By Molly Patrick
Apr 14, 2015
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?
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.
- 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
- 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.
I hope that you have a wonderful week. May it be filled with sparkly things that make you happy.