Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Flipping the Switch: Meatballs and Sausage to Blackbean Burgers

Beginnings are hard.  At first it seems like every decision is impossibly difficult, especially when it comes to being a vegan or vegetarian.  Vanessa and I had arguments over whether to buy crackers that had a label which stated “produced on machinery which make contain traces of dairy products.”  Agony. This is never going to last.

 But let me back up…

For the first 30 ½ years of my life I was the poster boy of spaghetti and meatballs Italian-American. Typical Sunday dinners consisted of veal scaloppini, at least three or four meatballs and of course rigatoni with tomato sauce covered in my favorite Romano cheese.
Halfway through, I’d throw on more cheese. I couldn’t enjoy every bite unless I could taste the cheese.  In addition to my usual Sunday dinners, I loved (and still love) sausage and pepper sandwiches, baked ziti, pepperoni, provolone and of course pizza.  Lunches normally consisted of leftovers, a bagel with cream cheese, a double cheeseburger off the dollar menu, or a grilled stuffed burrito from Taco Bell. The results were clear.  I was in firm possession of a body like Tony from the Sopranos where fitness seemed like a long ago childhood memory.  The funny thing is I wanted to lose weight, so I’d cut down for a couple of weeks after I lost a couple of pounds, but then go back to McDonalds when I didn’t know what to have for lunch. Ahhh it’s only 400 calories for my favorite double cheeseburger, and it’s only a dollar. I’ll go on a walk later, and it’ll be all good according to my fitness pal app.  Usually the walks would be once, but twice a week, and maybe I could have just maintain my weight from getting past 230 lbs.  A change was in order.

Vanessa needs were not quite as dramatic.  She was in the healthy BMI range without exercising and had no obvious food issues.  However, just below the surface was a raging sugar and caffeine addict that best not be messed with.  Every morning was met with coffee and bizarre combinations of artificial sweeteners and cream.  A night without dessert was met with sighs of disappointment and a late night run for a pre-sliced piece of carrot cake that would only be half eaten.   Maybe we could both benefit from a switch.

I’m not sure exactly what did it but on Mother’s Day Vanessa and I watched the movie Forks Over Knives,  and decided to try a plant based diet for two weeks. 

 I felt embarrassed to think about how simple it might be to improve my life and how blind I had been in the previous years.  Could it be that dairy was causing some of weight issues?  Well somehow I had managed to ignore the fact that every time I spent an evening pigging out on pizza I would spend the next day within walking distance of the toilet as my gut did not agree with that much cheese.  So for 14 days we went along and ate vegetables, grains, legumes and all natural whole foods.  It felt like eternity, but for the entire time; no bloating, no diarrhea and no hunger cravings.  And as a nice bonus I lost 8 pounds without counting a single calorie. 

The journey had just begun…to go mad fresh!


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