NO NEED TO FREAK OUT
Nothing is ever as black and white as they say in the headlines. Nor as dramatic. Yes, hot dogs, bacon, deli meat, ham, chicken nuggets are unhealthy. But this isn’t news - we’ve known for a long time that processed food is a no-no, and no one eats a hot dog or bacon burger for healthy bragging rights. But really, there’s no need to panic about anything you do occasionally. It’s what you do a lot that matters.
THE PROTEIN QUESTION
We actually get about twice as much protein as we need every day. It would be near impossible to eat enough calories to stay alive and NOT get enough protein. If you like, go ahead and eat meat - chicken, fish, eggs - but the truth is that what we suffer from is low fiber and micronutrients, not too little fat or protein (or cholesterol).
THE WHOLE MENU Think of it this way: you can only eat 100% of what you eat each day. Obviously. So if you’re eating a bunch of red and processed meat, then you have less room for the plants that keep you well. That’s basic math, my fellow scholars.
SO WHAT’S TO EAT?
I think one of the reasons meat (and dairy for that matter) is so popular is that it’s easy. Almost all it needs is some heat - grill, broiler, oven - and it tastes good. Not so with veggies and beans. They need seasonings, sauces. It takes more preparation and attention. So more effort.
**ZEN COMMERCIAL BREAK**
Gathering and cooking food is truly a luxury. Watch the news and remind yourself. We are so beyond blessed that figuring out meals starts to feel like a pain in the butt. (I’m totally guilty of this myself.) Modern life makes it hard no doubt about it, but it can be done simply. Turn ingredients into simple meals. We’ve got this.
The verdict is getting really clear: veggies (green leafies and all the rest), fruit (berries especially), beans and lentils (toss them on salads, make soups, or purees like hummus) are your friends. Eat more spices and nuts. Eat your grains whole. And eat less of the other stuff - the animal foods, the processed/packaged/refined foods. Not necessarily none, just less. Buy quality food, especially meat.
For a leg up as you learn, lean on an easy plant-based book or site - Minimalist Baker, Isa Does It, Martha Schulman for the NYTimes, Cookie+Kate, Blissful Basil, Vegan Richa, Oh She Glows… there are tons. If you want, you can always add fish or chicken or egg, but the base of your meal will be a big UNWELCOME sign to cancer and it’s whole nasty posse of diseases.