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.
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!
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.
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