Even though I’ve been at this plant-based eating for a while, I still consider myself a newbie. I’ve had lots of false starts, and even now, I don’t always eat completely WFPB (whole food plant-based).
It’s a process.
Is there someone that you love that is also trying to eat plant-based? Or maybe you eat plant-based but your posse is throwing up road blocks?
Share this one with them.
1. We’re Not Trying To Convert You
It can be irritating to be around someone who is attempting to change their habits for the better, No doubt. Your midnight ice cream bandit is on the WFPB wagon. You need to find a new wing man for Friday night happy hours. Your brunch buddy doesn’t eat bacon or eggs. It annoys you when you’re at a restaurant and it always involves a litany of substitutions.
All of those changes are annoying to you. But, here’s the thing: it’s annoying AS HELL to us plant-eaters! We don’t want to give up happy hours or be forced to make a million substitutions in order to eat. Our struggle to change is personal. It’s not about you.
It’s difficult to make big changes in life, and none more than an activity that requires good decisions at least three times a day, 365 days a year.
And, just for effect (and in case you are as math-challenged as I am), that’s making a decision about what you eat 1,095 times in one year.
That’s A LOT of choices.
If you can’t be supportive, be silent. If you can’t be silent, go ahead and be absent. But for the sake of all that is edible, don’t complain that we’re making your life more difficult.
2. Fast Food Drive-Throughs Are Pure Torture
Seriously, there is nothing on any drive-through menu that is healthy. Stuff is doctored and processed, smashed and shaped, injected and fondled by man and machinery. The salad dressings are full of salt and chemicals. Even drinks are suspect! Do we really need more sugar, more chemical sweeteners and more artificial flavorings?
No one can pass up a french fry while confined in a moving vehicle. Don’t tempt.
If you care, pack a couple of Larabars for the road. Or a bag of plain mixed nuts. But do not go through a drive-through with one of us in the car, unless we are unconscious. In which case, the drive-through is not our biggest problem.
3. We May Occasionally Eat Cheese
It takes crazy amounts of energy and discipline to maintain a plant-based lifestyle. Frankly, sometimes the planning and the shopping and the prepping gets pretty damn old.
And every once in a while that grit takes an unauthorized day off. And sometimes it takes a vacation. And sometimes the grit goes on a three-month sabbatical.
You’ll likely witness those times by way of our immediate and urgent need for a grilled cheese sandwich, or a hot dog, or a fried egg sandwich.
In my case, empty bags of fun-sized Snickers are a dead giveaway.
If that happens, or when that happens, just go with the flow. That is not the time for either encouragement or judgment. Cajoling and criticism is off limits. Don’t even joke about our wayward behavior.
We know what we should be eating, but we’re choosing something else. Shit happens. Don’t make it worse by pointing it out. That’s completely uncool and may lead to foul language.
4. Don’t Bitch About The Price Of Veggies
Eating plant-based may appear expensive to you. All the greens! And the berries! And the nuts!
It is not cheap to get a plant-based pantry stocked. But once that is done, it’s actually cheaper to eat a plant-based diet that a diet including meat and dairy! No more $20 cuts of beef. No $8 slabs of ribs. No bacon!
All of that adds up.
Once you factor in the minimizing of drive-throughs and other takey-outies, eating plant-based becomes the more economical choice.
5. Give Truthful (And Kind) Feedback On Home-Cooked Meals
Cooking a whole food, plant-based meal is a new experience for many of us. We are trying out new recipes, learning what resources are reliable, and working hard at shopping, prepping and preparing a meal.
Sometimes the dinner I end up with after all that work adds up to a real pile of shit — stuff that tastes like sticks and twigs.
“Pizza” with cashew “cheese” is nothing like a goopy mozzarella-laden pie. Thinly-sliced and marinated eggplant will never be bacon.
We know all that. Pointing out that our veggie chili would be better with beef, cheddar and sour cream is not helpful.
Instead, offer relevant suggestions. If there’s too many crunchy beans, let us know. We’ll cook them longer next time. If the brown rice rotini is gummy, say it.
But if you value a home-cooked meal, be sure to end with a compliment.
If you can’t offer at least one compliment, for all that is holy do not offer criticism.
A kind “thank you” is always appreciated.
6. Curious About Our Choices? Ask.
So many of us think we know all there is to know about nutrition and diet. We were taught by the best, right? Doctors, hospitals and even the good-ol’ USDA food pyramid says meat, dairy, eggs and processed sugar is fine and dandy. Right?
The problem is, the experts are often wrong on many counts. And there’s boat loads of research that proves it.
Research-based healthy eating demands building an entire library of knowledge that is contrary to popular belief. Instead of telling us that they’ll never get enough protein, or that processed olive oil is good for us, or that milk is a much-needed source of calcium, ask us questions. You’ll likely learn that none of those truths are, indeed, true.
Much of our historical nutrition information is built on economic interests. The National Dairy Council, the National Chicken Council, the International Beef Alliance, and organizations like them, have very serious and powerful lobbying organizations. Their money is shaping the American diet, regardless of health outcomes.
7. Socialize In Places That Make Our Choices Easier
We all have favorite restaurants we don’t want to abandon. Steakhouses, raw bars, burrito joints, French bistros, gastropubs, tapas joints. On and on. But I digress.
Until we get our “whole food plant-based legs” don’t tempt us (or, worse, starve us) by going to a place that serves variations on gobs of butter, meat, eggs and dairy.
In some restaurants, the only item on the menu that features veggies is a green salad. And, even then, it usually comes gloppet up with greasy croutons (oh how I miss you!), cheese, dressing and a side of bread or crackers.
Listen, even WFPB peeps don’t want a sad green salad from a steak joint. Honestly.
Let your loved one pick the places for a bit.
In the mean time, get one of your bros to gobble meat and mojitos with you.
8. Don’t Abandon Us
If you can’t influence a group choice for an outing, invite us anyway! Let us decide if it’s likely to cause a breakdown. People drink club soda, you know. And even vodka is plant-based.
9. Let Us Know You Care
Starting a lifestyle change is lonely.
If you don’t hear from us in a while, give a holler. The conversation doesn’t need to orbit around food choices. In fact, who wants to talk about food choices?
Better yet — if you’re at the farmer’s market and see some juicy peaches, buy a few extra. Or bake a little something that is WFPB. There are tons of recipes out there, and many of them are easy. Some don’t even need to be cooked.
Or make a funny, yet motivational, playlist of their fave tunes.
See a funny veganish t-shirt? Pop a nickel and hold it for the holidays.
It’s about support, in the best way you know how to do that.
10. Love Us Where We’re At
I had many false starts when I started to change my diet. MANY! Like more than ten thousand.
Supporting and nagging are not the same thing.
Regardless of what we eat or how we eat it, don’t stop the love. Us WFPB peeps need extra, especially at the beginning.