Simplifying Food: One Choice to End Them All

About 6 months ago, I made a 100% switch to a vegan diet.  It might seem like an odd choice for somebody who has always been a little grossed out by vegetables and practically survived on cheese.  However, I found it to be a pretty easy decision when I really took the time to consider it.

Diet really doesn’t have to be complicated.  There are really only two questions you have to be willing to answer:  What do you want?  And what are your values?  The hard part is being honest with yourself and not getting sidetracked by what your friends, family or co-workers will think about it.  Trust me, they’ll get over it.

When I asked myself, what do I want?, the obvious answer was that I wanted to be healthy.  And not just today, but for the rest of my life.  This meant that I needed to actually change my lifestyle and not just go on a diet. It was time to break off my long-term relationship with indigestion.  I was tired of feeling sluggish or regretful after a meal.  I wanted food to energize me and make me feel amazing!   Deep down, I knew that a lot of my favorite foods were making me sick.  They were probably even setting me up for heart disease or diabetes someday.  Not worth it.

I also wanted food to be a thing I could love again.  I wanted to get excited about it and look forward to it, but also have a sense of pride about it.   For too long, I’ve associated food with guilt.  I would get so angry with myself when I gave into temptation.   Making a good choice always meant that I would be missing out on something I actually wanted.  It was exhausting to be faced with these choices three times a day.

When it came to the next question, what are my values?, that was a bit more challenging to answer.  The trick here is to erase the past in your mind.  What are your values right now, at this moment?  Even if you’ve never acted on them before.  It might be helpful to think about your future self, who has been acting on their values for years.  What are they doing?  The answer might surprise you.

As it relates to food, one value that I found myself coming back to is compassion.  At the risk of sounding really annoying, I love animals.  I would never slaughter a cow myself, so why am I paying someone else to do it?  Even if that cow had a long happy life frolicking around in a meadow somewhere, I still don’t like the idea of chopping it up and putting it on a plate if I’m being honest with myself.   If I’m being even more honest, most cows aren’t frolicking around in meadows.

Another value that I couldn’t ignore was the environment.  If this is something that matters to you, I would strongly encourage you to do a bit of research on how animal agriculture  impacts the environment.  It will make your head spin.  The more I learned about it, the more obvious it became that supporting this industry was not in line with my values.  There was a part of me that already knew it, but forcing myself to seek out information helped me to get my head out of the sand.

Finally, of course, is the value of simplicity.   This is where it all came together for me.  The reason I didn’t opt to go vegetarian at first or start out with Meatless Mondays is the idea of making one clear choice.  A clean slate and a straightforward framework for the future.  When I allowed myself to let go of everything that does not align with my wants or my values, I suddenly felt good about all of my remaining options.  I didn’t have to worry about making a bad choice anymore.

I try to focus on eating whole foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers, nuts) which keeps my meals extremely simple and my grocery list surprisingly cheap.  I had a misconception that vegan food was expensive, but the reality is just that mock meats and veggie cheese are expensive.  If you aren’t living on processed foods, it can be really affordable.   My monthly grocery budget has been as low as $160 and I make all three meals at home every day.

There has certainly been a learning curve, but going vegan has been very rewarding.  I began to notice the health benefits almost immediately, which was enough to get me hooked.  I lost about 10 lbs in the first few weeks with no exercise or portion control.  I could eat a big plate of food without any regret and I felt great.

I am also having fun learning to cook a bit and try new foods.  I find myself enjoying and even craving things that I used to hate, which is the most mysterious part of the transition.  Who knew that a person could have an intense craving for cilantro?

Moving forward, there are still many things I can improve on and I’m sure that time and experience will help me get there.  I don’t worry about it because I’ve already made the choice and I am confident that things are only going to get better.  I am releasing all of the stress and guilt I used to feel about food and replacing it with something positive.   It isn’t will power, but rather a choice to live intentionally.

So simple, I wish I’d thought of it sooner.

9 thoughts on “Simplifying Food: One Choice to End Them All

    1. Way to go!! Thanks for the comment. It didn’t occur to me either until I started learning about minimalism months after I went vegan. The two ideas were really connected in my mind and both are helping me to reduce negativity in my life and focus on my values instead. I’m sure you’ll feel the same!

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  1. Yum, cilantro 🙂 ❤ Thanks for the post! After writing a research paper last year about vegan diets, it's something I know I should do but just haven't made the leap yet. Thanks for giving me inspiration to think about it again.

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    1. Yay!!! So great that you are thinking about it 🙂 I think the hardest part about going vegan is just the mental block of feeling like it’s a permanent decision. I’m a strong advocate for just giving it a try with zero pressure. Just see how it goes for a few weeks or even a few days. Make it fun. There are a lot of inspiring vegan movies on Netflix right now too if you have access (Forks Over Knives, What the Health and Okja to name a few). Good luck!!

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    2. It sounds like my story 😁. I was a vegetarian in the past for two years but that didn’t help my problematic indigestion and when I met a lady who turned vegan and how much energy beamed from her I was completely ready for the challenge. I tell people that it is an experiment but in my heart I know it isn’t anymore. It is my lifestyle! There is only one exception: my children are non vegan and once in a while they will cook or bake something. I will always try their recipes as I find it important to show my interest. In the meanwhile they themselves become interested in food intake, in a safe way. They check labels and will try my recipes as well. They need to make that choice themselves but of course with me as an example they have more background information. Well, I am happy that my tummy feels so much better, my for sweet stuff at night is gone (unbelievable!) and I feel healthy. The only thing I need to take care of is my fatigue once in a while. So I might do a blood test to see whether I get all my nutricients. Take care! Regards Diana

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  2. I recently had to lose weight, now following a fruit and veg., legumes, southern peas, unsalted unproc. nuts diet, with portion control on chicken, fish and turkey, brown rice, amaranth and quinoa, avoiding all processed and smoked meats pr anything deep fried.. ( google in: Dr Mark Hyman diet plans) Am retired and on a low dose blood pressure drug. Am close to my goal of losing weight and a modified vegetarian diet is ongoing avoiding starches and gluten products. Am lactose intolerant and ditched the dairy long ago. I suggest vegetarians take a B-12 and low does iron, etc. if not eating meats, eggs fish, etc..

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  3. I’m glad you love being vegan now! What are some of your favorite things to eat for breakfast? I’m vegan too and i’m always looking for new breakfast ideas. 🙂

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    1. Hi Katie, vegan high five! I always seem to crave starch for breakfast… I love avocado toast, roasted potatoes with fruit, pancakes, tempeh bacon is great too! Not the most creative ideas, but that’s what I eat! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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