Why Wednesdays? – Why I Eat . . . Plants! – #3

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on food, cooking, and eating.

 

In 2012, I became a vegetarian.  Before some of you read that and hurriedly click off to another page, worried that I am here to convert you, let me preface this post by saying that I am not going to tell you why you,too, should become a vegetarian or why you should not eat meat or anything like that.  I’m simply going to talk about plants – why I eat them and why, just maybe, you should, too (even if you eat meat, also!).

I can’t even count the number of times in my life that I said something like, “I would love to be a vegetarian, but I just don’t think I could do it.  I just couldn’t give up [insert various meaty food here].”  The reality is that I just wasn’t ready.  Not only did I not have the proper incentive or motivation to do so until recently, but I didn’t have the creativity and adventurousness with food, either.  As I started to change my eating habits to follow a much healthier lifestyle, I started to naturally eat less meat, mainly because I wanted to eat more plants.  I took very, very small steps at first.  I traded quarter-pounders for turkey subs and eventually all veggie ones.  I started beginning each lunch and dinner with a bowl full of salad.  Homemade pizzas were topped with plenty of peppers, onions, and tomato slices, rather than pepperoni.  I added a piece of fruit to every breakfast and lunch that I ate.  And so along I went, making small shifts here and there.

Vegetable Starters

Before I knew it, meat was starting to comprise an increasingly small amount of my daily food intake and fruits and veggies were piling up on my plates.   This was coinciding nicely with my increased activity levels, extra energy, loss of excess weight, less instances of colds, allergies, and other ills, and overall increase in general good vibes.  And, once that ball got rolling, it was hard to stop.  Who needs chicken burritos when I can make delicious bean and zucchini ones?!  Why take up room in my belly with fatty bacon when I can have a delicious, fresh, ripe bowl of fruit?!  Some may scoff, but few flavors can match the pure deliciousness of a nicely ripened piece of fruit.

Plus, I should note that I have had a roommate this whole time who happens to be vegetarian.  Sometimes I wanted to ensure I made a meal everyone could have, so meat got left out and vegetables took its place.  Other times, I had a meat-centric dish, but was intrigued by what my friend was eating and wanted to give it a try.  My surprise at how many delicious preparations there were for vegetables (and grains and legumes) was constant.

Over time, I craved plants.  Roasted carrots, please!  Minestrone soup? Yes and thank you!  Aloo gobi (Indian cauliflower and potatoes)?  Oh goodness, I will take seconds!  And, please do not even think about having me go a day without a big, green, leafy salad.  Perish the thought!

I was starting to adore plants.  Then one day, I realized I hadn’t touched a piece of meat in a couple of months.  Just like that, I was done with it.  It had become that easy.  And it felt wonderful, because when I used to say “I would love to be a vegetarian, but . . . “ I had actually meant that first part.  In order to eat a hamburger, I often had to actively work to shut out the reality of what it was.  Finally, my behaviors matched my values and intentions.  I love it when that happens!

Carrots

Now, further helping me along this path was the incredible amount of learning I did about the health benefits of plants.  Seriously.  Many of you probably have no idea – I sure didn’t.  I mean, we all know on some level that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but huge amounts of information about the extent of this hangs out in the dark corners of the library, the deepest of web page domains, and the highest numbers on the television dial.  This information just doesn’t get shared widely.  If you’re not seeking it out, you won’t ever learn most of it.

Case in point:  The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.  This book changed my life.  I mean really, truly changed my life.  It’s not a book about one small research project or a ‘miracle diet’ or anything of that sort.  It is a well-explained, meticulously documented summary of years and years of expansive research on the benefits of plant-based diets.  The information in it is invaluable and I cannot recommend this book enough.  When I was reading it, I must have bugged Mr. Move Eat Create about fifty times with the phrases “Did you know?” and “I had no idea!” and “Why are we not taught this in school or by our doctors?”

That last one is critically important and is worthy of a blog post in its own right.  Why aren’t we taught this in school or by our doctors?  Why don’t doctors ask about our daily habits?  Why don’t we learn in school about the correlations between plant-heavy diets and longer life spans, less heart disease, less diabetes, LESS CANCER?  Yes, cancer –  that horrible, nasty disease that we just seem to accept as inevitable to us all.

I eat plants for a number of reasons these days.  I feel better.  I get sick less often.  I have more energy.  My blood pressure has lowered.  I reduce negative environmental impacts of food production.  They TASTE GOOD.  I’ve mentioned before another blog/website that I love: No Meat Athlete.  Well, Matt Frazier over at that blog has a catchphrase:  Runs on Plants.

That’s me these days.  I’m Shannon and I run on plants.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Previous Entries in This Series:

#2 – Why I Eat . . . With Reverence

#1 –   Why I Eat  . . . Thoughtfully

27 comments on “Why Wednesdays? – Why I Eat . . . Plants! – #3

  1. Mileage Mama says:

    Very well written! I am totally onboard with the idea of eating more and more of a plant-focused diets, although I still eat some meat. But I find that lately I’m planning my family’s meals with more of an emphasis on fruits, veggies, and whole grains, with a smaller amount (or no) meat.

    Also, if you haven’t read it already, check out Scott Jurek’s book “Eat and Run.” He is an ultramarathoner that is also a vegan. And there are some great documentaries out there as well: “Forks Over Knives” / “Food Inc” / “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” … I know at least one of those mentioned the China Study.

    Enjoy your veggies!!!

    • I LOVE Eat and Run! It’s an amazing read! And, I’ve had those documentaries queued on my Netflix for quite a while. I need to get around to watching them. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Joanne says:

    I have a Runs on Plants running and it gives me so much pride to wear it!! I became a vegetarian sort-of by accident…I just never missed the meat and went a while without eating it without it even trying! Now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  3. colossalgarbage says:

    I think the reason why we’re not instructed by teachers or physicians about a plant-based diet is simply due to politics. All the studies promoting a plant based diet are low power (low numbers); nobody wants to fund the research that comes to those conclusions where “hey, that porterhouse steak really can increase your risk for cancer.” It’s sad but unfortunately true. I agree with “Mileage Mama”—Forks Over Knives is a must-see.

    • I absolutely agree with you about politics being involved in this issue. Politics (and the money behind it) has certain investments that they don’t necessarily want disrupted. I hope that we can keep pushing on that and make some impact over time!

  4. Right on Shannon! Great post! And, if you appreciated T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study” then I can almost guarantee you’ll love Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” and “Super Immunity” books. Happy New Year and here’s to being Plant-Powered!!! 😀

    • Thanks, Randy! I have red Eat to Live and thought it was fantastic. I have not heard anything about Super Immunity, so I will definitely check that one out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. 8020sund says:

    Great post! I eat mostly vegetarian meals. I will eat meat if friends and family serve it to me, but I really don’t miss it at all. I try to tell people more or less what you just wrote, but most of them just don’t understand how you can survive and not be undernourished if you don’t eat meat. Anyway, thank you for the like and have a happy Friday:)

  6. Hi Shannon. Loved this post explaining how you turned to the all-healthy plant based diet. I am reading a book right now, Eat & Run, about the ultra-marathon runner Scott Jurek, who is a vegan. He describes his journey in running, and includes his favorite recipes at the end of every chapter. Here’s the link to a description of the book, http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13202092-eat-and-run

    Love your Wednesday food posts!

    • Thanks so much. I have read Jurek’s book and it is one of my favorites. Such an amazing story of his!

      • Red Hen says:

        Sorry,might have put this in the wrong comment box.Anyway,thanks for above post and links.Great replies &links above too!This vegetarian thing has been tugging at me for quite a while.Going to build on it like you did& dig out some great vegetarian recipes.Vegan,for me,would be a step too far!

      • Good luck with it! I bet you’ll notice a difference in the foods you crave after a while. And, I think taking steps and building on it is great. Just shifting the balance towards more plants in your diet can make a huge difference! 🙂

  7. tricesweet says:

    This was almost exactly how my transition into becoming a vegetarian happened! I just wanted to eat more plants! I’m definitely going to take you up on that book recommendation.

  8. My spouse and I became mostly-vegetarians in 2012, too (like 8020sund above, we occasionally eat meat at other people’s homes, but we’re about 95% vegetarian). Like you, I just love eating plants – I am always amazed at how many different and unexpected flavour combinations there are!

  9. Hi Shannon – I had to comment because I could have written almost exactly this same post! I found myself buying and eating meat less and less, and then when I met my now fiance in 2011, who was a 95% pescatarian at the time, I just dropped meat altogether. We still eat some sea food, but our consumption of that has gone way down in the past year for various reasons. We just don’t need it or want it – I crave huge plates of plants, like you say in your post. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  10. Sophie says:

    I run on plants too! (Literally run.)

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