Dr. Plastic Picker’s Vegan Dreams
May 10, 2020
Sometimes you need to meet the right person to nudge you over to do what you have been wanting to do for a long time. My grandmother died in 2019, and she was Buddhist and vegan for most of her life. You could say then, that veganism runs in my family. I remember going to temple with her for a short time and meditating with a group of aged Asian grandparents, I also became vegetarian for a very short time in high school. It didn’t last long since I was too squirmy at that point to meditate and I couldn’t quite identify with my then 60-year-old temple-mates. So I returned to the normal American teenage life and started going with my friends to their Christian church. I have always admired vegetarians and vegans and Buddhist. It has always to me seemed a more efficient and kind way to live, but I never really thought much more than that.
Then I landed on the beach and began picking up ocean plastic at a time of great sorrow in my life. I have blogged in the past about this time of healing. Really seeing all the plastic pollution and trying to gather it all up, has been the catalyst for many positive changes. I began to think clearly, became more kind, and more creative. And with the gifts that nature has given me, I am reminded to keep planetary health at the forefront of my life. Confronting plastic pollution lead me to really acknowledge that what we eat is intertwined with our values.
What are my values? Water conservation. Land conservation. Carbon emissions reduction. Environmental justice. Health equity. It seems to all lead to being more plant-based in my own eating, and relaying this to those around me. There are many terms out there, plant-based, lacto-ovo, pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan. I love the term flexitarian, as being flexible is always important. My concern before about vegetarian and veganism was girls developing eating disorders and poor bone density. But after thinking about this for over a year, I feel comfortable counseling my patients who seek to become vegetarian and vegan on how to prevent these issues. As an aside, I do believe the whole “gluten-free” movement for non-celiac patients is a burgeoning eating disorder pandemic.
Who did I meet that nudged me over onto this journey toward vegetarian/veganism? I like to think of him as the Vegan Anesthesiologist. He is a young father, married to a beautiful and very fit working mother, and they have an adorable vegan toddler who is as healthy as can be. I know him in real life and he also is on instagram as @drdarewreck . He works on physician wellness which has a lot to do with plant based eating. Watching them eat together on Instagram as a family, vegan and joyfully, nudged me on this journey that I have been intending to take.
As with all those watershed moments in life, its usually a confluence of events that create that tipping point. My niece and my own daughter have been asking about vegetarianism. Some of my own parents in clinic have began more vegan cooking and shared their journey with me, this includes many that are minorities. There is a high proportion of my litter-picking Instagram friends who are vegan. COVID-19 really emphasized how awful and unsustainble the meat-packing industry is. And then I really have more time now to learn new recipes and cook. It helps that I am already lactose-intolerant and we live 2 blocks from an amazing bulk organic grocery store.
So last week marked our official start of our family’s journey toward vegetarianism/veganism. That first week was much easier than I thought. Mr. Plastic Picker has purchased a pound of pinto beans and they have been sitting in our pantry for a month now. I hate food waste, so always look through the pantry to try to clear things out. I saw the pinto beans and the instapot, and a quick Ecosia search yielded an easy recipe. I just had to remember to soak them the night before. We had pinto beans, pita bread and roasted broccoli spears for dinner and the kids gave a thumbs up. I had also been reminded that I needed to keep the salt down in our diet for our son, so homemade pinto beans seemed like a good idea https://drplasticpicker.com/teenager-your-blood-pressure-is-a-bit-high-what-should-you-do-what-did-we-do/
Then for the next week, we had the left over pinto bean mixture in the fridge. Our daughter had some in lieu of meat for a few meals. Instead of a piece of luncheon meat for some of my quick breakfast or lunches, I saw the pinto beans and just used that instead. I had never really liked meat that much anyway.
Then yesterday morning, Mr. Plastic Picker and I went to Sprouts. I finally picked up flaxseed and chia seeds in bulk that I wanted to start adding to our Instapot oatmeal, as they provide fiber. I also bought dried red beans for the first time, since our pinto bean trial went well. And then I saw them. Beyond Meat’s Beyond Sausage. I had seen the Beyond Meat products at Costco but they were in plastic packing and I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. But yesterday it came in a compostable heavy cardboard package. I just picked one package up.
Then for lunch yesterday I was cleaninig out the fridge, and wanted to use the leftover vegetables. A third of a onion, one lonely zuchinni, and a red bell pepper. Mr. Plastic Picker buys all of these but he never cooks them. I just chopped them all up, threw them in a pan with a bit of cooking oil. Then saw the package of the new Beyond Sausage and chopped them up and threw them in. I opened the pantry, and saw the new garlic salt I had purchased and some dried basil I had bought back for Thanksgiving. I said , why not?, and just sprinkled them in. I began sauteeing it all together, and it started looking a bit watery. Remember, I have really just learned to cook for the last few years. I had vague recollections that corn starch was a thickener on some other chicken recipe, and just sprinkled some corn startch in. Low and behold! The dish started coming together! The aroma was delicious! I took a quick taste and my taste-buds were happy. My daughter wandered over and she was amazed! OMG, I realized I had also just bought local organic corn tortillas that are vegan. My daughter wanted to heat those up on the stove. Voila! We had vegan lunch success using our left over vegetables. We ate every last piece, and I even took some left over french baguette to wipe all the residue from the pan to get one last taste.
And with that, I had seen @drdarewreck recommend @itdoesnttastelikechicken and I had begun following their account on instagram already. I searched for the vegan tofu crumble recipe he had from a post, and then this morning signed up for @itdoesnttaatelikechicken’s free vegan email book.
It is 559AM and my mother-in-law is up wandering around the kitchen. My in-laws have been eating plant-based for the last 5 years as well. They loved the pinto beans from earlier in the week. I am excited to try the vegan tofu crumble recipe, and also the red beans this week. We buy alternating at least half of our “milk” as a plant-based milk, and this week went with Rice Milk.
I am off for a morning plogging session. I am not sure if I will be able to go to the beach because of COVID-19, and its honestly too crowded in our neighborhood. I’m sticking to mostly around our streets with my metal grabber. But I am so happy we started our journey to becoming vegetarian/vegan, or at least more plant-based. I feel closer to my grandmother with every vegan meal. I remember at our wedding, my grandparents were sitting with us at the head table and my grandparents brought their own vegan food in a plastic bag rather than eat the pricey Filet Mignon. I always would tell that story, but now I will tell it in a different way. They were ahead of their time, or maybe it’s just we need to go back to our family food roots – which was for me a grandmother who made her amazing tofu from scratch before it was cool and valued all life from the insect to the human. Thank you to @drdarewreck and all those others that reminded me that what I choose to eat is part of the answer to the plastic pollution crisis.