Friday, June 18, 2010

What the heck is "vegan," anyway?

In writing about my parents' recent weight loss (90 lbs between the two of them in 2010), I am receiving a lot of feedback and private emails. So many people are stuck in a spiral of health issues and weight gain. I have been there. I found my way out, and now have turned around and helped my parents turn that same corner.

I have mentioned before that, above all, I am a Freegan Vegan Flexitarian. But I shoot for vegan. That's always my main goal.

Vegan means you do not eat any animal products, including dairy or eggs. Many vegans avoid honey, but we do not. We eat a lot of local honey.

This is the point when many people moan and say, "Then what the heck am I supposed to eat?"

A lot, actually. I don't eat much different than I used to, but I cut out or substitute animal products most of the time. In our house we eat a lot of salsa, beans, whole grain pastas, whole grain breads/tortillas, fresh vegetables. We put spreads like Earth Balance on our toast. The kids eat plenty of PB&J's made with natural peanut butter and all fruit spreads. We sweeten with honey (which goes GREAT on whole grain blueberry pancakes). I make green smoothies, whose nutritional boost is only given away by their color (cause they taste YUM!).

We snack on fruit and nuts.

We use soy or rice milk most of the time, instead of cow's milk.

We are HUGE fans of Mexican food. Refried beans, taco shells, salsa, chopped up greens, tomato, veggie shreds, cilantro, and even some corn - ohhhhhh, now I'm hungry.

There are plenty of myths and misunderstandings about plant based diets. However, the undeniable truth is that this approach to eating will improve your health in many, many ways (From the bathroom to the bedroom ... ha! Just made that up!). My family lives it. My parents are now living it. You probably know someone in your life who is living it.

Some great places for help, information, encouragement and ideas:

"Biggest Loser's, Bob Harper, Goes Vegan"

How To Cook Tofu Like the Pros
(my kids BEG for this in the Chinese marinade!)

Easy Vegan Recipes (love some of their stuff, and typically just leave out the veggie "meat" or substitute with beans of some kind)

"Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid it at All Costs"

Vegan Lunchbox

What About Protein?

This is Why You're Thin!

The PCRM 21-Day Kickstart begins again in September - mark your calendar!

"Processed Food Addiction"

"More Meat Consumption Leads to Earlier Puberty for Girls"

Also, check out my links on the right for "Simply Raw" and "Food Matters." These are affiliate links, so if you order anything on there, I get a few bucks. But it doesn't cost a thing to look around!

Email me if you're still feeling stuck, or kinda' freaked out: christinemoers [at] hotmail [dot] com

(photo by Ove Tøpfer, used with permission)

9 comments: said...

yep it is all good, too bad celiac and allergic to soy get in the way, it makes it hard to be vegan but we work at vegetatian and lots of whole grains, plus we grow as much of it as we can ourselves.

Saoirse Void said...

I am a gluten free vegan. No nuts either. I can do soy but don't rely on it heavily. I will eat real eggs from people who love their chickens but since we gave our hens to my mother anticipating our otr move we haven't had much egg opportunity.

Thanks for the post and links.

Abounding Love said...

I think you should start a recipe page on your website here and post the recipes your family has used and loved!

Julie said...

We recently made the move to dairy-free for our son who seems to have a behavioral sensitivity to it so we've started shopping in the vegan aisles for dairy-free substitutes for cheese and butter. We use almond milk b/c we're trying to use soy in moderation and it's already in nearly every stinkin' food product out there plus we like tofu and edamame so our soy intake is already at a moderately high level.

I don't bother with the vegetarian thing, though. My parents raise beef and my brother raises pork and both raise them relatively organic free-range (they have a barn to sleep in and are in there at night/bad weather but also have pasture to roam a bit; only do a few critical vaccines and no hormones, mostly natural-diet fed but supplemented when needed, etc) and those make most of our 2-3 servings of meat each week. I do, occasionally, buy a bit of meat at the store when I need a specific cut that I'm out of and then I always laugh when the cashier rings up my vegan cheese and vegan milk right next to my 3 lbs of roast. :)

I say whatever you opt to do--free-range/organic meat, vegetarian, vegan, nothing-but-brussel-sprouts--whatever it is the most important step is to first make informed choices about your food intake. Mindlessly eating (both in terms of volume AND in terms of actual food content) is the easiest and yet most surprising way to give away control over your health and body. It doesn't have to be difficult or unsatisfying--we eat very very well here and never feel deprived (ok, so my son misses yogurt a LOT)--but the first and most important step is being aware of what you are choosing to put in your body.

Congrats to your parents for making those turn-arounds! What an encouraging example!

Unknown said...

Thanks AGAIN Christine for the great info and the links.

Hannah_Rae said...

Our biggest thing that we've cut is refined sugars, especially corn syrup. Thankfully, many mainstream companies are listening to their customers and cutting out the crap. My favorite ketchup is now all natural, as well as my favorite peanut butter. YAY! I'm allergic to soy, so can't do a lot of that, but am using almond milk in my smoothies. Switching to wheat was easy, but sometimes you gotta have a potato bread grilled cheese. :)

The biggest battle in our house is variety. I just don't know WHAT to cook. Also, since we live in the great white north, our produce is crazy expensive and lacking variety.

We're learning.



Summer said...

I keep looking for a good dehydrator so I can try some of the yummy raw recipes I have. And sprouting more. Right now I have mung bean spouts that I buy local, but haven't had the guts to sprout seeds myself yet.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for these links! My mom has been diagnosed with cancer and it is a huge wake up call to me to improve my family's health. All of these links are exactly what I needed and I am excited to eat well.

Thank you!!!!

Jen said...

i knew i really liked you.. thanks for the info