Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Plant Based Diet Demystified Part 1

Last night we went grocery shopping. It was inevitable, we were down to two blocks of tofu, and a bunch of leeks in the fridge. I do not exaggerate here. As our groceries were being rung up the cashier commented that we sure ate healthy. Except for the diet soda. I told her we were vegan, and that was our only vice. She immediately started asking us questions, and I of course enthusiastically started telling her about how much better we felt and how much we were enjoying the food. She just looked at us and said, 'yeah, but don't you get BORED eating that way?'

I just laughed to myself, but that statement keeps coming back. There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about a plant based diet, and I decided to address them. These include:

  • Plant based diets are limited or boring.
  • Plant based diets are too low in protein.
  • Plant based diet make it too hard to eat out/socially eat.
  • Plant based diets and meals are too hard to make/take too long.
  • I could never give up ______________ to eat a plant based diet.
  • Plant based diets are devoid in nutrients. 
  • Plant based diets are too expensive!

Over the next few weeks I'll write about each of these one at a time. We'll start with the first statement: Plant based diets are boring and limited.

I want you to think back about your meals over the past 2 weeks. How many times did you eat chicken, beef, or pork. How many different cuts? Did all those cuts though have the overwhelming taste of chicken, beef or pork? Just with different seasonings or textures? Roast, vs hamburger, chicken breasts vs fried leg?

Now, think about what else you ate in these 2 weeks. Most likely potatoes, rice, lettuce maybe? Peas, corn? Probably all prepared the same way? Served as a side to the meat unless you were eating a casserole. I bet if you combined everything total, it would amount to approximately 10-15 ingredients total.

In the past 2 weeks, our plant based household has eated:

Brussels Sprouts
Bell peppers
baby leaf lettuce
romaine lettuce
oyster mushrooms
portobella mushrooms
bean sprouts
black beans
northern beans
adzuki beans
brown rice
sweet potatoes
Meat replacement products

I could go on, but that covers the basics. We have had stir fries with thai flavorings, teriyaki flavorings, tofu scrambles, baked veggies, pasta, soups, stews, smoothies. With so many fresh vegetables there is no limit to what can be done. None of these would be better with meat. Once you stop eating meat and stop relying on it's rather one dimensional flavors, you find a world of flavors you didn't know existed.

Contrary to popular belief we don't survive on salads, though as it happens I am having one for lunch right now. My lunch salad consists of mixed baby greens, red bell pepper, celery, diced apples, sliced mushrooms, slivered almonds, and it's all topped with a balsamic dressing. This is a salad you'd pay 10.00 for in a restaurant, but I can make it myself whenever I want since I now always have these ingredients available to me. It's anything but boring or plain. For dinner tonight I'm torn as to whether I'm fixing spaghetti with roasted veggies, black bean tacos (black beans, taco seasoning, veggies, salsa on a whole wheat tortilla), or tortilla soup.

I challenge you to look at your diet, track it for 2 weeks and then select 5 veggies to add into the mix over the next 2 weeks that you're not eating now on a regular basis. After 2 weeks, try another 5. 

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