Why I Eat Plant-Based
Vegan, paleo, keto, raw-diet, low-carb, high protein, plant-based - there are so many ways to describe diets and ways of eating nowadays and they can get really confusing. Here’s where I stand:
I eat a 99.99% plant-based diet, which means that I get 99.99% of my nutrients from plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables and grains. I don’t eat any animal protein like chicken, beef, fish, or eggs. To explain more, I’m breaking it up into common questions I get about eating plant-based. I’ll tell you where the other 0.01% comes from too.
In short, I eat plant-based for health and moral reasons. Let’s start with why I eat plant-based for my health.
First, one of the things I learned during my first elimination diet was that I was sensitive to eggs, so there those went. When I started dating Cody he was a pescatarian, which means the only animal protein he consumed was fish and shellfish. At first his way of eating didn’t really change mine. I ate a good amount of seafood and didn’t eat a lot of other animal protein. But after some time, I too adopted a pescatarian diet by affiliation. After just a few months I started to feel really good. I had more energy and I no longer felt sluggish after meals.
Ok, now for the moral reasonings.
I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t watch all of the pro-vegan documentaries, because I totally did, but those weren’t the tipping point. Documentaries like “Forks over Knives” and “What The Health” are very troubling to watch. The films point out the awful ways the commercial meat, dairy, poultry and fishing industries exploit animals and show how far outside the traditional farming and fishing practices we’ve gone to mass produce beef, chicken, eggs and fish. Then I thought, ok let’s just eat wild fish and shellfish. But that was not as easy as it sounds and I did not keep up with my new standard. Then on a trip to Mexico one year I saw shark fin soup on the menu and was just horrified. If you don’t know how shark fins are harvested, I’m just going to tell you to Google it. I ordered the fish tacos instead, but was still troubled. To this day I still contemplate the difference between eating a salmon fillet or a shark fin. Both animals were suffocated and killed. The only difference is that killing a salmon is more socially acceptable than eating a shark. No one in their right mind would eat their furry friend, Fido, but we think it’s OK to eat a chicken because we haven’t named it or trained it to do tricks? I just don’t know how I feel about that.
Now, I want you to know that I’m not a devout animal activist either and I’m not trying to recruit everyone to go vegan. I do, however, beg people to eat more vegetables. And I know there are friendlier and much more sustainable farming practices that exist, but I’ve ultimately decided that I don’t need animal products to sustain my health and happiness.
Where do you get your protein?
Ahhhh, yes this is the most common question I get. While there is protein in lots of vegetables, I get the bulk of my protein from beans and legumes, tofu and tempeh. I sometimes use alternative meat products like Beyond Meat’s burgers and sausages, which are made from pea protein. After a good weightlifting session, or if I feel like my daily protein intake will be low due to the meals I’ve had I’ll sometimes make myself a protein shake with a pea-protein powder.
If you’re curious about plant-based proteins, here are some awesome stats:
1 cup of chopped broccoli has 2.5 grams of protein
1 cup of cooked quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein
1/2 cup of shelled edamame contains 8 grams of protein as well
1 cup of cooked lentils has over 16 grams of protein
1/2 cup of black beans packs about 8 grams of protein
But do you get all of the vitamins and minerals you need?
I do have to be intentional about getting the right amounts of key vitamins and minerals I need, but I don’t know if it’s any more so than my omnivore friends. In particular, I have to make sure I get enough B12, which is only naturally found in animal products. B12 keeps the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps to prevent certain types of anemia. I get B12 from fortified foods like almond and soy milk and nutritional yeast. I also take a B12 supplement on occasion, typically during and after my reproductive cycle.
Other vitamins and minerals that can be efficient in a plant-based diet are iron, calcium, zinc, riboflavin and omega-3. But with a diet rich in dark leafy greens, beans, nuts and seeds, I don’t dip below needed levels.
So are you vegan?
Not technically. There are many people who strictly follow veganism as a way of living by excluding, "all forms of exploitation of, cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose" as defined on vegansociety.com. I’ve got a few pairs of leather shoes and my favorite purse is leather, although I have abstained from purchasing any other clothing items made from animal skins or fur for over two years - thank goodness for pleather! I do use cruelty-free soaps and shampoos, but I can't say that my hair dresser does or that all of the various products I use have been made without exploiting animals. I can say that I’m working on changing that though!
And now to explain the other 0.01% of my diet…
Another reason I’m not vegan is that I eat honey occasionally and technically speaking honey is a product made from bees. It’s unfortunate, but bees are manipulated and often injured during honey harvesting. And when in Rome (and by Rome I mean wine country) I will have cheese from a local creamery on occasion with a wine tasting or two.
So there you have it. Not here to argue, but rather share how I got to where I am. If there’s anything you’re curious about or if you have any questions about plant-based diets, shoot me a note!