**To read part 1 of this 3 part series of posts on my diet you can do so here **
In this part 2 of the series I want to talk about some of the challenges and successes I have had so far in transitioning to a plant based diet and what I predict may be some challenges in the future.
I started transitioning my diet away from eating animal products many months ago so this isn’t brand new to me anymore and I have already faced some challenges and difficulties and learned a lot along the way.
The first step I took in making this change was to stop eating meat but was still keeping dairy and eggs in my diet. I didn’t find this step overly difficult for the most part as I really was not a huge meat eater to begin with and quite honestly except for maybe a couple of meals during the week I felt like having to prepare meat wasn’t worth the effort. I did however always really enjoy, as unhealthy as they are, the occasional hot dog, bacon cheeseburger or crispy chicken burger so still today if I smell something like that cooking my head sometimes immedietely goes back to saying “man I could sure go for one of those!”.
The second step, which was more difficult and continues to be the most difficult for me, was to remove the eggs and dairy. Aside from the more obvious eating an egg, a slice of cheese, butter on your toast or sour cream on your baked potato for example, it is a bit mind blowing how many products out there have eggs and/or dairy in them. From condiments, to sauces, to baked and packaged goods, junk foods and so on and so forth. It really made this whole process seem a bit overwhelming. How was I possibly going to be able to this?
Well I took a walk down the “natural foods” type aisles at my local grocery stores and found that there are a lot of alternatives for meat, eggs and dairy out there, some of which are essentially just “mock” versions of animal based products, and many of the them (at least the ones I have tried so far) are actually quite convincing! A lot of these products are however quite often just as loaded with fat, calories and sodium etc. as the animal product based versions. That is why you may know some people in your own life who decided to become vegetarians or vegans that are still just as overweight or even heavier than before they made that change. Just because you don’t eat meat, eggs or dairy doesn’t automatically mean you are going to lose weight! If you eat a diet mainly comprised of high fat, high calorie, nutrient deficient, processed and junk foods there is a really good chance you are going to gain weight regardless of where these foods come from.
I am trying to eat whole and minimally processed plant based foods so for the most part I am trying to avoid these unhealthy and processed “mock” foods. However if I am cooking the odd meal where I am trying to make sure I keep it totally plant based but want it to taste like it contains animal products and am planning on just indulging versus ensuring this is healthy for me, sure I will use these alternatives. If I am totally craving a hot dog then I will eat a veggie dog and if I am making pizza and really want that cheesy texture and flavour on there I will use a plant based cheese. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to keep on track over the long term! You will also always find in my fridge a plant based mayonnaise (we like the Vegenaise brand) and plant based margarine (we like the Earth Balance brand). I am following a low fat diet and these items are certainly not low fat so when I do use them I use them very sparingly.
So given all of the food options and amazing recipes out there for following a low fat whole foods plant based diet I generally find it quite easy to maintain this way of eating when at home or in a situation where I can easily control the food around me. Where it becomes a challenge is when I am going out to eat at a restaurant and have no control over where we go or when eating at someone else’s house. Most restaurants I find myself at do seem to have a few vegetarian options but these often are still super high in fat and include eggs and/or dairy in them. So if they cannot be modified to exclude those items then although not ideal I will compromise and just try to pick out the best vegetarian option they have. I find the bigger challenge actually to be when eating at someone else’s house. I am just not in a place yet along this journey where I am confident or comfortable enough to exclaim to my family and friends, most of which eat a typical North American/Western diet, that I won’t eat what they have made because it contains meat, eggs or dairy. I am so uncomfortable with being “that” person so I just gratefully eat whatever has been prepared for me.
To be honest, I am kind of at a loss where to even begin having that conversation with my friends and family because I fear that many of them will be quite hostile towards the notion of following a plant based diet and will make a big production out of it anytime we have a meal together. I live in a VERY pro-meat eating and anti-vegetarian/vegan part of Canada. My parents and several members of my extended family raise beef cattle for a living so you can possibly imagine how that conversation would go!
Just to clarify as I do not want to confuse anyone, I am not at this time making any kind of proclomations here that I am vegan or vegetarian. From what I understand, those are all encompassing lifestyles that go beyond just the food you eat and that you do not knowingly deviate from under any circumstance. Maybe someday I will get there as I feel my heart leaning that way, but for now I am approaching this purely from a personal health standpoint. I am so not perfect and although I really try my best each and every day to stay on track with eating this way I know there are going to be days and certain situations where I will eat something that is either plant based but not healthy or low fat, or something that isn’t plant based at all. However rather than beating myself up about it I am just going to try to make sure that I get back on track as soon as I can and keep going with it.
I am going to end this post here before I write a whole book! I will try to get part 3 of 3 up very soon which will explain a little bit about “The Starch Solution” which is the specific form of plant based diet I am following. That will end the formal introduction to my diet and then I will get to showing you some of the awesome recipes I am using and what I am actually eating from day to day. If you have any questions or want to know more about all of this stuff please feel free to ask. Check out my “Contact” page in the Menu for my email address and other ways to get in touch with me directly.
Thanks so much for stopping by!