Tuesday

Herbivores

About two weeks ago, Ted and I decided to be herbivores. Well, more or less.

 For various reasons (which I'm happy to discuss should anyone be interested) we decided, as a family, to give up meat.  The girls and I are still eating eggs and some dairy but Ted seized the whole enchilada and went vegan.  Pretty impressive for a formerly meat and potatoes kind of guy.

Over the past several years Ted's palate has changed considerably and this doesn't surprise me too much but I wouldn't have said, a year ago, that Ted would become a vegan.  But he is and he's doing well.

Gwenna made the transition very naturally.  She's a "eat it all" kind of gal - whether it's ribs or a big salad, she's happy.  Mer hasn't done as great but she's evolving and finding plenty to eat.  I'm happy as can be to not have to cook or plan meat meals anymore. 

Ted's dietary choices do present some challenges.  For the most part, I can just serve his food earlier or add the dairy later if a particular dish has dairy.   For example, tonight, for our SUPER yummy crunchy tacos (black beans and lentils) I left out the little sprinkle of cheese in his before cooking them and added some salsa verde for an extra flavor pop.  No biggie.

We went a little further in that we've tried to eliminate most processed foods or at least overly processed foods from our diets.  (No fruit snacks, Quaker granola bars, kids' yogurt, store bought cookies, or the like.)  A very "clean eating" approach - as few ingredients listed as possible and hopefully they are all straight forward and need no explanation.  Less salt, less sugar, less oil.  Sounds almost dismal, doesn't it?  It's not.

Every night we are more grateful for the good, fresh foods we eat and we leave the table feeling full but never sluggish.  It's been a surprising transformation.

I think I was most concerned with how the kids would adjust.  Here is what Gwenna's plate looked like the other night:


She has a black bean and butternut squash taco on a multigrain corn tortilla (the tacos also have brown rice and hers has a little cheese), carrots and ranch (the good stuff - no MSG or artificial, processed sugars), and tomato slices.  They like to have chocolate almond milk or juice with dinner.

One great pro to this eating style is that Ted is cooking a lot more.  This is great because I cook less (this way of eating means I'm actively cooking most every meal and while I love to cook, 3 times a day is a lot) and also because Ted's knowledge of what goes into cooking the meal and how to do it are growing.

We have found out that we can still eat away from home without compromising our preferences.  Recently we spent the day in Sierra Vista and Tombstone.  We had lunch at a Japanese restaurant.  The kids LOVED the miso soup (it was exceptionally tasty) and spring rolls.  Ted mowed down on veggie sushi.  I may or may not have had dumplings with a small amount of pork in them.  (No one's perfect! - Especially when pregnant.) 

Meredith with her bowl of miso.
Later, we visited the Sierra Vista food co-op and Ted got a vegan chocolate bar.  When the rest of us had ice cream in Tombstone, Ted enjoyed his chocolate. He's DIE HARD!  At home though he makes "ice cream" with frozen bananas.  That's it.  Unless he adds a little peanut butter, vanilla, or chocolate. I'd eat it by the pound if I wasn't allergic to bananas.

Some people have asked what we eat regularly and have asked for some of the recipes we are using.  This week the menu includes Lynn's Meatless Meatloaf (with sauteed green beans with almonds and cranberries), Black Bean Tacos with my mom's Mexican rice (lots of bell pepper and onion), Southwest Chopped Salad (minus the chicken), Broccoli pasta (a recipe we've made for a while and love), and we're baking Vegan Chocolate Cake (sub the water for almond milk and the oil for applesauce, up the cocoa and add chocolate chips - TO DIE FOR!) with raspberries and Oatmeal Pumpkin Bars.

Last week I made Whole Wheat Crepes with fresh raspberries and peaches.  You can always tell what produce is on sale any given week by our menu or what was in out Bountiful Basket.  When I made crepes, Ted had leftovers as crepes are full of eggs. We also had the tasty tacos/burritos pictured above, and Corn Cakes with Avocado Salsa.  Those are all recipes we made before the switch in eating habits.  Ted also made vegan peanut butter cookies that we've snacked on this week and his primary class at church loved. 

This is what the milk shelf looks like these days - Original, Dark Chocolate, and Vanilla Almond milks.  The girls can't get enough (really - 3 cups in one sitting) Dark Chocolate Almond milk!
Things I love about our new eating habits:
  • We eat a lot more freah and local food items. 
  • Everything has a pretty short shelf life so you know it's fresh and if you don't eat it, it goes bad.  Translation: we're wasting less.
  • I have started to gain weight, which is good in my pregnant state.  I've always struggled to gain pregnancy weight but this time has been particularly difficult.  Sure, it's only about 2 lbs. so far, but it's something and I'm glad.
  • Ted is losing weight.  Ted has lost about 4 lbs. since he switched to a vegan diet.  (I hesitate to use the word "diet" but a diet is the sum whole of what you eat.)  He hasn't changed his activity level at all.
  • I know what's going into our bodies.  I can't believe how many things we were eating that I couldn't even pronounce.
  • We are giving our children a super start in making wise food choices.
  • No one in our family has experienced any amount of constipation since a day or two after we made these food changes.  Gwenna has struggled with varying levels (from severe to occasional) of constipation her whole life; Mer experiences this less but occasionally.  No more "ouchie" or "yucky" poops.  This is especially wonderful for our little Gwenny.

Downside:
  • Fewer options away from home (but at least we're making wise decisions).
  • It does take some getting used to and to make sure we can still bake, get all the nutrition we need, and other things, there are some new and specialty ingredients to get used to.  There's a small learning curve.
  • Meal prep, while normally shorter, is always there.  We're not eating mac & cheese, frozen pizza, or chicken nuggets.  While that, in our opinion (for us) is a good thing, most of the convenience factor is gone.  Not that there aren't many simple meals, but fewer "convenience foods".
Do I think everyone should eat like this?  Not really.  It's not for everyone but I believe everyone could benefit from a little bit of a shift towards more plants and grains and less meat. 

Are we tree-huggers?  Do we believe that animals are sacred and shouldn't be slaughtered?  Are we going to give away our leather shoes and belts?  Hahaha... um, no.  That's not the basis of this at all.  It's a push towards better health and a happier lifestyle. 

Do I think your family is gross because you eat frozen pizza?  Um, no.  Not in the slightest. 

Will we have to avoid church/family/social functions where meat is served?  Absolutely not.  There will always be something we can eat and we can always bring something along to share.  We almost always have anyway.

Overall we're really happy with how things are going.  I plan to check back in on the topic in a month or so and we'll see how we're feeling about it then.

4 comments:

Heather said...

Good for you! I have been trying to incorporate a few more meatless meals during the week due to expense and to eat more fish. Dairy would be a harder adjustment in our house.

Ben Peterson said...

Ted & Kelly, We can never be friends again.
Just Kidding.
We are eating more meat than ever with our exchange student from Brazil. I know exactly what your are aiming for with the clean, simple, in-season foods.
Junk food makes us feel like junk, but we are so used to feeling like junk that we don't remember what we are missing. You are good examples and I was excited to read all about it. Miss you guys!
-Ben & Amy & Raquel & Isaac & Hyrum & Hannah & soon to be Seth Peterson.

Geevz said...

Good for you! I've done vegetarian stints, but I missed my meat and always go back. I'm with you that everyone can clean up their diet a little bit. Your meals make my mouth water :-)

Sarah said...

this is great! making positive changes is always, always a good thing. it's a hard change to make, but so worth it!! :o)