Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meeting Rip Esselstyn

Michael and I traveled to Austin last Thursday to attend a Yellowcard concert. For those that are thinking, "I've never heard of Yellowcard," you may remember them from about 15 years ago -- one of their most popular songs was Ocean Avenue. Well, they have continued making music over the years and recently released a new album. Our favorite song on this new album is called MSK:

My parents took care of EVY for us so that we could stay overnight in Austin. For dinner we decided to walk to the nearby Whole Foods in downtown Austin. We had a delicious plant-based dinner and relaxed at a neat park on the rooftop of the market.

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Then we walked to the Belmont for the Yellowcard concert. After a LONG wait in line for the doors to open, we finally got inside and picked our ideal spot -- up on the 2nd level balcony. No mosh pit for us, thank you very much!

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There were two opening bands, one of which we had heard of before, Finch.

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The unique thing about Yellowcard is that it's a rock band with a violinist. It was fun seeing them perform live.

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What does this post have to do with Rip Esselstyn? Well, we also knew that Rip now works for Whole Foods, and were pretty sure he works at the one in downtown Austin. So when we ate there for dinner, we decided to try asking his receptionist if he was available and willing to come talk to some of his fans. We unfortunately had already missed him for the day, hence we killed time on the rooftop park.

But the next morning, Michael suggested that we swing by Whole Foods again on our way out of town just in case he might be available. So we went up and spoke to his receptionist again. She was so kind and recognized us immediately, and said, "Oh, y'all are back, let me call and ask him if he can come speak to you." After calling him she told us that he would be out in a few minutes.

We were so excited because we were about to meet yet another one of our plant-based celebrities!

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So Rip came out and we introduced ourselves and said we were big fans. After some introductory talk, he said, "I tell you what, I need to eat something, so how about you guys come down to the store with me so I can get some food and then I'll take you back to my office while I eat and we can talk some more."

But that's not all, then he said, "And I happened to leave my wallet and keys at the AT&T Center, so if you're willing to give me a ride to pick that stuff up, I'll give you some Engine 2 gear."

I think our jaws hit the floor by that point because we probably would have paid HIM for the privilege of driving him around and hanging out with us, lol. Of course we agreed!

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So next thing we knew, we were walking through Whole Foods with Rip Esselstyn himself, getting the inside scoop on where to get yummy plant-based food. Then we went back to his office and he gave us a copy of his new book My Beef With Meat and signed it for us. He also gave us some Plant Strong T-shirts and other goodies. As a side note, Whole Foods seems like an awesome place to work!

Then we drove him to get his keys and wallet. On the way back to Whole Foods, we happened to drive by Engine 2, where it all started for him. He saw one of his former firemen outside, so he asked if we were willing to stop and go in.

Again, jaws dropped...of course! Who wouldn't want to see inside Engine 2 with Rip Esselstyn?!

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We saw the garage, the pole the firemen slide down (and the one Rip climbed up in Forks Over Knives), their gym, and kitchen. So surreal!

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Lots of veggies - looks like the other firemen are continuing to eat well after Rip retired!

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Rip was so friendly. It was such a blast to talk to him and get to know him a bit. We shared about our children and family, work, and plant-based musings. We just couldn't believe our luck at having that opportunity to hang out with him! He was even kind enough to indulge Michael's request to take a "manly" picture. He definitely made our trip a memorable one!

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Super Self

A plant-based diet may seem daunting or pointless to some people.

But one perspective to have is what are you missing out on by not trying a plant-based diet?

Standard American Diet
By not eating a plant-based diet, you still fit in with everyone else, have plenty of restaurants to choose from, and don't have to worry about what you'll eat during holidays, travel, or social situations.

But you may also experience regular fatigue, headaches, inflammation, hormone imbalances, weight gain, constipation or other digestive issues, or more serious health concerns like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and life-threatening diseases.

You probably get ill semi-regularly and visit the doctor multiple times each year. You likely take a variety of medications and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or supplements either by choice or because a doctor told you to.

You may also lack the motivation to exercise regularly.

Perhaps you have been diagnosed with some health condition and were told that there's nothing you can do to stop it, "it's just something that happens with age," or it's just the bad luck of the genes you got.

Are you satisfied with that? Do you wish that some of those symptoms could go away or diminish?

I assure you, they can.

Plant-Based Diet
Imagine an improved version of your present body, a "Super Self" if you will. I'm not talking about magic, a quick fix super pill, never-seen-before breakthrough technology, or some complicated regimen that you can't maintain long-term.

It's really, really simple: the food you eat everyday makes a huge impact on your body.

Think about it, you don't put whatever liquid is conveniently available in your car to make it run well...it requires a particular kind of fuel.

So does your body.

If you give your body the right kind of fuel, it will run better from the inside and outside.

Imagine no longer feeling exhausted at the end of your day or when you first awake in the morning. What if you no longer got a splitting headache or felt foggy in the afternoons. Imagine no longer feeling pain when you climb the stairs or attempt exercise.

Think about what your life might look like if you rarely get sick, only go to the doctor once per year for a checkup. Better yet, imagine what your life might be like if you were able to stop taking all medications and those pesky ailments you were told to blame on your genes or there's nothing to do about it...went away permanently.

Imagine having clear, vibrant, and youthful looking skin. Imagine aging at a slower rate.

Picture what your future would look like if you kept that up. You'd be able to pick up and play with your grandchildren and not tire. You would be mobile and independent, and your mind would stay sharp as a tack. People's jaws would drop when you tell your actual age because you would look and act so much younger.

All of these thoughts do not have to stay in your imagination. This life is possible and waiting for you, but you have to choose it.

You choose what food enters your body. Choose the right food, be consistent with it, and you'll be amazed at the results.

What are you waiting for?

If you are interested in learning how to start a plant-based diet, I encourage you to read my previous 2-post series: Getting Out of the Meatrix.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Delicious Foods

More delicious foods we have the pleasure of enjoying. For the history of all the foods we get to eat, you can click on the label "So What CAN You Eat." :)

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Assorted pancakes we baked in the oven (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and fig)

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Roasted Spicy Chickpeas

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Green bean casserole we made for Thanksgiving

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Stuffing for Thanksgiving

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Scalloped potatoes for Thanksgiving

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Mashed sweet potatoes

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The Thanksgiving feast, all put together!

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Chickpea burger and kale salad at Green Cuisine

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Kale salad and quinoa burrito at Green Cuisine

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Desserts from Green Cuisine

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Asian rice medley

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Smoked sweet potato burgers...amazing!

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And when you run out of buns, no worries, introducing the "Burger Bowl" (served over rice)

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Non-dairy ice cream (cherry and chocolate brownie with vanilla) from Spiral Diner

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Chocolate banana ice cream, frozen in muffin pans for nice portion sizes

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My birthday dessert of choice: cookie cake with chocolate & vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge, and peanuts...all non-dairy and oil-free!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Getting Out of the Meatrix...How to Get Started on a Plant-Based Diet - Part II

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In my previous post, I talked about the stages you can expect to go through when starting a plant-based diet. But now we will move forward with some helpful tips on how to get started.

How to Get Started on a Plant-Based Diet:

The Basics
A plant-based diet - to put it simply - involves eating plants. The more natural and intact (whole) the food, the better. That's why I sometimes refer to our diet as a whole foods, plant-based diet. That distinguishes the difference between juicing every meal or taking vegetable supplements (i.e. JuicePlus) versus eating whole, plant foods. But I realize this explanation still begs many questions about what exactly do you eat and don't eat on a plant-based diet. Here's a quick list:

What To Eat:

  • Whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa, corn, wheat, barley, millet...here's a complete list) - FYI, there are a bunch of gluten-free options if you're concerned about that (note that only about 1-2% of the population has Celiac disease, and 6-7% have a gluten sensitivity...all others do not need to listen to the fad-hype of eating gluten-free foods)
  • Starches (potatoes, squashes, corn, peas, etc.)
  • Legumes
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Spices and seasoning (check for meat, dairy, and oil in the ingredients)
  • Nuts, Nut Butters, and Seeds - very high in fat, don't over-indulge!
  • Avocado, Coconut, Olives, Soy, Tofu, Chocolate - very high in fat, don't over-indulge! Yes, they sell dairy-free chocolate, usually dark chocolate. Guittard is our personal favorite.
  • Sweeteners (sugar, pure syrup, honey, agave, stevia) - very concentrated calories with no fiber to fill you up, don't over-indulge!

What NOT to Eat:

Leave a comment if there's a food I've left off that you're not sure which list it belongs in.

The Advanced Course
Something we like to say is "don't major on the minors." What we mean is that if you are looking to improve your health in a dramatic way, you can do so strictly by following a plant-based diet as detailed above.

But, if you want to go the extra mile, and really investigate everything that plays a part in your overall health, then here are some additional things to consider.

This barely qualifies as a "minor" because I believe that everyone would benefit from a little exercise. But it is a fact that you can dramatically improve your health if all you do is eat a plant-based diet -- you will lose weight and decrease your chances of America's top-killing diseases, all without lifting a single dumbbell.

But exercise is wonderfully healthy, so I do recommend making it a habit. When we adopted a plant-based diet, we stopped exercising for about two months while we adjusted to our change in lifestyle. We both lost weight and improved our health. But we wanted to be fit and athletic, not just skinny. So we started incorporating exercise back into our routine.

Also let me point out that if you want strong bones, the only way to achieve that is to 1) Avoid meat and dairy that increase the acid load on your body, which weakens bone health, and 2) Do strength-training exercise.

I've often said a plant-based diet will help you live longer, but exercise will help you enjoy old age once you reach it. Exercise will keep you mobile, strong, and balanced.

If you're looking for a great exercise program, we highly recommend Athlean-X. Ignore his diet and supplement advice, but his exercise program is amazing. It's 5 days per week, and each exercise is usually 30 minutes or less. It's intense and we've seen a lot of benefit from it. Plus every day is unique, so you don't get bored like you might with the P90-X type DVD programs.

Many might be surprised to hear that aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's disease. It's one of those "minors" that we personally choose to major on, because in our minds, it's not worth the risk. I believe that memories are a huge part of what makes me, well, me. The thought of losing my memories is worse than the prospect of losing a limb, sight, or hearing.

So we choose to avoid aluminum by purchasing aluminum-free products (baking powder, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.), using stainless steel cookware instead of aluminum cookware, and using parchment paper instead of aluminum foil.

At one time we were fearful of getting skin cancer. Everyone's afraid of that, right? That's why everyone believes sunscreen is a must-have. Well, there are also many benefits to some sunlight, so it shouldn't be avoided entirely. So unless we are spending all day in direct sunlight, we choose not to wear sunscreen. Plus we don't like the thought of our skin absorbing all the chemicals that are contained in sunscreen. We enjoy laying out in the sun for about 20-30 minutes every day (or as often as we can).

Vitamins and Supplements
It's a common myth that people should take their vitamins and supplements. But we believe that food is the best way to get the vitamins and nutrients a person needs, not artificial pills. Even pills that say they are natural or food-grade...they're still not the whole food. Plants were perfectly designed to contain a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and phytochemicals. We just have to actually eat them instead of harmful foods. Your body is extremely efficient at extracting exactly the amount of nutrients it needs in a given day from the food you eat. We highly recommend reading T. Colin Campbell's book called Whole. It sheds light on the obsession with micronutrients, and instead suggests that the whole apple is better than the sum of its parts.

The point is that plants provide all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs, so there is no point to taking concentrated supplements. In fact, some studies suggest too much of a good thing (such as Vitamin D supplements) can actually cause harm. It also doesn't help matters that pharmaceutical companies earn billions of dollars selling these products that humans "must have."  We do not take any vitamins or supplements at all.

Beauty Products
Your skin absorbs the things it's exposed to, so the products you apply to your skin do matter. Sure, it's a "minor" thing, but it is one aspect of your overall health that you may be interested in learning about. We prefer to buy organic and plant-based products in order to avoid the harmful chemicals and because we don't want to support cruelty to animals (animal testing). If you're interested in some of the products we buy, feel free to comment, and I'll name specifics.

Making a Lifestyle Change
Here is some additional advice on how to make a plant-based diet part of your lifestyle.

Cooking and Meal Planning
Since you're likely to feel overwhelmed when making a change to a plant-based diet, it's best to start with simple recipes, then gradually work up to more complicated dishes. I will recommend several plant-based cookbooks below, but a great place to start is the Internet. Vegan 8 has several quick and easy-to-make meals. Or keep it as simple as baking a potato and topping it with some salsa and vegetables.

Eventually you will reach a point where you can develop your own recipes or modify previous favorites to a plant-based version. I also like to plan my meals for one week at a time since we don't mind leftovers. Whatever you do, it is important to spend some time planning for your meals so that you aren't caught in a situation where you're hungry and have no healthy options.

Recipe Resources
Here are several plant-based cookbooks I recommend:

And here are several websites with plant-based recipes:

Gidgets and Gadgets
There are many kitchen tools that I consider a necessity. I've categorized them as a must-have or a would-be-nice-to-have. I also included links to cookware and food storage items I like to use.

Must Have:

  • Instant Pot: this is a huge time saver, we've actually considered buying a second one. It cooks dry, unsoaked beans in roughly 30-40 minutes. Also cooks rice in about 20 minutes. We've also used it to steam an entire 5 lb bag of potatoes in about 30 minutes. Because it's an electric pressure cooker, it's also like a crockpot that you can turn on and walk away from. It automatically keeps it warm when the cooking cycle ends. Highly recommended! 
  • Nice Blender or Vitamix: All the Vitamix models are top-notch, we just chose this one because we liked the size of the wider container and wanted the blender to fit under our cabinets.
  • Food processor: we have this one and have been happy with it for 3 years
  • Ginormous colander: I use this very often to wash various produce and drain pasta or beans

Would Be Nice to Have:

  • Food chopper: helpful to chop mushrooms or other things that might get pulverized in a food processor, or if you want to quickly chop something and not have to clean out the food processor parts; we bought a pampered chef one 
  • Garlic press: we use a lot of fresh garlic in various recipes, and I hated having to peel it and then use a food chopper to mince it...this allows you to cut the unpeeled cloves in half and squeeze all the garlicy goodness out quickly; we bought a pampered chef one 
  • Tortilla press: heavy-duty and works great...just have to be careful not to "over squish" the tortillas
  • Steel griddle: this goes on top of our burners and we use it to cook the tortillas, as well as hash brown potatoes, or large quantities of veggies 
  • Apple wedger: we like the pampered chef one that's all metal 
  • Mango splitter: helped us figure out how to cut a mango 
  • Cookbook holder: handy to hold cookbooks upright and protect from splatter 
  • Toaster oven: helpful to toast bread and the like 
  • Wok: for large quantities of stir-fry rice; this one is cast iron, so it has special cleaning and seasoning instructions that involve seasoning with oil before use (but we don't cook with oil)
Cookware and Food Storage Items:

Helpful Tips For...
It can certainly be difficult to transition to a plant-based diet and still participate in family and social gatherings. It's all about making this a part of your lifestyle and making up your mind beforehand about what you are willing and unwilling to eat. Here are some tips for the various social situations you might find yourself in.

Dealing with Family, Friends, and Co-workers

  • Be up front with your dietary choices if someone is making something for you. It's much more respectful to speak up before the person has gone through the effort of cooking, than for you to stay silent and then refuse what's served to you.
  • Offer to bring your own food or a dish to share. If you have open-minded friends, they might be interested in trying the food you eat. Either way, if you bring something, you know you can eat at least one dish.
  • Be respectful of their choice to eat what they want, just like you want to be respected for your choices. You should not try to make others feel guilty for not eating like you. Sure, it's okay to answer their questions, but don't dominate the conversation.
  • If someone is really insistent with their teasing/criticism, politely say that you're just trying to eat in a way that is best for you and your personal health.

Social Outings and Holidays

  • If a group of people are discussing where to eat, speak up with a suggestion that you know has a menu item you can eat.
  • Be sure to ask about ingredients when you can. 
  • Ask to speak to a manager or chef directly because the wait staff is usually not that familiar with what is in the food they serve.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for the chef to make the menu item without oil, dairy, etc. We have often called ahead to Chipotle to ask if they will make a special batch of fajita veggies without oil for us (just cook in water) and they have always obliged.
  • Also don't be afraid to bring your own food into a restaurant if you know they don't have anything to offer you. Or at least you can bring condiments or toppings to add to a plain side dish, like a baked potato.
  • Check the side dishes and ask if they can steam veggies without butter, oil, or spray butter, then order multiple dishes of those items. I've also eaten a garden salad without dressing and just squeezed lemon juice on top for flavor.
  • Don't expect the food you eat at a non-vegan restaurant to be glamorous or super flavorful. Your best tasting dishes will likely be cooked at home.


  • There is ALWAYS a plant-based option, so don't let that be your excuse. It may not be glamorous, but you can surely find something to eat.
  • Pack your own food if you can. Get a cooler that will keep food cool, or book a hotel that has a fridge and microwave (or a full kitchen, like Residence Inn).
  • Even if you're flying, you can still pack some food. I've traveled with dry oats in a container, then use my hotel room's coffee maker to get hot water to stir into the oats container. I also pack dry cinnamon and ground flax seeds to add as flavor. I then ask for bananas from the hotel. Voila, a hearty breakfast.
  • If packing your own food isn't an option, plan ahead before you travel to see if there are any plant-based or vegan restaurants in your destination. If flying, be sure to scope out the food options in the airport ahead of time.
  • If none are available, Whole Foods is my next place to look for because they usually have a large salad bar and prepared foods section with vegan options. They even list the ingredients so you can avoid oil. Otherwise you could consider purchasing microwavable bags of brown rice and veggies, then add some soy sauce as a simple meal.
  • If a grocery store is not an option, there are still regular restaurant and fast-food chains that can provide something for you to eat. Wendy's sells a baked potato with cheddar cheese and broccoli, so I order that and omit the cheese.
  • Making your mind up that you won't cheat even while traveling will make you more determined to find something you can eat. I have traveled a lot, and I have never been without a meal.

When you start a plant-based diet, it's important to connect with others who are doing the same thing, and probably facing the same challenges. There are many Facebook groups (like Forks Over Knives, McDougall friends, etc.) that provide a sense of community. Stay encouraged that even if you don't know anyone else personally who eats like you, there are many people in the world who do. The beauty of social media is that you can easily connect with them and not feel so alone. Stay plant strong!

That concludes my post about how to get started on a plant-based diet. If you have a question that I haven't answered, please feel free to comment and I'll do my best to answer it.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Getting Out of the Meatrix...How to Get Started on a Plant-Based Diet - Part I

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A diet by definition can mean widely different things. In one sense, it can mean a temporary restriction of eating for a particular purpose, such as weight-loss. In another sense, it can simply mean the foods that someone habitually eats, long-term. There are a bunch of fad diets out there that if followed, will not lead to long-term health. For example, the popular low-carb diets (Paleo, Atkins, etc.) are not sustainable long-term. The human body relies on carbohydrates for energy, so removing nearly all carbs from your diet forces your body into ketosis, i.e., starvation. The body is not meant to survive long-term without carbohydrates. Plus, all that saturated fat and cholesterol is highly likely to catch up with you one day...you cannot out-exercise clogged arteries.

A plant-based diet -- in the long-term, habitual eating sense -- is essentially a high-carb, low-fat diet. And I do not mean purchasing "low-fat" labeled food products, because eating a "low-fat" diet still leads a person to consume about 30-40% of calories from fat. The important distinction is that a healthy plant-based diet will consist mainly of complex-carbohydrates (as opposed to simple sugars). A healthy plant-based diet is a diet that consists of whole, plant foods. The more intact the food (i.e., not processed or blended), the more it will fill and satisfy.

This post is intended to provide a helpful guide on how to get started on a plant-based diet. It's really about changing your habits and lifestyle to reflect a decision you make. So before I begin with the helpful guide, I'd like to briefly discuss the stages you might expect to go through.

The Stages of Going Plant-Based:

  1. Curiosity is Piqued - This stage occurs when you first hear about a plant-based diet, maybe watch a documentary, read a book, or hear about it from a friend. Some people hear about a plant-based diet and immediately dismiss it as a possible lifestyle for them.

    But some people hear about it and want to know more. They begin to imagine what their life might be like if they tried it. They hear the benefits of it and find those benefits appealing and possibly worth the effort of making a huge change. The idea of being able to have more control over your health can be very appealing and motivating.

  2. Doubt or Making Excuses - But they are very likely to have some doubts right off the bat. A plant-based diet contradicts a lot of what you hear in mainstream in terms of what is "healthy." But where will you get your protein? Calcium? But I thought fish is good for you because of the omega-3's and it has 'the good kind of fat.'

    All of these doubts are normal and expected because we live in a society that is at the mercy of large food companies throwing advertisements and misleading information at you day in, day out in the hopes of boosting sales. What's worse is that many of these companies actually pay for "research" to be done on their product (but only if they get the results painting the company's product in a favorable light). The media then spreads the "breakthrough research study finds" message...it's no wonder a person ends up confused about what is truly healthy.

    This stage is also the time when you begin to doubt yourself and your ability to make a change. You are likely to make excuses about how it's too hard, too extreme, or too bland. You are at the greatest risk of quitting before even trying at this stage.

  3. Decision Time - You've spent time asking questions and seeking answers, doubting and making excuses. But now it's time to make a decision. Only you can decide what's right for yourself. I encourage you to make a decision that you know you can live with and stick to.

    Some people (this was what Michael and I decided to do initially) will decide to try a plant-based diet for a trial period and then re-evaluate. Others may be firm in their decision to make a permanent change. Some people may decide not to go fully plant-based, but decide to eat less animal products in general. And others may decide that they are not willing to try a plant-based diet at all.

  4. Starting to Make a Change - If you decide to try a plant-based diet, either permanently or as a trial, you will begin to make a change in your lifestyle. You will probably seek recipes or cookbooks that are plant-based because (like us when we started) you will have no idea where to begin. You will likely make some dishes you are surprised to love, and others that turn out to be a disaster. It's very similar to learning how to cook all over again.

    Some people will make a change all at once (cold turkey), while others will slowly transition to a plant-based diet over a few weeks. There's no right or wrong way to do it, but I will say that if you transition slowly, you are more likely to struggle because your taste buds will take longer to adjust because you'll be eating plant-based foods while still eating the typical high-fat foods.

  5. Struggles and Temptations - The moment of truth. You're hungry and caught off guard. It could happen when you forget your lunch and have to decide what you're going to do. It could happen in the form of being invited out to a restaurant. Perhaps you're rushed and had a stressful day and don't have any food already prepared, so you're tempted to order a pizza or stop by the drive-thru. Sometimes mischievous friends or family will literally shove something in your face and say, "Come on, you know you want to eat this!" Perhaps you are teased for eating like a rabbit and are tempted to give into social pressure.

    It's not a question of if you will struggle or be tempted to stray from a plant-based diet, but when. This is when you find out just how committed you are to the decision you made in stage 3.

  6. Regroup and Either Continue or Give Up - After struggling or being tempted, you will have to regroup. You either gave in and strayed from a plant-based diet or you stuck with it. Celebrate if you had a victory. If you gave in, don't beat yourself up about it, but do form your decision on what you will do next: continue trying or give up and go back to your previous diet. Again, only you can decide what's right for you.

    Hopefully by the time you reach this stage, you might have already experienced some of the immediate benefits of eating a plant-based diet, such as increased energy, reduced/eliminated headaches, smooth digestion, or a little weight-loss. Depending on your situation and personality, you may cycle through stages 5 and 6 a few times.

  7. A Habit Formed - If you decide to continue trying to eat a plant-based diet, eventually you will see that you have formed a habit and made a lifestyle change. You will find that you enjoy the food you eat, you feel better, have experienced improvements in your health, and have made this change a part of your life. You will also realize that it's possible to co-exist with people who do not follow a plant-based diet. You will continue to adapt and learn as time passes. You will build up an arsenal of recipes you love to make. You will get through the holidays, social gatherings, and travel.

    You'll look back one day at the foods you used to eat and wonder why they ever appealed to you at all. You will see that you are unplugged from the Meatrix. :)

In the next post I'll move forward with a helpful guide on how to get started on a plant-based diet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Two Year Plant-Based Anniversary

Two years ago today, Michael and I officially started eating a plant-based diet after watching the movie "Forks Over Knives" (available on Netflix). It's our Plantiversary! :)

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Before and After

We made the decision to try a plant-based diet for health reasons and were both fully committed from the beginning. Since then, we have enjoyed absorbing knowledge from experts in this field and affectionately refer to ourselves as "the crazy leaf-eating hippies." Hey, it isn't easy choosing this lifestyle in the great state of Texas.

But for us, that's what it is: a choice. It's a choice we make everyday that our former way of eating was simply not worth it. People may think we're too extreme, and that's okay. For us, it's more extreme to suffer with health ailments that can be completely relieved or prevented. We choose to never "cheat" because in our minds, there is just no point. Plus, we thoroughly love all the food we "get to eat" so there's absolutely no feeling of deprivation.

We realize this choice tends to place us on the outside of many social activities and groups. We do our best to try to participate in other ways, but it's a choice we are comfortable making and one we know that not everyone will feel comfortable with. Again, for us, the benefits we've experienced far exceed the discomfort of feeling excluded from normal food-focused social activities. It's been a huge blessing to us to find fellow plant-based eaters through Facebook and other groups. We even enjoyed going on a McDougall Adventure vacation to Costa Rica this summer, where we met lots of fellow "McDougallers."

After two years of seeing such improvements in our health, that's all the motivation we need to continue choosing this lifestyle:

  • Weight-loss
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Increased energy
  • Increased fitness ability
  • Improved immune system (we haven't been sick, not even with a common cold in almost 2 years)
  • Balanced hormone levels
  • Eliminated menstrual cramps...obviously this one only applies to me :)
  • Healthier, clearer skin and decreased acne
  • Eliminated recurring infections
  • Cured me of my lifelong history of IBS
  • Not taking any medication, vitamin, or supplement

I plan to do a post next on "How to Get Started" in case anyone has no idea where to begin. It will contain my tips and lessons learned from our two years of experience.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our Food Lately

Pictures of more yummy plant-based foods we have enjoyed eating, added to our "So What CAN You Eat?" gallery.

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Salad from Salata...topped with nearly every fresh vegetable, bean, and fruit they offered!

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Fresh-grown broccoli sprouts make a delicious addition to a salad

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Michael is the expert at fitting as many toppings as possible in the Genghis Grill bowl!

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Roasted delicata squash...it has a slight cheesy flavor in our opinion

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Veggie fajitas with sides of Spanish rice and black beans

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Pesto pasta...one of our favorite sauces and it also tastes great on a pizza

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Roasted red pepper and tomato sauce with zucchini and pasta

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Brownie batter dessert dough with fresh apple slices

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Decadent chocolate chip cookies topped with homemade chocolate banana "ice cream" and "banana boats" (bananas topped with peanut butter, chocolate, and honey that you broil in the oven)