I know I’ve been talking about documentaries a lot lately. But if you only watch two of the ones I recommend, watch Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives. Now, Forks Over Knives was not on the list from the other post, because it did not directly relate to food production. Instead, it focuses on food consumption, and the clinical and scientific research of two doctors – Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell. They did studies on vegan “plant-based” diets and the rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Amazingly, people on plant-based diets shoed significantly lower rates of all three, and in some clinical studies, cancer regressed, heart disease and arterial buildups reversed, and people with diabetes were processing sugar again at normal rates. Unbelievable!
After viewing this, Sean and I have decided to do a study of our own, and this time: we’re the guinea pigs! We are going to challenge ourselves to eat a “plant-based” diet for 4 weeks.
First off, we have agreed to explain our experiment as a “plant-based” diet as opposed to eating “vegan.” During our discussion, we talked about the connotations behind the word vegan, and decided that we didn’t want people to misunderstand what we are doing. We both have a number of recurring health issues that we are hoping this diet might help alleviate. Among other things, Sean’s hoping to lose some weight before the wedding, and I’m hoping to avoid the gallbladder removal that the last 4 generations of females have needed in my family. Because our experiment is mainly on a health basis, we don’t want the emotional baggage that is attached to the word ‘vegan.’
So for ground rules, OBVIOUSLY no milk, eggs, butter, and cheese (going to be HARD, considering these are staples in our house!). Another thing we’re trying to cut down on is our oil intake! Super processed oils like vegetable oil (typically made of soybean oil), soybean oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, and corn oil are bad for you. It has something to do with the amount of heat used to process it. Read more about it here. The best choice if you need to use oil are palm and coconut oils. Not AS good, but still not terrible is extra virgin olive oil (provided you use it in low-temp cooking). Also good is real butter.
We are starting our new diet challenge on March 1st (perfect because we do our shopping on Thursdays). This will give us a week to use the rest of our ‘non-vegan’ foods (eggs, milk, cheese, what not) before the challenge starts. This will also give us a week to find some vegan recipes to try out (if you have any suggestions, we would LOVE to hear them!).
To help Sean avoid “culture-shock,” we’re having mostly vegetarian meals this week (with the exception of finishing up Sean’s last 1/4 lb. of ground beef, and then will up the stakes to plant-based next week.
Shopping This Week
In preparation, today we went shopping at the Farmer’s Market and Sprouts (and then I had to run by Albertson’s for a couple quick things on the way home from work). Those two places had the bulk of what we needed, and Sprouts actually had reasonably priced produce today (what we couldn’t pick up at the Farmer’s Market)! Sprouts is way easier to shop at now that we have our mesh produce bags and the reusable ziplocs for bulk food.
Here’s what we got:
- 3 (massive!) heads of romaine*
- 1 bunch of parsley*
- 1 bunch of dandelion*
- 2 dozen eggs*
- 4 avocados*
- 3 lbs (godzilla-sized) carrots*
- 2 bunches of bail*
- ~6 lb. honeycrisp apples*
- 2 red bell peppers
- 3 roma tomatoes
- small jicama (a new food for Sean)
- 1 loaf of French bread
- quinoa (unsprouted)
- nutritional yeast
- honey-roasted peanuts
- mixed nuts (roasted, salted)
- 15 oz. can of navy beans (not yet confident enough to try cooking dry beans again yet)
- steel cut oats
- vegan butter
- granola with mixed nuts
- soy milk
- frozen strawberries
*bought at Farmer’s Market
Our meal plan this week looks something like this:
Breakfast: Eggs, vegan oatmeal, and a banana-strawberry smoothie for me. (Note: tried to make over-easy eggs with the vegan butter today… not successful)
Lunch: Sean: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on French bread (a vegan-friendly bread), carrots, apples, peanuts, granola, and a treat (we plan to make vegan treats like cookies or cupcakes or something).
Me: Sandwich on French bread with avocado, cucumber, tomato, and “pesto” (high-protein, low-oil pesto); mixed nuts; Wheat Thins (finishing up the box); Cutie; and an apple (maybe a treat as well).
Note about our lunches: Neither of us sits down and eats the whole lunch at one time! We spread it out across our time at work, eating one or two little things here and there. Helps up feel full the whole time, and helps keep our metabolism working the whole day.
Dinner: Thursday: Pesto Pasta and salad
Friday: Quinoa Patties (will probably add one to lunch every day, too)
Saturday: Sean’s having Chicken Taquitos (left in the freezer), and I’m having more quinoa patties (I love quinoa patties!). We’re both having corn.
Sunday: Probably having dinner at Sean’s uncle’s house because his mom is in town.
Monday: Salad and Pesto Mashed Potatoes
Tuesday: Sean is having a burger (last of the ground beef), and I’m having a Vegan Boca. Also, baked potatoes.
Wednesday: Garlic Butter Pasta (with our vegan butter) and salad
At the end of the challenge, we are going to talk about how we think it went, the pros and cons, and make a life-decision about whether we will continue or make exceptions as we sit fit. If anyone wants to join us on this challenge (or maybe take a smaller, 1-week challenge?) by all means, join in! We’d love your feedback and encouragement, comments and questions! Thanks!
P.S. Something that we are planning on doing regardless of the outcome is start our own garden in the backyard. If we can grow some of our own food (for us and the guinea pigs), it will help save money in the long run. Also, we both discovered we like going out and digging in the dirt. I will have my own post up about it soon enough I’m sure, but if you want to know a little more about it sooner, visit Sean’s blog to hear his philosophical views on our ‘garden.’ (Which is still a dirt patch, but we’re trying)