Plant-Based: What's Next?
The answer to the question in the title is greater healing and holistic balance, over the course of this article I intend to explain how to achieve this, will provide a straight forward guide and briefly recap my journey to this point to highlight the gradual transition that is necessary when starting from an omnivorous diet (meat-based / eating “everything”). At the start of my plant-based journey I was blessed to be surround by friends and fellow PTs who were already plant-based, they encouraged and supported my decision to slowly phase out meat and dairy/animal products, one that I made to achieve better health, as well as for ethical and environmental reasons – for more info on these areas, check out my “Why I Joined V-Gang” blog post. The following is an in-depth look at the food itself.
While I am partly “Vegan for the Animals”, I believe that our individual healing is an equal, if not greater issue we face and that if we follow the path of healing, this will surely lead us to a more peaceful and compassionate state of being. I will be referring to my (vegan) diet as plant-based from here on to distance myself from some of the stereotypes and ideas perpetuated by the vegan movement – as someone who ate meat for the majority of my life, I’m in no position to persecute people that still do. I only ask that they investigate the life-changing healing that is possible on a plant-based diet.
Some people say that they “tried” a plant-based diet for a short time, got sick and have decided that a plant-based diet doesn’t work for them… Quite often the people in question cut out all animal products, ate starchy carbohydrates and limited fruits/vegetables for that period which is bound to make them sick. If we’re going to significantly change our lifestyle and try a new long-term diet, then research should be done to ensure that we’re providing the body with optimal nutrition – common sense, you would think.
The renowned herbalist and healer Dr. Sebi famously stated that “disease finds its genesis when and where the mucous membrane has been compromised. For example, if there is excess mucous in the bronchial tubes, the disease is Bronchitis; if it is in the lungs, the disease is Pneumonia; in the pancreatic duct, it is Diabetes; in the joints, Arthritis.” Therefore, a diet that is free of acidic/mucus-forming foods (starch, yeast, wheat, all rice except wild, meat, fish, corn, soy, processed and hybrid food etc), based instead on alkaline foods that nourish and electrify our bodies will reverse and prevent disease. Both Dr. Sebi and early 20th century health educator Prof. Arnold Ehret advocated diets that work off this principle – it is their approaches that form the basis of the information I’m presenting.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, when starting from an omnivorous diet (as I did), a gradual transition is advisable to ensure sustained change, overcome food addictions (sugar, salt, fat etc) and detox the body at a tolerable rate. There are some foods that can be introduced to help facilitate this transition while meat, fish, dairy, eggs etc are being phased out. These transitional foods are still mildly or moderately acidic/mucus-forming and so are not included in the final alkaline/mucusless diet, they include: beans/legumes, non-wheat pastas (spelt, quinoa, buckwheat etc), non-wheat wholegrain bread and all processed plant-based food. Combining these foods with plenty of raw salad (fibre) will help to eliminate them from the gut.
Over the first 8 months of 2016 I shifted from omnivorous eating, to pescatarian, then vegetarian and finally, fully plant-based which I have stuck to for 2.5 years now. For those curious as to whether this diet can provide everything we need, you may be interested to read this analysis of a food diary that I completed recently for performance nutritionist Sarah-Jane Holt – this 5-day snapshot obviously isn’t representative of my entire 2.5 years of plant-based eating, but it still gives an idea of my average nutrient profile. Sarah determined that my current diet, while high in fat, has next to no trans fats and provides me with 1.5g of protein per KG of bodyweight – in my opinion this adequately supports my training and activity level plus, as can be seen from the report, my nutrient profile is broad. This specific diet clearly wouldn’t be appropriate for less active people or certain body types, although if carbs/fats (and therefore calories) were reduced it could be a good starting point.
The aforementioned transitional foods played a vital role in my journey, however talking to Coupe made me acknowledge that just eating plant-based isn’t enough if optimal health is the primary goal – what plant-foods we eat/combine and when is also important. We agreed that this is another reason why “vegan” isn’t an appropriate label for our diet, since vegan simply means not from an animal – so all the vegan junk food and poorly combined meals are acceptable under this term, however experts such as Dr. Llaila Afrika have long taught how detrimental poorly combined food like sugar with starch can be to the body. Just three days ago at brunch, Coupe pointed to the banana bread and jam on my plate and said, “enjoy that while you can”, knowing that I intend to take the next step towards a fully holistic diet. I laughed, and the irony is that I’m now writing this with nasal congestion which I haven’t experienced for over a year, the last time was following repeated consumption of wheat – I can no longer be ignorant of these things.
So, what’s next? Fully embracing the alkaline/mucusless diet, sticking to the rules of food combining and changing my approach to breakfast – I’ve put together this guide which consolidates the teachings/work and research of past and present pioneers of holistic health and healing through diet. I hope that some may find it useful on their journey – in the spirit of Imhotep and Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food.”