“Let food be thy medicine.” – Hippocrates
After watching the nutrition documentary, Forks Over Knives last night, the above quote stuck with me. In the movie, (which you should watch if you haven’t!) two doctors show patients who are suffering from conditions like heart disease and diabetes how diet is the best medicine. These two admirable doctors both found that these types of diseases and some forms of cancer can be prevented, and sometimes reversed, by adopting a “whole-foods, plant-based diet.” What I found most astonishing was a study with rats. They fed the rats a diet of 20% casein (the main protein found in dairy products), then 5% casein, switching off between the two levels of protein for a period of time and observing the effects of this dietary change on the rat’s cancer cells. There was a dramatic drop in cancerous growths in the rats that were fed a diet of 5% casein rather than 20%.
I’ve always thought about going vegan but never actually went through with it. I was vegetarian for about a year, but then felt like I wasn’t getting enough protein in my diet and went back to eating meat. Forks Over Knives completely shocked me, I had no idea animal products can actually induce cancer cells! I still want to do some more research before fully committing to veganism, though. I realize that eventually I am going to die someday (sorry to be so blunt) whether that be old age, cancer, or disease…and in recent research it seems like everything causes cancer – parabens found in lotion, hair dyes, chemicals in makeup, sodium lauryl sulfate found in shampoos and toothpaste, aluminum based deodorants, non- organic fruits and vegetables, plastic water bottles, microwaves….I could go on and on. I think that if we live our lives fearing everything that causes cancer in the world, we will end up becoming complete crazies hiding from life.
Okay, but now I am going to contradict myself because even though I can’t prevent cancer entirely, it’s worth a shot. Plus, I’ve always been intrigued by the vegan diet so I figured why not try it if it won’t hurtcha?!
My goal is to try being vegan for 2 weeks and see if there are any changes in how I feel. In the movie, the real life patients boasted feeling more energetic and had no need for medications. (My dream!! A world of barely any prescription drugs..which only cure the symptoms not the actual disease or sickness itself, and more homeopathic remedies! But maybe I am crazy.) In the vegan cookbook called The Kind Diet, Alicia Silverstein (who’s prego if you didn’t know!!) also expressed feeling more energetic on the vegan diet as well as having her acne clear up. I wouldn’t mind feeling more energetic and having completely clear skin, but those are not my main reasons for trying veganism, I simply want to try it to see how it affects me. Who knows, in two weeks I may feel no different and be back to eating how I was, or I may continue down the road of being a vegan. Thanks to Forks Over Knives my life could be entirely changed after this.
I do have a few concerns:
1) The Forks Over Knives diet rules out most fats (even the healthy ones like avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds!). I CANNOT DO WITHOUT FAT. Soo I will be eating plenty of that in my new vegan diet.
2) I’ve gotten over the stage of caring what people think of me, but being the odd one out is never fun. Thank goodness my friend Cat (also a Nutrition Science major and the one who told me about this movie!!) agreed to try veganism with me. It is definitely going to be hard ordering at restaurants, eating with friends and attending family events. I’m sure we’ll get plenty of weird looks and questions like “so why exactly are you vegan?” or “you’re one of those animal rights activists aren’t you?” or “you don’t eat any cheese or meat?!” or “how do you live?!”
3) My last concern is gaining weight. I love peanut butter as you all know, nuts, seeds, avocado…which are all fat and high in calories. Good fat, but must be eaten in moderation. I’m worried that I might overdo it on those (I loooove trail mix and can eat a whole bag easily) out of boredom of the other foods I’m eating and end up actually gaining weight rather than losing pounds or maintaining my weight.
But I’m going to try not to worry about all that and enjoy my 2 (or more) weeks of being vegan!!
So here goes my first WIAW as a vegan.
Black Bean Soup
2 cans black beans, drained
1 c salsa
1 t cumin
1 1/2 c low sodium vegetable broth
Put first three ingredients in food processor until you get your desired constituency (chunky or smooth). Then heat in a saucepan and mix in the vegetable broth. Top with green onion, avocado, salsa, etc!
I used this recipe for high protein chocolate pudding on the left apple, but used cocoa powder instead of carob, and used cocoa liquid stevia instead of maple syrup.
Nutty Israeli Couscous with Arugula, Butternut Squash and Sage
1 1/3 c Israeli couscous (also called pearl couscous)
1 3/4 c water
1 T EVOO + more for sauteeing and drizzling
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5-6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/2 a butternut squash
1/4 c pecans
2 handfuls of arugula (or any other leafy green you like)
s & p
Pierce butternut squash with a fork or knife a couple times so that air can escape while in the microwave. Nuke for 10 minutes, cut in half and let cool. Meanwhile, in a 2 quart saucepan, saute 1 1/3 c couscous with 1 T EVOO over medium heat until the couscous is lightly browned. This takes about 5 minutes. Slowly add 1 3/4 c water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for about 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove the rind of the butternut squash (I found it easiest to cut off the rind with a knife, but maybe you could try using a peeler?) and cut it into cubes. In a large frying pan set to medium heat drizzle some EVOO and add the chopped shallot, minced garlic and chopped sage leaves. Saute until the shallot is almost transparent. Mix in the pecans and saute some more, but make sure to not burn the nuts. By now the couscous should be finishing up, so turn off the heat, add a generous drizzle of EVOO and s & p. Then, add the butternut squash to the frying pan and cover. After about 3 minutes the butternut squash should be tender and aromatic. Now add the 2 handfuls of arugula, mix until wilted. Turn off the heat. Fold the butternut squash mixture into the saucepan with the couscous. Drizzle some balsamic, taste it and adjust how much s & p you would like. Enjoy!
Wahoo I survived my first day as a vegan! And it wasn’t as hard as I thought :)!