Going Plant-based

I’ve been mostly vegetarian for nine years now. I made the decision to go vegetarian after learning about animal treatment in factory farms. Five years later, I got a dog. This re-affirmed my decision to be a vegetarian — I saw animals in a whole new light once I got a dog. They have personalities. They’re living, feeling, conscious beings just like us. A dog is no different from a pig, cow, or chicken. I couldn’t make an animal suffer so that I could enjoy a hamburger, when there are so many other delicious options out there. I don’t need meat and am fortunate enough to have the resources to eat whatever I want.

Soon after getting a dog, I watched Forks Over Knives. Wow. Now I had more motivation to be vegetarian, vegan even. Meat isn’t even good for you! Not to mention, animals are suffering every day just to give us our dairy products. Now I considered veganism. I at least wanted to cut out some dairy from my diet.

After watching FOK, I read Eating Animals and watched Cowspiracy. Most recently, I have been reading How Not to Die. I can’t ignore what’s in front of my face: consuming animal products is bad for the animals, the environment, and for us.

I’m still not ready to cut out all animal products. I am making an effort to go one step further, though, and cook plant-based dinners and lunches. While I can pretty easily maintain a plant-based diet at home, I’m not ready to take on the challenge of navigating social gatherings and restaurant menus as a vegan.

I signed up for a plant-based meal plan (they send me recipes and a shopping list, and I meal prep on Sundays) to help me stick to this goal. The meals have all been delicious. The meal plan has made this change significantly easier for me, since I don’t have to worry about planning out plant-based meals every week, which would have been overwhelming to me (especially in the beginning of this transition). Having leftovers available in the fridge for lunches keeps me from eating sandwiches with deli cheese on them, so I’ve made the transition to plant-based lunches pretty easily as well. I am loving how good I feel physically and mentally about what I’m eating. Pete is also really enjoying the meals.

I’m still on the fence about how to handle Sully’s diet. Currently I feed him a vegetarian diet at home, and when we are visiting family or friends who eat meat, I will sometimes give him a few pieces of meat if there aren’t a lot of vegetarian options. He doesn’t like meat, though, and rarely eats it in those situations anyway. He’s actually not crazy about cheese either. He does eat an egg every morning with breakfast, however. I’m not eager to make any sweeping decisions about his diet just yet and prefer to give him a large variety of food, so that he is exposed to everything and can make his own decisions about his diet later in life.

Sully’s recent plant-based lunch: peanut butter crackers, leftover red bean coconut curry, avocado, and dates with peanut butter.

A Few Vegetarian/Vegan/Plant-Based Diet Resources

If you want to learn more about why so many people are switching to plant-based diets, or you need some recipes to try, I recommend the resources below:

  • Forks Over Knives — documentary examining the health benefits of a plant-based diet
  • Eating Animals — Jonathan Safran Foer’s book reads like a novel. He also shares his findings from researching factory farms, and they are eye-opening.
  • Cowspiracy — documentary discussing the detrimental effects of animal agriculture on the environment.
  • How Not to Die — by Michael Greger — presents the scientific evidence behind a plant-based diet’s ability to prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death.
  • Meal Mentor Meal Plans — these are the meal plans I use; be sure to check out the free sample week if you want to try them out.
  • Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen App — my favorite new tool! This app gives you a list of Dr. Michael Greger’s (author of How Not to Die) recommended daily dozen foods. You check off your servings throughout the day to make sure you are getting all your fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, etc. in.
  • Minimalist Baker — all recipes require 10 ingredients or less, 1 bowl or 1 pot, or 30 minutes or less to prepare. Most are plant-based and gluten-free.
  • Isa Does It— the recipes in this vegan cookbook are just amazing. Isa is also the woman behind Post Punk Kitchen.
  • @kellidoussan — my good friend Kelli who is a vegan and super supportive of my efforts to adopt a plant-based diet!

Originally published at www.happybeetsfamily.com on April 30, 2016.

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