Food for today:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins
  • Lunch: Leftover Thai food – some tofu pad thai and my leftover Pad Prik Khing
  • Dinner: Black Bean-Vegetable Soup from Veganomicon, which you can view the recipe for here
  • Snacks: Dried pineapple, homemade hummus with carrots and celery

All in all, a pretty vegan day except for the fish sauce at lunch.

So, I said yesterday that the reason for this switch was my kidney stone, and while that’s true, the idea of eating less meat actually started with my dad. I think we all know that eating fruits, veggies and whole grains is much better for us than the standard diet that we eat here in America, but I think it’s hard to really understand that in a practical way until you see the difference it can make. My dad has always seemed like a pretty healthy person to me, but since his mid-thirties he’s been dealing with high blood pressure and taking a pill to control it. He was rail thin in high school, but had added pounds like we all do over the years, and while you would never have looked at him and thought he was fat, he qualified as overweight for sure. A few years ago, his doctor told him he was a low level diabetic (type 2), and at his last visit the doctor told him they may have to put him on cholesterol meds in the near future.

Before we move on here, I’d like to point out that the paragraph above could easily describe me in 20 years. I am a fairly healthy guy, my blood pressure is a little high at 32, I was rail thin in high school and am now putting on those extra pounds and given my family history I’m probably on my way to Type 2 diabetes if I keep eating the way I do now.

Anyway, my dad didn’t want to take cholesterol medication and he’s a little sick of all the medication he takes now. So he read some books and decided he’d try to cut meat out of his diet to see what would happen. This was a sea change for my dad, who lives in rural North Carolina and therefore rarely ate anything that didn’t have an animal product in it (even the biscuits have lard and the vegetables are all cooked in pork fat). But he did it by finding some recipes he liked, making large batches of things like vegan chili and soups, and basically just paying attention to what he put in his body. He didn’t cut out meat entirely, and in fact ate like everyone else at Thanksgiving when they visited, but for the most part, he switched to plants and whole grains.

The results have been pretty impressive. He’s been doing this for four months, and he’s lost 25 pound without trying to lose weight. He has more energy and feels a lot better in general. We did some hiking when he was here in Oregon, and I don’t really remember him ever having much interest in hiking in a very long time. He hasn’t been back to the doctor since he started this (he actually goes on Wednesday), but I would be shocked if all of his numbers weren’t better, from his blood pressure to his cholesterol and blood sugar.

All of this certainly got me thinking, because as I said, it’s obvious that I’m a lot like my dad. It stands to reason that his current health problems are likely my future ones. But it also stands to reason that if this type of diet works for him, it will probably work for me as well. I’m not terribly concerned about losing weight (not that I’d mind), but the idea of being healthier, not having to start taking blood pressure medicine, and basically avoiding the future problems I see coming is very appealing.

In the midst of all of this, my kidney stone happened, and that gave me the final push I needed. I have no idea how well or how long I’ll stick to this diet, but at least at this point, I’m planning on making it a permanent change. I’m not sure what to call myself though. I don’t think the real vegans would have me, nor the real vegetarians for that matter. I’m just going to assume the label doesn’t matter much and see where that takes me.