I changed my eating habits a couple years ago. I went from eating lots of ‘hungry man’ microwave dinners, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, and other assorted, heavily processed and salt-and-sugar laden products to a fairly simply diet that consisted mainly of pasta, chicken, and any of a variety of somewhat healthy pasta sauces. This evolved to include tomatoes as my main vegetable, plus apples, bananas and almonds for snacking. I would also occasionally have a salad. This is a pretty gross over-simplification, but the point is this: I felt better. I lost weight and I had more energy. I was a happier, more confident version of myself. Now it looks like it may be time to change things up yet again.
I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about how much energy is required to produce the meat that I eat, as opposed to vegetables (it takes 10x as many fossil fuels to produce 1 calorie of meat). I’ve also been looking at my diet and realizing how it’s lacking in greens and other vegetables that aren’t tomatoes. These factors, combined with my passion for triathlon, led me to purchase Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, by Brendan Brazier.
I’ve been playing with some of the recipes in the past couple weeks, and I have to say, YUMMMMMMMM!!!! There is certainly a bit of a cost hurdle, as you suddenly need a variety of herbs and oils you’ve never used, or possibly heard of before. If you just get a little each week, though, it hurts a bit less. In any case, the first third of the book makes a great case for vegan living, and the author isn’t some pasty anemic hippy, he’s a professional Ironman triathlete. One of the principal things I’ve learned is that plants contain protein. What? No way. Really?
I was thinking I would just incorporate some of the vegan recipes into my diet, but not go full vegan. I mean, meat is dang tasty, and good for you in moderation, right? Wrong. I just watched Forks over Knives (via Netflix), and I’m blown away. The evidence is overwhelming that meat and dairy products are bad for you. We’ve been told for decades by the USDA that we need meat for protein and milk for calcium, but it’s a lie. The studies clearly show that any society that boosts its consumption of meat and dairy also sees an explosion in cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, etc, etc.
My favorite part of the movie involved the son of one of the featured doctors, who was a professional triathlete himself for a decade (as a vegan, no less), and then decided to become a firefighter, in Austin, TX. When one of the other firefighters discovered he had a 330+ cholesterol count, the whole firehouse went vegan to help him get healthy. The segment ended with a shot of the triathlete/firefighter going up the firepole using only his hands, chanting “real men eat plants, real men eat plants.” He wasn’t even winded when he reached the top.
So, let’s review. I can:
- improve my athletic performance and overall health
- lose weight
- live a longer, happier life
- hit the evil mega-corporate agri-business regime where it hurts (the pocket book)
… all while using 1/10th of the fossil fuels?
Yeah, alright. That sounds pretty OK to me. I’ll let you know how it goes.