I recently completed a full year of being (mostly) plant-based. Yep. 365 days without meat, dairy (cheese, milk, butter, etc.) with the exception of some baked items, hence the “mostly” disclaimer. I mean I’m all about full disclosure so there go.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, y’all know I didn’t plan to eat this way for more than 30 days. Here’s the article I posted on April 3, 2017 sharing the first month of my journey and how I was going about it. https://marinbreakfastklub.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/power-to-the-plants/
While it would be great to say that it was all butterflies and rainbows this past year, there were many bumps, challenges, and forks in this road. How cool would it have been to go on a retreat with cooking lessons, daily yoga, nutritional counseling, my own chef and then having a full staff to help me at home, or even meal delivery for crying out loud!
But nope. I figured it out as I went along. Reading, listening, watching, and absorbing as much as I could and I re-educated myself and my taste-buds! All the while I trained for races, worked out, worked, taught classes, traveled, fed my family, went to parties, events, out to dinner and had to manage the holidays, family celebrations and my birthday.
It’s not always been easy but I can say that it’s been a very rewarding and satisfying journey.
People have been very inquisitive about what I’m doing. So I thought I’d take a second and offer some tips, insights and comments on my experience.
- Marin County, for all of its organic this, sustainable that, farm to table, etc. sorely lacks restaurants that serve plant-based or vegan food. The ubiquitous side of Brussels sprouts and french fries is not the best you can do. Huge shout out, however to the Indian and Thai restaurants! They offer a wide variety of plant-based deliciousness.
- Be careful in the kitchen. If you move to a plant-based diet you will need to chop, cut, sliver, dice, baton, and julienne. So be careful. A red bell pepper has the same feel under your knife as your thumbnail. Luckily, thumbnails grow back.
- Eating outside of your home is a crap shoot. I’ve had appetizers handed to me at a party with “Oh, I heard you were vegan, so there’s just cheese on it” and plates at restaurants placed in front of me with pasta glimmering with butter. Many people don’t get the difference between vegetarian, vegan, plant-based or paleo and keto, for that matter. So I’ve learned that I have to be very clear. Without being an asshole (pardon the curse but that’s the only word that fits).
- Embrace planning. I grocery shop 2 or 3 times a week. A large shopping on a Monday morning after boot-camp and then a few other stops to refresh my produce supply. And while I don’t do hours of batch cooking every Sunday, I will have a few pots and pans going at once when I have time. A pot of beans on the stove, 3 or 4 servings of rice, farro or grains, a large salad and a pot of stew or soup.
- Quick and easy is key. I make very simple food that really only requires some chopping and then cooking. Stew or soup for lunches. Beans and rice for tacos or burritos, etc. I stick with staples buy will aim for a new recipe once a week or so.
- Based on the rec of my doctor, I take a B12 and a multi-vitamin every day. It makes me tinkle neon yellow but it’s a necessity. At least I know if I forget to take it! My point is, if you move to this way of eating, check with your dr.
- How do you spot a vegan at a dinner party? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. If you’re eating this way for health or ethical reasons you’re going to have to “out” yourself to friends, family and co-workers at some point. Be ready for the questions and for people telling you that it’s not healthy or a good way of eating. As they shove a burger into their face. No judgement…just sayin’.
- Educate yourself. I guess that should be at the top. The triad of Dr.’s Essylsten, Greger, and Campbell provide great information. Read their work, listen to podcasts, do your research.
- Vegan junk food is a thing. Read labels. Ice cream made with cashew milk is still a treat even though it’s made without animal products. Watch for added sugars, salt, oil.
- I found that tracking my progress was helpful. Those calendars at the top are mine and I’d mark off a day as I went. Every 4th of the month I’d pull out a new calendar and start again. Checking those stupid boxes off every day was very satisfying. Sometimes we need to chronicle every step on a long journey.
So there you go. A recap that’s been one year in the making. Today marks day 370. Let’s see what happens.
If you have any questions or need to do a deeper dive on this, please let me know. I’d be happy to chat or explain my process; what I did, what I do and how it’s going now.
Now go run!