I thought the vegan thing might be a December experiment. But then January came, and well, I didn't buy any meat. Now it's towards the back half of January and I'm not any closer to jumping off the vegan bandwagon than I was 20 days ago. So, I'll just say that things are still up in the air, and I'm still experimenting, how's that for being vague. I thought I would write a post about some of the things I've learned and been inspired by this month when it comes to not eating things with a mother.
Justin's Nut Butter: They have sponsored me for a little over a year now. If you haven't tried any of their products you should pick up some squeeze packs next time you are out. They are great to stick in your pocket for a long ride or hike, and are quite the treat when you have just gotten out of the pool. For any athlete who isn't eating meat or dairy, purchasing grass fed whey protein or nut butter is a great way to incorporate a bit of protein and some of those healthy fats that we need. I've known since I first met him that Justin himself is vegan. He came up with his Nut Butter because he was looking for something accessible to eat when he was mountain biking. He's been a source of inspiration and I like that I can eat any of their products and know that nothing was "slipped in". Another thing that is really awesome is that they are working really hard to create sustainable squeeze packaging. It's not an easy feat, and I applaud them for taking the reigns on this.
JaiSeed: This book really got me started down the vegan path and opened my eyes to things like vegan cheese...for nachos of course! The biggest concern I had in the beginning was "I'm an athlete" and I didn't want to hinder my ability to make progress. Looking back at all I've learned it's an absurd concern. I eat so much more healthfully and I'm sure I'm getting so much more nutrients that I was in the past. Rich and his wife Julie wrote Jaiseed and making the recipes in their book makes me feel like I am in their kitchen cooking with them. It's a very personal cookbook, like something a friend would pass along to another friend. Rich is a certified bada$$ and he gave me the confidence that if he can do 5 self supported Ironmans on 5 different Hawaiian islands, in 5 days on a vegan diet...then I'll be just fine!
My Terry Walters Books: These are the bread and butter of my vegan diet. She has two books, the first was Clean Food and she followed that up with Clean Start. Both books are organized by season and I'm proud to say that just today I finished making every recipe in the Winter section of Clean Start. I'm told her books are more "macro" than they are vegan, but she's not so into labels, just good clean food. It's easy to be vegan and pretty unhealthy, after all, Crisco, sugar, white flour, and white rice are all vegan. Terry's books are healthy and they satisfy my desire to be in the kitchen, cooking tasty food for family and friends. I've made some awesome awesome dishes and if she were to write 10 more books I would buy every one.
The PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) website: They have hosted a 21 day vegan kickstart and I tell ya, I have learned more stuff from their video content, links, and recipes. I especially like that they highlight a vegan person everyday and that person writes an article with their tips and a few of their favorite recipes (people like Bob Harper from the Biggest Loser, Alicia Silverstone, and Scott Jurek). It's been enlightening to read different perspectives and has perked my interest to study certain issues further.
Vega: This is a company that was developed my Brendan Brazier. He's a Canadian Professional Triathlete and he's vegan. Again, this stuff inspires me because I am the exact customer he developed his products for. They are pricy, but they are great. His protein and Whole Health Optimizer always make their way into my smoothies. I've also really enjoyed his online community, I'm so glad he put that together.
VitaMix: I have quite the obsession with the VitaMix. I can't explain how good it feels to throw a bunch of veg and fruit in my machine, toss in some chia, some coconut oil, some Vega and drink it all up. So yummy. I love that thing. I think my favorite thing to make in it is the Jaiseed Mushroom Gravy. We always have a batch of this in the fridge for dumping on mashed potatoes, or quinoa, or cooked millet. It's a crazy recipe, but turns out so good!
B12 and Protein: Two of the main questions that people get about a vegan diet is: What about protein, and what about B12? I thought this was a great article about B12. It convinced me that I am going to be able to get B12 without supplementation. Troy and I did A LOT of research on this topic and were happy to hear that your body stores excess B12 for future use. That's why meat eaters get B12 in meat, because cows (for example) eat plant forms of B12, and it's stored in their body and then meat eaters eat the cows and get the stored B12. Troy and I likely have enough B12 already stored to last quite some time. So that's good. Now protein. This was helpful. First let me say that even in my uninformed state when I started I never felt like I wasn't getting enough protein. I think that when you are eating really HEALTHY you tend to naturally get adequate amounts of protein. I have learned that protein is all over the foods that I have been eating. Even the spinach that I throw in my smoothie every morning has a pretty nice punch of protein.
Where now? Yea, I don't know. Do I want a burger? No, not really. Do I want to stop drinking Mix1 because it uses Whey Protein Isolate which isn't vegan? Not really. I still really like the First Endurance Ultragen too which also has Whey in it. So while I haven't had either of these in several months since my training load is light right now, I do plan to use these products during training. They have worked wonders in the past for me.
I'm just one person trying to make good decisions for my health, and that of my family. Anyone else faced with the same education would probably make different decisions than me. That's what's fun about life, making your own decisions and seeing what it's like to live with them. Change is always possible.