Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on January 26, 2008
Done. Finito. Owari. I’ve successfully completed 30 days on an exclusively plant-based diet. The timing was fortuitous, as that day I was invited to brunch and dinner at the homes of some friends. Both menus offered healthy, organic, sumptuous food — but little that would have easily accompanied my experiment. Brunch consisted of a vegetable omelet, bagels with smoked salmon with (tofutti) cream cheese and a fruit salad. Dinner was baked ham, roast potatoes, crab and avocado salad, mixed greens with gorgonzola, dried cranberries and pecans, steamed carrots and Brussels sprouts.
For dessert, there were brownies and cream.
I ate the fruit salad and a little of the omelet in the AM, but couldn’t do the lox for some reason (even though I usually love it). In the evening, the mixed green salad with all the calorific goodies atop was a lovely treat, which I tried to balance out with some steamed veggies.
My objective here isn’t to highlight the culinary finesse of my dear friends; the point is to share what this experiment has done to me (or “for me”, depending on how you look at it.)
After 30 days of abstinence, the small amounts of eggs and dairy I consumed tasted rich and felt heavy as they landed in my stomach. And I shocked myself by my lack of desire to bang down the doors of Japanese restaurants demanding sushi. Weirdly, my appetite for eat raw fish seems to have headed downstream.
So, now comes the identity crisis. Am I still a pescatarian? Or a vegetarian? Or something else? Of course, 100% plant-based is absolutely the right path. I mean, think about it — the health benefits gained by ditching animal products from your diet; the savings to the environment in terms of carbon output by eating local & seasonal produce; and finally the whole animal kindness issue (if you read enough about chickens or turkeys, I guarantee you’ll never peck at a breast again).
So, what am I exactly? Well, I now classify myself 95% plant-based with 5% wiggle room (defined by the odd bite of fish or the occasional egg). Wiggle room is important for occasional invites to dinner where you’re not necessarily in charge of the menu. My 30-day diet passed relatively easily because I was predominantly in situations where my food intake was controllable — at work or at home or at restaurants of my choosing with good plant-based options.
But at a friend’s house, what are you going to do? I know, I know, bring a plant-based dish that you can all share (do brownies count?). But there’s something kinda hardcore about that.
For now, I’m at peace with 95%. And who knows? In the future, I may go hardcore.