Last week my children and I watched the documentary “Food Choices,” and since then we have started to make some changes. I’ve tried to do a vegan/plant-based diet a few times before, but was motivated by the desire to loose weight and/or wanting to detox from all the junk I’d been putting into my body.
It was always so complex to me that I’d eat like a rabbit, and only last a week or. Plus, I never included my kids. A lot of what was shared on “Food Choices” wasn’t brand-new to me, but there was also plenty of information I didn’t know, such as grass-fed beef leaving a high carbon footprint and how the ratio of Omegas was adjusted.
As a single mom who isn’t a good cook to begin with and has two picky children who like completely different foods, I dread mealtime. I find dinner particularly overwhelming. I usually go for easy and pleasing, which typically equates to unhealthy. I have felt guilt and shame for feeding my children the accepted American diet, and feel like I’m poisoning my own children. In essences, I kind of have been. Most of us are. But that’s okay because it’s all FDA approved right? Wrong. We are setting them up for failure, but for some reason, “Food Choices” was my turning point.
I suppose I’ve been working our way to healthier already, though. My kids were starting to get a little chubby, and I realized we were eating out entirely too often. Not only was our healthy being depleted, so was my bank account. I started cooking at home more. Their weight improved in a very short amount of time (oh to be young again). But our meals revolved around meat. And more times than I’d like to admit, we’d skip the veggies.
I’ve known a large amount of meat isn’t good, but I also felt stuck. When I say I’m not a good cook, I am not exaggerating. My children used to suggest I should go on “Worst Cooks in America.” And let’s discuss how many times my smoke alarm has gone off when I do cook. Actually, on second thought, let’s not discuss that at all. 😉 When my husband was alive he stopped a fire or two in the kitchen.
I finally learn how to cook a handful of chicken dishes that my children absolutely love, so that has been our go-to. And it felt good to be feeding my children home-cooked meals they enjoyed. I think I needed that confidence in myself before I could even consider making such a big change to a plant-based diet.
My son has decided that he still wants to eat meat, but he understands that it will only be a couple of times a week if it fits in with whatever else I’m cooking. For example, last night was lentil tacos, but he had ground beef, and tonight he had a hamburger, while we had vegan burgers with lentils, rice, and oats.
My daughter on the other hand doesn’t want to eat meat because she saw how animals are treated and slaughtered. Technically, she looked away for the “bad parts,” but it was enough to have her in tears the next day asking why God made her an empath because her heart hurt so much for the animals.
While I’m disturbed by the treatment of animals, too, I think watching that would only make me cut back on my meat consumption. The health benefits of a plant-based diet are what sold me. I would say that right now we have more of a vegetarian thing going on, but I believe that my family needs to take it slowly if we are to sustain this as a lifestyle change. And I can’t say I won’t ever eat meat again, but it will not be my primary source of food.
What I have realized in the past week-ish of trying to cook plant-based meals is that there are so many alternative options out there. Sure, many of them are complicated for me, but there are also some simple recipes, so that’s where I’m starting. Cooking right now takes more time to plan and make, but it’s so empowering to be taking these steps and making our health a priority. I feel so accomplished. And goodness, the fact that my super picky eater is enjoying most of it is such a relief and a blessing.
It’s not just about cutting out meat, though. Sugar is a poison. It’s a drug, and like all drugs it is addictive. It affects people’s health and moods. We have been cutting down on the processed sugar, too. And honestly, I have seen a positive change in my mood and my daughter’s mood (my son doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth to being with).
It’s really quite amazing how quickly things start to change when you put the right things into your body and remove the bad things. Some people can make complete lifestyle changes overnight, but going slowly is working for us. And I’m not knocking those who eat meat and sugar, because they are still in my house and likely always will be to some degree. It’s a personal choice, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan because everyone’s nutritional needs will vary depending on many factors. I just know that working my way towards being a vegan is what makes sense here. The bonus is, I can already see how it’s going to be saving me money to eat a plant-based diet.