Monday, March 12, 2018

Going Vegan (or rather, WFPB!)

Welp, here goes nothin'.

Rob and I have been experimenting with the idea of a complete lifestyle change to whole-food plant based (WFPB) vegan eating for over a year now.  I was consistent at whole food plant based eating almost the entire summer 2017.  During that time I lost nearly 30 pounds, got rid of 3 prescription medicines (for high blood pressure, edema, and GERD).  My body LOVED the WFPB way of eating and responded easily.  I was thrilled at my results, but even more so at how I felt.

But then life got in the way.

That's always been the case.  A few months into a different way of eating & exercising and then a hiccup in life (in this case it was the introduction of a major health issue for my daughter) causes me to go off the rails with my own healthy pursuits.

But I've decided that has to change.  Having been WFPB vegan for a couple months over the summer meant that I  have gotten more accustomed to eating vegan foods and meals (positive), but going back to the SAD (Standard American Diet) way of eating, replete with sugar, empty carbs, meat, dairy, etc. has meant that I've gained back the weight I lost (and then some), my blood pressure hovers in the borderline range, my shoe options are limited due to my nearly constant edema, and issues with GERD have been flaring up again.    So this week is Spring Break and on March 15th I will weigh in with my starting weight and measurements and kick off my 100% WFPB journey.

So I thought I'd chronicle my journey with this (and other stuff) on a blog.  If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you'd know by now that I struggle with consistency.  But I'm determined that I'll conquer that beast maybe that someday is starting now!  I've archived all my old posts, so I'm starting fresh!  I know that I do best when I process my thoughts, experiences, etc. through writing, so thus the return to the blog.

Thought I'd throw out a couple of questions that people often wonder about people who 'go vegan'.

Why vegan?

It's a pretty radical choice, I get it.  After 42 years of good 'ole Midwestern meat & potatoes kind of eating, it seems pretty extreme.  And it is.  My choice to go vegan at this point in my life is mainly health related.  My health is taking a turn for the worse -- and while still manageable now, I fear that it points to more significant issues down the road.  As mentioned before, I was taking daily medication for blood pressure, and periodic medicine for reflux and edema.  I have recurrent sinus issues and recently went through extensive surgery for varicose veins which will simply return if I don't make a change to my weight and my health.  I'm currently 150 pounds overweight. (! it is shocking to me to see that in print !) While the treatment of animals in the conventional way of obtaining animal product based products in the U.S., as well as the sustainability issues both disturb me and impact my decision to go vegan somewhat, the main reason is health related.  I just couldn't argue with the health related data put forth in the Forks over Knives commentary (available to watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime) that has undoubtedly been the first and foremost influencer of both Rob and I to make this change.  What the Health (also available on Netflix) was a later recently documentary that was very eye-opening for me as well. What them both for yourself and see what you think!

What do you eat?

Well, we are still figuring it out.  Right now, as I type, I have 4 cans of black beans waiting to be turned into black bean soup.  A common Sunday occurrence is when we take the hodge podge of stuff we have left in the fridge/pantry and throw what makes sense into a vegetable broth based soup.  With Rob's gift of inventing recipes, these hodge podge soups nearly always turn out GREAT!  Some other vegan recipes that the whole family loves include vegan lasagna (with cashew "cheese"), "Chicken" Pot Pie, Shepherd's Pie, Vegan Egg Rolls, Baked Potatoes with Vegan Fixin's, and our weekly Taco Tuesday.  Breakfast is pretty easy to do vegan -- we usually have oatmeal, smoothies, waffles, etc.  Lunches often are leftovers from our dinner meals or stocked salads.  Over time we've learned that our vegan diet needs to focus on being whole food plant based -- and to stay away from too many processed vegan foods.  Those tend to be soy and oil based, and we shouldn't have too much of either.  I'm very much a beginner in figuring out vegan baking, though back at Thanksgiving I tried out a vegan pumpkin spice bar recipe and it is DELICIOUS!  Right now I have a loaf of vegan Banana Pumpkin Spice bread baking in the oven.  I will be posting recipes and reviews on this blog, so stay tuned!

What about the kids?

Our kiddos are old enough that we believe they can make the choice for themselves, but we hope over time they may see the benefit to it.  By default they have already become much more familiar with vegan foods and willingly eat the vegan meals I make (for the most part, lol!).  I do still buy some non-vegan things for them for their lunches and snacks.  We always have some canned chicken and tuna on hand that they can add to our vegan dishes (tacos, soups, etc.) if they so desire.  I don't buy beef at all, though I will buy some wild caught fish for them.  Sassafrass is a big fan of salmon!  The kids do try to keep Rob and I accountable to the vegan lifestyle too -- calling us out if we stray off course.  Sassafrass is especially good at that!

What about protein?

This is the quintessential question that non-vegans are concerned about...and the question that has committed vegans rolling their eyes.  Kinda like how it seemed all non-homeschooling families were always concerned about how homeschooling families made sure their children were "properly socialized".  Really, that was a non-issue.  So is the protein thing.  A non-issue.  So long as the individual doesn't have any sort of health issue affected by protein, a whole food plant based vegan diet should provide enough protein for the average person's nutritional needs.  For example, the following vegan foods are significant sources of protein:  broccoli, flax & chia seeds, whole wheat pasta & bread, tofu, various types of beans, and more! (check out the image below)  Furthermore, the over emphasis on protein as a major need for human nutrition is off-base.  Watch the Forks over Knives documentary (link up above) for a more eloquent and scientific argument for why we don't really need to be overly concerned about the protein issue.

If you have a question, ask it in the comments!  (NOTE: If your goal is to convince why I shouldn't choose a vegan diet, save your argument.  I've done the research, I've gotten my doctor's approval, and I've seen for myself how well my body does with it.)