Thursday, May 10, 2012

I feed my family health not boredom!

Back in December of 2011 when we decided to change our daily eating to a plant based diet I didn't immediately think of what others might think of this decision.  I get questioned more often than I had ever imagined.

Not that I find that to be a bad thing, people are curious.  But, I feel like I should express my thoughts, here, as to how I feel about being plant strong or vegan.

First of all. Vegan, by definition, is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products.  Many vegans are ethical vegans, the reject the commodity status of animals and therefor the use of any animal products.  There are also environmental vegans, those that choose not to use animal products because it is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.  You can also have those that are vegan, like us, for health. We have not chosen this lifestyle for ethical reasons and I make no apology for that.  I have chosen this lifestyle for my health as well as my families health.  I don't preach veganism I only promote health.

I consider my family to be plant strong.  I use the term vegan because it is more of a common household term.  It's easier for people to understand, at this time anyway.  To me, in my opinion, I don't always like to call myself vegan because we are not ethical vegans. I've always thought of vegans as those that not only abstain from eating animal products but they also abstain from using animal products.  We eat plant strong that is the bottom line for us.

Is being plant strong good for my children? Why have we been eating meat since the hunter/gatherer days? Am I getting all the nutrients I need? Do we have enough energy? Are we lacking in B12, protein, iron?  Isn't your diet boring? Do you sit around sucking on tofu blocks all day?

These are legitimate questions. And, quite frankly, the same questions I've asked too.  If you really want to know, do a little research, as I'm not a doctor or nutritionist. I'm just a mom who wants what I feel is best for my children.  I do research to ensure proper nutrition for my entire family.  This is very important to me.

So, let's touch on whether or not this is good for children.  In my opinion, yes I do believe the diet I give my kids is good for them.  My daughter is very young and although still getting many of her nutrients from breastmilk we focus on her solid food intake to ensure she gets all the nutrients necessary. As for BK, he gets what we can sneak in. :)  He isn't one to outwardly eat a vegetable but, if I can sneak them in (most kids are this way, vegan or not) he will eat them.  He says he hates mushrooms but when he's with us he eats them all the time.  What does it take to feed a vegan child? It takes time, attention, focus.  Personally, I think all parents should pay attention when feeding their children. I take an hour out of my week to sit down and plan the menu for the following week. It's just an hour and I am able to plan health.

Are we getting all the nutrients we need?  It's funny how only vegans are asked this question.  What about your children? Do you know if the children that eat a typical American diet of burgers, fries, pizza, hotdogs, sweets and other snack foods get enough nutrients?  I make sure that we all get adequate amounts of B12, iron, calcium, Vitamin D as well as protein and fats.  Does it take a little longer to verify these things, absolutely. But, do you know how much you get? Just because you eat meat or dairy does not mean you get everything you need.  It's the same for vegans. Just because we eat this way doesn't mean we are healthy. There are unhealthy vegans.  We all need to stop pointing fingers at who is doing what right and focus on what YOU as an individual eats, the nutrients YOU get on a daily basis, whether you eat meat or not.

Why have we eaten meat for so long? Why didn't the hunter/gathers die of disease like we do?  Well, let's look back at hunter/gatherer days.  This sort of society was very mobile, very active. The need to sustain themselves off the land led them to move frequently. The need to eat led them to extensive amounts of physical activity.  With that they also ate meats that they themselves hunted for, no chemicals, no antibiotics, no hormones.  Look at us now as a society. We are sedentary with little to no activity.  And we eat foods that are filled with hormones, antibodies and chemicals.  Back in time meat was merely a side dish today it's the main course with vegetables as a side.  A small side.  Things have changed, the industry that pushes these items at us, has not changed.  They push what they feel is healthy even with so many facts against it.  We, as a society, continue to eat what "they" (our government) says is healthy without doing any sort of self research.  Question what "they" tell you, it's okay.

Am I lacking nutrients? Do I have enough energy? I am not lacking nutrients. I have my blood checked frequently to make sure I'm getting what I need. Do I have to eat more vegetables to get what I need, yes. Is it too much, no. Do I get all the essential amino acids? You bet I do. It's in the variety of foods I eat. Grains, beans, nuts, nut butters, non-dairy milks, tofu (soy), a small amount of meat substitutes, vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, hemp seeds, flaxseeds and the oils, avocados and olives.  I get it all because I eat a variety of foods.

That brings me to the boring question. Is my food boring? Absolutely not! I love to cook and always find new exciting things to make. You don't even have to love to cook. There are easy things to make to add variety into your diet.

Here are some examples of foods I ate this week:

Avocado broccoli pasta with baked tofu

Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas (seasoned with Moroccan flavors) From Everyday Happy Herbivore. Sauteed kale with garlic. And brown rice with quinoa and garlic. 

Salad! Romaine, red kale, spinach, dandelion greens. With an assortment of veggies. Added on top were chickpeas, black olives, artichokes and peperoncini.  I used a balsamic vinaigrette that I made. Yum!

Gumbo from Everyday Happy Herbivore with rice. I made cornbread too! BK actually told me he wants me to make this again! I was shocked! :)

And of course, Nachos! Who says this is boring?!!  I used Smart Ground, Mexican Style as a meat substitute (BK likes the fake meats). I added tomatoes and more seasonings. I made Vegveeta Cheese Sauce (you can get the recipe on that link) from Let Them Eat Vegan, Dreena Burton. Refried beans, black beans that cooked all day in the crockpot, quacamole (proudly made by the hubby), romaine, kale, onions, carrots, black olives and salsa. So good! Another item BK wants me to make again. I melted some daiya directly on the chips for more cheesiness (thank you to BK's mom for sharing that tip!)

What we eat is variety, plentiful, nutritious, tasty, and by no means boring.  If you think plant strong is something you'd like to try for just one day a week or one day a month give it a try. I was scared at first but for health reasons jumped right in. It's easier than you might think. It's fun and the food is amazing. The energy you have is amazing as well.

Here are a few books that could help you get started:

Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton

Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon

Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan

Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra

There are more but here are a few of my current favorites!

Enjoy your food! Pay attention to the nutrients your children get, whether they eat meat or not. Choose healthy, live healthy, be healthy.

Cheers and happy eating!


Prodigy - Warrior's Dance
Metallica - My Friend of Misery
And One - Techno Man
Covenant - Ritual Noise
Death Cab for Cutie - A Lack of Color
INXS - Mediate
Apoptygma Berzerk - Mourn
Depeche Mode - I Feel Loved
Elbow - Powder Blue


  1. Veganism is only veganism if you recognize the moral personhood of nonhuman animals and therefore reject to use them. You are misusing the word when you refer to a plant-based diet as making you a "vegan". It only confuses people, because now they think that anything and anyone is a vegan. Do you think it's morally right to kill animals for pleasure? Why not go vegan? Children never want to hurt animals. At least give them the choice.

    1. Naoki as I stated above I don't try and classify myself as a vegan per se. I have always found the term, vegan, as a package including ethical, dietary and environmental vegan. I choose to live a life that includes dietary veganism and therefore would probably be classified more as a plant based eater. The primary reason I use the term vegan, as in dietary vegan, is because societies current vernacular believes that vegetarians still consume animal products. There is no other commonly accepted phrase in the English dictionary that connotates dietary veganism.

      As for the second part of your comment I'm not sure I quite understand what it is you are asking, if anything at all. Are you asking why I am not a vegan, as in the package deal? Or are you asking why I am vegan and why I don't give my children the choice?

    2. Oooh, ya know...

      Have you ever mentioned in your blog that you have a culinary degree? For those of us that know you personally, we don't ever doubt that your meals would be anything less than delicious. :)

    3. I do believe I have. I really should do an "About Me" section.