Plant Based Diets may be trending, but it is definitely for good reason. I have been eating a mostly Plant Based diet for about six months. Now, I have a few things to unload about that statement. To start, I say, “mostly.” It was really important that I did not give myself a “title” in regard to the foods that I eat. You can definitely say I am vegetarian, and probably even vegan on most days, but what happens on the days that I my diet does not fall under one of those categories? Do I lose all credibility as a self-proclaimed vegetarian or vegan? That seems to be the case and I have witnessed harsh criticism on social media when someone consumes something or uses a product that isn’t vegan. So, I am avoiding all of that, and sticking with the fact that I consume a mostly Plant Based Diet.
Now that that is out of the way, most people want to know why. Why did I give up meat, fish, and dairy? And honestly, my response to this question often surprises people because it is not the typical response. Many people stop consuming animal products because of animal cruelty, and while that was definitely a part of it, it was not the trigger. In fact, I was listening to a podcast called Free Cookies, and the episode was titled, “Factory Farming and Eating Animals with Andrew Decoriolis.” The episode is dated May 8, 2019, and I probably listened to it a week or two later. After listening to the podcast, I really started to reevaluate why I was consuming animal products. The episode discussed at length the effect the meat industry has on the environment and the ever-present problem of climate change. The data is shocking, and I had no idea. I felt very naïve and started diving into the research, and by doing that, I not only learned about the climate change crisis, but I also learned about the negative effects consuming meat, specifically, has on our health. I really couldn’t ignore it.
My purpose for this post is not to inundate you with a bunch of data, but rather, I wanted to share a little bit more about my reasoning for switching to a mostly plant based diet, and fortunately for me, it was not a very difficult switch to make. I was not consuming a lot of meat to begin with, and after being a vegetarian a few years ago, it was an easy transition. Additionally, I had already eliminated dairy (for the most part) from my diet. Full disclosure. I say, for the most part, because there are still times I will eat pizza with non-vegan cheese. I really love pizza! And while I have found some good vegan cheese options, and I will make homemade pizza using vegan cheese, it is still not the same as a slice of pizza from the local pizzeria. So, yes, I do have dairy on occasion. I also have eggs once a while.
Now I understand that this is not an easy change for most people to make. As an example, my husband attempted to eliminate meat from his diet, but due to his aversion to many vegetables, it was difficult for him to maintain. He has, however, greatly reduced his meat consumption, and has added other foods to his diet. I still have hope that I will fully convert him one of these days. But what has he done? He has reduced his meat consumption. He does not consume red meat, which has greater negative effects on health compared to poultry. We also try to be mindful about where the meat is coming from, reducing the carbon footprint.
My goal here is not to convert people. Rather, I really hope to educate people on the BENEFITS of eating more Whole Foods and Plants on a daily basis. This is not only good for our health, but it is good for the environment as well. I also want to say, as a disclaimer, I am not a registered dietician, and I am not here to provide specific nutritional advice. With that being said, there is no one size fits all when it comes to diet and nutrition. What works for one person may not work for someone else, so please keep that in mind, and do your due diligence when consuming information, ensuring that the information is coming from credible sources.
I would like to share a few of my favorite Registered Dietitians that I follow. They not only share some really great plant based recipes, but they also utilize evidence based information.
Whitney English Tabaie, MS, RD: https://www.whitneyerd.com
McMcKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN: https://nutritionstripped.com
Angie Asche, MS, RD, CSSD: https://www.eleatnutrition.com