We went Plant Based Dairy Free, and we LOVE it!

Usually people start a new diet or a lifestyle change for the New Year, but we are changing things up and doing a MAJOR lifestyle overhaul mid-year. I never thought that I would get the hubby buy-in, but here we are 2 months into our Plant Based, Dairy Free lifestyle and we are LOVING it! And surprisingly, it is not as hard as you may think.

Let me start by saying this, I am not a doctor, dietitian, health coach, nutritionist etc. I am a mom on a mission to be healthier from the inside out by eating a diet rich in plant based protein and minimally processed foods. Take what I am saying as my opinion and let it be a suggestion not a guide to living a Plant Based, Dairy Free healthy lifestyle.

Our past, prior to Plant Based, Dairy Free living

I have never been a big meat eater. I have always been a big salad and veggie lover. Now when it comes to cheese, that is a whole different story. I absolutely LOVE cheese. #givemeallthecheese and I am a happy girl. When I was single I would eat cheese and crackers, some salad and have a bottle of wine for dinner (so healthy right!?)

My husband on the other hand is a meat and potatoes guy. He totally lived (and ate) like a typical bachelor when we got together. It has taken me years to slowly alter his diet to a healthier version. He has come a long way in 9 years and I am so proud of the effort that he is making. 

How our Plant Based, Dairy Free transition began

I read a medical study a few years back about some doctors who were feeding their cancer patients a plant based and dairy free diet to reduce and, in some cases, kill the cancer cells. This study was so remarkable because it explained that animal protein was actually feeding the cancer cells while plant based protein was, in most cases, stopping the growth of the cancer cells. I was so floored by this. I’ve known for years that the human body was not designed to consume dairy, but my love of cheese has always held me back. In my mind, the reason that I could never do dairy free was my deep affection for cheese…that was my “out”. After reading about this study, I knew that I could easily conform to a plant based and dairy free diet but my husband would be my biggest challenge so I never really pushed the issue. 

So within our transition, we were hyper-focused on ensuring that our food was organic (mainly because of pesticides) and antibiotic free.

So What is Plant Based, Dairy Free?

We are technically “vegan” (veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals), but I don’t like the stigma associated with the term and it confuses people too because there are several categories of veganism.

Dietary Vegans (or strict vegetarians) refrain from consuming animal products, not only meat but also eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived substances. (That’s us)

Ethical Vegan is often applied to those who not only follow a vegan diet but extend the philosophy into other areas of their lives, and oppose the use of animals for any purpose.

Environmental Veganism, which refers to the avoidance of animal products on the premise that the industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable. (This makes my head spin but it is such a valuable lesson to learn)

I am definitely in line with a dietary vegan and I am 100% behind the environmental vegan philosophy, but we are also still eating honey (a true vegan no-no) and I am still using cold pressed olive oil and unrefined, cold pressed virgin coconut oil (a Whole Foods, Plan Based diet no-no that I am working toward eliminating-BUT I love my oils).  

So to keep it simple, we are Plant Based and Dairy Free. Our diet consists of veggies and fruit, legumes and nuts, whole grains and no meat/chicken/dairy/eggs and we LOVE it.

Important Things to Know

To become Plant Based and Dairy Free we had to take a lot of things into consideration, including getting enough omega 6, protein, iron and vitamin b12 & d. More importantly, we had to pay close attention to where our food is coming from. Ingredients and label reading is key because we want to avoid GMO’s (“partially produced with genetic engineering” = GMO) and there are so many hidden words for dairy, so being up to par with that has been very eye opening. Good news is there are some great scanner apps out there to help with identifying whether something is considered vegan or not (meaning that it will alert us if there is dairy or egg or meat).

Processed Foods are foods where fiber and nutrients are removed and should be minimized on a PBDF diet (including oils). This one is so hard because we don’t have a family farm (who does?! and please introduce me if you know someone) and we work/have kids, so we need to be realistic and focus on buying things that are still healthy versions.

PSA-just because something says “vegan” does NOT mean it is healthy.

What we EAT

Whole grains, veggies and especially green leafy veggies, fruit, legumes and beans, and lots and lots of WATER are the basis for a PBDF diet!

We have always loved quinoa and now lentils and chickpeas make regular (almost daily) appearances in our meals. 

We have reduced our sugar intake (I actually haven’t had sugar in my coffee in over 10 years).

Reducing processed foods is important, but we need quick alternatives to things we are used to, so vegan cheese, vegan egg (I sometimes use Aquafaba), pre-made veggie burgers etc. are all things that we are still consuming in moderation.

Some go to’s for us are Dr. Praegers burgers, Ripple plant based milk, SO Delicious coconut ice cream and anything Amy’s Kitchen.

We are making sure to stay away from THE 4 WHITE {white flour, white potatoes, white bread, white sugar}. Refined carbs are a no-no but we do eat complex carbs like sweet potato, whole grain bread (Dave’s Killer Bread is amazing) and brown rice. 

We also incorporate nutritional yeast and a dried blend of non GMO fruits and veggies into a lot of our dishes. 

Important P’s to Plant Based, Dairy Free

Planning is the only way that this can be done. Meal planning, making a detailed list (knowing your brands) and having snacks are crucial!! Listen to me…..snacks.are.crucial. CRUCIAL!! Even though we get fuller faster (that’s the high fiber and more nutrient dense foods) we are hungry more often (3 meals and 3 snacks per day).

Pinterest is your best friend. There are so many great recipes out there! You can follow my Plant Based, Dairy Free board here for inspiration and recipes.

Prepping veggies and pre-making some things will save so much time. I usually make enough lentils, brown rice and riced cauliflower for 2-3 meals. It saves so much time and makes it easy for a “quick” meal. Washing and cutting the veggies ahead of time is an absolute lifesaver. Trust me on this.

Some of the meals that I’ve made and loved..

For most people, jumping 100% into something like this is not realistic. We made a decision and went all or nothing. We have found so many wonderful things to eat that may have never bee on our radar before (let’s be honest, on hubby and kids radar…).

Are you daring enough to embark on this kind of journey? What would hold you back?

I’d love to hear your comments!! Drop me a line!

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