Hi loves! I wanted to write a blog post talking about plant based eating, what that means to me, why it's my preference (not something I rigidly adhere to) and how I eat in a way that is sustainable and nourishing. I also want to create a resource for those interested in transitioning to a more plant centric way of eating that makes it easy and approachable.
Let me start by saying that I don't use labels and I will never be the nutritionist that prescribes one way of eating. In fact, if you work with me, one of the first things we do is abandon all labels or things you've used to put yourself into a box. Maybe plant-based is a label in your mind, which I completely understand. But let me explain why I like the term plant based and why I don't see it as a dogmatic diet or label.
To me, plant-based can encompass all ways of eating. It simply indicates that plant foods are at the basis of your diet. As human beings, this is what makes us thrive. Whether your a vegetarian, vegan or meat eater, you can still eat a plant based diet. If you desire to have optimal health, a plant based diet is essential. Plant foods feed and nourish your gut, lower inflammation, fight free radicals, nourish your brain, cleanse your liver and keep you well. We can debate meat or no meat, low fat or high fat, low cab or not carb, high protein or moderate protein, but no one can debate whether plant foods, especially leafy greens and vegetables are essential components to a healthy diet.
In the west, we have a tendency to take things to the extreme. Most people find comfort in using a label to define themselves. As a nutritionist, I find this can be detrimental to ones health. It lends itself to an imabalced way of eating and thinking about food. If you identify as paleo for instance, a lot (not all) of the paleo/keto content you will find is less focused on vegetables, nuts + seeds and more focused on protein and animal fat. Though these foods have potential to be nourishing, and both of these diets can be done well, people often lack adequate plant foods, fiber and alkalizing greens. Similarly, much of the vegan content is focused in on raw foods, salads, fruits, smoothies, etc. which isn't always supportive long term. By switching our perspective to plant-based, and understanding that this is how humans, collectively, where designed to eat, we can release these rigid and extreme ways of eating + step into a more balanced and intuitive relationship with food.
My biggest takeaway, while in school for holistic nutrition, was that there isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to eat. I am beyond grateful to have had that realization, being that all of my teachers had different ways of eating and working with clients/patients that ALL WORKED. All things ranging from raw vegan to ketogenic. I can now have an appreciation for these ways of eating, while simultaneously seeing the potential beyond the labels. As I move into greater relationship with myself, my food and my body, I find that when I am healthiest, I am eating a flexible, plant based diet. I tend to crave leafy greens, tons of cooked vegetables and high amounts of healthy plant fats as it is, but within that, I may have a week where I incorporate some poultry. Other days, I find myself going heavy on carbs like rice and oats. Without intellectualizing it, I just honor it.
As I become more conscious, plant based/vegetarian/vegan naturally becomes my preference. The more I meditate, I find I intuitively gravitate toward a meat free diet, not because that's "healthier" as much as it is to live in a way that honors all life. As we awaken, we begin to choose a life that is as least violent as possible and most nourishing for mother earth. I begin to look beyond my individuality and see what makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. But in this, I am not rigid. If my body needs meat, I choose the highest quality, local, organic meat that I can find. I don't have an issue with eating animal protein and I find that many of my clients actually need it for therapeutic reasons. I too went through a 2 year period where it was an essential part of my diet. That said, in my personal experience, the more I meditate and balance the health of my mind, clear away stress and trauma, consume adaptogens and create harmony through spiritual practice, the less my body needs animal protein. I don't really give much thought to it until one day I have a stronggg craving for salmon or chicken or even red meat and I'll realize I haven't had it in a while. I think this is key. These shifts should happen intuitively and naturally. You shouldn't feel as though you are suffering to not eat meat or forcing yourself to eat more plant foods. It should be a natural evolution, as it is relevant for you personally.
I honor and respect all dietary choices and I think it's beautiful to come to a place where we can have reverence for all foods + recognize their role as medicine. We experience change, growth and shifts each and everyday, and we I think it's important to refrain from labeling a specific food "good" or "bad." When we can let go of our rigidity, we let ourselves intuitively move toward a way of eating that supports and nourishes us on all spectrums: mind, body, spirit.
Switching gears a bit, I wanted to share what I foresee myself creating for you guys as a resource. I want to provide my readers and those looking to eat a more plant based diet with the tools and outline to do it optimally. As we evolve, wellness and nutrition becomes more intuitive. But starting out, it can be overwhelming and feel unsustainable. Especially when most resources and content is presented in a rigid and dogmatic way. I can remember years before I went to school for holistic nutrition, I decided I should become a raw vegan because in my mind that was the ultimate. If I could survive purely off of raw fruits and vegetables, how could I not be healthy? Well, long story short, my health plummeted and it took years to reach a place of balance again. It's so important to me to share my knowledge and experience with people to guide them in making these choices for their health. Anytime we go extreme with something, we're going to create imbalance in some other way. If we want to create real, sustainable + effortless change, we have to be gentle and gradual.
In March I would like to release an ebook that outlines plant based eating, from my perspective as a nutritionist and my work throughout the years with myself and my clients. I've worked with countless women who have gone extreme vegan and felt great initially, but in the long run, created imbalance and suffering for themselves. my intention is to guide as many individuals as possible to an effortless and intuitive way of eating, where a healthy weight and a healthy body is a natural outcome, but not the sole focus.
I want to address the importance of being flexible with food and letting yourself have freedom to choose what's best for you in every moment. I want to give you practical resources like meal plans, recipes, grocery lists and formulas for building meals with all the right nutrients and components. I also want to address the mind and spirit aspect + allowing food to nourish you beyond just the physical. I want to touch on topics like cook vs. raw, juicing, protein needs, why healthy fats are crucial + so much more.
So, with that said, I'd like to hear from you guys! What's missing when it comes to books and resources that advocate for a plant based diet? What are questions that you've felt you've never quite found the answers to? What would support you in making this an easy and effortless thing to adopt? I know I have lots of ideas on ways I could refine the message of plant based eating, but I'd love to hear your input as well. Send me DMs, email me through the contact page on my site + let me know how I can be an optimal resource for you.
As always, I'd love to know your thoughts on this topic of labels, plant based eating and moving toward a way of eating that nourishes not just the physical but the mental and spiritual aspects of our being.