Beginning January 1, I began following the Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet highlighted in The China Study. I determined to follow the plan for 12 weeks and see how it goes. The research is very convincing. The basic tenets include:
- Lots of Fruits and Vegetables
- Plenty of Whole Grains
- No Processed or Refined Products (white flour, white sugar, corn syrup, etc.)
- Plenty of Legumes
- Only 5% of Total Calories from Animal Products and Byproducts (Meat, Seafood, Dairy, etc.) – this figures out to either two meals that include the items or about 100 calories per day.
The hardest part so far has been avoiding the dairy – namely cheese – but that’s also probably the most beneficial part for me. I’ve known for a while that dairy affects me negatively – sinus congestion, etc. And since I’ve been off it even for only 5 days, I’ve noticed less congestion. So, I’m using a splash of soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk in my coffee and on my Kashi cereal. And I’ve actually started drinking coffee sans sugar over the last couple of months.
Monday was a little challenging. We both had a day off, so we had lunch at Copper River Grill, since we received a gift card for Christmas. Trying to eat no meat, seafood, or dairy was nearly impossible! I almost gave in and let it be one of my two meals I’m allowed to have meat, but it was only day 2, so I was determined to wait. I had a cheeseless pizza with mushrooms, red onions, kalamata olives and banana peppers, and a side salad with balsamic dressing. It was actually really good (and the leftovers made for a great workday lunch the next day). For dinner, we joined friends who have followed this plan roughly for the last year or so. They served us vegan spaghetti over whole wheat pasta with whole wheat bread, and I brought a spinach salad with mushrooms, carrots, walnuts and strawberries. It was all delicious.
I’ve enjoyed creating new meals with all kinds of fresh produce and whole grains. If nothing else, I’m having fun being creative. I’ve only had one real flop of a meal – curried portabello mushroom over baked potato. It might sound good, but it definitely needed some work.
If you haven’t seen Forks Over Knives, it’s the documentary that explains The China Study research and benefits, and clinical proof how the diet can affect the risks for and even reverse cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, etc. It’s now available for viewing on Netflix Instant Queue! Or you can order your own copy at ForksOverKnives.com.
Today, Day 5, was my first day to have meat since Saturday. We had a working lunch at Larkin’s downtown, and I indulged in a small filet with sweet potatoes and grilled asparagus. Yum! I could tell that it took a little bit more for my body to process the meat – for the first time all week I felt a little sluggish after a meal. It was an interesting observation. I’m wondering if maybe the 100 calories a day might be a better option in the long run.
Tonight I made vegan blueberry pancakes with whole wheat flour, freshly rolled oats, applesauce and soy milk. They were quite good and I’m going to keep playing with the recipe. That might be a regular meal around here.
My mom gave me her old pasta machine over Christmas, so I’m looking forward to making some whole wheat pasta, including some pierogies.