I require only one thing of the recipes I share on this blog: they must be vegan recipes. That’s it – that’s all. Just vegan, without other restrictions or requirements. My diet is strictly vegan: whole food plant-based with little to no white flour, salt, oil, or sugar. But not everyone eats like I do and I want this blog to be *the most*, so more inclusive recipes are featured.
10 years ago, I followed a vegan diet for two years. My diet then slowly evolved to pescetarian, mostly because I was too busy to balance my nutrition, so I became depleted in B12, iron, and vitamin D, among other things. I started to feel weak and tired, so I began adding eggs and fish back into my diet and lived like that for many years.
A couple of years ago, I discovered Joel Fuhrman’s nutritarian diet and I liked how he implemented a rare, occasional meat, eggs, or dairy into the eating habits. My husband enjoyed eating that way, too, so we did for a few years. Then two years ago, my very fit husband had a heart attack, which actually took place over a few days (we figured out later). After a hospital stay and a heart stent for him, he began researching healthy eating. He had always been a runner, biker, and recently a kayaker, but his philosophy was that you can eat whatever you want – exercise will fix everything. WRONG. He has always had a thing for sugar, which is severely damaging to your blood vessels (see sugar paragraph below). Following the heart attack, his serious nutritional online research took him down the same path many of us are taken down when we take the time to look, and we all end up at whole foods, fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, with limited white flour, salt, sugar and oil for the ultimate nutrition. He started (hilariously) telling me dietary facts I had been telling him for years. I don’t know how many times I said, “I’ve told you that a million times!!”
Out of fear, and with a desire to be as heart healthy as possible, he began strictly adhering to the plant-based diet and telling others about it. He swore off of fat and sugar as if they carried a plague – and for him they did: heart disease, worn arteries and cholesterol plaque were real threats.
For my part, I was eating vegan (I told people I was nearly vegan), but had fish or turkey, eggs and occasional cheese. I maybe had a couple of those once a week. I was definitely weak when it came to cheese – it made me happy. I’m not much of a sugar eater, but I am a coffee drinker. I had sworn off artificial sweeteners years ago and now can’t handle their flavor. So, each morning I would have a cup of coffee with turbinado sugar and half ‘n’ half.
The two of us puttered along like that for a couple of years and felt healthy (except that I was very tired and sleepy and sometimes felt weak during exercise or walking).
Then I had a minor heart attack in December (as a cardiologist said, “You say ‘minor,’ but you definitely had a heart attack.”) After a four day stay in the hospital, a threat of quadruple bypass, a month of thinking I was on the brink of death at all times, and a change of hospitals and cardiologists, I’ve arrived at a good place. In this place, I take meds to control blood pressure, thin my blood and control my cholesterol, BUT, my family heredity is such that I absolutely also must follow a strict diet of no meat, dairy, white flour, fat, salt or sugar.
My first step was eliminating meat and dairy; that was a no brainer. Goodbye, cheese, my joy and my love! We had a good run! *sniff*
Sugar was next to go (including white flour which produces glucose). I need to expand on how sugar affects your heart, since so many people (and doctors and nurses) are SO focused on fat when it comes to heart health. When you eat white flour and/or any sugar, the insulin in your blood rises. When insulin in your blood rises, your LDL (bad cholesterol) also rises. When you eat white flour or sugar and produce insulin in your blood, your HDL (good cholesterol) drops. When your body can’t absorb extra insulin in your blood, it is stored in the body as fat, which makes your triglycerides (fat found in your blood) also rise. And even more importantly (by my way of thinking), glucose and insulin cause your veins and arteries to expand and contract after sugar is ingested (every time you ingest it). The expanding and contracting causes cracks and abrasions on the inside of your veins. Guess what plaque needs to stick to your veins? You got it: cracks and abrasions. So as you can see, sugar is a real devil when it comes to your heart health. Everyone should avoid it and medical professionals should definitely emphasize avoiding it much more than they do.
My next challenge was eliminating oils, which at first seemed very difficult since I saute veggies a lot, but water and vegetable broth work just fine for sauteing.
So – now that I am strictly vegan, I have a vegan blog! HOWEVER, the blog doesn’t necessarily follow MY dietary guidelines. My only guidelines for the blog are “VEGAN.” Every recipe absolutely IS VEGAN. Many of the recipes will fit my guidelines, though, because we have to eat the stuff I cook (unless we have guests and I make them eat it). But, I’ll leave it up to you readers to determine which recipes do or don’t work for your lifestyle within the many variations in the vegan diet realm.
I had to laugh because I was thinking earlier, if this blog actually reflected my basic plain diet, the entire site would be two sentences long:
“Eat plain fruits and veggies, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Thanks for stopping by!”
But honestly, I do thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy the blog. — Lisa