Transitioning From Vegan to Whole-Food-Plant-Based + Brown Rice and Bean Bowl

April 14, 2015 / Molly Patrick /

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FACT: I like to swear.

FACT: If I could have lunch with Marc Maron, I’d never complain again in my whole life.

FACT: I’ve never eaten meat in my life.

I’m not abstinent from meat because I’m a raging PETA fanatic (I’m definitely not), but because my mom and dad raised me vegetarian and it just stuck. My thought process about introducing meat into my life has always been in the same category as snorting cocaine, dropping acid and watching Star Wars.

I’ve gone this far without it, why start now?
(Yup, I’m a Star Wars virgin. If you click out of this browser right now, I get it. I’ve met Warsies. I know it’s serious.)

I stopped eating dairy and eggs in 2008.

In 2013 I stopped it with the vegan junk food and started eating ridiculously healthy. One of my best friends made the comment, Oh my god, you’ve gotten worse” when I told her the healthy changes I was making to my diet. She didn’t know it could get healthier than eating vegan.

I reminded her that just because something is vegan, it doesn’t make it healthy. Vegan ice cream, vegan cake, vegan chips, vegan cookies. All vegan. All not healthy.

When I switched from eating a vegan diet to a diet consisting of whole plant foods I was actually surprised at how much better I felt.

My skin cleared up, I lost 7 pounds without doing jack, I had more energy, I was happier, and I remember having moments of pure mental clarity.

Honestly, I didn’t expect the changes to be so obvious. I did it as more of an experiment than anything else. But by day four I was hooked and I swiftly kicked myself in the ass (which isn’t as easy as it sounds) for not making the switch earlier. It was goodbye vegan junk food and hello whole plants!

To win at eating more like a rabbit than ever before, I simply stopped eating overly processed food, and I made it a point of not making it a big deal.

I used up what I had left of my Earth Balance spread, faux meats, vegan yogurt, vegan cheese, chips, cookies, crackers, and anything else that came in a package and had an ingredient label on it, and when it was out I never bought it again. That alone was awesome because I saved a ton of money on Groceries.

I didn’t stop buying this stuff because I think it’s evil or bad. I stopped buying this stuff because I wanted to see how I felt when each and every bite I was taking was bursting with nutrients and phytochemicals. And you can’t get that with packaged food, whether it’s vegan or not.

So the majority of my grocery shopping took place in the bulk bin and produce sections, and I made fruits, veggies, beans and legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds the focus of my diet.

I did keep in a few things that have ingredient labels, like sprouted grain bread, organic corn tortillas, organic tofu and sprouted wheat tortillas (because I’m convinced that anyone who can go without bread is an alien, and life without tofu would suck. End of discussion).

Now, is eating like this more tedious?

A little.

Opening a box of Mac and Cheese or thawing out a burger (vegan or otherwise) is a no-brainer compared to relying on whole plant foods for all of your meals. That’s why I created our weekly Plant Fueled Meal Plans.

But here’s the thing. It’s absolutely worth it. 

When I made the switch from convenience to nutrient dense, the sky opened up and it rained hot pink glitter. Here’s why.

I experienced the satisfaction that comes with satiation. And it was the raddest feeling ever. Being truly satisfied and actually feeling nourished after a meal was an incredible feeling.

I also stopped getting sick. Like zero cough, sniffles, flu, cold, you name it. My immune system went Terminator on any germ that even attempted to bring my ass down.

The satiation part was the thing that intrigued me the most though.

And the science behind why this happens isn’t all that complicated. When our cells don’t get the nutrients that they need, they send signals to our brain in the form of hunger.

Our body basically makes us hungry in the hopes that we’ll eat something that’s loaded with nutrients so that our cells can bathe in them. When our cells are bathed in the nutrients they need, they can do their jobs famously.

Think about it this way.

It’s totally possible for us to be so full that we have to unbutton our pants, fart really loud and take a long ass nap, without our cells ever getting what they need.

It all comes down to the nutrient density of the food we’re eating. And only when our cells get the nutrients they need will we be satiated and satisfied after a meal.

Being truly satiated, as opposed to being full was something I never experienced while eating a vegetarian diet or a regular vegan diet. It was only when I switched to eating mainly unprocessed plant foods that I experienced this.

It’s like a really good orgasm that leaves you totally and utterly content and happy. You don’t want more, you don’t want less. You just want to relax into the afterglow and observe life from that mindset. Because life from that mindset is charming, endearing and totally manageable.

And this satisfaction, this contentment, overflows into all other areas of your life and before you know it, before you can say “Chickpea”, you’re dancing naked in your bedroom, C+C Music Factory blaring, just WORKING IT OUT. You’re totally hooked and there’s no going back.

So apart from the occasional threesome with chips and salsa, processed food still stays out of my grocery cart (except for the occasional faux meat fix for Luanne).

I create my meals around fresh fruits and veggies; I eat a shit ton of beans, some whole grains and nuts and seeds. I have one green juice or one green smoothie a day; I make eating leafy greens a priority, and I eat one big raw salad a day. I’ll eat a piece of super dark chocolate from time to time and when I go out to eat (which isn’t often), I’ll eat the healthiest thing on the menu.

Eating a diet full of whole plant foods has rewired my entire brain around food – what I eat, how I feel and how I operate in the world. It’s safe to say that I will eat like this for the rest of my life. And for me, “falling off” isn’t a concern because I’m not on anything, so how can I fall off?

Today’s recipe is tasty as hell, and it will leave you more satisfied than you ever thought beans and rice could leave you.

Whole Food Plant Based Rice and Bean Bowl

Author: Molly Patrick of Clean Food Dirty Girl

Ingredients

  • Small handful of thinly sliced red onion more if you're making several servings or if you love red onions
  • 1 summer squash sliced into rounds
  • Brown rice
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Tomatoes chopped
  • Avocado slices
  • Cilantro chopped
  • Squeeze of lime

Instructions

  • Pre-heat a pan (cast iron if you have it) for two minutes, add the onions and squash and cook for several minutes on medium heat. Season with some salt and pepper and add a little splash of water if veggies start to stick.
  • Heat the brown rice and the beans (separately).
  • Place the rice in the bottom of a bowl and add the beans, onion/ squash mix, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and then squeeze the whole thing with lime.

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I hope that you have a wonderful week. May it be filled with sparkly things that make you happy.

Subscribe to our SWEARY SATURDAY LOVE LETTERS + FREE RECIPES

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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23 Comments

  1. Ria on April 16, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    I couldn’t have seen this at a better time Molly, had been sucked back into the vegan junk and faux meats too much recently ( 50 shades of seitan) and needed a push to go back to the whole foods. Thanks so much for posting ,can’t wait for the pink glitter to fall!

  2. Molly Patrick on April 17, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    So glad it spoke to you!
    xo

  3. Kizzy on April 17, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Yes, thank you for this. It’s the right time for me as well. I ate whole food, plant-bases for about three months last year until I met my junk-food, sugar crazy (meat-eating but hoping to turn vegetarian at some point lol) fiance and the way I eat has definitely suffered. But as he will eat whatever I put in front of him I’m confident I can get us on track. I KNOW that one feels better eating this way. Getting back on the WFPB train. Woo wooooo!

    • Molly Patrick on April 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Hey Kizzy – go kick some WFPB assssss!
      And keep me updated 🙂
      xo
      Molly

  4. Fiona Perez on April 18, 2015 at 12:33 am

    Thanks so much for the recipes….my family and I are really trying to eat less animal products so I’m scouring the web for recipes. Fake meat doesn’t really sound too appetizing to any of us…I’d rather not go there. Rock on, Sista!

    • Molly Patrick on April 18, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Hey Fiona – You won’t regret it!
      xo
      Molly

  5. Nikki on April 18, 2015 at 9:53 am

    I ran across your blog via pinterest!! I am working to complete a 10 day green juice detox before becoming vegan. This post has been awesome!! I swear a whole lot and don’t watch Star Wars either!!! I could totally fix this dish and be fine!! Off to stalk your blog.

    • Molly Patrick on April 18, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Hey Nikki – How did the stalking go?
      Good luck on your detox and transition to veggie munching.
      Keep me posted!
      xo
      Molly

  6. Mandy on April 20, 2015 at 7:29 am

    This sang to me, it’s just what I needed after a heavy discussion with someone today trying to explain why I eat what I do. Thank you for making me not doubt myself.

    • Molly Patrick on April 20, 2015 at 7:36 am

      Hey Mandy – So glad we collided on virtual paths.
      I send stuff out like this every Saturday along with new recipes.
      Sign up for free if you’d like.
      https://cleanfooddirtygirl.com/signup/
      Sending you lots of healthy vegan love.
      xo
      Molly

  7. Beks on April 22, 2015 at 2:53 am

    This is a fantastic article and I’m loving your website, though lamenting the fact that I just discovered it an hour ago. How have I managed to go so long without this blog in my life?! Your attitude to food and living really hits home with me, and your thought processes for improving your wellbeing really echo mine – it’s those little niggling “what if” feelings that suddenly snowball into something huge. Thanks for sharing your shizzle with the world. Now I gotta go order your book!

    • Molly Patrick on April 29, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Hey Beks –
      You are making me blush and I like it.
      xo
      Molly

  8. Jessica on August 11, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    This is a great recipe & so simple. Even my very picky 8 year old loves it. She said we should have it every night.

    • Molly Patrick on August 11, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      Hey Jessica -that is a total win in my book!
      I’m so happy to hear that it;s kiddo approved 🙂
      xo
      Molly

  9. Kate on July 11, 2016 at 2:47 am

    All I have to say is yum! such a simple but brilliant mix of flavours.

    • Molly Patrick on July 11, 2016 at 6:36 am

      So glad you liked it!
      xo
      Molly

  10. dannie on May 23, 2018 at 1:57 am

    Thanks for sharing the recipe.love it

  11. RC Thunder on August 4, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Just read this 4 year old blog post, so haven’t tried your recipe, although it looks good and doable. I spent 3 weeks volunteering at TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa CA a couple years ago and they champion SOS free and whole food plant based diets, plus water fasting.
    But trying to accommodate that program for myself has been frustrating, especially since I love the taste of meat and cheese and fatty things like butter and cream and sweet things etc. Plus, some reputable nutrition sources like the Weston Price Foundation and the Paleo Diet seemed to champion diets that include “clean” animal products, allegedly for health concerns etc. But after listening to over 40 hours of Cyrus & Robbie on their Mastering Diabetes Summit leading doctors and educators champion the “whole food plant based diet”, 8 months ago…I was once again motivated to begin learning how to feed myself following that regimen.

    So, I was looking for a “beginners guide” to help me actually accomplish creating edible food, that I could substitute my accustomed quick foods of Miracle Whip Salad Dressing (which I had to have to get the green stuff down), Various hard cheeses (to keep me satisfied if I was avoiding sweets), And some healthy alternative to Cheese Cake or some form of Cream Cheese or Cream (that I just had to have to satisfy the Sweet & Fat demon appetite in me) as well as something to replace meat (which often satisfies in ways that neither sweet or fat can at times). So, in the name of your blog/website “CleanFoodDirtyGirl” caught my “male” attention. LOL

    Plus, even though I don’t swear much or hardly ever, I more or less enjoy the freedom I feel when other people allow themselves that freedom for using what psychologists call “expletives” Ha! Ha! So, I completely enjoy reading your “no holds barred” freedom to express yourself, which certainly would not come through without that “seasoning”.

    Anyway, I laughed my way through this particular blog and am considering sending it to my few friends and family members, as it is so delightful and gives me hope that maybe I too can make the transition to the “glow” you talk about getting from the Nutrient-Dense Diet allegedly available in the Whole Food Plant Based options for meal planning. I look forward to subscribing to your blog, if for no more reason than to get to experience your exhilarating personality and spirit. Honk on girl!!!!
    RC

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on August 4, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Hi RC Thunder – thanks for stopping by and sharing and WELCOME! I’m sure Molly will enjoy reading your comment when she sees it. There are plenty of people (fabulous Dirty Dudes included) just like you figuring out how to eat more plants in our private Facebook community and we welcome you to join us if you do the social media thing.

      I am familiar with TrueNorth and Mastering Diabetes – kudos to you for investing the time to learn about plant based dietary patterns. It’s not easy to change lifelong dietary choices. Molly’s written about why it’s not an all or nothing endeavor.

      Molly’s index of recipes on the site are a great place to start with basic whole food plant based recipes. If you decide to go further, we have a free Sample Meal Plan (scroll half-way down the page and look for blue button that says “Hook me up with a free meal plan”) that provides a template for making five dinner meals (depending on how many people you are feeding, you may have enough left over for lunches). Our Meal Plans are so detailed they are suitable for novice cooks.

      If you like Miracle Whip, you might try this potato salad recipe because I made it today and my friend said it tasted like it was made with Miracle Whip.

      This recipe isn’t for cream cheese (I think it’s way better and I make it at least once a month) and it is so good as a spread on a thin slice of lightly toasted bread or with chips. There’s also this post on dealing with Sweet and Salty Cravings that might be helpful (there’s a link to DIY cashew cream cheese!) and here’s another recipe for Sweet & Salty Breakfast Toast.

      ~Karen

  12. Daisy on December 8, 2019 at 7:16 am

    I love this blog more than any other ever!

    • Molly Patrick on December 8, 2019 at 12:59 pm

      Aww! Thank you Daisy!
      That means so much.
      MUAH!
      Molly

  13. Paul Cole on December 27, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Thank you. I’m so glad I found this post. I’m a first year vegan and looking to get serious on my eating for the new year. This was exactly the angle I wanted and I may even have to buy a C&C Music Factory album to complete the effect 😅

    Seriously, great writing. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on December 28, 2019 at 11:32 am

      So glad you found us, Paul! Molly has so many delicious free recipes to check out on the blog. We also have a free Trial meal plan that you are welcome to sign up for over here (it does not automatically convert to a subscription so no risk to request it!). Reach out to us: [email protected] if we can help with anything! ~Karen

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