Challenge of Changing Food Choices

Photo by Don May

For a person who has been a vegetarian her entire adult life, changing the diet from vegetarian to a whole food, plant-based diet would seem like a small step. It is not. I am on that journey.

Even though such a change requires me just to eliminate milk, milk products, eggs, and processed foods, I have been surprised by how many of these foods have been significant parts of my diet. The most difficult for me to avoid are cheeses, sugar, and white flour. Imagine how much your diet would change if you eliminated these three food items.

By making “before” and after lists, I decided to find out how much my cooking has changed since 2012, the year I became serious about eliminating animal products. (On my “home court” I do fairly well at putting whole, plant-based foods on the table, but on “away courts,” I eat what people serve—and enjoy it.) Here’s a list of foods I no long prepare and seldom eat.

A few dishes I no longer make
Veggie chicken tetrazzini
Cottage cheese loaf
Chinese egg rolls
Cheese enchiladas
Pies with regular crusts
Carmel rolls
Typical cookies

A few new dishes I make now
Italian stir-fry over pasta
Black bean & corn quesadillas
Tofu-oatmeal-nut meatballs
Asian bowls
Many soups
Fruit smoothies
“Healthy” cookies
Citrus nut & fruit chews

When our grown sons return home, they don’t find the old favorites on the table. One son commented: “Home cooking never looked like this.” And then he asked, “How’s it going, Dad?”

His dad has a way of letting me know how he feels about new dishes I put on the table. Being a numbers person, he often ranks them 1 to 10, with 10 meaning “Let’s have this once a week.” I win some and lose some. My husband lets me know I have lost by saying as he is eating, “This sure tastes healthy.” Or if the dish is really not to his liking, “You don’t need to make this again.”

Many typical recipes can be adapted to include whole foods. The internet contains thousands of whole plant-based food recipes. If it takes extra time and effort to locate new recipes and make them and if not everyone is happy, why bother? I’ll give Dr. Michael Greger’s answer that question: “The whole food, plant-based diet is the only diet that has been scientifically proven to reverse heart disease, our number one killer.” And research is showing that other chronic diseases can be reversed or avoided in the first place by the whole food, plant-based diet. That convinces me.