Friday Finds: Plant Based Eating

Hey ya'll. It's been awhile since I posted a Friday Finds post, so I thought today I would. I've shared a little on here about my families journey in trying to change our eating habits. My youngest daughter has allergies and while I would love for Jesus to heal her body instantly and still believe he can do it at any moment, I can honestly say I am grateful for the revelations I've had in having to journey through it all.

I decided, about a year ago, to start pointing my family in the plant based direction. I did this because I was discovering that this lifestyle would be the easiest for avoiding allergens. An allergy free chocolate chip cookie? I'm there. Allergy free pancakes? Sold. I was also finding in my research that even if you don't have a dairy allergy, it's possible for it to affect your health (achy joints, tired, bloating) and I had definitely been feeling some of those things. Now, there is also research to suggest eating raw dairy is good even for allergy sufferers because it doesn't have the added "stuff". Well, my HOA won't let me have a cow or goat in my backyard, and I just can't afford to buy raw dairy from a farmer. So, the alternative for us was dairy free.

The past year has been most definitely about finding my way through a whole new world of possibilities. I have been asked by numerous people wanting to get started how I transitioned my family, was it affordable, do we miss those things, etc...

How did we transition?

Well, coming from a mom who has to deal with allergies, this transition made my life easier. I was so tired of cooking separate meals for my daughter who couldn't have what we were having.  Finding meals to cook that would taste good and we could all eat sounded like a dream and would make my life easier. As for how I transitioned us, well, the only thing we quit cold turkey was dairy. When I ran out of milk, I didn't buy it again. Same thing with butter and cheese. Do you know how many options there are for "milk"? We tried them all, too! We have landed on soy as a family favorite and even a brand that we prefer. This is where I would tell anyone starting out to be patient. Your taste buds do have an opinion and they will let you know what they think. The good news is, they can be trained. The first time I tasted soy milk, I think I scrunched my face a bit and might have made a grunting noise. Last night, I had a glass of soy milk with my allergy free brownie with no face scrunching or grunting noises. So, you see, taste buds can be trained. :) Be creative and be patient. Maybe your family would prefer almond or coconut milk. For us, because of allergies, the only choice was soy or rice milk. Soy won, so here we are, drinking it up!

Was it affordable? 

I used to assume that plant based eating was too expensive. I mean, it's nothing but produce, right?! Well, no, actually. There is this little thing called a bean...beans are very healthy and can be incorporated into a plant based diet at a very low cost. I probably did not buy one bean before this change but I now have a shelf full of all kinds. Black beans are the favorite around here, except when we are talking hummus, then it's chick peas. Rice and pasta are also still part of a plant based diet, and are very filling. I have lots of both on hand. I also began to realize how much money I was not spending on cheese and butter and eggs and milk. The amount of money I was spending on veggies and beans and rice and pasta was still less than what I spent on all that other stuff in a month. So, if you want to go down this road a little, let me assure you, as someone on a budget, it is very doable. Yes, there are some "snobby ingredients" out there that cost a lot, but you don't have to use those ingredients in every meal. Around here, those are rare meals and are special treats...and what's life without some special treats? ;) I was already an ad shopper so this didn't change anything for me. I look at all the different ads and find the produce on sale and go there. I tend to plan my meals around what is on sale and it works! When beans are on sale I stock up. It's just about being a smart shopper, which I know you all are! ;)

Do we miss "those things"? 

So, here's the deal: this isn't a law. Just because we eat this way in our house doesn't mean if we pick up a cookie somewhere else that isn't plant based, the plant based police come take us off to jail. (although it would be humorous if there were food police to stop us from making bad choices, huh?)
The fact is, we do still have stuff sometimes that doesn't fit the category of plant based. This isn't about guilt. It's about living. When our family is on vacation, we eat what we want! Of course, we still have to be conscious of the allergy thing, but aside from that we don't let guilt factor into our choices. I will say that I pay a little bit if I indulge in ice cream or something heavy in dairy. Basically, about an hour later, I need a nap. Like, sleeping pills hitting you and you must sleep kind of nap. If I need to not be sleepy later, I will probably say no, but I don't worry over it. If our family is visiting someone who has prepared a meal for us, well, we eat it...happily. I do my best not to let our lifestyle inconvenience others because I don't expect them to know what to do. I sure didn't.

So, back to the question. Do we miss things? Well, not really. We still have sweets, just made differently. We still have milk, just not the kind we used to have. Oh, and we even still have meat sometimes! I can say that we honestly don't miss things because our cravings have changed. Cheese doesn't appeal to me anymore, nor does regular milk. When I do "cheat" it's not what I dreamed it would be. It's pretty amazing how much our brain is involved in our eating process. Smells, tastes, sight, it all plays into what we eat. For us, that's all changed and that's why we don't crave what we used to crave. Hey, that'll preach! :)

Finally, I would encourage anyone who wants to go down this road or one like it, to take small steps. Being dramatic can be your downfall. If you announce to your family that you are all eating salad for the next month they might revolt (or leave you home alone with your salad and head out for bbq!). At the same time, you should inform them of your new found dream to eat healthy. My kids crack me up. They are like dairy police. My oldest daughter came home from school with the food pyramid and she was aghast that dairy was in it. You know kids, when they jump on board, they really jump on. :) I don't discourage that, I just keep things in balance.  Let's be honest here. The fam doesn't care what's in it if they like the taste, so make it taste good. Start with easy stuff that you already make. You might be surprised how healthy spaghetti can be. Just don't tell them there is pureed whatever in it! They'll never know, and you will be the sneaky but cool mom or dad that makes delicious (and healthy) spaghetti!

I hope this helps someone! I certainly appreciate others who have gone before me and figured things out so my life will be a little easier. While I love sharing my spiritual journey with you all, I also love sharing this stuff too. If anything about my life be it physical or spiritual, can help someone else then I am all for sharing it! I am adding to the bottom of this post a couple links for sights with great recipes to start with. In fact, I still use these recipes regularly.

If I can answer questions, I'm happy too. I'm by no means an expert but I will always share my experiences when asked! Happy Eating friends!

Oh, and happy Friday!

The Happy Herbivore - her single serve brownie is delish!

My Plant Based Family  - lots of quick, budget friendly stuff!


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