I’m not going to pretend to be some kind of seasoned know-it-all when it comes to eating a plant-based diet. But in the last nine or ten days (I committed to eating no more animal products on February 1), I’ve learned a lot, and for anyone who might be considering adopting a plant-based lifestyle, I wanted to share those first insights.
We’ve been shopping more often but buying less with each trip to the grocery store. We’re going through staple items like extra virgin olive oil, soy sauce (to be replaced next shopping trip with liquid aminos), tofu, beans, diced tomatoes, rice and veggies. We’ve also been buying almost nothing that comes in a box, making goodies like cookies, muffins and waffles from scratch. The ethnic food aisle in the grocery store is great place to shop.
On the products we use…
Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, author of Anti-Cancer, a New Way of Life, believed in the four pillars of an anti-cancer lifestyle:
- Managing stress
- Reducing toxins
In order to reduce the toxins we live with every day, we’re transitioning away from many of the products we use in our home. Months ago I swapped out almost all of our cleaning products for Thieves, a multi-purpose plant-based cleaner that works well and smells wonderful. There are so many toxic ingredients in the majority of products we use in our home. We’re not made of money, though, so I haven’t done a massive clean-out, instead opting to replace items as they’re used up with a non-toxic alternative. Our dishwasher detergent is now made by Seventh Generation, for example.
Essential oils and a diffuser have replaced other fragrance products.
Next to swap will be our laundry soap.
Later on in the lineup are my cosmetics.
On food labels…
Graham and I have both been reading food labels more often. We’ve thrown several items out upon reading what’s in them. The most surprising item was President’s Choice pesto. Pesto is pretty simple to make, and typically includes only olive oil, parmesan cheese (to be replaced with nutritional yeast, I’d imagine), pine nuts, garlic and basil. Yet the jar of pesto in our fridge contained:
Sunflower oil, basil, glucose solids, grana padano PDO cheese (milk, salt, rennet, lysozyme (egg)), cashews, potato flakes (contain turmeric extract (for colour), mono- and diglycerides, sodium phosphate, sulphites, ascorbyl palmitate), salt, pine nuts, sugar, shee’s milk pecorino romano PDO cheese (sheep’s milk, rennet, microbial enzymes, salt), extra virgin olive oil, modified milk ingredients, garlic powder, lactic acid, natural basil flavour.
Wow, that’s a lot of extra ingredients, many of which are not friendly to someone eating a plant-based diet. I have no idea what ascorbyl palmitate is. Secure in the knowledge of a healthier, homemade alternative, the jar went into the garbage.
On our relationship to each other…
It feels really good to be mostly on the same page, on a shared mission, with Graham. He still reserves the right to enjoy a piece of meat on a rare occasion, but hasn’t had any all week, and even says he is enjoying some of the meat alternatives we’ve had here in the house, such as Yves salami slices (they taste like pepperoni!). Being alone in the focus on better health through food is a powerful experience, but being on that mission with your partner is even more powerful. Sharing this experience with Graham has brought us closer together.
On our bodies…
Graham and I have both noticed that although we’ve only lost a couple of pounds according to the scale, we both feel more slim through the gut.
The combination of taking less of my anti-depressants and including vitamins B12, D and a daily probiotic has resulted in a positive change in my digestion, as well, which had been suffering these past few months. I don’t want to be a vegan who talks about poop, so I won’t. Let’s just say things are moving in the right direction.
Nate has been eating pretty well at home, and with cutting back on processed foods at home, I think I see a change in his energy levels.
One day he came home from an outing with a friend, an almost-empty slurpie cup in his hand. I admit I was disappointed he had drank that, since it’s pure sugar and food colouring, but we moved on. An hour later, he was grumpy, tired, rude and clearly experiencing a sugar crash.
The next day he was like a completely different kid. He ate fruits and veggies and other foods I made for him at home. He was energetic, talkative, funny and kind. I don’t think this is a coincidence, at all. We talked about making good choices, and how there are plenty of other good “treats” he could choose next time instead of that slurpie.
When I took him for a haircut, I offered him a trip to the Bulk Barn to choose some nuts or trail mix instead of a sucker from the basket on the counter, which he agreed to. Small choices can lead to positive change. We know kids have to be kids, but I also think it’s important to teach them age-appropriate ways to be more kind to their bodies, animals and the environment.
On my relationship to myself…
It honestly feels like I am right where I was meant to be. I have been thinking back on the path of my life and how my very first job was working in fast food. How many of my friends from that era now live primarily plant-based lifestyles. How I have had a healthy relationship with growing food and how that has transitioned into a healthy relationship with putting that good food into my body. How to have tolerance and acceptance for who I was, who I am becoming and who I will be. I like the person I am. I’m not perfect and have never claimed to be. But I’ve truly felt happy these past few days. Treating myself with kindness and self-love has been good for my body and my spirit. I don’t think I need to be apologetic about that.