Today marks day 30 in my journey of eating a plant based whole foods diet. After watching documentaries such as "Vegucated," "Food for Change" and "Forks over Knives," I decided that my New Year's resolution would be to cut out meat and dairy from my diet and try to eat a plant based and mostly whole foods diet. Of course, it wasn't just the documentaries that made me make the switch. With my great-aunt's recent heart attack I had been giving a lot of thought to my own health and family history. I was 35 years old, 50 pounds overweight, slightly depressed that nothing in my closet was fitting, and worried about my strong family history of heart disease and diabetes.
My dad passed away October 16th 2010 at the age of 54. It was 6 weeks after my wedding, and about six months after his heart attack. The heart attack had been my dad'swake up call. He immediately stopped smoking and lost about 50 pounds, but it wasn't enough. It was too little too late.
My dad had been obese my entire life. I won't lie, there were times I resented him for it. Sometimes it was embarassing. If we went to a restaurant to eat (which we did quite often, it's what my dad enjoyed doing) we had to ask for a table, because my dad couldn't fit in a booth. I also felt very sorry for my dad, just wishing that he could lose the weight and enjoy life more. There were so many things he missed out on because he just couldn't do it. I now wish more than anything that somebody could have helped my dad before it was too late.
So, after seeing all the evidence from the China Study and the effects a plant based diet had of not only preventing heart disease, but actually reversing it, I decided to take the plunge as my New Year's resolution.
I won't lie, I was terrified of how people were going to react, most importantly my husband. I knew it would be a coplete shock to him if I announced that I was no longer eating animal products. I decided that I wanted to try my best to prove to my husband that it would not be an inconvenience to him and this change would not affect him in the least. All I told him was that I was trying to eat healthier in the new year, with no mentiion of vegetarianism or veganism.
My husband loves Indian food and curries of all kind. I made a few vegetable curry dishes that happened to be meatless, and he loved them. I made chilli, just the way he likes it with lots of beans and veggies mixed in. I just happed to cook the hamburger on the side and take out my portion before adding the meat to the pot, with the excuse that I was trying to be healthy. It wasn't until one week into my meatless adventure when I didn't have the pork chops with dinner that my husband finally asked me what was going on.
So, I told him that I had decided to stop eating meat. He asked me why I had waited so long to tell him. I admitted that I was worried about his reaction and that I wanted to show that nothing would change for him.
My daughter had mixed reactions. She is ten years old, and I will let her decide for herself if she is going to keep eating meat or not. When she discovered that I was eating a veggie burger instead of a hamburger she said, "Mommy, what are you becoming a vegetarian or something?" I said that maybe I was, and she was shocked. She then started to ask questions about if it bothered me if they still ate meat and why I was doing it. She then accepted the fact that it was a health decision that I had made. The next night we were having spaghetti with meat balls for dinner. My daughter made a point of asking if I minded that they were having meatballs. I assured her that it was fine.
One of the hardest things for me so far was my first dinner invitation at our friends' house. One of our good couple friends often have us over for dinner. It is usually some kind of meat, vegetables with cheese sauce, and mashed potatoes with lots of cream and butter. I was really stressed out over telling them. I was even considering just following my diet at home and just being a good guest and eating what is served. I decided to text my friend and first of all offered to bring a salad. I then told her that I should give her the heads up that I had started eating a vegan diet and hoped no one would be offended if there were things I didn't eat, but that I didn't want them going to any extra trouble. It ended up fine. There were some jokes about all the poor plants and how they have feelings too, hahaha, but dinner was good. I made a hearty salad with lots of seeds and nuts, there were grilled veggies and they even went an extra mile and made a butternut squash soup, using almond milk instead of cow's milk.
On the weekend I made bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast for the family for breakfast. I had hashbrowns and toast. I will admit, I was really sad about not eating the bacon. Bacon was one of my favorite foods. Of course, it's not just the taste, it's the memories and emotions tied to the food. It is called comfort food for a reason. Bacon totally reminds me of my dad and going out for Sunday brunch. It also reminds me of scallops wrapped in bacon, which was my dad's favorite thing to make on New Year's Eve. Of course, this new adventure is about creating new traditions and breaking those ties with food.
After 30 days of my new plant based diet I have noticed a lot of changes about myself. First of all I have lost 10 pounds without any effort. I have not been excercising (although I do plan to start running again soon because I know exercise is important too). I have so much more energy and sleep much better. I felt so sluggish and icky before and just didn't realize that was not the normal way to feel. My asthma is non-existent. My skin has cleared up. My heartburn is gone.
Of course, my husband is still adjusting and copes by teasing me lots. Tonight he had some Reese Peanut Butter cups and said, "hey non meat eater, you want some, I don't think there's any meat in these." I declined, without getting into the fact that there is milk in chocolate. One step at a time.