Happy New Year!!! It was a year ago that I began my journey from a house full-o-meat to a house full-o-veggies.
This is kind of a long post... so bear with me:)
I have learned soooooo much on my journey this year! I have changed the eating habits of myself and of my family, and I would love to say it was all very simple and such an easy transition, but honestly it was very hard. Habits are tough to change, and I had to make some of the same dishes, or serve some of the same foods close to 15 times before the boys would develop a taste for it. My teen was super resistant, but now actually likes SO many new foods and now eats so many beautiful plant based healthy meals happily. The kids ask for red peppers, carrots, cucumbers, brussell sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and/or snap peas for a snack when they come home from school. Yes, you read that right, they ask for them. The flavor blasted goldfish are out, there are no chips around, so they ask for veggies. It was a slow wean off of the junk food and it wasn’t easy. It was a grind. Saying NO over and over, and getting the death stares and the eye rolls. Being told I was crazy and "why couldn't I just be a "normal" mom?" Having the boys try new things over and over until they would accept and even enjoy a food became my obsession. Very occasionally now, we are out shopping together and some goldfish end up in the cart, but I am fine with is now, because as my little guy says, "it is a treat, not an everyday thing." They don't even ask for Cheetos, or Doritos or other gross colored chips etc anymore, and I am actually surprised about this. Part of it is them knowing that they are loaded with crap (MSG, red dye, saturated fats...) and not wanting to put that in their bodies, and part is they just aren’t that into them anymore. I have seen them grab a bag at a party and eat one then put it down and forget about it.
I have also learned that education pays off. It has been incredible seeing how even though most of the time I feel like all that my family hears is blah, blah, blah… they actually take a lot in, and take it to heart. All of them are making great choices 90% of the time. Occasionally, my husband's and teen's diets include organic chicken, fish or turkey, because my oldest son, and husband still do not love (or even like) beans, lentils, or tofu. I am going to keep trying these, but the consistency throws them off and to date, they still can’t do it. I can blend tofu or beans into a smoothie or throw it in chili or use Beyond Meat and they will eat it, but not too often, so I will keep up with that and try to increase the frequency. I haven’t made red meat or pork in a year now, and they are cool with it. They don’t want to eat it anymore. Both for ethical and health reasons. That is, in my mind, one of the biggest victories this year. They used to live on bacon burgers and steak. My teen and husband would love to be vegetarians, but as a growing teenager, he needs enough protein (10-12% a day) and I just can't get it into him with an all plant diet. We do not have genetics that are going to have him top out at 6'. He is hoping to get to 5"8" like his dad. I am sure that some vegans would argue that he will grow just fine on a vegan diet, but until he eats a more well rounded vegan diet, I am not comfortable risking him not getting enough protein during the only years he is going to grow. He, on any given day, will only get 30 gms of protein if I don't add a small portion of organic chicken or fish. I realize that it was not realistic to expect that he's going to eat mountains of edamame and peas, or beyond meat every night. He did for a while and was miserable. These are the only two higher sources of veggie protein that he really likes and he was getting so sick of them. He no longer eats an animal protein based diet like he used to, and eats tons of veggies and whole grains now. He wants to be whole food plant based some day and is well on his way. I just need to keep at it with the veggies and veggie protein sources as his tastes change. My little guy eats mostly vegetarian, because he loves beans, lentils etc. If the guys are having a bit of chicken, we have a bowl of beans. He does like a little cheese in his bean and cheese burrito, and if I buy the shredded organic cheddar he has less than 1/2 oz in there and he is happy.
The second biggest victory is the amount of fruits and vegetables we are consuming. Another learning experience is "if it is there, they will eat it!" People see our fruit bowl and say, "oh my gosh, are you having an army over to eat fruit?" The bowl is empty within two to three days. I'm at the grocery store 3 times a week buying fruit and vegetables, but that is a small price to pay for them actually eating and enjoying them!
Another take home from this past year is that it is definitely more time consuming making dinner every night, and I need to plan better. The chopping of veggies totally gets on my nerves sometimes. My hands were cramping up, no joke. I am starting to use the food processor more for this now. I will definitely try to learn some new tricks this new year. The weeks I start out with a huge pot of quinoa and beans, and lots of washed veg in the fridge go a lot better. If I worked full time, I know I would have to plan much better, and have this all done in the beginning of the week. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to plan my weeks out. I definitely tend to wing it.
I have had so many friends make the switch this year and have helped guide many through it, and it has been so fun helping them navigate and watching their bodies and attitudes change!!! They feel amazing, have had incredible, easy weight loss, their skin and hair look so healthy, they are sleeping better, and just seem happier. My athlete friends have seen incredible changes in their athletic performance, as they have so much more energy. One couple friend of mine has been sending me pictures of their meals and honestly have been putting me to shame!!! So delicious!!!
Personally, it has taken a year for it to be easy to eat plant based. I don't miss animal protein and feel so good. My weight is the same as it was in high school and doesn't budge. If I fall off the wagon and have something a bit processed, I get right back into whole foods the next day. It just feels right to not eat meat.
My New Year's goal is to inspire more people to make the switch. I want to help people to get their families off of processed foods and meats, and to eat a more plant based diet. As doctor Ornish says, there is an eating Spectrum with whole food plant based eating at the top. I hope to continue to inspire my family to get all the way there and to help lead other families in that direction as well. I will be hosting plant based education classes and seminars. All free. Stay tuned.