I’ve been a vegetarian (actually more of a pescetarian, really) for five months already. I originally toyed with the idea of switching to vegan and cutting out all animal products all together. But I was skeptical. Would that really improve me health? Would I have less energy? How would I be able to eat out? And what about the stigma around the word “vegan” itself?
Plus, I really, really love cheese.
And ice cream.
And more cheese.
But then I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives, which introduced me to the plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is a bit different from veganism. Besides not eating animal products (including dairy, eggs, and meat), people following a plant-based diet also limit their oil, refined sugar, and refined carb intake. And this is what appealed to me the most. I’ve always had this nagging feeling that sugar and refined carbs might be contributing to my sluggishness, worsening allergies, and poor, sensitive skin.
I’ll admit it; I’m not ready to dive cold turkey into a plant-based diet. I still love and cook with olive oil (having an Italian family and living in Florence for a bit makes the idea of cutting out olive oil earth-shattering), and I’m hesitant to give up fish.
So instead, I’m giving myself the following easy guidelines to follow:
1. No meat (duh).
2. No dairy (including cheese and milk). For my coffee, I’ve switched to agave nectar for sweetening and soy milk.
3. No refined sugar.
4. Eat whole foods (veggies, grains, you get the idea).
5. Eat processed whole foods (crackers, pita bread, and cereal) sparingly.
6. Avoid adding oil when cooking and limit oil consumption to coconut and olive oil when possible.
7. Eat fish, but sparingly and buy the highest quality possible (think: wild salmon over canned tuna).
8. Make more of my own training food: protein bars, gels, sports drinks. I have a feeling this is going to save me some money as well!
9. When I travel (to say, Amsterdam to visit my sister), I’ll try my best to eat according to the plant-based diet, but enjoy the local food to its fullest. So yes, I’m going to eat stroopwafels. Just maybe not ten of them….
10. Try new things. Cook with new veggies and beans. Continue to try new ethnic restaurants with a new perspective. Use my crock pot more often. Buy more cook books. Experiment with my own version of recipes. Fall in love with food- real, whole, and delicious food.
11. Share my adventures and recipes in plan-based nutrition with you all on MiaPrimaCasa!
What do you think about my plant-based nutrition plan? Any suggestions or recommendations?
My Plant-Based Education Reading List:
Forks Over Knives by Gene Stone, T. Colin Campbell, and Caldwell B. Esselstyn
The Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julieanna Hever