One morning, my body rejected my standard bacon and egg breakfast. Yup, I threw up after just one bite. The next morning? The same result. In fact, the idea of eating any eggs or meat disgusted me. That was seven months ago and now, I mainly eat plants.
I’ve been vegetarian (and vegan) before. That was super easy when I was a single girl. My fridge and kitchen pantry were fully under my control. Now, I was a mom of three and working from home. (Oh yeah, I was also a hard-core Paleo in a family full of meat-eaters.)
As a health coach, I know that eating more plants is critical for our overall wellness. Yet, the idea of trying to go fully vegetarian (and even more, vegan) right now scared the crud out of me. How could I possibly make a vegetarian shift while also making meals for my whole family?
My Body Screamed “Eat Plants”
Sure, I’d been trying to eat more plants for some time. I even considered making a plant-based dietary shift but figured I’d deal with that check-list item at a later date. Of course, I would do some research, discover a few new recipes, and stock my pantry.
Instead, my body decided to make an immediate change without actually consulting me first.
This certainly wasn’t how I would have planned to eat more plants, but it was decided and I was along for the ride. It was actually pretty interesting to go through the experience. The food I ate just days before disgusted me. Now, I had to shift my intake or just not eat. If you know me… not eating wasn’t an option.
My immediate focus was making sure I was able to get enough plant-based protein in my diet. Sure, I could eat dairy products, but I’d limited them in my diet years ago due to sensitivities. When I’d make teriyaki beef for my family, there was always rice and a vegetable as well. Now, I’d add tofu to the mix and build myself a tofu teriyaki bowl.
I started exploring easy plant-based protein add-ons to include in our pantry: tofu, lentils, beans, soy milk, nuts, quinoa. At the same time, I wanted to make sure that I would truly be eating a bunch more nutrient-dense plants and not just bread, crackers and chips. So, beyond just adding more veggies to my shopping cart, I made sure to have things like hummus, avocado/arugula pesto and grilled onions in the fridge.
In seven months, I still struggle with eating eggs and meat. I’ve had a muffin cooked with eggs, so I’m not strictly vegan. Plus, I still have a palate for fish and sometimes add cheese to things. At least 95% of what I eat is plant-based; an easy dietary change that I’m truly happy about. Of course, I still prepare meat, eggs and dairy-based meals for my family. Plus, I won’t give you the evil side-eye you across the table at a BBQ. However, I can truly recommend making a shift toward a higher plant percentage diet.
4 Reasons I Embrace My New Diet
Of course, ‘eat more plants’ is a dietary dictum that we have heard for years. That sounds great, but for many, the thought of bacon and eggs in the morning sounds even better.
I enjoyed eating Paleo since before it became a common food label banner. In fact, I attribute eating Paleo to helping my ‘you’re never going to be able to have a baby’ body successfully reproduce. (that’s a whole other blog post) Even as early as seven months ago, I enjoyed grass-fed and finished ground beef in my weekly tacos. When ordering Chinese food, I was always the one adding dry sauteed string beans to the order. Our eggs came directly from our own happy, snuggled hens.
If asked, I might have said I was a ‘conscientious meat-eater.’ Sure, I ate meat, but I tried to stay away from big factory-sourcing and my plate included lots of veggies. Yet, clearly, my mind & body felt differently based on my conscious’ boycott.
There’s a litany of publications and books about the health benefits of eating more plants. A Harvard Health Publishing article has a quote that provides a great summary:
Here’s a list of why I’m actually happy with my new mainly plant-based eating pattern:
- Disease Fighting & Longevity – my health coach education, constant research/reading, and obsession with ‘natural foods’ stores have all pointed to the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. With cancer in my immediate family and dealing with my own autoimmune issues, I embrace the phytonutrients that plants give us.
- Simplicity – it is even easier than I imagined to eat plants… regardless of what the rest of my family wanted to eat. I still make the same family meals, but just make sure to have vegetarian (or, pescatarian) alterations for myself. Plus, having more plant-based on the table get my six-year-old to try new foods. (My teens are dicy, but I hope the exposure will help drive future eating choices.)
- Indulgence – Yup, you read it right… I find eating plant-based to be quite indulgent. Just yesterday, I have a HUGE salad overflowing with greens, beans, onions, seeds, and nuts. Of course, doused with olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar. I felt like I was gorging myself, yet once finished, I felt satisfied not stuffed.
- Reduced Cost – Since I live in an area with a good supply of fresh produce via farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and my own garden, a healthy plant-based lifestyle is great for the budget. Please note that this is not the case for everyone. That’s why I’ve become a member of a Los Angeles Food Policy Council working group to help make an impact on the ‘healthy food deserts’ in my local area.
- More Humane – As mentioned above, when I ate meat, I made an effort to select more conscientious options. Yet, at the end-of-the-day, I was still eating animals. Now that I mainly eat plants, I feel better about my personal dietary decisions. Yes, my family still eats meat… and I have to prepare it. However, I am one less person consuming animals in this world. If every family had just one less, that could make quite an impact.
Trust me, I’m not here to tell you to just eat plants overnight. Heck, I still eat fish and dabble in eggs and cheese from time-to-time. Yet, my goal is to get you to think about it. If you could start with just one plant-based family meal per week, that could make a huge difference.