Part Two – A Journey Into Plant-Based Eating

"Food equity in our country is deeply threatened by classism, capitalism, and poverty. Not everyone has access to the foods I’m talking about."
Plant-Based Eating, Healthy Foods, Wellness, Men's Health, Greg Halpen, Kinkster MAG

“This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain’t normal.” – Joel Salatin, farmer and author of Folks, This Ain’t Normal; You Can Farm

Thanks for coming back for part two of A Journey Into Plant-Based Eating. In this piece l:

Dismantle some myths around eating plant-based
Ways to slowly incorporate more Whole Foods plant-based meals
Why I decided I didn’t want to identify as a vegan:
Let’s tackle the first topic. I’m going to name two plant-based eating myths and illustrate their fallacies.

Typically, food myths are started by corporations that process meat products to instill a sense of fear within the general public. Then the rumor mill starts churning and the information spreads like wildfire.

Which brings me to the first myth:

Myth #1: People will not get the protein you need by only eating plant-based foods.

Did you know that the highest protein intake by humans is only needed during infancy? As we age, our requirement decreases depending on our lifestyles. A variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables can provide the recommended amount of protein to maintain optimal health.

Dismantle: OK. Besides the obvious facts about animal agriculture and industry, and the mass production of animals for human consumption is wreaking havoc on our collective earth, and if you were to do a quick google search, you will learn exactly how animals are mass produced and slaughtered for mass consumption and profit.

Myth #2: All plant-based Food is good for you.

Dismantle: No. Not all plant based foods are healthy. Plant-based vs. Plant-based Whole Foods. There are a lot of processed plant-based products on the market. Vegan Boca Burgers, Meatless Chicken Nuggets and plant-based cheeses are a few examples. Most plant-based desserts, prepared frozen meals, condiments and boxed foods that contain high amounts of sugar, salt, oil and carbohydrates. Processed food is processed food, no matter how we look at it. I’m not saying that it’s all bad, just in moderation. Some slightly processed foods can be good for you, like tempeh (a cake of fermented grains that can be used in almost any recipe). What makes Tempeh a very minimally processed food, is how it’s created. Tempeh is a naturally occuring fermented food made from whole grains.

The best ways to access a healthier way of eating is to prepare foods ourselves. This is easier said than done, and can be costly. But if we can begin to slowly replace the processed animal foods with plant-based whole foods,  the costs can even out.

Food equity in our country is deeply threatened by classism, capitalism, and poverty. Not everyone has access to the foods I’m talking about.

Now, how do we embrace all of this and transition into a way of plant-based whole Food eating?

Slowly.

I know folks who have quit eating animal products cold turkey, and many who have a difficult time cutting the rope that’s connected to eating animals. It’s a process. For me, arriving at a place where plant-based eating became easy and natural, took years because I had other areas to consider. For example, I’ve coped with eating issues from the time I knew I was attracted to men. I used food to escape the abuse and a homonegative household. Plus how I view food boys. Also, through the lens of growing up poor, and addiction challenges lead me to using food as an escape.

Some ways that I found to be very helpful in transitioning into plant-based eating:

1) I looked at what I was eating and examined its purpose. Questioned my choices.  Why am I eating foods that only temporarily satisfy me when I could be preparing meals with mindfulness and love. Sure, one could say you could do the same with meat, but that’s not why you are here, right? You are deeply considering a plant-based way of eating with animal cruelty-free consciousness.

**Quick sidebar as to why I choose not to claim veganism for my own or its label.**

This is more personal than societal, but they both dance together. The more I shared my ideas about process and advocating for mindful plant-based eating transitioning, and calling out sensationalized and biased attitudes that enforced a very militant attitude towards becoming Vegan, I had to walk away. Their tactics felt too shaming and fundamentalist. I mean, vegans and I have similar goals, but for me, the Vegan road was thickly paved with judgment and disregard for communities of people who simply can’t just stop eating foods that sustain them. Even if those foods are unhealthy foods.

Not only that, there isn’t any intersectionality of different social issues. Like inclusiveness of black People, consideration of poor communities, access to affordable whole foods and a lot of wrongful comparisons of animal cruelty with human suffering.

Ok, back to ways to ideas on how to transition into plant-based eating.

2) Plan to make at least one of your meals during the week strictly plant-based. Depending on your preferred cuisines, try eating a salad including field greens, filled with an assortment of chopped fresh veggies, nuts, cranberries, and homemade dressing made of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can even prepare some rice, beans, and avocado to pair with your salad. Whatever is accessible to you and what your palate prefers regarding plant-based foods, will make prepping and cooking so much easier. Let’s make this about ease. Take this transition slowly. One meal at a time.  Over time you can start replacing meals with more plant-based foods and meal prep. And eventually you’ll be growing carrots out from your ears and cilantro from your nose. I had eggplants coming out of my nose every time I sneezed. No, not really.

In time, by embracing the plant-based process, your food and your social mindfulness can bring you to learning new ways in which you and our country can benefit from eating more wholesome foods rich in plant-based goodness and equitably, you will start to deeply notice the positive life changes a plant-based way of eating can create.

In the nest and last installment of this series, I’ll offer:

• More ways to incorporate and prep plant-based meals into your routine.
• Discuss further about food Equity and accessibility.
• Ways in which we can begin to deepen our thinking around how food and eating are viewed in America.

Eat well, think consciously!

Greg

If you have comments, questions and feedback, feel free to comment below or send me an email at eatplants@greghalpen.com

Categories
Food & Nutrition

Greg Halpen is a plant-based food coach who is helping men unpack their eating challenges while helping them to dismantle internalized unhealthy views of their body.

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