A Conversation on Healthy Eating

After I wrote Evolution of a Vegan, a post about the difficulties of eating healthy and my claim it’s not easy being a healthy vegan, a friend wrote me the following email:

March 17

Hi Christine, Well my 2 cents for whatever it’s worth is that I really like the name It’s Easy Being Vegan. It really speaks to me. People always commented to me on the name Ethical Planet and how it had so much meaning. I think “I’ts Easy” is the same type of thing. It has a huge message in a few words. I think you can keep the name and change the focus to be more health oriented. Even as a healthy vegan its super easy. Actually I think even easier. Fran

I responded:

March 18

Hi Fran, I always appreciate your 2 cents. You’re very smart and have good ideas. I like It’s Easy Being Vegan too. But, I really don’t think it’s easy to be a healthy vegan or non-vegan in this culture. I need you to convince me. I know I need to shift my thinking here, so tell me why it’s easy to be a healthy vegan? Christine

And the conversation continued as Fran stated her case:

March 18

To me the most healthy way of eating is eating very low on the food chain and very simple. No fuss cooking or un-cooking (i.e. raw) is how I eat. I find it actually much easier and healthier then when I was eating all the vegan faux dishes. I think when people are transitioning to a vegan lifestyle the prepared foods and mock meats make it easier to make changes. Not the healthiest way to eat but certainly a huge improvement over eating animal products.

Many vegans transition from there to eliminating the prepared foods and going a more healthy route of fresh fruits and veggies. And certainly a lot of vegan test the waters of a raw diet as well. In my store (Ethical Planet) I saw the whole range of people from beginning vegans to raw vegans and everything in between. I noticed this progression in many of my customers. I think age has a lot to do with it as well. Kids, teens and 20-somethings love the vegan “fast foods” and junk food. I think as palates mature those items are not as important.

I find it easier now than ever to be vegan since I am eating a lot more fruits and veggies and less cooked food. For instance today (not a typical day at all) I had a veggie sandwich with hummus for lunch and sweet potatoes and broccoli for dinner. I typically have a fruit smoothie or “milk shake” (frozen bananas, peanut butter and carob) in the morning and some cut up fruit. Many days I do not eat any cooked food at all.

So the food part is very easy to be a healthy vegan. After that its easy and healthy to choose vegan chemical free body care, cleaning products, etc.

Keep it simple and its very easy. It’s all about choices. Vegan or not vegan — you can choose to eat so-called “foods” that are loaded with 100 man-made ingredients that you can’t even pronounce and that are prepared in mega factories or you can choose to eat something natural like a mango. People are so addicted to foods they don’t even know it. White sugar, caffeine and cheese to name a few. On top of it they are deceived into believing that something like cheese is a “healthy” choice. I guess it comes down to being educated with the truthful information to make the best choice.

It really is very easy being a healthy vegan!!!!

I will get off my soapbox now :-)  Fran

The email string continued with another response from me:

March 20

Fran, I understand your points about it being easy to be a healthy vegan. In theory, yes, it’s easy. For me personally, day-to-day living makes it very challenging. Here’s why…

Temptations and distractions. Vegan food is everywhere and I’m really referring to the not-so-healthy kind. After a long day at work, it can be very difficult for me to gather up the energy to even make a simple meal for dinner. I’m zapped. Sometimes all the energy I have is to stop by New Leaf and pick up a prepackaged SoulVeg wrap or meal. Then there is lunch during the week. Most days I walk five block to my favorite salad place. But on days when I’m tired or frustrated, I will walk a block to pick up another prepackaged meal from another vegan company. Comfort food to make me feel better. Forget about bringing my own lunch from home. I don’t really need one more thing added to my “to do” list. (Although this would be ideal.) Just writing this, I see how I need to learn other ways to comfort myself other than food. But I think my life is fairly typical in terms of working 9-5, etc. Others probably feel a lot like me. The good news is that I believe I can change. Christine

My reason for sharing this conversation is two-fold. First, I want to pass on Fran’s tips for eating a healthy vegan diet. Secondly, it’s a good illustration for why it’s important to have people in your life who are supportive. Because our culture is set up to encourage the consumption of fast, processed, and junk foods, you need support to live healthy. It links back to my post from almost three years ago: Find Your Tribe.

It has been several months since I wrote an Evolution of a Vegan and I have made some healthy changes. What has transpired since this conversation?

  1. I bring a big, colorful salad for lunch on most days. Yes, it takes a few minutes in the morning to prepare, but it’s worth it. It tastes great. I know exactly what I’m eating and it makes me feel good. Tip: Chop up/prepare toppings on Sunday or Monday morning, so you can just toss together each morning. Keep a bottle of salad dressing at work.
  2. Since I have all the salad ingredients ready, I eat more salads for dinner.
  3. I’m keeping the blog name, It’s easy being vegan!
  4. Maybe the most important change I’ve embraced is that I’m more willing to take the time to eat healthy even when I don’t feel like it. It’s becoming a habit and I like feeling healthy. I like knowing I’m taking good care of my body with whole foods and not faux foods.

Eric Marcus of vegan.com brought this quote by Michael Pollan to my attention:

To eat well takes a little bit more time and effort and money. But so does reading well; so does watching television well. Doing anything with attention to quality takes effort. It’s either rewarding to you or it’s not.

I agree with this statement and would like to live this way. I’m learning to spend the time to eat well (with the encouragement of a new tribe member) and I’m certain this change will spill over into other areas of my life. I wonder what watching TV well would be like. I would venture to say it does not include reality TV. But, but, but Project Runway just started! One change at a time my friends.

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