40 Days Plant Strong. Wanna join me?
Beginning next Wednesday (3/9), I’m going to kick off a plant-based eating challenge. For forty days (and forty nights!). Some of you might observe that this is Lent. I’ve been asked a gazillion times “Oh, so you are going to give up meat and dairy for Lent?”
First, let me tell you I tried that once before. Many moons ago, about the time I met Husband, I decided to give up meat and cheese for Lent. I pretty much lived on peanut butter, chips, salsa and beer. This decades-old decision was neither health or spiritually inspired.
My motivation is much different now. After three years of sitting on the fence about adopting a plant-based (I still shiver at the word vegan!) diet, I’m going to take the plunge as a Lenten discipline, an experiment to see how I feel and to cure the curiosity. Secretly I hope my skin is not clearer, my eyes aren’t brighter, my weight is not lower and my energy is not higher…because I like bacon.
As you know, we are gluten and dairy free in our home. But, I’m feeling the need to take it a step cleaner. I’ve allowed processed gluten-free/dairy-free foods to creep back into our pantry and personally I need a cleanse. I’m not going to bring Husband or the Littles along on this journey, but they will certainly benefit from healthier snacks, and delicious veggie-filled side dishes!
My real goal is not whether or not I become a vegan. Truthfully, I don’t think it’s a lifestyle I could permanently or exclusively stick with. My hope is to get a discussion going and raise awareness. The tweets, comments, phone calls and conversations I’ve had over the last week are all conclusive:
1) folks think I’m nuts, or
2) they are intrigued and inspired but have no idea where to start, what to eat, or what it means to live plant strong.
Our bodies are uniquely made. And the nutrients we fuel ourselves with will and should vary from person to person. So I’m not preaching veganism. But the benefits of eating a plant strong diet are clear. To me, it merits pursuing. Whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, raw, macro-biotic, grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, omnivore isn’t the point of my experiment. America is in a health care crisis and the war isn’t going to be won in Congress or with some new wonder drug. It’s going to be won one meal at a time, on our plates.
Is this radical? Perhaps at first glance because eating a diet based on plants and excluding animal products flies in the face of how we were brought up, what we’ve been told, and decades of habit. Change is always hard. But beyond radical, it’s actually simple. Ideally the food we consume should be in season, local, fresh, organic, colorful, and nutrient dense. The ripple effect is huge not only for our health, but for our environment.
Wanna join me?
I’ll be sharing recipes, tips, successes and setbacks over the next 6 weeks and I’ve invited respected friends in the food community to chime in with their thoughts and advice in a series of guest posts. And before you ‘unsubscribe’ and write me off forever, things will feel very much the same around here at The Schell Cafe. Just more exciting perhaps over the next 40 days. You don’t have to agree or even desire to join me on this quest of mine. But, I do hope you will be encouraged to try something new and move at a comfortable pace towards a plant strong diet. You never know, you just might like it.
Here are some resources I recommend if you want to learn more:
The Engine 2 Diet – Rip Esselstyn is a local hero. A professional athlete turned firefighter, Rip coined the phrase Plant Strong and wrote a book championing the cause of a plant-powered eating plan based on whole foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Kathy Freston’s book Veganist. Kathy’s approach is to support and help anyone interested in “leaning in” to eating and living consciously. From her website she defines a veganist as “someone who moves toward eating a plant based diet so that they are as physically healthy as they can be, environmentally friendly, and a kind and thoughtful human being.”
The Unhealthy Truth by Robin O’Brien. A fellow Texan and mother of four children, Robin is an acclaimed author and researcher who has leveraged her experience as a food industry analyst to uncover how one of life’s most basic activities – eating – has become a risk to our health.
Let’s meet back here on Monday and see what’s getting purged from the pantry and added to the fridge for the 40 Day Plant Strong Challenge.
I’m on the same page with you! I recently started adding more plant based recipes to my diet..they are delicious and I look forward to seeing the recipes you share..maybe I’ll join you on the 40 days!
Looking forward to following your journey! 🙂
I found your blog by searching “plant strong diet” in Google. I recently read Rip’s book and while I probably would not have picked it up based on the title (I’m not looking for a “diet”) I was very intrigued and inspired by reading it. As someone with Celiac Disease and who has struggled for many years with never quite feeling good, I’m at a point where I am willing to get as radical as necessary to improve my health and energy level.
Thanks for sharing your 40-day challenge here. I am going to do some catch-up reading on your most recent posts and am looking forward to being encouraged by your journey as I begin my own trial run of a plant-strong diet.
What a cool idea–you’re doing the 28 day + program! 🙂 My husband and I have been eating and living plant strong for 9 months. We have never felt better and our cholesterol is amazingly low. Funny enough, Rip’s book and our experience has inspired us to start blogging about it too! If you need any recipe suggestions for your blog, feel free to reprint from ours: http://www.livingplantstrong.com.
Best of luck with your challenge!
Hi, I stumbled across your website. I am working on being plant strong. Never thought I’d even dream of being vegan or vegetarian but I want to be nutritarian, how ’bout that? I look at my father’s heart disease and my mother’s arthritis and I wonder, “can I avoid their fate?” I would sure like to try. I am also bringing my family along as there are new and interesting things being served up in our house now. Most of us have switched to almond mild and have embraced quinoa, hummus and a big increase in veggies and fruits. I look forward to seeing what recipes you post; I am hoping to get ideas from you on plant strong recipes and food prep. You have spent an intensive 40 days so maybe you have some recipes or food secrets that were especially successful for you and your family?
I saw your blog posted on MOB society and found this post on the 40 days plant strong. I just so happen to watch the documentary Fork over Knife this week and was interested in reading your journey. I can’t seem to find any posts past this original one. Is there a section on your blog dedicated to your 40 day journey and recipes you tried?
I’m so glad you are here! I need to work on a page just for my vegan/plant strong recipes. For now, just search vegan in the side bar. I tried to tag most of them. 🙂 Kristin
I’m linking to your article. Please let me know if that’s not okay. thanks!
Sure, Gayle. Glad you are here! Are you going Plant Strong?