Just like fashion, I’m prone to jumping on the trend of the moment. I followed the Paleo diet for the past couple of years because it lets me bacon at every meal. But the more attention I paid to my daughter’s vegan diet, and then reading about how it changed Bill Clinton’s and James Cameron’s lives, I decided to give it a try. Not to mention having the bejesus scared out of me by watching “Forks over Knives”. I prefer to call it “plant-based eating” as I think the phrase “vegan diet” has become too Kardashian.
I love food. I love eating food. I love reading about food. I love making food. Are you seeing a pattern here? Sitting down at night with a glass of wine and an exciting new recipe to taste is sport to me. I’m talking I’d-win-the-gold-medal sport. I’m not going to lie, my Facebook feed is 90 percent food posts. Sadly, I also love devouring food.
So when I decided to embark on this
vegan diet plant-based journey, I downloaded dozens of recipes to try. I love veggies. So how hard could it be?
Day 1, I woke up blindsided. What vegetables go with breakfast? My obsessive planning was already feeling like a failure. I was starving and didn’t want to take 40 minutes to roast some sweet potatoes. So I drove
past Chick Fil-A to Whole Foods and got a smoothie. Not a good start. Lunch was equally as challenging. I’m busy and I wait until the last minute to think about eating – prepping fresh vegetables for a meal is not necessarily quick. Many (most) days, I found myself starving with no quick fix. I ultimately found a few go to recipes but the monotony got old real quick. I pride myself on being a pretty inventive cook, but come on, there are only so many ways you can cook broccoli.
I printed, pinned and posted recipes and started planning better. Four weeks later, I was down a few pounds which was never my intention (but an added bonus – I won’t lie). But here’s what I learned.
1. I was no longer at the top of my sport. I would never make the podium in my beloved sport again. When I couldn’t choose my food, I didn’t love it so much. Food choices are definitely limited when eating plant-based so that craving for a burger? Forget it. That awesome new barbecue pork recipe? Nope. I found that I didn’t love reading recipes, preparing meals and eating as much as I did in my free-for-all eating sport. I was so unmotivated to eat (guess that’s why I lost a few pounds). It’s like they say about the French. They don’t eat – they dine, slowly sipping their wine, nibbling on bread and savoring small portions. Personally, I love eating (American-style porkfest) and dining but not so much when my meals didn’t include my favorite indulgences.
2. I could eat pasta! Yep. Dried pasta is considered vegan. But having it three times a day to supplement my veggies was not an option. It certainly helped knowing that I could top a plate of pasta with roasted veggies or tomato sauce.
3. Hunger pains are true pains. I think our culture has become accustomed to always having access to food so we rarely feel true hunger pains. But because I was so uninspired by the food I was eating and I was eating very little, I felt constant hunger pains. And they are pretty damn annoying! Especially at 3am!
4. I think the fake-meat industry has ruined the vegan movement. There’s cheese without cheese, porkless bites, meatless meatballs, and taco meat made out of nuts (which I actually enjoy). If the whole point of going plant-based is to avoid processed, unnatural foods, then hello?? How does one make meatballs taste like meatballs without meat? Why not just call them fake processed meatballs?
5. Sauces are key. I’ve had some of the most awesome veggie curry dishes and even my meat-eating husband would not miss the meat. I also had the most amazing Kung Pao cauliflower (which tells me you can put lipstick on a pig – sorry notsorry cauliflower). I make a decadent green tomatillo sauce that I normally pair with chicken but I’m thinking it would go great with veggies and rice. So sauces are the key to adding some oomph to the flavor of veggies.
I learned plenty of other things too. I don’t like to drink my meals. Green smoothies are just unnatural and a real stretch for getting your greens in. Tofu is gross no matter what. The commercial that says “Next time you order kale, use a silent “k”. It’s so much better.” is spot on! Whose idea was it that we should start eating weeds?
Despite all of this, I do think that eating a primarily plant-based diet is the healthiest way to go. I’m not giving up but I’m also not going to strive for 100 percent. I’ll eat the occasional egg for breakfast or a piece of fish now and then. And cheese! Yes, cheese. Instead of planning my meals around a protein/meat (as restaurant chefs still do), I’ll plan my meal around veggies. Truth is I’ve never liked chicken so that won’t be difficult to give up but I do love me a nice big burger or steak every now or then, so we’ll see how long I can resist that craving. But for now, I’ll continue to disguise my veggies with hummus and tahini and asian sauces