We’d like to dedicate this blog to the Elf’s long suffering husband, Larry aka Big Solid. This picture came from the 2017 Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville MS. Big Solid had been plant-based for six months and made it through the weekend like a champ!
We write this for a variety of reasons but the two most important are: what it’s meant to him to become plant-based AND what a plant-based eater 'wannabe' can learn from his experience. A year ago on 9/20/16 (his 73rd birthday) Big Solid decided to join the ranks of eating plant-based. As he said, heck, he was pretty much there since we cook only plant-based in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to just go ‘whole hog-er-cabbage’. That PLUS his determination to eliminate as many medications as possible. For years, he’s taken statins to control his cholesterol in addition to medications to control high blood pressure. His family history is full of members who’s lives were cut short as a result of cardiac disease related to those issues just mentioned.
To say that's he's embraced this eating lifestyle is an understatement; he's thrown himself into it with the same grit and determination as when he played football at MS State. He reads labels better than Your Elf, he seeks out the most current research on how to eat healthier (and that in itself can be frustrating and polarizing), and he is now an avid grocery shopper. Yet he remains a fan of simple eating and has to remind his Elf that we don't have to have a new recipe every night! He also enjoys the meat analogues that we prepare (even those that continue to explode in the oven) as well as a few processed meat analogues such as just about all those by Gardein and Delight Soy chicken nuggets.
Rather than talk about his transformation, we thought we’d just ask him to share his year. So, here are his responses to questions about his decision. (Bear in mind that we use the term vegan and plant-based interchangeably since we are both; understanding that vegan is a broader term that includes lifestyle decisions regarding the use of animals beyond food.)
What made you decide to go vegan/plant-based? It started with reading "The China Study" and the conclusions that eating animal products was highly correlated with many of our major illnesses such as cancer and heart disease as well as many of the autoimmune disorders. This got me interested in reading the research on plant based vs the traditional diet.. I read other books on the subject plus whatever else I could find on the internet. I was already eating vegan about 80% of the time because that is what we had at home. The only time I was eating animal was when we would eat out and eating cheese and egg whites at home. So, on my birthday 2016, I said 'what the hell, I am going to be completely vegan for a year and see what happens'. I had eaten vegetarian for a year in either 2013 or 2014, but after seeing the research I decided that cheese and egg whites were not much better for me than meat. Big Solid and some of the 'kids' doing what they LOVED!! Riding in a golf cart.
What was the most challenging for you? Giving up the foods that I had eaten my whole life. Vegetables cooked in animal fat, steak, fish, and chicken as the center of the meal. Having to analyze everything that you eat. Having to check everything that you eat for animal products. It is hard to find places to eat out that are vegan friendly. So I am very limited in the restaurants I can go to. It can be difficult eating at other people's homes, because I don't want them to ‘fix’ something special for me. I eat what I can and enjoy the company. I found myself way out of the mainstream.
How has a year of eating plant-based affected your health and your life? I am not sure how it has affected my health. I am on less high blood pressure medications and am completely off statins. This indirectly indicates that I am more healthy. I suppose time will be the true test. There are less gastrointestinal problems. Big Solid hiking in North Carolina.
How do you manage the reading and researching so many different eating options, such as Paleo, Fat Free, Sugar Free, No/Less Carbs, etc? I am obsessive about obtaining information and this has been one of the most frustrating areas of being vegan or eating a healthy diet. There is no consensus I could find about the best diet. One book is about counting calories and limiting fat, another will say that fat doesn't matter, just the saturated fat, yet another will say it is the sugar we eat that is the problem. The frustrating thing is all of them are a little bit right. I still research, but have pretty much accepted that eating a true plant based diet is the best route for me.
What are your goals for the coming years with respect to eating and health? Goals for the future are to continue with eating vegan and work more on exercise and meditation with the hope of being medication free while maintaining my health and strength to enjoy life.
Is there any vegetable/meal that you will not eat? I will eat any vegetable, but I sure hope that it includes very little to no eggplant. I have always thought I did not care for casseroles but My Elf has prepared a few I like.
The flip side of this is that there are several meals that I really love! A baked potato topped with steamed broccoli, mushrooms, plant-based chicken/pork and some shredded Daiya cheese is the perfect meal.
Here are some more of my favorites…pretty simple but really good. I used to eschew pasta but now I LOVE it because it’s so versatile. Throw in some great veggies, lemon juice and a bit of EVOO and you’re good to go!
Of course, I am a big fan of The Gentle Chef’s meat analogues, especially the chicken shreds, the pork (he spells it porq) AND the andouille sausage. Lately, we’ve been experimenting with various bowls that don’t take a lot of time to prepare and yield a really nice meal. Here's one that is delicious!
And when I add the cheese to ANY bowl, it's even better!!
Last night we had some sautéed pork with farro and green lentils. And we halved and sautéed some nice mushrooms to add. Pretty healthy meal, if you ask me! I think I'm good for another year or more!!
Thus endeth another week from the Kinky Elfery Kitchen and a big HIGH FIVE to Big Solid for his year of being vegan and to the many yet to come. This is the Elf's favorite picture of Big Solid with MiniPearl...she loves for him to whisper to her, so he's known here as The Chihuahua Whisperer!
In the meantime, always remember to Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can.’