At Vegan Bowls we truly believe eating more plants is the healthiest way. We love knowing that we are not alone in sharing this value. Often becoming plant-based happens over time, through research, curiosity and a desire to feel abundantly well and vibrant. Our dear friend @cookingforpeanuts shares with us her story, from a nutritionist & dietician lens.
"Transitioning to Plant-Based Is About the Journey, Not the Destination"
By Nisha Melvani, Nutritionist MS RD, Natural Gourmet Institute Culinary School Graduate
My credential as a Registered Dietitian is ironically a very misleading one. I was in my early twenties when I started my master’s degree in Nutrition at Columbia University. I mistakenly thought I would be learning about which foods are most healthy for my body. It wasn’t until I had my second child, about three years later, that I discovered I had been trained with misinformation. Sure, there were some truths in what I had learned, such as balancing macronutrients, and how vitamins and minerals make my cells healthier. But animal sources of those macronutrients, and minerals, were touted as being equally as healthful as plant-based sources, which I now know not to be true. But I have never resented the three plus years I spent getting my degree. Just like I don’t resent my mom for feeding me spam, or my dad who insisted that curried goat would make me stronger. These experiences remain an essential part of my plant-based journey. They continually encourage me to do my own exploration and not to believe everything I read or hear. And I encourage you to do the same.
My childhood years consisted of a ‘meat-based’ diet. I was born and raised in Jamaica by Indian parents who enjoyed eating tandoori chicken, beef vindaloo, escovitch fish, ackee and salt fish, and the occasional cow cod soup (you should google that one!). One of my most remembered moments growing up was hurricane Gilbert, a 185-miles-per-hour storm that wiped out much of the island. After the hurricane, the only food my family had to eat for two weeks was canned corned beef.
Having come from a culture that prizes meat, transitioning to a vegan diet wasn’t natural or easy for me. I had to relearn what food meant to me. I also had to learn how to make plants taste delicious. I’ve grown to love eating plants in their natural state and appreciate their simplicity and flavor, but this wasn’t always the case. At the start of my journey, I needed to embellish them with sweet and salty sauces, deep fried breadcrumbs, melted cheese…anything that would drown out their natural flavor.
I went to a vegetarian culinary school to learn how to make plants taste delicious. It was there that I learned to love vegetables without embellishment. But not for the reasons you might think. In fact, the school’s recipes contained so much salt and sugar that after an entire day of eating like that, I would feel sick. I started to crave just plain vegetables.
But plain vegetables would never go down well with three young kids. And so, I experimented to find an in-between. This is how I came to create recipes that make plants taste delicious enough where you can enjoy them and at the same time consume a healthful meal. Plus, with three kids to raise (and all their laundry), my recipes also had to be practical, easy, and affordable.
And so, this was my journey. This is still my journey. This will continue to be my journey.
When the process of cooking and eating plant-based feels overwhelming, remember, ‘The Process is the Reward.’
It doesn’t take long to feel the health benefits from eating more plants. In fact, for me it was almost instantaneous. I noticed that I had much more energy almost right away. Sprinting after three kids under the age of three and a half started feeling like a walk in the park! You don’t have to be 100 percent vegan to feel this difference. As you increasingly replace animal products with plant foods, this feeling of lightness and wakefulness becomes even more pronounced, and your body starts changing on a cellular level.
I know that advice is always realized through experience. And so, I hope to inspire you to eat more plant-based and find out if what I say is true.