Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Stuff I'm Learning - Whole-Foods, Plant-Based

As an undergrad, I was often overwhelmed by the pace and process of learning. There were many extracurricular subjects that I found interesting, though I seldom found the bandwidth to pursue these subjects. It wasn't until my formal education was squarely in the rearview mirror of life that I felt the freedom to fully delve into studies of land-use, farming, bodywork and nutrition.

As I mentioned in a prior blog entry, I've become familiar with a not-insignificant tendency towards anxiety. While this recognition may seem like a bummer, the tools that I've learned in the intervening decades have freed me to multitask and juggle multiple responsibilities in ways that I didn't dream of in my youth. Yes, the anxiety is there, though I'm no longer held hostage when it pays a visit.

I haven't had much bandwidth the past few months, though I've enjoyed more unstructured time these past few weeks. Before I share the specifics of what I've learned with you, however, how about a little backstory?


The recent US presidential election was quite a shock to me and and my wife, Collette. In one-million years, we did not see a Trump victory coming (okay, so maybe Collette was a little concerned and I was blindingly overconfident, but still it was a surprise for both of us) and we're still kind of reeling from it. Shortly after we shook off the initial shock, we began earnestly asking ourselves - in the face of changing politics, how can we best support the causes that we believe in?

Prior to the election, we had both been interested in reading Matthieu Ricard's new book, A Plea for the Animals. Since A Plea for the Animals was already on our bookshelf and in the read-me queue, we both agreed that we'd start by reading this potentially disruptive book. It seemed obvious that Matthieu would be making a powerful case for vegetarianism, and prior to reading the book, we agreed that the vegetarian option was (literally and metaphorically) on the table for us.

Collette read A Plea for the Animals first, and quickly shared her view that reducing our meat consumption would be a positive step to reducing our carbon footprint, reducing animal suffering and potentially improving our health. While I haven't been a heavy meat eater for many years, now, the Sausage Plate was my favorite meal at my favorite restaurant - Sjolinds. Despite some initial misgivings, I also read Matthieu's book.

Reading A Plea for the Animals quickly spiraled into more reading and study of animal suffering, carbon footprint and nutrition. Independently, Collette and I have arrived at the same conclusion - we are ending our consumption of animal-based foods in favor of a plant-based diet.


Over the past few weeks, I've been studying more about sustainable approaches to a vegan diet. I was vegetarian from ages 18-30, and while I loved the lightness that I felt in the absence of meat, I did come to feel pretty depleted toward the end of that era. Once I resumed eating meat in the mid-1990's, I enjoyed more energy and stamina.

I am confident that I can maintain my larger-than-average body (for those of you that don't know, I'm 6'6") on a plant-based diet, though I believe it will take more than a catch-as-catch-can approach to eating. During my youthful foray into vegetarianism, I focused on not-eating-meat. Now I believe that my approach to vegetarianism will focus more on what I do eat, and less on what I don't eat.

For the time being, I plan to eat eggs now and then. I have concerns about Vitamin B-12 levels, and I feel comfortable with eating some local eggs every so often. Collette is now using coconut milk creamer in her coffee (cream in the coffee being her last vestige of animal product love), and taking B-12 as a supplement. We’ll compare our various experiments and to see how things go. My sporadic animal-food consumption means I’m not fully vegan, but Collette and I both hold veganism out as our possible future.

If I live out an average lifespan, I will consume almost 23-million more calories in this lifetime. From my limited research, I have come to believe that a plant-based diet is one of the most effective ways that I can reduce my lifetime carbon footprint. Even though the Spring semester at the UW begins in a couple weeks, I plan to continue expanding my knowledge of diet and nutrition. What if the simple choices and decisions that I make now can potentially contribute to making this world a better place?

What are your thoughts on eating a plant-based diet?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Scott,
I just discovered you blog and it seems pretty interesting. I just read a few posts, including this one about plant-based diet.
My wife and I adopted a plant-based diet almost 4 years ago. So far, we feel great. I've lost like 35lbs, without any restricting (or even counting) my calories intake. I always ate as much as I wanted.
We take B12 and vitamin D supplements.
We started for health reasons, but concerns about environmental footprint and animal cruelty soon became more reasons for us to be on a WFPB diet.
I believe you're totally right when you say that you should put attention on what you eat and not just what you don't eat. But with variety, I'm sure a WFPB diet will be great for you as well.
Good luck and keep the blog running!