It has been two years since I switched to a vegan diet and it has been the best decision I've ever made. I did this for health reasons to lower my cholesterol, but I also did it for the animals. After reading all the books and seeing all the photos about the horrific conditions in which farm animals suffer everyday, I never want to be responsible for their suffering ever again. But being vegan and eating a plant-based diet is more than just what you put on your dinner plate. It's a lifestyle and making conscious decisions about every product you purchase. So early last year I gave the leather purse and the leather shoes to Goodwill, completely tossed out all my personal care products, and I make sure that every product I use is cruelty free.
However, being vegan doesn't necessarily mean that you eat a healthy diet. Yes, compared to omnivores we have lower rates of cholesterol, blood pressure, diseases caused by inflammation and lower cancer rates for certain types of cancer. But just like omnivores, we eat a lot of vegan processed/convenience foods that really don't provide any health benefit at all. So for 2012, I've made a promise to myself to embrace the "whole foods" way of eating and to cut out as many processed foods from my diet as possible.
So here are changes I'm making to my diet for 2012:
- No sugar of any kind, except for small amounts of maple syrup or agave as needed for recipes.
- No store bought condiments such as ketchup or mayonnaise. If I need them for a recipe, I will make my own from scratch.
- No soy sauce. I will use tamari sauce instead.
- No processed cooking oils, except for first-cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil, and used only in moderation.
- No margarine or vegetable shortening.
- No fake meat substitutes of any kind, including textured soy protein.
- No fake cheese substitutes of any kind. If I want a cheese sauce, I will make my own from scratch using unprocessed ingredients.
- No white starch products such as bread, pasta or grains. I will use only whole grain/wheat products.
- No canned foods such as tomatoes, beans or any other canned products because of BPA residue.
- No deep fried foods of any kind...goodbye sweet potato fries...:-(
I'm sure that there will be some cooking disasters along the way, and sometimes when I don't have time I will be tempted to reach for prepared and convenient foods, but my goal is to make 2012 my healthiest year ever! And I hope that you'll join me!
To a healthy 2012!