How to know someone’s a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!
Now, on that note.
In 2015 I was eating four meat meals a day and went through vivid fantasies on how great would it be if I could reduce it to one a day, focusing on plant based with the others. I had started to feel strongly about the environmental causes and stuff and I figured that if I drop down on meat it would help to reduce my footprint on the planet.
Then slowly the reasoning morphed more to animal rights issues*, and what not. And that’s when I really shifted my eating. For the past year most my meals have been plant based.
But as I reason below, I am not a vegan.
Day to day of a mostly plant based eater
What does this mean in practical sense then?
It means that if I go to a fancy restaurant and their vegetarian options are horseshit I’ll order fish. Luckily there’s a lot of great vegan options around, instead of just being “Can I have the triple cheese burger, but without meat, or cheese, or the bun because it has milk.” Which ends up being a meal of iceberg lettuce and salt.
If we go to visit someone who’s not aware of how I eat and they’ve cooked a fantastic meat based meal, I say yes to it. It’s rude to ignore all the effort someone has put in for me. I mean, the animal is cooked and not coming back to life even if I don’t eat it.
Which brings us to another point, if the animal is already dead and the options are me eating it or binning it, I’ll eat it.
How did I change to plant based?
I didn’t change my diet because of my health. The easiest diet to be healthy on is one with a lot of variety, including a small amount of meat in it. I honestly think that. Average person who goes on to plant based diet removes all the nutrients and vitamins that meat provides but doesn’t replace them with plant based alternatives, supplements etc.
It was the convenience that kept me eating meat more than I wanted. But done right, and with practice plant based diet can become as easy as meat based. But you have to be more vigilant to cover all the bases.
I didn’t go from full carnivore to plant based overnight. It would’ve been too challenging to do in a healthy, sustainable, not-ripping-my-eyes-out kind a way.
First it was the meat that I reduced and eventually dropped. Then I reduced seafood to occasional. Last weekend was one of those occasions as we got treated for a dinner by a client of mine. Next weekend is occasional as I am going to impress friends with Finnish hot smoked salmon and potatoes. But both of these are out of the ordinary. Maybe I’ll surprise them with hot smoked lentils instead.
Then I reduced dairy and eventually dropped it. This was easy as I am intolerant to it anyways. And if it ever sneaks into a meal I feel it. And not in a good way.
Last, I reduced eggs to very occasional. Usually when we get them from my brother-in-law’s backyard hens. Delicious.
How does my actual mostly plant based diet look like
All that being said, I go months at a time eating just plant based. No eggs, no fish, no dairy. Here’s what my typical weekday and weekend diet looks like.
6am – Black coffee
9.30am – Homemade baked beans, 2 potatoes cubed and dry roasted, mix of red capsicum and spinach, ½ avocado, handful of black grapes.
1.30pm (quick post workout meal before next client) – Two slices of gluten free bread (not the supermarket crap), tablespoon of 100% peanut butter, banana, 1 ½ scoops of Genesis Today Chocolate Protein Powder (has 3 serves of greens, 30 grams of protein)
2.45pm – Black coffee
4pm – 2 heaped cupped handfuls of lentils, mixed with cajun spice mix, bunch of broccoli, splash of olive oil, 2 heaped cupped handfuls of brown rice.
8pm – Glass of Bordeaux (I don’t drink mid-week, and rarely on Fridays)
8.30pm – 2 cupped handfuls of Mexican Black Bean Extravagant (minus corn chips, sour cream, sugar, pancetta) with 2 tablespoons of guacamole, handful of pan fried corn, handful of poor man’s salad (red capsicum), 2 heaped cupped handfuls of white rice, a tablespoon of fried shallot. This was leftovers from night before (yes, we do cook a lot of food at once solely for this purpose).
Dessert – ½ punnet of strawberries
– Typical day at work so on my feet a lot, few hours of admin on laptop, 45 minute lower body strength session, 30 minutes of FRC drills for mobility.
– Having the protein shake on training days helps me to get higher protein for the day. Last time I had my blood markers checked my protein levels were too low. I started including the shake on every training day and the levels went back to good. It’s also extremely convenient so I don’t have to sit down for a proper meal when busy.
– I love peanut butter & banana sandwiches for easy calorie hit. Food of the kings and queens. I use Mayver’s PB (or Pic’s, if it’s on sale)
– The doc recommend I go gluten free as I wasn’t feeling great (pains, aches, lethargic). The blood tests confirmed that gluten is not a friend of mine. Yes, I miss oats and bread like Rangers of Harlem miss The Big Man. But I do feel better.
– 7 serves of greens for the day, ideally I like to be somewhere around 9-10.
– I keep my weekday starchy carbs in a rotation where one week is sweet potato and the next is white potato. Rice is the same with white or brown. Just so I can batch cook them at the start of the week. This week was white rice and white spuds for day time meals. Dinner could be any starch or none at all, depending on what we’re having.
Weekend (last Saturday)
5am – Black Coffee
10am – Same homemade baked beans as Friday, 1 ½ potatoes, large handful of green beans, carrot, 6 passion fruits (when you know people who grow passion fruits…), handful of raw walnuts.
11.30am – Black coffee
2pm – 3 heaped handfuls of chickpeas and a bunch of Chinese broccoli cooked in coconut oil with Berbere spice mix, white rice, fresh chilli.
5.30pm – 2 nips of Craigellachie single malt scotch, neat, while playing guitar.
7.30pm – 1kg of Brussels sprouts halved, roasted with Dijon mustard, orange & chilli balsamic, olive oil, salt, pepper. Then mixed with 300 grams of cooked lentils (all this makes 3 serves). Topped with dry roasted flaked almonds.
Dessert – Glass of Bordeaux, 2 squares of Lindt 85% dark chocolate (couldn’t find the 90%)
– Writing, reading and sitting down until midday, vacuuming etc for 90 minutes (yay!), two episodes of Seinfeld, 70 minute walk, guitar, three episodes of Stranger Things with a bit of stretching (slept through the last).
– Less greens than I usually have on weekends. Normally extra 3-4 serves from a green smoothie with 4 handfuls of frozen broccoli/spinach, fresh parsley, piece of fruit – lately orange and half a lime – and tablespoon of chia blended to shreds (thanks K3 Fitness in Helsinki for the idea).
– How many calories? I go by how full I feel (which is why I skipped the smoothie). If I start losing or gaining too much weight or feeling off, I adjust macros, quality or quantity. Here’s a rundown of the simple hand portions I recommend.
I get my vitamin and minerals levels checked annually, or when feeling “off”, and my doctor tells me what to have.
- Thorne Zinc Picolinate 60 mg
- Thorne Manganese Bisglycinate 30 mg
- Flora DHA Vegetarian Algae 250 mg (gets those omega-3s absorbed from chia, walnuts etc)
- Nordic Naturals Vegan Vitamin D 1000 I.U.
- Thorne Methyl Guard Plus B12 3 mg (four days a week)
- Dr’s Best Vitamin C 4000 mg (on training days only)
- Compounding Chemist Magnesium Glycinate 2000 mg (I wasn’t properly absorbing other forms of magnesium)
- Creatine Monohydrate 5 grams (restarted creatine recently because of this article. Quote from Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition “Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only safe, but has been reported to have a number of therapeutic benefits in healthy and diseased populations ranging from infants to the elderly”)
Random / Trivial
Water throughout the day somewhere around 2.5 liters. I could’ve had a bit more on both days.
Xylitol chewing gum throughout the day. I order Epic Peppermint Dental Gum in bags of 1000. Lasts me about 3-4 months, depending on how much my colleagues dip into my reserves.
Final words on plant based
Do what feels right for you and your values and body and whatnot. I am not trying to convince anyone to go plant based.
But if plant based is something you’ve been thinking about it absolutely can be done. And it will eventually become as simple as being a full blown carnivore.
You just need to do a bit more planning, especially in the beginning. It’s no different than going from processed food diet to more wholefoods. Both are challenging at the start.
Don’t get caught up with being vegan, vegetarian, plant based, and other labels. People love to categorize you. And when you don’t strictly fit into any it’s hard for them to understand what you do and why. Just do what works for you. You don’t have to justify anything to anyone.
To start, ask yourself, how would this look like if it’d be easy?
*No, I haven’t watched any of those documentaries currently on Netflix. I find they are all too biased one way or another and focus on shock tactics. Even if it’s a cause I support.
**I found No Meat Athlete website very helpful when gradually changing from carnivore to plant based. I still check it when struggling with something.
***If you’d like me to write more about plant based diets, how to make it work, what to look out for, and stuff, let me know.