40 Days Plant Strong. Wanna join me?
Beginning next Wednesday (3/9), I’m going to kick off a plant-based eating challenge. For forty days (and forty nights!). Some of you might observe that this is Lent. I’ve been asked a gazillion times “Oh, so you are going to give up meat and dairy for Lent?”
First, let me tell you I tried that once before. Many moons ago, about the time I met Husband, I decided to give up meat and cheese for Lent. I pretty much lived on peanut butter, chips, salsa and beer. This decades-old decision was neither health or spiritually inspired.
My motivation is much different now. After three years of sitting on the fence about adopting a plant-based (I still shiver at the word vegan!) diet, I’m going to take the plunge as a Lenten discipline, an experiment to see how I feel and to cure the curiosity. Secretly I hope my skin is not clearer, my eyes aren’t brighter, my weight is not lower and my energy is not higher…because I like bacon.
As you know, we are gluten and dairy free in our home. But, I’m feeling the need to take it a step cleaner. I’ve allowed processed gluten-free/dairy-free foods to creep back into our pantry and personally I need a cleanse. I’m not going to bring Husband or the Littles along on this journey, but they will certainly benefit from healthier snacks, and delicious veggie-filled side dishes!
My real goal is not whether or not I become a vegan. Truthfully, I don’t think it’s a lifestyle I could permanently or exclusively stick with. My hope is to get a discussion going and raise awareness. The tweets, comments, phone calls and conversations I’ve had over the last week are all conclusive:
1) folks think I’m nuts, or
2) they are intrigued and inspired but have no idea where to start, what to eat, or what it means to live plant strong.
Our bodies are uniquely made. And the nutrients we fuel ourselves with will and should vary from person to person. So I’m not preaching veganism. But the benefits of eating a plant strong diet are clear. To me, it merits pursuing. Whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, raw, macro-biotic, grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, omnivore isn’t the point of my experiment. America is in a health care crisis and the war isn’t going to be won in Congress or with some new wonder drug. It’s going to be won one meal at a time, on our plates.
Is this radical? Perhaps at first glance because eating a diet based on plants and excluding animal products flies in the face of how we were brought up, what we’ve been told, and decades of habit. Change is always hard. But beyond radical, it’s actually simple. Ideally the food we consume should be in season, local, fresh, organic, colorful, and nutrient dense. The ripple effect is huge not only for our health, but for our environment.
Wanna join me?
I’ll be sharing recipes, tips, successes and setbacks over the next 6 weeks and I’ve invited respected friends in the food community to chime in with their thoughts and advice in a series of guest posts. And before you ‘unsubscribe’ and write me off forever, things will feel very much the same around here at The Schell Cafe. Just more exciting perhaps over the next 40 days. You don’t have to agree or even desire to join me on this quest of mine. But, I do hope you will be encouraged to try something new and move at a comfortable pace towards a plant strong diet. You never know, you just might like it.
Here are some resources I recommend if you want to learn more:
The Engine 2 Diet – Rip Esselstyn is a local hero. A professional athlete turned firefighter, Rip coined the phrase Plant Strong and wrote a book championing the cause of a plant-powered eating plan based on whole foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Kathy Freston’s book Veganist. Kathy’s approach is to support and help anyone interested in “leaning in” to eating and living consciously. From her website she defines a veganist as “someone who moves toward eating a plant based diet so that they are as physically healthy as they can be, environmentally friendly, and a kind and thoughtful human being.”
The Unhealthy Truth by Robin O’Brien. A fellow Texan and mother of four children, Robin is an acclaimed author and researcher who has leveraged her experience as a food industry analyst to uncover how one of life’s most basic activities – eating – has become a risk to our health.
Let’s meet back here on Monday and see what’s getting purged from the pantry and added to the fridge for the 40 Day Plant Strong Challenge.