Plant Based Eating and Perfectionism + Simple Miso Soup

October 10, 2020 / Veronica Chavez /

simple miso soup and letting go of perfectionism

At the time I stopped eating meat, back in 2002, most people were becoming vegan for one reason: to save the animals.

Just the slight mention of a vegan or vegetarian diet and you were instantly labeled as a crunchy granola hippy who liked cows and chickens a little too much, probably had an animal rights monologue memorized, and might even have a PETA pamphlet in your backpack.

Fast forward to 2020 and the vegan scene is completely different. Nowadays, the idea of “cutting back” on meat and dairy is commended as a particularly dedicated environmental effort, the appropriate response to watching What the Health, or at the very least, a form of solidarity with Beyoncé.

I’m ecstatic that there are now so many different roads of thinking that lead to plant-forward eating. I’m glad that social media exists and has connected people to inspiring vegans who demonstrate how easy and delicious eating plants can be. At the same time, with so many different “ways” of being vegan, it becomes easy to feel pressured into being the perfect poster child for plant based eating. After all, aren’t all the reasons to go plant based important?

I felt it first from the self-proclaimed nutritionists. “Where are you getting your protein from? How about your iron? Are you monitoring your calcium levels?” The message was clear: If I was going to leave meat and dairy off my plate, I should be the picture of health in every other way. I was expected to rattle off health stats like a professional athlete and not like the regular, yoga three-times-a-week, sometimes-indulges-in-Taco-Bell type of person I was.

Health and nutrition is a valid concern of any diet, and so I spent a considerable amount of time researching to make sure that I wouldn’t become anemic on my new plant based regimen. I bought supplements and protein powders, daily vitamins, and probiotics. While I’ve kept some of these things in my routine, I eventually learned that as long as you eat a varied and colorful array of foods, you can get all of the nutrients you need fairly easily.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after this discovery that I had my sights on another plateau of plant based perfectionism. This time, I fell deep into the environmental side of vegan living. I learned about how humans over consume palm oil and its ubiquity in our consumer goods (even vegan ones) is destroying the rainforest homes of our dear animal friends and ravaging our planet in general. Then I discovered that not all plant milks are created equal and that to drink almond milk was to waste an incredible amount of precious water. The list of issues went on and on.

After a few months of obsessing about how I could take my already environmentally-conscious diet and make it even more so, I came to terms with the fact that I was holding myself to standards that were too high. Instead, I compromised and decided I would be as conscientious as possible in terms of knowing a company’s stance on fair trade labor, sustainability, and other issues of the sort, without driving myself crazy, either. This “cruelty-free” lifestyle may not always live up to its name but that doesn’t mean I should be cruel to myself about it.

Unfortunately, the perfectionist pattern didn’t end there. The toxic idea that took the biggest mental toll on me was the problematic notion that I, as a vegan, should be in the fittest shape of my life. Otherwise, what was the point of following this way of eating? I heard this primarily from the gym rats and heavy lifters that already prided themselves on “eating clean.” In their minds: why switch to plant based eating when they were already making gains on their grilled-chicken-and-steamed-vegetables-every-day routine?

An even worse jab to my ego was that this statement usually came after panning my curvy body up and down a few times and deducing that my loose fitting blouse probably wasn’t covering a six-pack. Since this was happening at a time before Serena Williams became a vegan icon and prior to the movie Game Changers, the conclusion was that if I, the only vegan in many of my social circles, didn’t have a perfectly chiseled body, then the same could probably be said about the majority of vegans.

I probably could have gotten over this body-shaming ideology if it was only coming from an omnivore audience. Surprisingly, I was hearing similar rhetoric from my own vegan community. The argument was that it was my duty, in the name of spreading veganism, that I reach and remain in the fittest shape I am capable of as proof that the vegan diet is clearly the best for your physique.

While the message may be well-intentioned (“show non-vegans how amazing the vegan diet can be for your body!”), it pressures people that may already have a hard time with weight gain, disordered eating, or a myriad of other issues, to “do whatever it takes” to transform their body into one seen as fit by society. A dangerous game, in my opinion. It took everything in me not to fall back into restrictive eating patterns from my past.

I’m proud to say that even as a person with perfectionist tendencies, I was able to look past all of this noise and discern what was important, realistic, and beneficial for my own life. It’s impossible to hold yourself to a perfect standard in an imperfect world.

This thought freed me from myself.

Nowadays, I’m a plant based eater with enough reusable tote bags, metal straws, and mason jars to start my own zero-waste store. I shop in my neighborhood grocery stores to support local farmers and business owners and am even lucky enough to have a package-free grocery store mere minutes from my home. At the same time, sometimes I forget my reusable thermos and get my morning iced coffee in a plastic to-go cup. I don’t compost. And every once in a while I’m in the mood for a decked out Beyond Burger, fries, and some processed and packaged vegan dessert.

I’m not perfect and I don’t beat myself up for it. I stopped eating meat because I stumbled upon a slaughterhouse video and knew that I needed to do something, anything, to help animals. I still feel the same today. I’m glad that there are many other benefits to eating plant based, but at the end of the day, if all my diet accomplished was helping the beings that we share this planet with, that would still be perfect to me. As with anything in life, you really only need one compelling reason to stay motivated for a cause. Once you find that why hold onto it, and everything else will fall into place.

Xo, Veronica

You can follow Veronica on Instagram @veronica_vtv

simple miso soup and letting go of perfectionism

Simple Miso Soup (Oil-Free)

Author: Molly Patrick

Ingredients

  • 1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger, peeled and left whole
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (130 g)
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup miso paste (white or yellow) (65 g)
  • ¼ cup green onions, sliced (20 g)
  • 1 tablespoon wakame seaweed, cut into wide strips

Instructions

  • Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the ginger and the mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms are soft. Add a splash of water if the mushrooms stick to the pot.
  • Add the water and bring to a boil.
  • When the water starts to boil, turn off the heat and add the miso and the green onions and place a lid on the pot. Let sit for 10 minutes just like this.
  • After 10 minutes stir / whisk until the miso is totally dissolved.
  • Add the wakame and cover the pot with a lid. Wait 5 minutes for the seaweed to soften before eating.
  • You can leave the ginger in the soup and it will continue to add flavor. Just don’t eat the ginger, it is meant to add flavor, not for eating whole.

Notes

If you want a more hearty soup, add some cooked soba noodles to your bowl before you ladle in some warm soup.

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with imperfection.

Xo
Molly

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Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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14 Comments

  1. Valerie aka 'Garden or Radi' on October 10, 2020 at 11:38 am

    Thanks Molly and Veronica and all who were involved in this Saturdays post. Just what I needed to hear. It took me many years to come to grips with the ‘perfectionism’ myth!
    Annnd, I really needed a good Miso soup guide! I ‘got’ it, and now I can use up the container of miso just setting in the refrig, and twiddling its thumbs. (if it had thumbs, of course ;).
    I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Huggggs

  2. Pauline Dunlop on October 10, 2020 at 11:44 am

    5 stars
    I “really” don’t like seaweed. Could I replace this with something else?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on October 15, 2020 at 8:03 am

      Hi Pauline – Molly suggests some chopped kale and toasted sesame seeds in lieu of seaweed. ~Karen

  3. Erika on October 10, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks Veronica.

  4. MamaTree on October 10, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    Thanks Veronica!
    Pauline, use whatever greens are around, from parsley, radish or beet tops to baby spinach or kale. Sturdier greens need longer time to soften, like the wakame does; delicate greens will be cooked faster, 2-5 minutes. Seaweed can add a tasty savoriness in soups, so if you leave it out, taste & consider adding a drop or two of aminos, soy sauce or vinegar. (Just an eater here, not from the CFDG team! Happy self-nourishing.)

  5. Lu on October 10, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    Can I use any other type of seaweed? Wakame is pretty pricey here.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on October 11, 2020 at 8:48 am

      Hi there, Lu! For direct substitutes, Alaria is the best type of seaweed to use, although it can be a bit tougher when chewing. We don’t recommend Nori since it’s not dried whole seaweed, but rather pulped then dried. You can use other types of dark leafy greens in a pinch, and if you have Dulse flakes, you can add some (start with half a teaspoon) to get that briny ocean flavor that seaweed delivers. Good luck and happy eating! -Stephanie

  6. Lesley Nicol on October 11, 2020 at 1:09 am

    Great blog, thank you, and thanks CFDG for the miso soup recipe.

  7. Lu on October 11, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Thanks…. I have some dulse, will try that.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on October 11, 2020 at 1:25 pm

      You’re welcome!

  8. Pauline Dunlop on October 11, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Thank you MamaTree x

  9. Danetta Townsdin on October 12, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks so much for this article! I came to WFPB eating about 2 years ago to help my extremely high cholesterol. I had been eating fairly healthy and exercising regularly and vigorously for years, but apparently my body creates a significant amount of cholesterol regardless of my lifestyle. I have been struggling with my weight for several years also, since I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and I am Hypothyroid. The mental struggle for me is that I know I am eating healthier than the majority of my friends/coworkers/community, and yet at 25+ lbs overweight, I look like I shove bonbons and potato chips into my mouth all day long. I struggle with feeling ashamed and embarrassed and I just want to say, “I’m doing everything right but my body doesn’t!!!!” Anyway, this article helped me focus on the real reasons why I am choosing this lifestyle, and it is not because I want others to laud me. It is for me and my health. And no one can judge that by looking at the outside.

  10. Michelle on October 20, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks Veronica for your blog. Really inspiring for myself who struggles with perfectionism and you have helped motivate me in my struggle.

  11. Lynn on February 3, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    5 stars
    Well this really hit the spot! It is really cold in Florida right now, and this delicious soup (that took a mere 15 minutes to make) warmed me right up 👍

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