I’m sure like most folks out there who eat a plant diet, there is a conversation that you regularly have to explain what you eat. As many times as I’ve had it, I never mind. Here it is… eat it up!
Question: What do you mean you just eat plants? Like a vegan?
Answer: Similar. But being vegan is more of a movement than a diet. There are also “junk food vegans” that eat a lot of processed food and sugar like Oreos.
Question: Okay, so what do you mean you just eat plants?
Answer: I just eat veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds as close as I can to their natural state. Sometimes I’ll eat splurge with processed foods. I’m a sucker for Pretzel Crisps with spicy hummus. In general, I tend to steer clear of things sold in the center of the store. Oh, and I don’t do dairy or fish.
Question: How long have you been on that diet?
Answer: I’ve been doing it since early 2012. To me it is more of a lifestyle than a diet.
Question: So where do you get your protein?
Answer: For starters we don’t need as much protein as the press would lead you to believe. The RDA recommendation is .8 grams per KG of body weight, so at 165 lb that is roughly 60 grams of protein. It is hard not to get that much and more eating a variety of veggies, nuts and seeds.
Take a look online and many bodybuilding and sports nutrition articles would tell you to roughly double or triple the RDA recommendation! When I’m training for long athletic events I may add in more protein but there is no evidence that 3x the amount of protein more adds performance.
Those who put away that much animal based protein have a higher risk of experiencing those diseases we tend to die from in the States. Plant protein is better for you. When you eat a lot of different kinds of plants together, like rice and beans, complete protein is formed without the byproducts found in animal protein. Quinoa by itself is a great form of complete protein.
Question: So WHY do you only eat plants?
Answer: (completeness varies depending on how much the person is really interested)
It is the best diet for living the longest with the fewest diseases of affluence (cancers, heart disease, etc).
Mentally my head is feels sharper and clearer compared to my previous diet which was a clean, very plant & animal diet.
Physically it helps me recover faster after big workouts or distance events. It is great fuel during events as well
From an environmental standpoint it is hands down the best diet you can have. Takes less farm land and creates less exhaust/pollution than an animal based diet. If everyone ate plant based diets we could feed the world for years to come.
My taste buds have actually changed over time – plants taste better and better all the time!
Statement: Oh. I don’t think I could give up cheese.
Answer: I struggled with that quite a bit. I fare from Wisconsin and we take a lot of pride in our cheese. It took some getting used to since it is in or on quite a few things I really enjoy. Over time I just found other foods that took its place.
Question: Is it hard to eat when you go out?
Answer: Yes, but not impossible.
Question: How do you do it when you travel?
Answer: It isn’t always easy, especially when I travel for an athletic event. It all comes down to planning ahead. With short trips I just pack food for the road or the airport to supplement any plant based options I pick up along the way.
If I’m going to be on the road more than a couple days I plan in a trip to the grocery store to pick up what I’ll need. With Uber these days it is pretty painless.
I’ve also been known to order 3 or 4 meals though a service like Doordash and have them deliver it to my hotel room. I’ll stick most of them in the fridge and eat them over the next few days.
Question: What is the hardest part?
Answer: Not being invited over for dinner at friends’ houses since folks aren’t sure how to cater to my diet.
Question: How did you get started?
Answer: For me it started with watching a couple documentaries and reading a few books. I also read information on what critics said about plant based diets. Once I was convinced that plant based lifestyles were the way to go I was willing to invest the effort.
My wife and I tried a vegetarian diet for a month to dip our toe in. It gave us a chance to try out some recipes.
Oh, and if you eat something that isn’t part of the plan don’t be too hard on yourself. Let it go, mentally reset and get back in the game.
That is the conversation in a nutshell. Feel free to leave feedback – I love talking nutrition!
Also published on Medium.
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