that people had to get a clear definition of their dietary practice. As if that mattered! And as if defining one’s preferences was better than someone who enjoyed a hybrid approach to health and nutrition. I’d like to share my thoughts with you regarding how useless labels are. And why sanctimony, when it comes to dietary preferences, serves no one. Plus, I’ll give you some tips if you like the idea of being “almost vegan,” like what I am doing.
Recently I wrote about how the documentary, What the Health, influenced me to get even more interested in eating a vegan diet. I’ve been a “mostly veggies plus seafood” gal for a long time. Lately, however, my meals have been 100% plant-based with no animal products. But I know I won’t give up my organic half-and-half in the morning with my organic java even for the revolution. Recently, I tried putting almond milk in my coffee for a few days. Not going to happen. And when I am in Baltimore, visiting my family, I simply cannot imagine passing on Maryland crab cakes. Does that make me a vegan-pesca-half-and-half-crabatarian?
During my training at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, we were encouraged not to get hung up on nonsense such as “My dietary theory is better than your dietary theory.” The reason doing this is so pointless is because to assume that you, for example, do not eat meat, that therefore you will live longer and have fewer diseases than everyone who does is not a logical conclusion. Plus, just because you do (or do not) eat, for example, cheese, that you are better than (or worse than) people who do. I’m laying this out for you for all of us to see the folly in such unhealthy thinking. Don’t eat more veggies because it makes you better than other people. Eat them because you are in touch with your body, you appreciate how nutritious they are, and because your health is a priority.
You are probably like I am. I bet, if you are reading this, that you are fairly informed about the benefits of a plant-based diet. This is not only evidence-based, it is also intuitively obvious. Veggies are the powerhouse when it comes to essential nutrients. I believe that the benefits of a plant-based diet are as scientific as they are trendy. I really don’t think that we will wake up someday in the future and realize that veggies cause cancer. (In fact, just the opposite.) Unlike extremely outdated health theories, such as doctors recommending smoking between 1930 and 1950 in order to “help open the lungs”, I think the health benefits of eating plants are here to stay.
I called this Almost Vegan because I am discovering what the next-level is for me to maintain and continue to boost the outrageously good health and vitality I enjoy in my 60’s. What is so cool about this is to finally be free from needing to decide what my label is. And I recommend the same for you. My meals are, well, mostly vegan. I’ve been cooking with edamame noodles, which unlike multi-grain pasta, are slippery like traditional pasta, not gunky, and very flavorful. They are very easy to find online. Everyone who has tried them after I recommended them loved them. They are gluten-free and contain one ingredient: soybeans. I have been substituting nutritional yeast for cheese, and using my favorite concoction of equal parts chia, flax, and hemp seeds for omega 3 fatty acids and protein. In particular, these last two items are often associated with fish and animal products in particular. Basically, I’m eating plants and preparing meals with an assortment of veggies.
Here are five suggestions for you to enjoy the benefits of eating a plant-based diet without having to label yourself.
- Identify what your favorite veggies are and buy them fresh. Do an Internet search to find easy recipes to prepare them in a variety of tasty options. I just Googled “simple broccoli recipes” and saw 6.6 million results! When you select fresh, local, organic produce, you increase the chances of wanting to prepare them and eat them, compared with the frozen or canned variety. Whole, fresh food is beautiful!
- If you are simply moving toward more veggies and less meat, that is great! Try some meatless recipes because you simply might like how you feel. It might take getting used to, and I think that is worth it. Meatless Mondays, or any day you like, is a fun way to start.
- Adjust the balance on your plate. Instead of a big piece of chicken or meat and some scant veggies or salad, try switching this to more veggies and a smaller serving of chicken or meat.
- Speaking of the Internet, I typed simple vegan recipes. Super easy to find. Branch out, perhaps with a friend or spouse. Trying new foods is a fantastic experiment!
- Don’t worry about protein. There are plenty of vegetarian options for getting adequate protein.
Mostly, have fun. Getting healthy can seem like a chore in the beginning. And as you make lifestyle adjustments, your body will really love you back and you will keep going. There is nothing like feeling fantastic and craving a veggie salad instead of a candy bar. Love your body and get your body to love you back. #HealthMatters
With love and encouragement,
Rosie Bank is Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the founder of Health Matters Coaching. She is the author of the book, Health Matters. Rosie is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is certified by The Center for Nutrition Studies (e-Cornell) in Plant Based Nutrition. Rosie is an international speaker, blogger, and the founder of Health Matters podcast. She is certified as a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant through the American Fitness Professional Association and as a Nutrition Advisor through Sanoviv Medical Institute. Rosie founded The Vitality Club in Brentwood, CA in 2018.
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