What is a plant-based lifestyle? In all of my research, I’ve found it described as many things, but for ME, at its most basic level, it is this: a dietary lifestyle that consists of little to no animal products. This includes food that comes from animals or is made by animals (meat, dairy, eggs, honey, etc.). While all of the recipes on this website are vegan, I do not label myself as a true vegan. Why? Because sometimes, every once in a while, very rarely, I like to splurge on an indulgence of my former omnivorous life.
That’s right: I enjoy the tastes, textures, flavors, and comforts of many animal products. While my quest to maintain an almost-vegan diet is becoming more and more of an ethical issue for me, I did not adopt a plant-based lifestyle because of my sympathy for animals…or because I did not like animal products. What I think you’ll enjoy about my recipes is that they are hearty, filling, and sometimes even rich to an extent that you won’t miss the critters or their creations.
And truly, I don’t. When I splurge on something from an animal, it is often in a situation where I am out at a restaurant and there is nothing vegan available on the menu or when I go to dinner at a friend’s house. I am not going to insist that the people in my life rearrange their plans or their cooking so that I can be a 24/7 vegan. I can either choose to eat what’s available or go hungry, and that’s something that I will have to live with and ultimately, pay for.
Having been living a plant-based lifestyle for so long now, there is little incentive for me to eat an animal product other than that it is convenient or looks good at the moment. When I travel and my diet is especially out of whack, I come home from a vacation feeling sluggish and irregular (sorry if that’s too much information for you, but I can tell you from experience, healthy eating = healthy pooping!). Is it worth it? The longer I live as an almost-vegan, the longer I am convinced that splurging on the foods that once gave me high cholesterol to begin with is not, and my willpower is something that I am working on all the time. Plus, the more I read about the cruel and disgusting conditions that some animals are raised in, the more I literally become nauseated at the idea of eating one.
I’ll spare you a lecture on livestock farms and slaughterhouses because you can read about those atrocities in a ton of other places, but I will tell you, that over time, ethics may play a role in your decision to embrace a plant-based lifestyle.
Enough about my slowly bleeding heart and on to more about what plant-based eating really is…
First of all, besides the obvious that it made up of foods that come from plants, a plant-based lifestyle includes minimal added sugar, fat, and salt. When these additives are necessary (because really, sometimes they just are), I try to make smart choices based on what I know or can research about processed foods and their nutritional merits, or lack thereof. When I am cooking, I really try to maximize a food product’s natural flavors by adding herbs and spices that compliment and amplify it. If I need to sweeten a dish, I typically use agave or maple syrup or medjool dates, for example. If I need to use oil, I do so sparingly and go for coconut or sesame oil. If I am adding salt, I use pink Himalayan sea salt. Long gone are the days that I purchase white, granulated sugar, iodized salt, or white flour.
Secondly, a plant-based lifestyle consists of as many raw plants, nuts, and seeds as possible. A plant’s optimal vitamin and mineral levels occur in a raw state and nuts and seeds that aren’t raw have probably been roasted in oil and sometimes salt. It’s all in how you prepare raw ingredients that the flavors and textures be palatable and more importantly, enjoyable!
Finally, and truthfully, a plant-based lifestyle is work. While my recipes are designed with efficiency in mind, when it comes to your health, you cannot afford to cut corners. You will find that if I have a recipe that contains bread, for instance, that I make my own. My husband, Travis, is also a very do-it-yourself type and I believe that that’s where I got my will and drive to make as much as I can from scratch. We try to avoid processed items whenever possible, making the time for DIY veggie stock, pasta dough, or plant milk. We are not perfect at this—not even close—but if I can squeeze a few more minutes out of my day to make something fresh, I try.
Still not sold on DIY, plant-based living? I know a language that EVERYONE speaks: Money! Think about all of the extra money you’ll have when you stop buying expensive sirloins, fancy cheeses, and unnecessarily processed foods. Is plant-based living cheap? No, I would never claim that. You have to pay for high-quality, organic foodstuffs, but I have found that I am still coming out ahead of my omnivorous days. You will find that all of my recipes maximize time, energy, and perhaps most importantly, money. I want to retire when I’m forty, remember?
On another note, a plant-based lifestyle will alter your taste buds. Really. For example, two years after changing my eating habits, I ate a piece of bacon and was totally put off by the level of fat and salt. If I eat a square of milk chocolate, after going dark for all of these years, I feel like I’ve eaten an entire slice of cheesecake. And peanut butter that’s not just peanuts? Forget about it. It now tastes like unnecessarily sweetened, excessively fatty dessert-in-a-jar to me.
Your taste buds, energy level, sleeping ability, and body—inside and out—will change in ways that you couldn’t have imaged with a plant-based lifestyle. Here’s to good health!