Why aren’t we crushing it?
Hello and welcome to Taste This!, the official newsletter of StayingVegan.com!
Hi, welcome once again to Taste This, the newsletter of choice for the discerning superhero!
We’ve had a whirlwind week here, well, basically, it’s been a week of lying around watching a baby sleep, but that takes up a surprising amount of energy! I hope you had a great one and you’re ready to make a difference both in your life and the lives of those around you!
Why aren’t we crushing it?
So here’s the deal: when you sign up for this newsletter, there’s a question I ask in addition to the name and email stuff. I want to know what the best tip I can give you would be. A lot of you sign up without giving an answer (and if you’re living a life of regret as a result, please don’t – I’m easy to reach if you have any questions!) but many of you have some interesting requests, and they really help me to make sure I’m talking about stuff that people will really be interested in.
(By the way, my apologies to Kyle, who wanted to know “how to effectively shoot a flaming arrow while standing on a moving bicycle.” It’s just not my area of expertise, but if anyone out there has tips, send them in and I’ll forward them along. I’m not sure if he meant “shoot from a bow” or “shoot the arrows with other arrows or bullets or mangoes,” so please provide solutions for both.)
Anyway, people sign up every day, and I email once a week, so I get more questions than I have room for answers, but what happens is that trends will appear and we get a lot of questions that fit a certain theme. I like to identify the themes, because often what we’re asking isn’t really what we’re asking, if that makes sense.
The theme recently has been a bunch of questions about the best vegan foods to eat, menu ideas, easy things to add to your diet, and so on, and what struck me out of all this is this:
Why aren’t we eating the most amazing foods all the time? We’re all really smart people – I know this because you’re on this list 🙂 And we know that a vegan diet can be one of the most healthful ways to eat, but there are a lot of us who feel like we’re not doing as well as we should.
Today I want to talk about two ideas that aren’t really tied together directly other than that they both fall into this theme.
First of all, I think vegan junk food is WAY more dangerous than “regular” junk food. There’s a bit of a hoarding instinct wired into each of us, as part of our survival mechanisms, so when things get scarcer we want to gather as much of it together as possible.
When we go vegan, we narrow down the choices in the snack, convenience, and processed food categories dramatically, and that can trigger that part of our brain. All of a sudden, every shopping trip has to include a treat.
It gets worse when we try to use our high school economics “training” to justify our behaviour and make it our responsibility to ensure that every vegan food company stays afloat through our spending alone! (I’m not saying we shouldn’t support vegan companies; just recognize that telling five friends about them might be better for them, and you, than simple shopping.)
When people ask for good vegan meal ideas, I think a lot of the time it comes down to “meals without processed foods.” If you cut back on your processed food purchases, it’ll give room for the other stuff to fill your plate. In other words, if you want more X, eat less Y. The details will usually take care of themselves, and for help in the “eat less of” department, just recognize that your hoarding sense is working against you and remind yourself that you live in a world of 24 hour food stores and the Tofurkey will still be there next time.
Secondly, I want to discuss modelling briefly. No, we’re not going to take a spin down the catwalk – I mean modelling habits and behaviours from people who have achieved things we want. In this case, there are people out there who already eat what we consider to be a much healthier vegan diet than we might, so rather than spend a few years beating ourselves up trying to find our own path to better eating, let’s look at what they’ve figured out and copy it.
I’ve studied a few really healthy eaters over the years, vegan and carnist, and I’ve noticed a few common trends that you might want to model after. The first thing is that they take breaks. In dieting circles, they’re called “cheat meals” and “cheat days,” where for some period of time they let themselves do whatever they want. This will happen once a week or once a month or over some other span of time that they’ve decided – from personal experience I can tell you that once a day is probably too often 🙂
It turns out that people who aren’t “on a diet” can use the same concepts. I’ve written before about how self-discipline is like a muscle, and it seems like these “cheating” periods help restore some of that internal energy (there may also be some benefits to varying the amount of calories you take in, but I don’t fully understand the research yet.)
The other practice that I’ve found in common amongst many really fit people is the idea of the Big Salad meal, where they take the biggest bowl in the house (I mean a baking bowl, or possible a punch bowl, not a soup bowl here) and fill it with as many different vegetables as they can, topped with some healthy oils. The thing takes an hour or so to eat, apparently, so plan accordingly. Does it work? I don’t know, but I do know this: when I read an interview with someone who’s really fit (and this includes some non-vegans) and I ask myself “how can I get what they have,” the Big Salad meal comes up more often than not, so it might be worth a look.
So those are my two diet-tuning tips this week. Use one, use both, or take ’em and turn things in another direction!
Thanks again for being a subscriber and for telling your friends about Staying Vegan. I really appreciate your feedback!
I’m still a little fuzzy from the baby-no-sleep zone, and my time at the keyboard is limited, so please understand if I don’t respond right away, at all, or coherently to your mails this week. I’m doing my best, but there’s a lot going on right now!
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This newsletter goes out (almost) every Monday afternoon, see you next week!