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Plantastic: Vegan. Ish.

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

By Anne Trominski:

A vegan, a crossfitter, and a bitcoin miner walk into a bar. Who starts talking first?

Hi, I’m Anne! Have you ever thought about being a vegan?!

No, no, don’t leave! I’m not one of those vegans. In fact, if you talked to one of those vegans, they would explain to you that I am not, in fact, a vegan.

For one thing, vegans are hardcore. Veganism really is a moral state of being more than a way of eating. Those vegans became one of those vegans because they truly believe it’s wrong to harm animals so that we can have tasty bacon cheeseburgers. Mmmmm, tasty bacon cheeseburgers. (Helpful hint: if someone drools a little when they type the words “bacon cheeseburger,” they’re probably not one of those vegans.)

A lot of people arrive at veganism when they start to learn about where our food is sourced. (If you want to know what I mean, and possibly become one of those vegans, check out “Food, Inc.” on Netflix.) It’s not pleasant to say the least. Most of us don’t want to be confronted with the cold hard facts of where our chicken tenders are coming from, and when we do start to think about it too much, we might opt for salad for one or two meals, but eventually it gets shrugged off to the pile of “how much time of my life is wasted in traffic,” “I contribute to how expensive movies have become by continuing to attend them,” and other uncomfortable facts that we as adults can choose to conveniently forget while driving through KFC. That’s the difference between possibly you, definitely me, and those vegans. They don’t forget that the “C” in KFC once stood for living, clucking chickens.

One of those vegans does not eat any animal products because they think how we get those animal products is morally wrong. This includes the obvious ground beef, but also encompasses eggs and dairy products. You might not think it’s that cruel to milk a cow, but one of those vegans has some good points why it is. (Like I said, I’m not one of those, so I’m not going to belabor the point, but I have to admit there’s some legit cause and effect here.) The truest of vegans will also not eat honey, because those bees weren’t busily buzzing around for your benefit. And that’s where I go, “Really? Not even honey? Man, those vegans are hardcore!”

So, what am I? I’m a very (very) young-looking 39-year-old who’s now aware that some of the choices that you make at one point in your life can really affect a later point in your life. (Bend with your knees, kids.) Because of that awareness, I’m trying to make some choices now that will pay off later. I’d like to have fewer specialists on my list of doctors. I’d like to never get cancer. I’d like to have more energy. And sure, I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds. But mostly, I don’t want this food thing to be so hard. Doesn’t it seem like food got really hard at some point?

We live in a world (*movie preview sound*) where every other newscast has a contradicting food “science” announcement. This world also has a lot of bloggers (ahem) that really like coconut oil and avocado toast. When it’s hard to tell if drinking coffee is good or bad for you, and people are selling books that advocate pizza for breakfast, do you feel like you have a good handle on what’s healthy?

It’s here that I should point out that, along with not being one of those vegans, I’m also not a nutritional expert. I’m not a scientist or a doctor or an employee at Whole Foods. I’m watching those newscasts, reading those blogs, drooling over the words bacon cheeseburger when I’m supposed to be writing about nutritious eating, and just trying to make sense of it all too. I’m just another human being who owns a leather coat and wants to be healthy. And maybe that’s where you and I are alike.

When I am watching food documentaries on Netflix, reading articles on nutritional research, and talking to one of those specialist doctors, I can’t help but notice recurring themes. One, plants are really good things to eat. Two, exercise is a wonderful thing to do on a regular basis. Three, the less processed a food is, the better it usually is for you. Among all the talk that surrounds that greatest of quests—What should I eat?—those three ideas keep showing up.

So, while some people love animals enough to forgo tasty food options, a lot of us come to the word vegan in our goal to be healthier. So, what do we call those people? The non-vegan vegans who eat a certain way for health reasons? There are a lot of ways to describe what kind of eater you are (seriously, Google it), but the most straightforward one that I’ve found is plant-based.

As a plant-based eater, I try to reverse the average American diet. Instead of basing all my meals around an animal protein, and maybe participating in Meatless Mondays, I go the other way. I try to make sure the majority of what I’m eating falls squarely into the vegan category, with an occasional meal that involves eating meat. This is easy to do at home. If it had a mother, I don’t cook it for dinner. Check! Seriously, though, I can control all my ingredients when I’m the one preparing the food. When I go out, it gets tougher. While there are some vegan eateries available, they aren’t so abundant that I base my social life around them. Most restaurants have vegetarian options, though, so I look for those. That means veggies, but might include eggs and cheese. If I can’t find something vegetarian, I look for the leanest animal protein available: fish. When I eat at someone else’s house, I don’t ask for special treatment, but do try to load up my plate with the vegetable sides. I am by no means perfectly healthy, but I’m confident I’m on the right track so that when I’m an exceptionally young-looking 49-year-old, I won’t be shaking my fist at now me.

After eating plant-based for a while, besides for feeling simpatico with future me, I feel relieved. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be, and I got used to it a lot faster than I thought I would. One of those vegans might point out that it’s because I let myself off the hook for eating animal proteins, even if I do so rarely (well, that’s an unfortunate pun). But, frankly, that’s something else younger me had to learn. Why am I eating this? is as wrapped up in health as What should I eat? That’s another big factor in why food seemed to get so hard. Somehow guilt and judgement got mixed up with the idea of something being good for you. Which is another reason why I’m really not one of those vegans. While I have absolute respect for a person who is so true to their moral convictions that they won’t eat a bacon cheeseburger, and while it’s their right to tell me all about it, that’s not what I’m trying to do here. I’m just trying to be healthier and, if you’ve gotten this far, I’m guessing you are too. I’ve got some tips I’ve learned about doing that, if you’re interested.

Hi, my name is Anne! I eat plant-based. Have you ever thought about eating plant-based?

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