This is Part 1 in a new blog series that explores one man’s journey through a dietary transformation from typical western foods of convenience to a whole foods, plant-based diet, inspired directly by testimonials of close friends and his own suffering.
It’s 5:24 AM as I begin this post. I should be sound asleep. Instead, I just spent the last 75 minutes on a treadmill watching “Forks Over Knives” on Netflix. Prior to that, I laid awake in bed, suffering from insomnia, heartburn, bloating, and sweats - all the byproduct of an otherwise lovely and enjoyable dinner party full of wine, cheese, and all the other fine trappings one might enjoy at such an event. I sit here, awake and miserable, asking myself, “Why do I keep punishing myself with my diet?”
Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are ... the enemy of everything good decent in the human spirit. -Anthony Bourdain R.I.P.
In an attempt to create meaning out of suffering, I am making a change in my life starting today. I will embark on a journey to transform my diet into a whole foods, plant-based diet, devoid of processed sugars and animal proteins.
Wait. Did I just become a vegan? If so, this would be a hard pill to swallow for a life-long admirer of the now deceased Anthony Bourdain. I’ve read his books, gotten his autograph (lame, I know), and even seen his talk live with Eric Ripert. He once famously said, “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn.
To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.
Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold.”
Damn. A harsh critique. And maybe he's got a point. One I can certainly respect and intend to challenge and explore personally over the next...undefined days/weeks/months/years of my life.
I harbor no delusions about my ability to completely flip a switch and change my eating behaviors that have been bred through decades of habits of convenience. But I’m going to try. I want to lose weight and feel healthier. I want my clothes to fit better. I want to have more sustained energy without reaching for calorie dense food or caffeine. I am going to eliminate dairy from my diet, a once unthinkable action. No milk. No yogurt. No cheese. I am going to dramatically decrease alcohol consumption (sparing only the occasional social event) and remove all coffee and soda-based caffeine. I will eliminate eggs, meat, oil...or as much as I can anyway. Animal protein in general will be strictly off-limits, save perhaps some occasional fish.
I suspect in doing so I am going to suffer, not unlike an aircraft fuselage suffers as it approaches the sound barrier. But once an aircraft breaks through the sound barrier, and unleashes it’s massive sonic boom upon the surrounding atmosphere, the plane flies faster than ever before with no turbulence. This is the vision I will hold in mind during the suffering.
My starting weight on this journey is 206. I feel optimistic about improving my health, my energy levels, and my overall quality of life. I am resolved to make these changes. I know this resolve will be tested, my pleasure sensors in my brain will tempt me, society’s food economy of convenient processed foods will tempt me...I will do my best to document the journey, whether I succeed or fail in following through with my intention. (And no, I won't be one of those difficult-to-cook-for dinner party guests. If I'm being hosted by someone, I will respectfully eat whatever they prepare with no qualms.)
Is Anthony Bourdain right? Should we live to eat? Or are the Vegans right? Should we eat to live? Or is there room for compromise? For reasons wholly my own, I have reached a breaking point and intend to investigate. After all, regarding my late night trouble on Friday...if you want different results, take different actions.
(R.I.P. Tony - I was among the millions you inspired with your passion for food, interest in culture, and masterful wit.)
Andy is a curious soul with INFJ-T personality who likes to examine life closely and lives for those moments of deep revelation and spiritual connection.