I had a powerful desire to quit eating meat and dairy 2 weeks before I suspected anything was wrong with me. The cancer diagnosis just confirmed this was what my body needed to to start healing so I listened and haven't looked back since. Thankfully, it's never been easier to live a plant based lifestyle. There's so many amazing & clean alternatives! When I tried to become a vegetarian in the past it was much harder. Soy was the only alternative and it was in everything...milk, cheeses, ice creams, & yogurts. Now every imaginable nut and seed is available in so many different forms. We work hard to limit the amount of processed foods we eat but having options, especially in the beginning and now when we get busy, has been really helpful to keep us satisfied and free of animal products.
Since becoming plant based I have continually educated myself on the benefits of not eating meat especially when dealing with a diagnosis of any kind. Although I feel strongly about educating ourselves on the atrocities of commercial meat and dairy some people just can't conceive of removing animal products from their lives. In this case conventional meats and dairy should be completely avoided as there are no restrictions on the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones and the use of inferior - substandard feeds. Organic meats and dairy are better than conventional but they still contain hormones (naturally occurring) and unwanted byproducts from whatever feed is used (soy & corn). It must be said that regardless, ALL commercial animals, whether they be raised conventionally or organically, are still being raised in horrible environments that our planet simply cannot sustain and are slaughtered in the same deplorable USDA facilities.
Even with this knowledge, this lifestyle change may seem too daunting for some. Our fast paced lifestyles have greatly contributed to our poor food purchasing & eating habits. Misrepresentations of our dietary needs has also convinced us we aren't getting enough protein or fuel for our bodies if we aren't consuming meat and dairy. This couldn't be more inaccurate. Did you know every plant is a source of protein? Did you know the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for protein is only 10% of calories? This does require that you eat more plants but it's actually very easy to do. Excess animal protein increases carcinogenic activity and is correlated with the health risks for all chronic diseases including coronary artery diseases and diabetes epidemics. Although, the RDA for protein is 10% of calories, most tend to eat twice that. The only way to over-consume protein is through excess animal food consumption or the use of isolated protein in processed foods. Animal foods have no fiber, while whole plant foods are packed with fiber, which fill you up, keep you regular, and regulate nutrients into the body.*
Contrary to popular belief dairy is not necessary for bone building or a good calcium source. What happens if we don't drink milk or take a calcium supplement? A recent study addressed this very important question, comparing the bone mineral density of long-term vegans versus omnivores.... The results were astounding; even though the vegans have vastly lower dietary calcium and protein intakes, they enjoyed the exact same bone density as their meat-eating counterparts.*
In the beginning of my treatment I admittedly made these changes to encourage the healing of my body but I've learned a great deal about the inhumane and environmentally unsustainable conditions in which commercial meat and dairy farms are raising and killing animals. My and my family's health has been the primary driver in our decision to eat a plant based diet but our love of animals and our planet keeps us focused and thriving.
So what does an average day of eating look like for me?
- Breakfast: I usually fast until lunch time (I'll be writing soon with the benefits of intermittent fasting) but if I'm working out early in the morning I might have a banana and 1-2 raw brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are high in selenium and a banana gives me the energy I need to have a great workout. I can't live without something warm to drink in the morning but I like to start my day with a glass of water with lemon followed by a hot drink. These change daily and may be :
- Oolong tea
- Yerba Mate` tea with a splash of non-dairy unsweetened creamer
- Macca latte` - made with unsweetened almond or hemp milk and a tiny pinch of whole leaf stevia powder (not extracted drops)
- Matcha latte` - made with unsweetened almond or hemp milk and a tiny pinch of whole leaf stevia powder (not extracted drops)
If I'm really hungry I'll have a filling Green Smoothie made with:
- Frozen Spinach or Kale
- Frozen banana
- Orange or berries
- Plant based protein (brazil nut or Sun Warrior)
- Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Cacao or LimeJuice if using an orange
- Fresh Ginger
- Alfalfa Grass Juice Powder
- Lunch: Big Salad with pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds (lots of protein) or a veggie soup. I also love avocado toast. I use Happy Campers Grain Free Bread - Buckwheat (not a grain) Molasses toast and top with nutritional yeast, sriracha and gomasio. I also love sliced tomatoes and sprouts when in season.
- Dinner: We make scratch beans every week but also use organic canned beans when we are short on time. Just make sure your cans are lined with BPA free liners. I top the cooked beans with every imaginable topping to make a bowl - shredded cabbage, sauerkraut, tomatoes, shredded carrots, red onion, cilantro, avocado, nutritional yeast, sriracha, pumpkin seeds. Use whatever you like and dig in! We also eat a lot of hearty soups, salads and sweet potatoes. The Foodie Bar Way is an awesome book with tons of great easy meal ideas. Although we cut up and serve many veggies - cook times are reduced when not adding in meats. Contact me anytime if you need more tips and ideas or....
I encourage everyone to check out my Resources page for lots of great reading & viewing suggestions to learn more about living a clean plant based lifestyle. If you're looking for recipes and cooking inspiration check out one of my favorite sites: Detoxinista.com and foodiebars.com . Also
use these hashtags in Instagram: #vegan & #plantbased. You'll be in sensory overload with an endless stream of beautiful food and recipe posts.
*Sources - ForksOverKnives.com , NutritionStudies.org, US National Library of Medicine - National Institute of Health, Whole Foods