When I met Allen he was vegan. I had no idea what this meant. I thought I did. No meat and dairy, of course but that was the extent of my knowledge and that sounded like alot of work. I did some looking into meat substitutes and tried to cook a few things before I joined the ranks of all of our friends and family trying to talk him out of it. Eventually, we naysayers prevailed.
Among the many things I wish I knew at this point in my life, these things stand out:
- My husband needs to be vegan. When given the option, 60-70 percent of his diet is meat or dairy. The man knew what he was doing.
- Guess what two recreational eaters will do for fun. Over 10 years we’ve done alot of damage.
- “Sparingly” is a subjective word. (In the Word of Wisdom, a standard of health revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith, counsel was given to eat meat sparingly and with thanksgiving.)
- What veganism is. That it’s not about substituting for meat and dairy but rather enjoying an entire world of plant based foods and flavors I’d always been deprived of, no tofu required!
If you’ve seen me around lately, you’ve probably asked me what I’m doing to lose weight. Yesterday I hit the 70 pound mark and hubby’s down 50 so there’s lots of interest. Today I’m going to tell you.
The last couple years we’ve been working on adopting a whole foods diet. This means eating foods that are in their natural state, minimally processed, not added to, or stripped of fiber or nutrition, not colored or preserved. During my last pregnancy I craved fresh fruits and veggies, lemon water, nuts and all things whole foods so it got a little easier and my pregnancy weight stayed within a reasonable range for maybe the first time ever. But we still had the odd bag of chips or carton of ice cream coming through the door and I’ve always held that homemade baked goods are the exception in any healthy diet.
After Clayton was born, things got a little out of hand. I told myself I had 6 weeks postpartum to enjoy all the things (Oreos) that I hadn’t been able to have during my pregnancy (sub sandwiches). Eight weeks later I was still struggling to let go (of my Oreos) but I pulled out my worn copy of Feeding the Whole Family and starting adding healthy meals back into our (pizza) diet.
A couple weeks later, Allen and I watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives (which I’d highly recommend). As the credits rolled, I was resolving to feed my family less animal products; something I’d already been working on. I turned to Allen to tell him as much when he said, “I’m going back to eating vegan.” A fight ensued. I yelled. You don’t try to take meat away from people. Things will get ugly. And if I haven’t told you what we’re eating when you’ve asked (I’ve probably said something along the lines of: You don’t want to know), this is why. I accused Allen of being overly-impressionable but he insisted that he’d been thinking about this for a while.
I’ve also been working on getting our lives (spiritually and temporally) more in line with the teachings of the Book of Mormon which led us to eating whole foods in the first place, so I threw out my understanding of the Word of Wisdom: to eat meat sparingly and that the flesh of animals is ordained for the use of man. Allen smiled at me, “You need to read the Word of Wisdom through better.” This really got my dander up. He disappeared and reappeared with his scriptures and then read the words:
I’d never noticed that last part. And it took some serious processing. The furiously spinning gears in my mind groaned to a halt and I deflated. Instantly I knew what this meant to me. It’s not winter and even if it were it doesn’t get cold here and there’s certainly no famine. Grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are plentiful and easily obtainable for us year round. At this place, at this time, for me and for my family, this meant to me we have no need for animal flesh. And since that was out and I’d just been convinced of the health risks of our over-consumption of dairy we were going plant based, whole foods.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not implying that this is gospel. The amazing thing about scripture is that you can read over the same words hundreds of times without a thought until it is time for that scripture to mean something to you and it may mean something to you that no one else will see or understand. Scriptures are one of the most reliable ways to learn the will of our Maker for us individually and it is in that context that I share this story.
This is what my husband saw on his mission when he went off animal products to begin with and it’s what I saw that February day. As the days went by and I jumped into learning my new world of plant based, whole foods cooking and eating it became clearer and clearer that this was exactly what my family needed; Allen and I for our health (weight, allergies, asthma, etc.) and overall well-being, the kids for healthy growth and development, allergies and asthma and their individual health/behavioral concerns.
We’ve cut out animal products, simple carbs and white sugar and white flour products and we focus on the four nutritious food groups. And to my surprise, I love it! I love the food, I love the feeling, I love the flavors, I love to cook for the first time ever and my family is reaping the benefits. Since the switch:
- I lost 20 pounds that first month without any extra effort
- I discovered that I LOVE whole foods, plant based cooking!
- Our skin is clearer and brighter
- The whole family is off our allergy meds and the kids’ chronic runny noses are dry
- I have been asthma symptom free since March
- The kids have had no asthma flare-ups
- I’ve dropped a total of 70 pounds (with the later addition of daily exercise)
- Allen has dropped 50 pounds
- The kids will put back a dark green kale smoothie without blinking and regularly eat vegetables that they would have gagged on mere months ago
- We are becoming more self-reliant and learning to do things for ourselves
- One of our kids (who all have terrible cavity prone teeth) got the all clear at the dentist’s office. No cavities!
- We are enjoying a more active lifestyle as a family, getting out and enjoying nature and life.
We’re not perfect by any means. I had garlic bread at my mom’s yesterday, I eat a small amount of chocolate with sugar in it and once a month or so we’ll pick up a pizza for the kids. Stuff happens. And I’m not going to freak out about it!
So, what do we eat? More on that later. But here is the link to one of our favorite recipes that we eat on an almost weekly basis: Snobby Joes