I’m a Flexitarian…

flex·i·tar·i·an
/ˌfleksəˈterēən/

a person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish.

What does that even mean? And does it really matter? I happen to think it does. Read on to find out why!

Image result for plant based

Image source: http://theconversation.com/eat-your-vegetables-studies-show-plant-based-diets-are-good-for-immunity-107964

Just over a year ago, when our littlest was 4 months old I was inspired by a friend and colleague who had made the leap to veganism. During my late night nursing feeds, I started to do a little research into what it meant to be vegan.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself quite well informed when it comes to nutrition. I was actually vegetarian for about 5 years during high school and my undergrad back when it wasn’t as much as a fad. I went to boarding school and had the honour of sitting at the ‘vegetarian table’ with the 11 or so other vegetarians in out school of over 150 students. But I eventually phased meat back into my diet.

Over the years since I’ve thought on and off about cutting meat out, but liked my crispy bacon and medium well steaks and never got there. Funnily enough, my husband had been wanting to go plant based well before I was there, but given that I’m the one who does most of the meal planning and prep we still had a great deal of animal protein in our diets.

So, last winter after starting to follow a few vegan instagrammers (@kindredswell, @veg_md,@richroll and @ellenfisher to name a few…), I began to think that this was a change that I wanted to make. I wanted to make our family a plant based family. Why? Well for starters I had NO IDEA just how terrible the animal protein industry is on our planet. Like no idea. This article from CBC gives you just a taste…

“Using 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey data from more than 10,000 people in Ontario, a recent University of Waterloo study looked at the “global warming potential” of different types of diets. Based on what respondents said they ate in a day, it found that in a year, omnivores generate emissions equivalent to driving nearly 15,000 kilometres (that’s more than three times the distance between Vancouver and Montreal). That’s more than double the amount generated by vegetarians or vegans.”

Needless to say this, coupled with my knowledge as a physician that a whole foods plant based diet is better for your overall health, made it a no brainer for us to try to become a plant based family. Following a whole foods, plant based diet is associated with lower BMIs, improved cholesterol profiles, and higher fibre intake .

Interestingly, there is even some new research that these diets may even be associated with lower rates of depression! And if you’re up for a listen check out this podcast with cardiologist Dr. Ostfeld who believes in plant based diet for managing his patients!!!

So last winter, when I was about 4 months post partum with baby #3 and home on maternity leave I decided to give this plant based diet a try. Initially when I started out I went pretty all-in (which for those of you who know me personally is pretty classic). I cute out all animal protein for me, and really cut back on meat for the kids but kept eggs/dairy in their diet.

In hindsight this may have been a bit of a big leap, especially since I was exclusively breastfeeding. I doubled down on the legumes and had a few weeks where my poor babe was pooping every hour at night. Over the following months we found our ebb and flow and with careful meal planning have found a good balance that is working for our family.

Are we entirely plant based? No, we’re not. Our kids still drink cow’s milk (though I am certain to call it cow’s milk and offer Soy/Almond as an alternative), we eat eggs which we get mostly from a friend who raises her own chickens. We eat meat only once or twice a week and it’s primarily poultry. And cheese. Oh man do my kids (and my husband) love cheese.  We’re working on that and finding tasty and healthy plant based alternatives.

I’d definitely love to make the leap to entirely plant based and am working at it over time. I make certain we get adequate protein intake and iron through careful meal planning. I have about a dozen cook books I use on the regular to help plan tasty and complete meals for our family. I make sure we’re all getting our Vit D and B12, which are common nutritional deficiencies in individuals who are entirely plant based as B12 is almost exclusively found in animal protein. (If you’re interested in learning more about the whole protein thing here is one of my fav vegan pod-casters article that talks more about it).

vegetarian protein infographic

So as a family, we’ll continue to find our balance and do our part to raise conscious little men who are aware of the impact their diet choices have on our planet. It also looks like hopefully the general trend will be moving in that direction with the announcement of Canada’s new food guide.

Image result for canada food guide

Interested in becoming a plant based family? Follow along or check out some of my favourite bloggers, pod-casters and instagrammers:

www.kindredswell.com

www.minimalistbaker.com

www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com

@richroll

@plantproof

@veg_md

@ellenfisher

Favourite Cookbooks:

PlantPower Way

Vegan Comfort Food

Oh She Glows and Oh She Glows Everyday

and Rebar. Obvi.

xo,

Sarah

A few more resources for you…

Eat your vegetables

Cutting out meat and dairy is the best way to reduce your environmental impact

Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits

What is a plant based diet and why should you try it?