I first took interest in eating more vegetables when I was living in Atlanta back in 2010. I couldn't poop right, my stomach was always hurting, poot game was strong (thanks for hanging in there with me, babe) and I knew some things had to change. I feel like someone at Sevenanda put me on game about adding more plants into my diet and recommended I watch this Netflix movie "Forks Over Knives". It's always odd now, saying that out loud "I first took interest in vegetables...", because, we kinda need them for important shit like idk, essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to the proper functioning of our bodies and prevent heart disease, diabetes, important stuff like that and what not...
Anywho, I watched this terrifying-at-the-time ass movie that basically told me everything I was eating was killing me, the suffering of the animals I was eating was my fault, and the world is all about profits and are responsible for all of the diseases we are dying from. Can we say STRESS? I was horrified to learn about how the animals were being treated and how my food was being produced and I was like, "To hell with it all!? I'm going vegan!" Problem is I didn't know how to do that. My husband was down so we put together a precise plan of attack which consisted detailed steps of how to make our transition a success that included zero planning and all figuring it out as we go. In our new found vegan-excitement, we raced to the Dekalb Farmer's Market to pick up some freggies (fruits and veggies) to heal my constipation, gain optimal health, and save the planet!
Long story short, we bought ALL of the freggies, starved that first day because neither of us didn't know how to make full meals out of plants, then came through in the clutch with a veggie based spaghetti that carried us through the next few days. After a few months of raw salads and fruits, our enthusiasm began to wane and we started to slowly reincorporate animal products again. The good news is that we ripped off the plant-based band-aid and learned more about how to eat more plants. The other news is that we realized that it would take a lot more effort and planning than we originally thought. However, we stuck with it and little by little, our diets got more bountiful, colorful, and interesting as we began to eat more plants.
Fast-forward to now, that spark has led me into a journey of about 7 years of figuring it out. It has not always easy, hell it is still hard at times, but it's not rocket science and you WILL FEEL BETTER. To give some insight to my current diet: all of my meals are heavy on the plants. I want to travel and am open to trying new foods and flavors and will eat some small fish species. I'll give you the skinny on my diet in another post.
Going plant-based is a journey to say the least. If you've set yourself up to drop all of the habits you've accumulated over your entire life in a day, you might want to reconsider if you truly want to make some lifestyle changes. The extreme method does work for some, however, if you're reading this, you probably aren't in a place just yet to swap your Italian sausage and cheese on your pizza for smoked zucchini with charred pineapples... (I made it sound good tho, eh!?) For that reason, I'm laying out a few tips to get you started in the plant game strong:
1. START WITH GREENS. Greens are easy to find in the grocery store, they have a large variety to experiment with, and they are easy to cook. You can easily sneak them into the meals you are already eating:
- Breakfast: Having eggs and toast? Add a handful of spinach to your eggs.
- Lunch: Soup and Salad? Add an additional green to your salad that you rarely eat to mix things up, or toss a handful of chopped greens over your soup.
- Dinner: Spaghetti? Finely chop up a few leaves of kale or chard and stir them in at the end of cooking. It will add a pop of color too, making it look all fancy and stuff.
And just like that, you're eating more veggies. #wonthedoit!?
2. ADD TO YOUR PLATE. Don't think of all the things you "can't" eat, focus on all of the things you can. When you get down to it, meats don't have as much less variety as the plant kingdom does. There are TONS of options to choose from in various colors, flavors, and textures. Each time you go to the store pick up a food you've never tried to experiment with. I recommend trying out prickly pear cactus, blood oranges, or tamarind to get started.
3. EXPERIMENT. One obstacle that each of my clients has when we start working together is not knowing how to cook plants,or, not knowing how to season them, which is why they don't eat more of them. The only way you will learn to make good ass healthy plant-based meals is if you experiment! There are a variety of ways to prepare plants: blanch them (dip in hot water - works well with greens and makes them a pretty bright green), mix them in soups, spaghetti, or stews. Mix them in your fav cake and baking recipes (you've never heard of a kale cake with a sweet potato filling or beet brownies?) There is no limit to what you can do with plants, so don't be afraid to experiment!