As much as I believe in a healthy diet – especially vegan — it isn’t always easy. You may be on the edge of living healthfully, reducing your carbon footprint or cutting back on meat but are unable to take that final step into fully embracing your health because you keep running up against objections. While no one is perfect (sorry, friends), you can overcome the objections you or others have to your attempts to change. Next time you hear that little voice in your head say one of these things – have a response.
1) “That looks so good, I just can’t resist.” My kids and husband went to Rudy’s yesterday. For those of you not in the know – Rudy’s is a barbecue joint and it holds a special place in my heart as the original location is right outside my home-town of San Antonio. I always loved going back home to visit and indulge in meat, meat, meat and then maybe some meat. The restaurant has since franchised and when the one opened here in the Springs, my family and I were among the first customers. So, when my daughter came home swooning over brisket and pork – I felt a bit of sadness. I will never have Rudy’s again (really, there is no reason to go there as a vegan – no option besides a very mediocre 3-bean salad on the menu). Then, I realized, I have made a choice. No one is telling me I can’t have Rudy’s. I choose not to have Rudy’s – not only because of how a meat overload makes me feel, but also because of what it costs in terms of my conscious. What did all those animals endure to become a quick meal for me? Is it worth it? No. Objection overcome. Remember, you are making a choice. It is in your power to decide.
2) “I can’t save money with healthy eating.” Lately, I’ve been trying to jump in on the coupon bandwagon – but for the most part, it just doesn’t work for me. I’m not into stockpiling diapers or dish soap. I also don’t consider most coupons a bargain – instead of paying full price for a box of refined grains and chemicals, I can get two for $1? I’m not willing to put poor quality, processed junk in my cart just to get an extra box for free. A real bargain? Buying in-season produce and design your meals around it. Stores here in the Springs regularly have some type of organic veggies and fruit on ridiculous sale — $1.50 for a pound of organic carrots, $.88 for organic yams or 2 pounds of organic apples for $3.00 – again, no coupon necessary. If you are a coupon junkie – check Whole Foods monthly newsletter which regularly has a significant number of coupons on more healthy products. I’m not a couponer and I’ve been known to save $20 on one shopping trip using them.
3) “I’m already gluten- or soy- or egg- or dairy-free — what would I eat?” Well, fresh, whole foods are largely free of all of these ingredients. For a gluten-free, vegan day how about a smoothie made with bananas, strawberries, vegan protein and almond milk for breakfast; a bowl of brown rice with refried pinto beans, salsa and sliced avocado at lunch and a dinner of brown rice pasta tossed with garlic, ginger, fresh tomatoes and peas? Yes, you’ll have to go for veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds and skip processed foods with long ingredient lists. Yes, it takes a bit of effort and thinking out of the normal menu box, but it really is just a process of learning new habits. The easy foods you go to for a quick meal will change – at first it takes thinking and effort. Overtime, it becomes natural to grab a homemade smoothie or veggies as a snack. If you can’t have eggs or dairy – you are already on your way to veganism! No soy? That one is a bit tougher – but if you avoid the “meat” replacements and opt for pea protein and almond or coconut milk, you’ve eliminated the need for soy. I’m not saying it is easy to re-train yourself or to stick to such restrictions – but it can be done and is worth it in the long run. Get over your whining and just do it. If you roll your eyes and say “it’s too hard” or “I don’t want to,” well, then the health changes, weight loss, energy and social message of a healthy diet aren’t that important to you.
4) “If I eat vegan foods, I’ll consume too many carbs.” I’ll admit, when I started a vegan diet I relied heavily on carbs because I kept going for familiar foods (that whole re-training thing mentioned above). I’d grab pretzels or cereal because it was quick and easy and I didn’t have to think. After passing that learning curve, however, it has become very clear that I don’t have to rely on so many easy, heavily-refined carbohydrates. Cut-up veggies are a friendly snack (yes, they have carbs, but not the refined ones like snack crackers and they come with a wealth of other nutrients); nut butter or nuts; fresh fruit (again, carbs but not refined carbs); hummus; and lean, humanely raised animal products if you aren’t making the vegetarian leap.
5) “You only live once.” Yes, you do and you can make it a super short trip if you don’t take care of yourself. Really – this is such a silly excuse. Life isn’t about your meals, it is about living. You can’t really experience life if you feel like garbage. And, if you put garbage in…well you know.
6) “I love ice cream or cheese or pizza or burgers or brownies…” Yes, healthy eating is about making choices. Think of it like your bank account – it would be lovely to take a vacation, buy a boat, upgrade the furniture, buy Manolos, hire a private chef and trade in the cars this month — but it isn’t realistic. Why do you think you can do the equivalent with your diet? Getting upset because your dietary budget doesn’t include cookies, muffins, beer, pizza, fries and super nachos everyday is a little ridiculous. A healthy lifestyle takes some willpower in our society rife with temptation. If you consider taking steps toward more healthy eating as a way to give to future generations by preserving the planet, protect animals by not supporting their misery and enrich your family by preserving your health, the choices are easier to make.
Remind yourself, a diet – simply defined as a way of eating – is ultimately your choice – not a requirement. The diet police will not come arrest you if you are imperfect in your choices. All you can do is the best you can. Ask yourself — are you?