In the past year, we have consumed more than 200 restaurant meals (we added it up). In fact, that's a conservative estimate and it's very likely that we are much closer to 300 meals eaten in restaurants, pubs, cafes, food trucks, and eateries. In that time, we have never ordered a vegetarian or vegan option – virtually every single one of those meals was centred around meat and dairy aside from the one meal we ate a vegan restaurant.
So, when we announced that we were going vegan – most of ‘our people' were shocked. We made the announcement on October 3rd, 2017 (yes, that's 4 weeks ago) and we went vegan cold turkey to tackle a project we're affectionately calling, “Ma, The Meatloaf!”
WHY PLANT BASED?
Simply put, we love food and we wanted to do another food project! We decided that this year, we'd tackle it in a different way and really delve into a food culture. Vegans, vegetarians, and plant based foodies are SO passionate about food, the environment and sustainability around food practices that we were enamoured by that excitement and wanted to get to know this new culture better.
Also, if we're being perfectly honest, we haven't been feeling great. We've both gained weight this last year or so, we're not sleeping well, we're both struggling with some skin issues and our energy levels are lower than we would like. We all know that eating an abundance of plants is a good thing…so why not really dive in and see what happens.
HOW: OUR METHODS
When we first told people we were going vegan the most frequent response was that they could never do it because they love meat, cheese, burgers, bacon on sandwiches…that it would be impossible for them.
But it's not impossible.
What we've learned, very quickly in fact, is that with the right support, the right food choices and a little investment of time and effort it's actually very simple.
We started by enlisting the experts and surrounding ourselves with all the resources that are available to us where we live. As we started doing our research, we realized that there were far more options, resources and support systems than we had originally thought and that got us really excited to show those to you!
Stephanie Millet, Naturopathic Doctor
Step One: Make sure we're doing this the right way! We know you're watching and the last thing we would want is for someone to decide to adopt a new way of eating because they see us doing it without knowing the facts – so our first stop was our Naturopathic Doctor's office, Legge Health Clinic, here in Truro.
During our initial appointment with Stephanie, she gave us lot's of information and also made some nutritional and supplement recommendations based around a vegan lifestyle. She did a thorough check of what we'd been eating (we had already adopted a vegan diet the week prior), went over our symptoms and our goals, and gave us a run through of what we should expect moving forward.
Her recommendations to us in week one:
- Get initial blood work done to give us a benchmark
- Focus on getting enough protein
- Continue taking a high quality multivitamin & add a B12 supplement (something that many people are deficient in)
Let's delve deeper and really focus our attention on what happens in the body when people adopt a more plant based diet versus the Standard American Diet (SAD). Reserch shows that individuals who are consuming a plant-based diet have lower LDL (“bad cholesterol that is associated with heart disease), lower HbA1C (a measure of your average blood sugar over three months), lower blood pressure, reduced odds of depression and anxiety, greater energy and improved cognitive functions compared to those on a SAD diet. Plant based diets are nutritionally dense and packed with protective antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Plants – particularly our leafy green vegetables are also rich in fibre which protects digestion, helps clear out toxins and feeds the healthy bacteria in our gut (which support our digestion and help protect us from illness).
Elisha Lee, Eat to Live Jumpstart
And this is why we LOVE the world wide web! I took a plant based cooking class a couple of weeks before starting this project and during that class another participant mentioned this online jumpstart program that was all about plant based eating. When I got home, I investigated and quickly connected with Elisha (who is totally awesome by the way) and the result was a super fun collaboration!
Her blog, Eat to Live Daily, is an amazing resource of recipes, advice, and support for anyone interested in delving into the world of whole-foods, plant based eating.
We took on one of Elisha's 6-week jumpstart programs to kick off our series and we're so glad we did! As she puts it, we “cannonballed” in and went whole-foods, plant based cold turkey with the help of her program and to be honest, it was a breeze! As two people who run our own online community, we know first hand the value that kind of support has and we're sure this transition wouldn't have been quite so easy if not for the support of Elisha and the Eat to Live community.
SunSpun Natural Foods & Fine Gifts
Local health food stores, in our opinion, are one of the most overlooked resources there are when you're trying to prioritize your health through diet. Yes, you can buy almost anything online now…but what you can't get online is the type of personalized service, support and knowledge that you can at a place like SunSpun.
When I first approach Kathy, owner of SunSpun, about this project we sat and talked for nearly two hours and what struck me the most was how deeply she cares for her customers and the sheer volume of knowledge that she has (and is willing to share). I happen to know Kathy from my days of singing in a girls choir with her daughter as well so I already knew she was awesome but that's a story for another day!
EnVie – A Vegan Kitchen
EnVie was one of our stops last year during our “Viewer's Choice Nova Scotia Restaurant” series and was our very first experience at an all vegan restaurant. To say we were impressed would be an understatement – in fact, it was our visit to EnVie that really prompted this whole project! You can check out the amazing meal we had with Cory last year here.
enVie – A Vegan Kitchen, was started in the summer of 2013. We wanted to open enVie as a place that this city didn’t really have available, a more upscale yet still pretty casual plant based dining experience. We wanted a great atmosphere and a place you could come on a nice date or enjoy a nice cocktail, or a glass of wine with your meal. We always wanted to appeal to all types of eaters, and we knew we were in a great vibrant neighbourhood and wanted our service and atmosphere to reflect that. We didn’t want to push that vegan was the only way of eating, we just wanted to, and still want to educate people on the benefits of a plant based diet and help them achieve their ideal lifestyle whatever that may be. I personally prefer to be plant based as I lead a pretty active lifestyle through various forms of exercise and training methods. There’s no fatigue and no matter how much I eat I never have that bloated, I’m too full to move feeling I used to get when I was eating a lot of animal products. All off our staff are very passionate about the work they do here, and we have a small staff that accomplishes a lot, whether that be through our ToGo fridge, our catering services, or special events. A business is only as good as the people who work in it day in and day out, and we have always been lucky to find young and passionate people who love what they do, and love putting smiles on people’s faces through the food they make in our tiny kitchen.
-Cory Urquhart, Co-Owner/Operator
Humani-T is our “treat” for this project and we're super excited to visit this gelato and expresso bar. Yes folks, you read that right – GELATO!!!!!!! This will be our first trip to the cafe but it didn't take us long, scrolling through their Instagram feed, and we were sold. In addition to specializing in house made, vegan Gelato they also cater to coffee and tea connoisseurs and serve up panini, soups and baked treats.
Humani-T Cafe acts as a community hub in both downtown Halifax, as well as the north end. We focus a lot on vegan desserts, hand-made gelato, and lattes made with our organic fair trade ‘Espresso 1749'. Being a purely plant-based eater myself (head shot attached), I'm really excited about the vision of Humani-T moving forward, and the emphasis we'll be putting on more and more vegan foods.
-Kiyan Sobhani, CEO
The Wooden Monkey
The Wooden Monkey is an old friend of ours. It's been a go-to for as long as I can remember in Halifax (they now also have Dartmouth location) because…well…CHOCOLATE TOFU PIE! It is to die for and I'm not kidding. The food speaks for itself but now that I've had the opportunity to chat with Lil, president and co-owner, I'm even more in love with everything the Wooden Monkey stands for.
The Wooden Monkey strives to support and help grow a healthier, local, sustainable food system here in Nova Scotia. We welcome you to join us in learning and tasting the amazing benefits you receive while supporting your local farmers. This new direction we are all working towards helps all the vital ecosystems on this planet. While growing our local economy we can feed our neighbors and support all the cleaner technology to help bring this world to a better, safer place.
-Lil MacPherson, President/ Co-Owner
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM US
Over the next 6 weeks we'll be documenting our journey in detail here on the blog. There are so many moving parts that we thought we'd put it in bullet points so you can have quick overview of what will be happening each week.
- Resource Showcase: Each week we'll be featuring one of the amazing resources that are available to us.
- Recipes: We're doing a lot experimenting in the kitchen and will be sharing at least one new recipe a week.
- Supplement Review: We've got 5 different plant based protein powders to try. We'll give you our honest review of each one as we try them with a roundup at the end.
- Progress, Updates & Challenges: Each week we will report in on things like blood pressure, weight, sleep, and an overview of how we're feeling and any challenges that we've come up against.
- Guest Interviews: Not every week, but we've got some exciting guest interviews coming your way from people that you should definitely get to know