New Foods and Weird Veggies Make Eating Healthy Fun

I’ve been trying to switch to being vegan for about a year now.  It started last year when I read the book The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.

In that book he draws a clear line between animal protein and cancer, and he makes the claim that if you eat a whole food, plant-based diet you will never have to worry about your weight again.

Now, if you’ve read any of my blog, you know I don’t want to worry about my weight.  I don’t want to keep food journals or count calories or fat grams.  I don’t want to consult a workbook or have a support group.  I just want to eat and be thin.  Fueling our own bodies should be easy.  I already have a full-time job and a full house.  Dieting is like taking on another part-time job that doesn’t pay well.  When Dr. Campbell made his claim, I decided to give it a try.

Last April, we (my significant other and my two children) went totally vegan for 30 days.  I had no intention of us staying that way, but I wanted to explore how we would eat if we couldn’t fall back on lunchmeat, eggs and cheese to fill in all our gaps.  We found grains we liked (like quinoa and barley) and rice we liked (like Jasmine).  My biggest surprise was how much I liked beans.  I used to hate beans.

Quinoa is a complete protein. It is a powerhouse food. photo from myinterestingfacts.com

After 30 days, we decided we should stick with it.  We missed cheese some (especially feta on salads), and my son wanted cow’s milk for cereal (the rest of us prefer soy).  At the time, I hadn’t figured out how to bake vegan either.  We were still newbies.  But, here we are nearly a year later and we’re still trying.  And, we’re probably still newbies.  All of us have seen positive progress in our weight and health, and none of us want to go back to eating regular all the time.

I have noticed two things are key to my being able to maintain a vegan diet.  One is to eat beans every day.  I haven’t mastered this yet. I’ll have it going great for a while, but then I’ll run out of ideas and have to regroup.  When I’m eating beans, I feel great—satiated but never weighed down.  (My kids were reluctant to try beans until I read to them the story out of the book of  Daniel chapter 1 in the Bible where it is very possible, depending on the translation you’re reading, that Daniel asked for a vegan, bean-heavy diet.  After 10 days, he and his vegan friends were looking great.  My kids whined to me at first, but they were intrigued to find out if they could see the same results. J)

The other key is to experiment with new vegetables.  Have you ever had a kale salad or baked acorn squash?  Have you eaten fennel or pumpkin (in a pie doesn’t count)?  Collard greens and vinegar?    Jicama and yucca root? I have perused my produce section with new eyes.  As a result, we have a varied and exciting diet.

Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pine nuts. photo from elanaspantry.com

Being vegan has not been boring or expensive!  Vegetables go a long way and are cheaper than meat.  Beans and grains are filling and versatile.  There are more vegan convenience options than I realized, and many of my old favorites could be made over.  I don’t think everyone should cut out meat altogether like I have, but I think everyone should rediscover the joys of eating the food God made!

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Arsegoblin on January 12, 2012 at 4:39 am

    i love beans! i should share my favorite bean recipe here and it has no meat!

    Reply

    • I’d love to hear it. Although, I have to admit, with a screen name like Arsegoblin, I’m hesitant.

      Reply

    • I’ve said it 1,000,000 times before: vesinagm is not a weight loss diet.Look, losing weight is simple math: burn more calories than you consume. For the purposes of losing weight, it doesn’t matter what those calories are made up of. You can still eat a lot of calories worth of healthy foods, and not all vegan foods are healthy (hello, potato chips )Nobody has to *count* calories to lose weight, but they do have to come up with some way of consuming fewer calories or burning more calories. Vegans (who are not all naturally thin by a LONG SHOT) included.

      Reply

      • yes and no. You’re exactly right about eating food that is vegan but not necessarily healthy. I try to encourage in myself and others choosing the highest quality food that’s available (rarely potato chips). The goal is a plant-based, whole food diet. So, I agree, just eliminating animal products isn’t enough to maintain a healthy weight long-term. However, I am also exploring (I’m no expert by any means–this whole blog is about my attempt to achieve lifelong health with minimal effort) the possibility that our bodies know what to do with natural food, how to process it and how to eliminate its excesses, more efficiently than with animal-based or processed food. For example, I have hyposthesized that I am less likely to get fat off plant-based, whole food because my body is designed to digest and absorb what it needs and eliminate what it doesn’t. If my body is using and discarding properly, then I don’t have to exercise as much willpower to keep it in balance–my hunger and cravings will be managed. If I don’t have to exercise as much willpower, then I am much less likely to binge, fail, yo-yo and all those other typical calorie-restrictive diet behaviors.

    • Yes, you still need to count calories. There’s plteny of ways to be vegan and still consume empty calories, and even too much of a good thing can make you gain weight. The good news is that if you’re eating vegetables, it’ll take a lot more food to get up to your daily calorie quota than if you were eating meat and dairy, so you’ll be able to eat more and still lose weight.You should look up how many calories you need based on your gender, height, weight, activity level, and how much you want to lose.Here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic’s calorie calculator:Hope that helps!

      Reply

      • I can tell you right now though that if long-term weight management depends on my counting calories for the rest of my life, I will fail. I do not want my weight to be my part-time job. I do not want to count calories. I don’t mind making plant-based, whole food choices, reading labels, ordering side dishes as entrees, or shopping at farmers markets instead of super markets, but I do not want to have a math problem hanging over my head every time I get hungry. I’m going to trust that if I eat 100 more calories worth of barley and greens than I need, my body will flush it right out like it does the extra water I drink.

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