We’re a big documentary family, the two of us. We’re the type to watch a movie and become totally engrossed in the topic and talk about it for days on end. Doesn’t matter if it’s the rise and fall of Imperial Russia, meth wars, Google, or Mount Everest– we love learning through the documentary format.
Our favorites are the ones about food and nutrition. What to eat, how to eat, where our food comes from, and all the regulatory issues therein fascinate the pants off us (figuratively speaking).
The movie that had the biggest impact on us, without question, is Forks Over Knives (FOK). Here’s the trailer (I’ll wait):
Taking Forks Over Knives to heart
We’re both pretty healthy people overall. We don’t eat a lot of junk, but we both knew there was room for improvement. After watching FOK, we realized there was actually room for drastic change. The basic premise of the film (in case you’re at work and unable to listen to the video above… I feel ya) is that the Western diet– full of dairy, meat, and fillers– is killing us. The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell plays a major role in the film, correlating the standard American diet with Type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other devastating chronic diseases. In rural China, these diseases are practically unheard of.
The movie certainly opened our eyes to what we were eating was doing to our bodies. Cancer runs on both sides of our families, so we’re open to reducing our risk factors if we can. Forks Over Knives posited that by cutting out dairy, meat, and processed foods, we could feel better, eat more, and (potentially) live longer. Rather than calling the changes in eating habits a “vegan” diet, it’s considered a “plant-strong” diet, just plain eating healthy.
Dan was very clear we were not vegan. To him and to many, “vegan” equates with “crazy,” and I don’t blame him for wanting to add extra distance there. In reality, though, it’s basically a vegan diet, since we’ve cut out probably 90% of the animal products in our diets. I haven’t bought meat, cheese, or milk in the past 3 or so months when grocery shopping. Just about everything we eat at home would qualify as vegan.
After watching another documentary, Food, Inc., I became concerned with the conditions in factory farms and was making an effort to buy cage-free eggs, grass-fed beef, etc., but not to the point of being militant about it. I still think animals raised in humane ways are an acceptable food source and encourage people to learn more about their food sources overall, but skipping the debate altogether is just easier.
I’m not going to throw paint on your fur or leather. I’m not going to berate you about eating “flesh,” because I think that’s frankly disgusting. I’m also not above ordering meat when we’re out to eat or eating meat when we’re dining with family. Ask me about my food preferences and I’ll tell you I’m sticking to a plant-based diet and probably encourage you to give it a try to see how you like it.
Growing up like most people I know, dinner was always meat + veggie + grain/starch. The meat was always the star, and veggies were almost an afterthought. Switching to a plant-based diet meant completely reconsidering how I cook. It took a lot of searching, a lot of Pinteresting, and a lot of tinkering to get used to it, but I think we’re both pretty used to the routine. I’ve learned to cook with beans and leafy greens (both of which I rarely used before), added quinoa to the rotation, and do my best to keep trying new recipes and styles so we don’t fall into a rut.
One of the few animal-related foods I just haven’t been able to kick is ice cream. I try to only have it a couple of times per week, but since it’s my favorite dessert, it’s still tricky. I’ve tried coconut milk “ice cream,” but it didn’t sing to me. I still have to keep experimenting.
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have a great variety of harder-to-find ingredients, but my local Stop & Shop doesn’t quite have the same selection. Of course, TJ’s and WFM aren’t in a 5-minute drive, so they’re special trips from time to time.
- Pinterest is a great way to find new recipes. I’m able to make changes on the fly to switch out ingredients to go from vegetarian to vegan pretty easily now.
- Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore blog is great, and I have to pick up her cookbook at the library tomorrow.
- The Engine 2 Diet has been great, since the author (Rip Esselstyn) is a former professional triathlete and current (I think!) Austin, TX firefighter. Rip gets Dan’s stamp of approval, and Dan’s even started reading a bit of the book I checked out of the library.
Go plant-strong, I dare you! Be sure to let me know what you think.