Below is an on-going map of my journey towards eating more responsibly. This is a work in progress to be updated week-by-week as I work through the various wins and losses. The link for this post is located at the top of the page, use it!
- Figure why you want to do this. Is it for your own personal health? Sustainable eating for the planet? Or just want to change things up in life?
- Look up recipes: websites, cookbooks, Pinterest, talk with friends.
- Documentary: Food Choices
- Documentary & more: Forks Over Knives
- Book: China Study
- Book: Healthy Eating, Healthy World
- Go shopping for the ingredients you’ll need to get started.
- Plan a few whole food plant based meals.
- Plan a few meals to use up the rest of your non-whole food plant based ingredients.
- (optional) Get blood tests and body comps for a 3-6 month comparison.
- Plan out an entire week of all healthier foods!
- Make a meal list, check it twice.
- Have a couple “quick win” meals, like vegan pizza from the store, for days you don’t feel like cooking dinner.
By now, you should have gotten the results back from the week 2 blood tests, if you got them at all. If you did, take note of where what your counts are, or rather where they were at when you were still eating the normal western style diet. Two important levels to take note of are vitamin D & B12. My vitamin D levels were low before starting the new lifestyle change, which has me on doctor prescribed vitamin D2 for the next 8 weeks. Take supplements if you must, but also try to consciously make sure you’re able to get enough on your own. Ultimately, “let food be thy medicine” (Hippocrates via Forks over Knives quote rip).
- Watch more documentaries! Read more books! Stay excited.
- After 1 week with no meat and a scarce amount of cheese, I feel great. How do you feel? Keeping a journal or blog might help to keep your thoughts together. Write down feelings, what foods you like or don’t like, maybe even get your blood pressure checked at the local Walgreens every other week or so and keep track of that as well.
- READ the ingredient & nutrition information for EVERYTHING that you eat. Just because it doesn’t have meat or dairy doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have the potential to make you feel like crap after you eat it. After 30-some years of not reading food labels, I feel absolute silly.
Let’s talk about your beans and oils. Stop if I’m wrong, but you’ve found yourself in a nice little groove, with every meal finding you more comfortable and satisfied with this new lifestyle change. In the beginning, we didn’t really care how we got to the foods we were eating, as long as the meats and dairies were getting cutout; this needs to change. Instead of buying canned beans and steamed veggies, we need to try extra hard to start buying fresh veggies and dried beans. Cooking your own beans might seem like an extra chore, but it only takes about as long cooking up a batch of rice. Realizing this new change will reduce the amount of sodium intake as well as the amount of consumer waste byproducts involved with canning.
Oils. What is the difference between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet? The oils. Now that we’re reading the ingredients for all of the food we buy or may want to buy, we’ve started to notice that there are oils in EVERYTHING. It’s only week 5, so let’s not eliminate oils completely, but I do want you to pay attention to what kind of oils, and how much of each kind are being put into what you’re eating. Some oils are produced unsustainably, causing rain forest destruction, while others are perfectly fine. Do some research(example: http://www.thankyourbody.com/vegetable-oils/), stay away from processed foods as much as possible and keep doing your best.
I don’t know what your reason for undertaking this experience is, what your “truth” is, but I hope it’s multifaceted.
“The Virginia Blues” is a concept popular to Appalachian Trail thru hikers. It describes a feeling that many hikers get after completing the first 6 or so weeks of the 6 month adventure. In short, the Virginia blues are what happens the human psyche after the adrenaline wears off and the reality of the journey begins to settle in. We have officially reached the Virginia blues of our plant based lifestyle change.
Our blues might come in the form of food dreams, awkward social experiences, or a lack of overall desire to continue pouring the time and effort into this experience. You’re having conversations with yourself about how other people don’t need to eat this way and they are fine, why should you have to sacrifice “happiness” for a truth that simply doesn’t mean as much to you now as it did in week 1. I really wish I could help you here, but I can’t, not yet. You need to fight for your truth, whether it’s sustainability, animal cruelty, cancer, or something I have not even begun to consider. You have to hike this trail without me. I hope that you decide that our journey is a worthwhile one, if it is, I’ll see you in week 7.
Welcome to week 7! This isn’t actually week 7, it’s been about 3 or 4 weeks since I wrote in this week-by-week update post. The good news is that I haven’t faltered in the least, I’ve thrived. I firmly believe that if a person can get past the Virginia blues, they can maintain this lifestyle for as long as they choose; you can maintain this lifestyle for as long as you choose. I’m purposely not counting how many days that I’ve not had meat or dairy, as a habit streak is an indiscriminate double-edged sword that has both the power to sustain or end a goal. Use it if you need it, but why take the chance of cutting your own legs off if you don’t need to?
From this point on, I’m going to stop referring to the different weeks and try to provide insight into the different challenging situations that you will eventually run into while on your road to healthier eating. It is my hope that my stories will reach across time and space, helping both you and me to keep a healthy amount of perspective as concerning life and it’s many winding roads. Bad things will happen. What affect those bad things have on us is yet to be determined.