Being a Chef professionally going on 26 plus years now, I've learned that my greatest competition on the Las Vegas Strip is not another restaurant, it's not another Chef with prettier food or a bigger steak or a better Instagram. Every Chef has the same competition. We compete against the person that fed you as you grew up. We compete against the culture of which you were raised. We compete against your mothers tuna casserole, your dads greasy eggplant Parmesan and your grandmothers meatballs. Every bite you take is subconsciously compared to what you already know. Many of your comfort foods might not support your current health condition or your political views on the welfare of our planet and the animals in which we share our lives with.
I want to add that no matter what your motivation is for this new lifestyle venture, all are welcome to try it. Everyone has a different journey and this is a significant way to help create a longer and healthier life for ourselves first and foremost and with that, our planet and Gods creatures will also have a longer, cleaner, healthier life as well. At the same time, we are now being that positive influence on our younger generations, raising the bar to which they will reference all future subconscious food comparisons and hopefully giving them an open mind when it comes to eating. After all, statistics on health, global warming and animal cruelty is not necessarily facts that will maintain it's truth forever from now. It is instead, the best information we have at the moment. Its the same way medical science works. How many drugs have been deemed safe for a cure and eventually removed from the market because over time, we learn those facts were not concrete. If we continue to evolve our diets and lifestyle based on the best information we have right now, we will leave this world in a condition we once thought was never achievable.
So, with that said, let me give you my advice on how to pass by the butcher so you don't have a panic attack on what food you will now survive on.
1. Help! I need to know what to eat instead of Steak??
I see you people on Facebook. You need some un-trusted source to write your 7 day meal plan with recipes. You think you need meat in your diet? First of all, no the fuck you don't. Besides being a complete protein, beef doesn't not benefit your body. It takes days to digest while it ferments in your gut. You get the meat sweats and take a donkey dump days later.
Beyond Meat and the Impossible Foods products will help you transition your "meat" based recipes into something your body and your toilet can tolerate a lot better. Litelife also has a great ground meat substitute that make great taco meat, bolognese or quesadilla's with a plant-based cheese. Now, keep in mind, Beyond & Impossible products are derived from plants, but they are not ground vegetables. They are more of a science experiment than they are a recipe.
Compared to beef, Plant-based replacements are indeed missing a few things. There's no cholesterol or saturated fat to clogged your arteries. So once you get over the mental insecurities that it won't taste good, there's a good chance you'll live longer to learn how to cook and season your food to make anything you make outstanding. If you were raised to think red meat was what men are made of, then you should also realize that every 38 seconds in the United States, someone dies of a heart disease. Changing what you put in your mouth along with a brisk walk and few sit ups once in a while will hopefully start to put that average over the 1 minute mark and eventually 2 minutes.
2. I NEED CHEESE...
Our dairy industry as done a great job telling us milk does a body good. How do they explain the statistics that world wide, we have the highest rate of dairy consumption and the most osteoporosis in the world? Can someone explain how that milk is working for us? We are not baby cows and we do not NEED cheese. It causes diabetes, the estrogen fucks with the human hormones. Men get breasts, female children have their period at much younger ages leading to more health problems and higher rates of teen pregnancy.
Plant-Based cheese has come a very long way. The flavors have been matched to the cheese we are used to. It melts better and has a texture that could fool any diner. Just like all things, some brands are better than others. The two I prefer are Good Planet Foods and Violife. Both brands make shreds and slices. Slices are great for sandwiches and shreds are good for nachos, quesadillas, flat breads, pasta and whatever else you would use a dairy cheese for. I find that they just take a little longer to melt, but once they do, the textures and flavors will take you right back to your meat eater days.
3. Where will you get your protein?
My leg days have been nothing short of 910lbs on the leg press machine. I'm not limited by my protein options to keep up with the gains. I'm limited because that's about all of the weight that the machine at my gym will hold. So let that sink in. The gym can't keep up with me...
For a complete list of plants with the highest proteins and essential amino acids, read my "Plant's Have Protein Too" blog later by clicking here. You'll read about plenty of ingredients like Tofu, Quinoa, Lentils and many more delicious options that have all 9 essential amino acids that our body needs to absorb through food on a daily basis. Even if you're not a body builder, we need the proper fuel to repair our body tissue without negatively weakening our immune system.
4. Relax, You're not going to starve
Keep in mind that Horses, Cows and Elephants are all plant-based animals too. Do you think a 2,000 Pound animal spent it's life starving? Hell no, so relax. The common filler for the beginner ends up being a high carb diet. Pasta, bread and potatoes seem to fill us up pretty good to prevent that feeling like we are going to whither away and look like that pale Barista with the beanie that hands us our morning latte.
Be very aware of your carbs, they quickly turn to body fat if consumed in abundance and not properly burned as energy. This doesn't mean avoid carbs altogether. By consuming nutrient dense ingredients like most vegetables, your body will actually need less volume of food to absorb the nutrients that it needs to make you happy.
You can read my blog about carbs & sugar here
Rice & beans combined become a complete protein, plus, they are high in fiber. Two great benefits plus they will help you fill up until you are comfortable with a plant-based diet
5. How do you get started???
Here's my advice. There will never be a good time to make a change for anything. You just have to pull the trigger. First step, remove all of the animal products from your kitchen. Stop looking at them, they will only tease you further. Right now, there are many people that can't afford their next meal and would greatly appreciate what you can give them. If you have the time, meal prep those ingredients and turn them into something that's ready to eat, your gift will less likely go to waste that way. Cook your favorite recipes because when you're done, you can look at what you cooked and use the tips I have already given you to make plant-based substitutions for yourself.
Meal & snack prepping is very beneficial because having food ready BEFORE you become ravenously hungry will help prevent jumping ship and eating something you didn't originally intend to eat... like a Big Mac.
More and more restaurants are adding vegan options to their menu and the more you demand it, the more frequently you eat there, the more options you will soon have.
Your old diet didn't evolve into what it was overnight, so don't expect to have all the answers to a plant-based lifestyle in one blog post either. Let it evolve, any meal without animal products is still a benefit. So don't get discouraged, be proud of the progress you are making and don't forget, the biggest results might just be the ones you can't see. Now is the time to be proactive take control of your health