Becoming a Vegan sounds pretty dramatic right? I thought so too. But I have been slowly working my way to veganism since about 2012. The reality is as of the first of this year, I became a vegetarian. Was it an overnight decision? Not really. It was the result of four years of consciously eating better. Eating whole foods, and plant-based foods.
Let me start my story back in 2012, when my beloved dalmatian, Buchi, and I went for a walk. He found a chicken bone on the parkway and started to eat it. I didn’t want it to splinter in his digestive track, so I pulled it out. Unfortunately, the hand that was holding his mouth open was the one that extracted the chicken bone, so he immediately closed his mouth with bite force. My pinky finger was still in his mouth and he bit through it at the first joint. Shear pain!
I went to the Emergency Room, and they fixed me up. I went through pinky therapy (seriously!). But the major outcome of all of this was the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Of course, this was pretty shocking and I didn’t know what to do.
As you have seen in a prior post, I joined Crossfit. There, I started learning about nutrition. I immediately cut out all drinks except for water and tea. No more sugary fruit drinks or sodas. That helped a lot.
I started doing my research. I binged on Netflix food documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., and Vegucated. I also started reading a lot of books, such as those by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Michael Greger.
I discovered that my health was determined by what went into my body. Maybe in the back of my mind, I knew this, but being young and ignorant, I didn’t really focus on food as a factor of my health. Now, I am having to make up for the years of bodily abuse. But, I have been moving to a more plant-based diet for the past 4 years. This January, I finally said enough of eating meat. I stopped eating Chicken and Beef. Being a vegan work-in-process, I still have an occasional meal that has fish. But for the most part, I am now eating greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, fruits (berries mostly) and nuts. I have given up milk, eggs, white flour, processed foods, fast food, and other junk foods.
I read recently and it is very true that becoming vegan is not about what you give up, but what you include. I am learning to eat more beans (something I rarely ate before), varied types of vegetables, sampling vegan and veggie restaurants around LA. I am also finding that most restaurants (at least in Los Angeles) work with you if you tell them you are vegetarian or vegan.
So what am I eating at home? A typical day looks like this. (I’m including links to the foods I’m buying for your reference.)
A green salad, with mushrooms, red onions, bell pepper, avocado and lemon juice
A vegetable stir fry, with Chinese noodles, onions, bell pepper, cabbage and/or spinach (or Kale) and lime juice and a dash of soy sauce.
Green Tea or water
Dessert – Frozen Berries
If you know me, you know that I am on the go a lot, so I have to work with restaurants. As an example, today I went with a friend to a Thai restaurant and had a Papaya Salad and a Pad Kee Mao with Tofu. Asian foods, which I love, have a lot of vegetable options.
I have found two useful apps for zeroing in on vegan-friendly restaurants. First is Yelp and second is Happy Cow. Both of these will allow you to find the local restaurants that will support your food choices.
As I mentioned, I am still a work in progress. I have certain meals where I am not a pure vegan (for example the micro sized shrimp in my papaya salad to which I found out after the fact), I am not giving up my leather shoes, yet, and I still have fish on occasion. But I expect that in time as I adopt a vegan approach to health, I will be moving more and more in that direction.
Lastly, I am including a video of Dr. Michael Greger speaking to Google about the benefits of going to a plant-based, whole foods diet. His Nutrition Facts website is excellent and packed with free videos on science-based nutrition. I hope you enjoy. Please comment below if you have shifted to a plant diet or if you are thinking about it and what you have done so far.