If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I tend to feature mostly vegetarian dishes. I had not planned on going vegan, or “Plantstrong” when I started this blog… but something interesting has happened along the way.
|Now Plantstrong! 🙂|
First, I read this blog post about Jeff Walters, a healthy, fit person with high cholesterol who lowered his cholesterol 100 points by following the Engine 2 Diet. The Engine 2 Diet is the cookbook featuring firefighters in Austin, Texas, led by Rip Esselstyn, who gave up eating animal products in order to help one member of their crew lower his cholesterol. You’ll be hearing more about the Engine 2 Diet in January, as they are going to be launching a line of products with Whole Foods.
Jeff’s story interested me because I don’t really have many risk factors for heart disease: I get a reasonable amount of exercise, I’m at my proper weight, and I didn’t think I was eating that many animal products. Certainly, not much meat. So I decided to see what my cholesterol was (it’s crept up a little every year). If it was higher than last year, I’d go vegan for a few months as an experiment.
My test results in August 2010:
Total cholesterol 258 (yikes, 30 points higher than last year!)
HDL (good) 95 (the goal is for it to be more than 50 so this is great)
LDL (bad) 146 (goal is to be less than 130, not so great)
Triglycerides 77 (goal is to be less than 150)
Since my HDL (good cholesterol) is really high, this is seen as a protective effect. My doctor’s note says:
“Cholesterol mildly elevated. Overall pattern of cholesterol is protective. Please see attached handout on a low cholesterol diet. We will re-check in 4-6 months.”
The only problem is… I was already doing everything on their list.
So, Plantstrong it was! I started on September 1… I prepped for about two weeks, eating up the stuff in the freezer, using up condiments when making food for a party… all to clean out the remaining animal products in the house. (Since I didn’t have a freezer full of sliders, I wasn’t about to throw food out. If you have a freezer full of sliders… well… you might want to rethink that for many reasons.)
One way I prepared was by thinking:
What I would eat today when I’m vegan?
What would I do for this lunch? For this trip?
It’s definitely harder being gluten-free… as nearly all vegan restaurants rely on wheat gluten (or seitan) for their meat substitutes. I got some cookbooks from the library. I bought a copy of a vegan magazine. I learned that most soy cheese is not vegan (it has milk protein in it). I learned that vegan cheese sucks, except for Daiya brand which even The Husband really likes.
It’s been fun, interesting, challenging, sometimes annoying, and surprising. I was getting a little tired of it, truthfully, as I already have some many foods I’m not eating. So, needing some positive reinforcement, so I went for a (fasting) fingerstick cholesterol test. After five weeks, here are my results:
How I’m proceeding from here:
I am going to stick with this vegan thing… I’d say at 95%. My favorite Udi’s GF bread does have egg whites in it. And it makes me so happy to eat it. Food is about joy and celebration, not about giving things up. So that’s staying in.
I have been making my own soy yogurt and soy kefir. The starter has some milk powder in it. But I figure that has to be better than eating regular yogurt overall. If someone knows of a vegan yogurt-starter, I’m all ears.
When I’m traveling, the choices are in this order:
4) vegan when possible
My goal is to help you, my dear readers, make better choices for your health when you are ready. Going vegan is not for everyone. And I get turned off by the radical messages in the vegan literature. I don’t think people are bad if they eat meat or high-fructose corn syrup or processed food. Anyone who wants help and support in making changes is welcome here!
I can see that it’s helping me… just like getting off gluten and processed sugar has helped me. My skin looks great, and I have a ton more energy.
I suspect that if everyone became conscious eaters, it would have great benefit in many ways. I will continue to cook joyous, delicious food for you. And, please do send in your naughty recipes if you want help or suggestions.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate each and every one of you!