It’s been over a year since we (my husband Dan and I) started changing the way we eat. (Insert wow time flies comment here). This is Dan’s reflection on how it’s been for him, the former hardcore carnivore.
Moderation is not the key. It is often said and heard that moderation is the key, but it is not. In this modern age, we (humans) don’t know how to moderate. Look to the examples of staggering credit card debt and rates of obesity to see just how badly we lack the ability to moderate. After slightly more than a year on my journey to transition from the carnivore life to one of whole-food, plant-base-ed-ness, my conclusion is that the key to eating healthy (and by that I mean a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle) is not moderation, it is minimization.
Minimization is the key.
By my measure of success, so far it’s going well. I say that because I expected this to be a journey and relatively impossible to be done “cold turkey” as they say. With the intent of this blog in mind, it is downright hard to go out to eat (to “veg out” as we say around the house) and find a good plant-based meal fit for a former hardcore carnivore. I eat a lot more Mexican food nowadays… One note, all credit to my wife, Stacey, without her I am reasonably certain I’d be on a path to ruin.
The bottom line is, I am not perfect. Over the last year I’ve averaged fish about once a month, shrimp once a month, and occasionally eat milk-based salad dressings or forget to ask for no cheese on a salad. But no beef, poultry or pork, the staples of my diet in the past. And the great part is, I don’t miss it. The hardest part is vegging out (going out to eat, I’m sure I explained this earlier). I am not protein deficient, I am not meek or weak, and I have no noticeable decrease in energy or athletic ability. I am not dying for a steak or desperate for a whiff of cheese, nor am I sneaking chicken into my salads. I have a long way to go but my resolve is stronger than ever and I plan to continue on this journey until I see indisputable, undeniable scientific arguments to the contrary (my hypothesis is that there won’t be any). If you’re interested in how/why I justify staying with this lifestyle, and why you should too, read on!
6 Reasons why I think you should try a whole foods plant-based diet:
- You value your health and the health of your family. More than ever over the past year the science of nutrition has continuously revealed to me the need to remove animal based products from our diets. Look at any of the reputable peer reviewed scientific journals and you’ll see that the facts point toward plants. I still believe you can be healthy and excel in the short term with meat, but if we’re talking long-term, the quality and quantity of your life, the results aren’t even in the same league.
- Am I ok doing this to myself?
- Should I be doing this to my kids?
- You hate being lied to. The big bad marketing machines and agri-business lobbies might just be the most culpable of all in making us believe things like “calcium comes from cow’s milk”, “protein comes from meat”, and “there aren’t any negative aspects to eating meat.” I believed it as a kid, as my parents did before me. These companies now KNOW it’s bad for you, but profits are more important. Is it a crime to ask where your food comes from? Why yes, sometimes it is.
- Cows and pigs become beef and pork – because it sounds better. Or at least it did. We saw “meats” used for quite a while but the connotation is starting to get a bit dirty. Now, my guess is you’re going to start seeing the term “protein” thrown around more. It further distances the companies from the reality of where the “meat” comes from.
- Government is the worst. All these cronies serving major companies by enacting laws that ultimately hurt people. Our system is a disgrace. I used to love this country A LOT. So much so that I joined the military to serve and defend it (as I type this my t-shirt has an American flag on it). But it’s broken. From the corporations running the show and basing every decision on what will move the stock price up a qtr of a point, to the blatant dysfunction and corruption in the government… I don’t want to be a part of that anymore.
- Ever wonder what “artificial flavors” are made out of? There are something like 40 ingredients, all chemicals. “Natural flavors”? Nothing natural about them… And why is sugar in everything? The recent documentary Fed Upincludes an anecdote about how the World Health Organization was essentially forced by lobbyists to remove language from a report or face a cut to the aid it’s given.
- You love animals. I’m appalled by the activities that go on in these large factory farming operations. We don’t take enough responsibility these days for knowing anything and then we’re shocked when we find out a big company has taken advantage of us.
- You can’t stand the perversion of what the healthcare industry has become. It’s profitable to treat the symptoms and perform major feats of medical heroism (the quad bypass) but it’s “extreme” to try a plant-based diet.
- You are smart enough to see that farming operations have a measurable detrimental effect on the health of the planet. We grow more food than we’ll ever need, but feed it to animals (or let it rot). Subsidies are ridiculous and keep the price of “meat” artificially low, even though plants are certainly more cost-effective from a “whole nutrition” standpoint.
- You’re one of those people “willing to try something” and “think you’re tough”. Planting ain’t easy (kind a play on the whole “pimping ain’t easy”… thing…). But there are delicious plant-based foods out there.
I’m sure I’ll sound like an “activist”, but in reality I’m just concerned. I’m concerned about the lack of accountability in agri-business, the growing rates of disease and the obesity epidemic, and I’m concerned that We the People have by-and-large lost sight of what matters because we now rely on marketing and advertising to tell us how to act, what we should buy, what we should eat, etc. There can be such a thing as corporate citizenship, government can and should regulate when it’s in the best interests of the first two maxims of the triple bottom line over the third (people & planet over profit), and most effective, the people can choose not to eat the BILLIONS of animals A YEAR that are grown just to KILLED and eaten.
So the next time you’re out, and the menus are passed around the table, count the dishes that don’t include meat or dairy products; I’ll bet you won’t find many. Then maybe put yourself in shoes of one of those “super fit healthy people” that “just dropped dead for no reason” and ask yourself what am I not seeing? I get that once in a while things happen, and I get that my chain-smoking grandmother ate bacon wrapped bacon for breakfast every morning until she died at 150 years old, but how come I can’t see all the pieces of the puzzle? Then maybe think about that researcher and cardiologist and the contingent of doctors that are trying to cure themselves right out of business, they suffer economically if they’re successful. I’ll think about the behemoth of a healthcare industry that wants us to have problems, and the food industry that’s more than willing to help me develop those problems, and maybe, finally, I’ll decide water will be fine since I don’t know where those “natural flavors” in my Diet Coke actually came from.