The Root of the Matter: A Plant-Based Eating Experiment

Have you ever heard of the Netflix documentary, “What the Health”? Or maybe you’ve heard of “Forks Over Knives”? I watched both of these recently and found that I had a very eye-opening experience.

Both films focus on plant-based diets and the way Americans eat. There are doctors who believe that meat and dairy have a strong connection with many illnesses and health conditions that a lot of Americans are dealing with on a daily basis. According to these documentaries, after switching to a plant-based diet, some people claim to no longer need their medications, no longer have health conditions, and believe they are much healthier overall.

I found a lot of this information to be shocking. Some of my first thoughts were: Are all of the doctors they’re talking to in the movie to vegan? Is that why they agree with the narrator? If all of this is actually true, why hasn’t it been blasted all over the cover of the New York Times? And if this is true, shouldn’t all doctors be telling all of their patients to change their diets? When I finished watching both, I wasn’t sure what to believe.

I consider myself a pretty healthy eater and am very comfortable with my weight and clothing size, so I had a hard time digesting this information. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say for sure how much of this is true, but what I took away from these two documentaries was an idea— that maybe, some of the things I’ve been eating are actually terrible for my health. That’s kind of scary to think about, right?

I started to discuss these ideas with my younger brother, Scott. I have a weak immune system (probably in part because I work with young children that love to cough and wipe their boogers on me) and Scott has been having a lot of pain in his leg. We wondered, what could switching to a plant-based diet do for us, and for our family?

We both started thinking about how many vegan alternatives are available now and how easy of a transition it would be at this point in time. Maybe the switch in diet could help both of us. After talking more about it, Scott and I decided that we would both try our own version of a “vegan challenge.”  We reached out to our other family members and a few friends about it and quite a few people were ready to jump on board, including our parents.

We are planning to eat a plant-based diet from the Sunday after Thanksgiving until Christmas. That means we can enjoy our turkey on Thanksgiving (and the leftovers for two days) and eat whatever we want on Christmas if we so choose. In between, we’ll be cutting out meat and dairy and observing the effects of the plant-based diet on our overall health.  We’ve created a Google Drive folder with recipes to share back and forth, guidelines, resources, and meal plans.  With all of these resources and support, it should be a lot easier to stick with the plan.

I realize I still have a lot of time until the challenge begins. For now, I am trying to clear out my fridge of any meat and cheese. I think cheese is going to be the one thing I really struggle with because, like most people, I love pizza.

If I choose to continue with this lifestyle change after a strict 30 days of vegan eating, I think I will still allow myself to have the occasional slice of pizza. I have always felt that you can have “bad” foods in moderation and that a slice of pizza here or there or sushi every now and then isn’t going to kill me. If anything, it’s going to keep me on track if I know I can have it from time to time.

As I’m preparing for this transition, I’m using my time to do some research and test out some recipes. A while back, my friend from college recommended The Official Thug Kitchen Cookbook, a vegan cookbook that she loves— she isn’t even vegan, so the fact that she loves this cookbook says a lot. Hopefully, when the time comes to do 30 days of vegan meals, I’ll have a ton of recipes to choose from that I’ll know I love.

I ordered the cookbook last week and have already started making some recipes from it. Let me just say, if you have a problem with vulgar language, don’t buy it. The recipes are great, but they throw a lot of curses into their writing. It certainly held my attention, to say the least.

So far, I have tried their Quinoa Oatmeal, Tofu Scramble Tacos, Spring Veggie Bowls with Red Curry-Lime Sauce, Tuscan Tempeh Pasta, Cold Citrus Noodles with Cucumbers and Carrots, Ginger-Sesame Marinade, Buffalo Falafel, and Grilled Eggplant with Soba Noodles (switched out the eggplant for roasted zucchini) recipes. Everything has been full of flavor and extremely filling. The marinade was so good that I could have drunk it (I know how gross that sounds, but it was really that good)!

While I work on clearing the meat and cheese out of my fridge, I am also trying to eat two vegan meals a day, which I’m actually finding isn’t terribly hard to do. I’ve been starting my day with a Quinoa Oatmeal, adding allspice, a little brown sugar, and pistachios to it. The quinoa adds a bit more texture to the oatmeal and also adds protein. Eating this, I’ve found that I have been totally full until lunch rolls around.

Eating just two vegan meals a day, I’ve cut down on my snacking by a lot. I thought that I would be hungry all the time, but I’m finding the opposite is true. I feel like I’m eating restaurant-quality food and haven’t even missed having dairy or meat in these recipes. Maybe it’s because I’m still eating one meal with meat in it a day, but I honestly don’t think I’m going to miss it once I make the full transition.

I have also noticed that I have a lot more energy.  I used to lie in bed to try and read and I’d always fall asleep after two pages, but now I’m full of energy and can stay up for hours reading.  I tried blaming drinking coffee or extra sleep for all of the energy, but I’ve been making my coffee the same way for over a year, and I’ve actually been getting less sleep because I’m reading until much later.  I’m thinking the change in diet is the only logical reason for it.

Before we begin our challenge, I asked my family to jot down their goals for the 30 days and what their honest thoughts are going into this.  I think it’s a good idea to set a reasonable goal, in the beginning, to help you assess your progress.  My goals are to have more energy, maintain my weight, and have a stronger immune system. I am really looking forward to starting this challenge and feeling like a healthier version of myself. I’ll be keeping track of my progress, sharing my meal plans, and documenting any changes I notice through this blog.

I’m really interested to see how 30 straight days will affect my family. I think by doing this as a family, we’ll be a lot more successful making the transition, and hopefully, all of us will feel healthier. If you want to try this* along with my family and me, please share your recipe ideas, tips, and your observations! 

What are some of your favorite plant-based vegan recipes?
Share your comments, recipes, tips, and ideas at the bottom of the page.

Whatismyhealth © 2017

*Disclaimer: It is recommended that you consult a doctor or health care professional before making changes to your diet.