Easy Transition to a Plant-Based Diet
One of the difficulties I faced when trying vegetarian dishes in the past was that they weren’t satisfying or substantial enough. There was always something lacking. Of course, I was used to meat and dairy to fill in the calories. Transitioning to a diet of plants requires a shift in thinking and a change in habits. One of the people that influenced me the most and made the transition to plants easy and obvious was Dr. John McDougall.
Dr. McDougall is a medical internist that advocates a starch based diet and has done so for several decades. He has seen success in health in most of his patients concerning modern diseases and weight issues, in large part by changing their diet to focus on starch and eliminating animal products. His main reasoning for this diet is epidemiological, in that all of the healthy groups of people throughout history survived on starches in the form of rice, beans, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, lentils, peas, etc. Starches are high-calorie foods that are satisfying and substantial enough to take the center stage on your plate and will leave you full and happy until the next meal or snack. This high-calorie, low-protein, low-fat diet is very much supported by a growing number of health professionals and is backed by a plethora of research done in the past century. It also has a high success rate of people who want to lose weight, have more energy, reverse ailments or disease, and live healthy lives.
The backbone of my and Kathy’s diet has been starchy vegetables and grains, with plenty of fruits and vegetables to add variety and nutrition. I cannot tell you how much it has changed our energy and happiness. Starches are so comforting and filling that it makes eating a whole foods, plant-based, vegan diet easy and cheap! If you think about most of your favorite comfort foods, you’ll probably see that the common ingredient is starch in the form of pasta, potatoes, corn, etc. As a matter of fact, I just had some leftovers for lunch that included polenta and brown rice, and it was amazing in its simplicity! We often eat a huge baked sweet potato and veggies for lunch or dinner, providing us with all of the calories and nutrition we need. I used to put a dollop of vegan butter on sweet potatoes, but honestly, I’ve found it perfect with just salt and pepper.
I think one of the reasons it was difficult for me to imagine a plant based diet in the past was the ingrained notion of plate proportions that included protein (meat) and dairy with starch on the side. Now those starches are my primary focus. There was a study back in the 1920s that monitored two people for several months eating only potatoes. The results showed that the potato alone can provide sufficient nutrition and keep them satisfied. The contestants did not get bored of the potato, and I’m not sure I would either… French fries for dinner anyone?!