Going Plant-Based: The Practical Considerations
Now that you’ve learned about my motivations for living a plant-based lifestyle, you might wonder about the practical considerations since we avoid buying or ingesting any animal products.
That means we don’t buy leather goods. We also read a lot of labels to be certain where our food, clothes, and furniture (including the upholstery in our cars) comes from.
In addition, gelatin comes from animals and is an ingredient used in the production of capsules. Therefore, we avoid products with gelatin as an ingredient. (Note: I am aware of individuals who do not consume honey as it is produced by bees. I believe the ingestion of honey is a personal decision as bees are not harmed in the harvesting process.)
The most common question we receive is how we navigate eating outside of our home, such as at family and friends’ homes or restaurants. Let’s explore that further …
Going Plant-Based: At Our House with Friends & Family
When we invite friends to our home, some request certain items that they remember from past meals as their favorites. All of Melissa’s eggplant dishes are the most often requested, except from my carnivore sister, Nancy.
On other occasions, when we entertain our guests, we make delicious dishes that include transition foods like vegan sausages. If our guests are not paying attention, they may not even realize the substitution!
Going Plant-Based: Eating at the Homes of Friends/Family
Since most people love my wife, they will go to any extent to visit with us, and they graciously make plant-based meals for our visit. Dining with our vegan friends, John and Paula, is a no brainer. They cook up a storm with exciting and delicious dishes to please our palates. When we visit some of our best friends like Jim and Louise, they go out of their way to make sure we have healthy, plant-based food items to eat. This even applies to our most ardent meat eaters.
Kidding aside, most people will ask about acceptable options and also request a recipe and instructions about proper cooking. When we supply recipes, we choose delicious options that are simple and easy to make.
If there is ever any resistance, we take the high road and offer to make and bring a main course. It delights us and we proudly share our delicious option. We find our friends gravitate to the dish we bring and express astonishment at the freshness and delicious taste. They usually ask for the recipe.
Going Plant-Based: Eating Out – Restaurants
Eating out in restaurants is a challenging situation, and it takes more planning and work to have an enjoyable experience.
A first obstacle is finding a restaurant that caters to people who follow a plant-based lifestyle. These restaurants are around but depending on your location they can be few and far between. When you find one, they are heaven because there are a lot of options. We are discriminating in our selections because some items at vegan restaurants are high in caloric value and not always the healthiest food for us to eat.
The other obstacle, especially if we are meeting up with friends or family, is to choose a restaurant that we have been to before (so we already know the menu) or choose a new-to-us restaurant and explore the menu for items we prefer to eat. A phone call to the restaurant might be part of this process to see if they can alter a meal to meet our needs. It may surprise you how often restaurants comply.
Also, when in doubt, Asian and Mexican restaurants often have options with just vegetables that can meet our needs. We have to ask about all the ingredients. Unfortunately, sometimes there are language barriers that make this part of the process difficult. One has to be patient and remain pleasant.
Going Plant-Based: Getting Started
Here is a suggestion to try once a week: Meatless Monday.
- Find a restaurant that serves only plant-based meals and try it.
- As an alternative, visit Melissa’s food blogs on our website and choose one of her delicious recipes to make at home.
You will be astounded and feel a sense of accomplishment at how delicious a plant-based meal can be. Email me and let me know how it goes.
To a long and healthy life,
David Bernstein, MD