Why I Eat Mostly Plants

This morning I had a vegan breakfast burrito that seemed larger than my actual stomach. Turns out, it was. I ate half of it before I tapped out. I got it from “The Impossible Shop” in Bethesda, where their burgers and burritos were buy one, get one free. I didn’t spend much, and I got four meals out of it. As I was eating, I realized I could write about it. Here, in no particular order, are the reason plant-based eating appeals to me:

  • I get to pay the ADHD tax up front.
    • Plant-based food can sit in my refrigerator much longer than meat. I had to ask myself what was better…. protein that would spoil in my refrigerator quickly if I forgot about it, or protein I would actually get around to eating? I started stocking my freezer with veggie burgers that took a few minutes in the microwave, or 20 minutes in a saute pan if I was feeling fancy and wanted to crisp them up. I stocked my fridge with veggie hot dogs, cashew cheese, and soy-based cream cheese. I’m pretty sure that if Whole Foods stopped carrying veggie dogs, vegan cream cheese, and hot sauce I’d be dead by now (here, have the recipe for a really great hot dog). As a lifelong sufferer of ADHD, I generally don’t realize I’m hungry until I need food right the hell now. The ADHD tax is that my groceries are a little more expensive, but not horribly so.
  • It’s healthy.
    • Hear this, and hear it well. You are not going to save many, if any calories on a plant-based diet, and it’s a huge misconception. However, what you do get is less saturated fat and more vitamins if you actually eat vegetables. It’s possible to be vegan and not eat them, getting by on Impossible burgers, sausage, etc. But if you’re willing to eat the rainbow along with it, you get superfood. A lot of nights, I will make salad mixed with lentils and rice, add dried fruit like cranberries or cherries, and use a handful of walnuts or pecans for protein. I found rice and lentils that take 90 seconds in the microwave…. and by salad, I usually get mise already prepared. Chopped red onion, carrots, Brussels sprouts, etc. You might be shocked that I’ve cooked professionally, have acceptable knife skills, and still buy the mise (short for mise-en-place, French for “everything in its place,” and means preparing your ingredients to throw in a pan/rice cooker/etc. beforehand), but remember…. ADHD TAX. Do I need veggies I can use quickly or veggies that will spoil because I won’t remember I need prep time? The ADHD tax is less than the amount I would spend throwing whole veggies in the trash.
  • Plant-based is better for my mental health.
    • Between ADHD, depression, and anxiety, I will never (get to) go off meds in my life. They’re chronic conditions. However, eating superfood helps keep them at bay. My diet is the supporting actor. I also buy vegan meal replacement shakes and tiny vegan chocolate milks to drink with my meals because they’re fortified with all the vitamins I skip while cooking, particularly B and D (they help especially in the winter). When I get really, really depressed and anxious, I sometimes develop a block on eating, and both ensure I still get calories.
  • I propagate less animal cruelty.
    • Michael Pollan’s mantra is “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” I’ve taken it to heart, and only eat dairy sparingly and meat a few times a year. I have found that as I get older, I have less and less tolerance for lactose, and sometimes get mild stomach upset with meat. But I’m not going to become so fanatical about my diet that it affects other cooks. I don’t want anyone to bend to accommodate me. What we’re having is what we’re having. But eating less meat is better than having it for every meal. Pollan’s other mantra is “don’t eat anything that your great-grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food.” Though I’d have to explain cashew cheese, it wouldn’t be too foreign… you can make it as easily in your home kitchen as they did with whole milk and cheesecloth. I also don’t want to feel bad about the very occasional Nashville Hot Chicken or piece of bacon. I just don’t buy it for home use.
  • Plant-based eating made cooking exciting again.
    • I already know my way around a kitchen using traditional ingredients over and over (and over and over). Figuring out substitutions, learning to make alternative junk food, and trading recipes on the Internet sparked my creativity in the kitchen, and I wasn’t bored anymore. I can make a mean vegan macaroni and cheese or Alfredo sauce. Pastry with olive oil is delicious. I don’t bake (different skill set), so I generally buy pastry and cakes, but I know from experience in eating them that I won’t eat non-vegan desserts unless I’m at someone else’s house and that’s what’s offered. Vegan desserts are just too amazing to ignore, or to skip eating because “they’re gross” and you’ve never even tried one. Girl, please.

My diet is entirely based on Anthony Bourdain, and I’d like to believe he’d be proud of me. His disdain for vegans and vegetarians was LEGENDARY (LEGENDAIRY?), so my mantra comes from him. “When you reject other people’s food, you reject them, because their hospitality is deeply rooted in their culture and family.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist. I accept other people’s gifts as well as I do my own. However, it’s rare that other people cook for me. Most of the time, I’m on my own, and I have to cook food that aligns with my values… the biggest of which is paying the ADHD tax on the front end instead of owing more on the back end.

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