Transition to WFPB
Five years ago, give or take, I started a weight loss journey. My son was born. I was nearly 400 pounds. I couldn’t do a lot of seemingly mundane and common tasks without considerable effort: sit on the floor then get up, put on my shoes, take off my socks, etc. I wanted to lose weight so that I could be more active and be the kind of father I envisioned. The kind of dad that can go on bike rides, hikes in the woods, sit on a standard chair, and all of those big and little things that go into parenting. There’s a lot to the story, but that at least gives you an idea of part of my background.
I lost the weight by being conscious of my food choices. I didn’t want to diet, because I had tried those, and I didn’t like being so regimented and strict. I want to be able to enjoy food. I don’t want to live in fear of eating, because food is a part of our human experience. It’s one of the most human things we do. My food choices at 400 pounds were about volume and without any thought. For dinner, an entire large Little Ceasar’s pizza with Crazy Bread and a soda. Donuts on the way to work. A large bag of chips as a snack. It was a habit to over-consume and to seek out that full feeling all day long. So, I started to log my food for a visual representation of what my day of eating consisted of and from there I learned more about food, nutrition, cooking, and the ethics of eating. I was vegetarian at my heaviest weight, but as I reflected on my food choices I could no longer accept the cognitive dissonance of “I don’t eat meat because I don’t want to contribute to the death of animals” and “I’m cool with dairy because it isn’t killing the cow.” My life as a vegan isn’t health related. It isn’t my diet plan. It is separate from my weight loss journey. However, as I learned more about vegan cooking I also learned more about the whole food, plant based diet which isn’t a diet plan, but a way of eating. I wanted to clear the air on that whole “veganism is healthy” misunderstanding.
There are over 20,000 edible plants here on planet Earth, but we typically only eat about 20. And really, for so many people, primarily us Americans, there’s even an aversion to most of that 20. That was one of the biggest factoids I learned and experienced as I reflected on my food choices. I simply didn’t eat enough plants, and I wasn’t getting the full benefit of them either nutritionally or with flavor. I’d dump a bunch of veggies like broccoli and carrots into a wok, cook them beyond recognition in a pool of oil, and then drown them with sauce. In my head I justified it as healthy because it was vegetables. And because I had had a dinner full of veggies I could treat myself to a pint of ice cream…then a candy bar…then a late night soda and probably a bag of chips. I had an entirely flipped concept of nutrition and balance.
As I made incremental changes to my eating choices and habits, my taste for food changed too. I cut out soda, because there’s really no need for that. I bought less processed food. I essentially stopped getting fast food. Instead, I sought out more flavors. I started to want food to taste fresh and natural. I suddenly craved green things. Like, just give me a handful of arugula! I wanted to experience food rather than just consume it. I learned about all of the different grains that I had never been exposed to before: kamut, quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat groats. I learned about fruits and vegetables I hadn’t tried before: daikon radish, oyster mushroom, mamey sapote, baby kale. I still have a love/hate relationship to kale. It’s just so green tasting! Oh, don’t even get me started on spices and my addiction to all of them. This was my transition to both veganism and the whole food, plant based diet. Vegan for the animals, WFPB for me.
The Whole Food, Plant Based Cookbook!
Over the past several months I’ve had a project that I’ve been working on in the background. A lot of coffee. Many late nights. A lot of typing. Well, if you didn’t pick up on it from the title of this post or the picture, it’s a book: The WFPB Diet: 100 Recipes to Enjoy the Whole Food, Plant Based Diet. You can order the book using this link and it’s released on August 11th, 2020! If you aren’t in the US make sure you’re using your country’s Amazon page, or check out other online sellers like Book Depository. The book is a combination of recipes and what I’ve learned about using whole foods and making meals using only plant based ingredients. It’s not a meal plan. It’s not a weight loss model. It’s just good food and information about how to get the most out of plants. It’s a tangible version containing what I’ve learned about food and cooking over the past years.
There’s a lot in the book, and I’m excited to finally be able to talk about it. It’s more than just recipes. There’s even a section on knife care! The theme of the book is about how to savor the flavor of food by thinking outside the norm in terms of how dishes are created. It’s about how a WFPB diet benefits your body and why. What are certain vegetables and what are the nutritional reasons to eat them. What should you have on hand in your kitchen/pantry to make mealtime easier.
I believe that my background has given me a distinct perspective and insight when it comes to food. How I’ve come to understand it has been a different path than others. I didn’t initially seek nutritional health. I just wanted to not be in a 5XL shirt anymore. Nutrition was learned alongside of balance. Being overweight, I loved food, but that love was killing me. Now, I still love food, but there’s balance. I don’t live a restrictive diet. The more you put food into “off limits” categories the more it messes with your mental and emotional health. I’ve been there and it wasn’t a good place for me. I don’t want that for me or for you. I eat what I what I want, but I’m just more conscious of it now than I was. I don’t eat WFPB every meal of the day everyday. But there are many of the techniques that I’ve incorporated like oil-free sauteing, flax eggs, and using spices to cut out salt. It’s not restricting, it’s actually freeing. I have so many more options now, because I don’t limit myself to routine meals and flavors.
Here’s a taste of what’s in the book
See what I did there…a taste…get it…I’m funny.