Plant-Based Transition FAQ #2: Was it hard?

After a long hiatus, you are reading part 2 of the series I started on my transition to a plant-based diet! Brief refresher: the first part of the series covered why I transitioned, and now I’m going to answer another common question I get- was it hard?

In terms of being expensive or accessible- most people have this misconception that all of a sudden, I could only shop at Whole Foods and eat at exclusively vegan restaurants-- not the case. After deciding to go plant-based, my mom continued to joke that I was “made in Kroger,” because of my frequent trips to scope out “10 for $10 deals” on Larabars and Silk yogurt. Plus, despite that people are soooo sleep on Atlanta’s vegan restaurant scene, I could definitely still find things to eat at my favorite “omni” restaurants like Desta’s or Thai Restaurant of Norcross.

It also helped that one of my greatest friends, Rahkeen, had been vegan for years. He went out of his way to bring me different treats and cooking essentials like coconut oil, vegan kimchi, and goji berries. 

I actually began cooking and baking more than ever- and found a love for it. My pseudo-sister Nhi watched Cowspiracy with me, so we began the plant-based transition together- using some of Rahkeen’s gifts to whip up vegan deliciousness. Whether on my own, with Nhi, Rahkeen, or my actual sister Nancy- we chef’d up meat & dairy-free versions mushroom Alfredo, cheesecakes, key lime pies, cornbread, stir-fries, Mac n cheese, lasagna, cinnamon rolls, lotsa stews and chilis, and my pretty popular banana bread.

I will admit though, being plant-based was and still is a test of patience and conviction for me.

These are some of the things I hear most often and the responses I have (in my head…when I’m feeling sassy). 

Plant Based Pet Peeves

  • "There’s no way you can survive like that!”
    • So... I guess we’re going to ignore the lives of people and entire cultures that never have/will choose to eat meat. 
  • "You can’t eat anything!”
    • Given that I have no allergies, I can eat about anything anyone else can- I just don’t want to eat meat.
  • "I can’t eat that; it’s vegetarian."
    • Plant-based diets are just about as inclusive as it gets.
  • "Man I couldn’t do it." 
    • Most people just don't want to do it. Very few people who've said this to me have actually tried or got a doctor's note saying they're protein deficient.

The hardest part was probably family outings, or even at home. It wasn’t hard to turn down the food itself. However, the frequent guilt-trips with people insisting that I eat meat to be part of the family- despite knowing that I’ve made a decision that makes me happy, was unpleasant.

This definitely gets better with time, as my momma eventually started whipping up animal-free goodness like this veggie stir-fry.

All in all, I’ve found that a plant-based diet is typically cheaper than an omnivorous one and I can still enjoy several options eating out. On top of that, I have and incredible support system, and try to stay aware of my nutritional needs. At this rate, I’m happy and don’t see myself reverting back from being plant-based. 

The Impossible Burger

While I love exploring mountains, canyons, forests, and vistas- food adventures have a special place in my heart. A co-worker told me about the Impossible Burger, and I immediately added it to my "Must-Try's in SF" list. First things first, what makes the Impossible Burger, well, impossible?

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If you've seen any of my plant-based posts- then you've probably already guessed that I didn't go out seeking any ol' Quarter Pounder. The Impossible Burger is vegan, but is distinct from other veggie burgers in that it “bleeds”, and has a weirdly realistic meaty texture.

Here are my thoughts, and some FAQ's:

Was it tasty?

💯💯💯! The burger texture was true to reviews- and I would not have been able to distinguish it from a meat burger. Take this with a grain of salt as I haven't had a beef patty in at least 2 years. In any case, it was both juicy, and just chewy enough. The flavors were also on point. Perfectly savory without being overly salty- complemented well, but simply by aioli, avocado, caramelized onions, tomato, and lettuce, on a potato bun. The burger apparently gets the meat-like taste mainly from heme, a molecule found in hemoglobin (a component of blood), as well as in certain plants. "Potatoes are used for the crunchy exterior, and coconut oil for its fat."

Admittedly, I may have set myself up to enjoy the burger. One of my oldest friends was visiting from out of town, and she dressed me up and slapped some lipstick on me before we ventured to a fancy French restaurant named Jardinière that was way out of my price range. So, this burger had to be worth it.

My co-worker mentioned having to share a burger with his girlfriend when he came to try the burger, because it was requested so much that the restaurant ran out. Kailyn and I went on a Wednesday, so the wait at Jardinière was not long. Being the bougie place that it is, the service was both helpful and friendly, and the decor gave you dim, fancy vibes.

Is it worth $19?

If you’re a self-proclaimed food adventurer like me, I’d say yes. Once. The scarcity and innovative nature of the patty made it feel like a treasure to be sought out. I’ve always thought about cooking as a very magical, scientific process- and wanted to experience the result of this one. To taste how close we’ve been able to get to fulfilling people’s desire for meat with significantly less environmentally and health impact- made the sandwich all the more enjoying. 

According to the Impossible Foods site:

"Because we use 0% cows, the Impossible Burger... uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s 100% free of hormones, antibiotics, and artificial ingredients.

I say “once", purely because of the price range. I’d settle for other veggie burgers to save my coins.

Is it healthier?

In addition to the lack of hormones, antibiotics and artificial ingredients, we can also take a look at cholesterol. The impossible patty has 0 mg of cholesterol in comparison to 100mg in a lean beef patty. It also has less overall fat and is slightly less calorie heavy. The protein and iron content are comparable, but the Impossible Burger does have significantly more sodium. Red meat has been associated with heart disease for a while now given the cholesterol, but use the nutrition information and consider your body’s needs when deciding if veggie patties would be better for you!

Here are some more FAQ’s from the Impossible Foods website, but check out their site for more!

  

WHAT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOODS?

Founded by Patrick O. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Impossible Foods is a Silicon Valley startup on a mission to make the global food system more sustainable. The fast-growing team includes scientists, engineers, chefs, farmers and foodies. The first product is the Impossible Burger. It tastes great -- and you can feel great about it because the Impossible Burger is made entirely from plants.

WHAT EXACTLY IS IT MADE OF?

The Impossible Burger is made from simple ingredients found in nature, including wheat, coconut oil and potatoes. We add one more special ingredient, called “heme.” Heme contributes to the characteristic color and taste of meat, and it catalyzes all the other flavors when meat is cooked. Heme is exceptionally abundant in animal muscle -- and it’s a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants. We discovered how to take heme from plants and produce it using fermentation -- similar to the method that’s been used to make Belgian beer for nearly a thousand years. Adding heme to the Impossible Burger makes it a carnivore’s delight.

Full Ingredient List: 
Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (soy), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

Contains: 
Soy, Wheat

    CAN I BUY THE IMPOSSIBLE BURGER?

    The Impossible Burger is only available in select restaurants in the United States. We are currently focusing on wider availability in the US and will be available internationally in the coming years.

      

    Dulce Bakery Biscuits: Atlanta

    Self Love Sunday. I love myself. Myself loves biscuits. Therefore, if I love myself, I will feed myself biscuits. 

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    Since transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss my go-to, warm, buttery, fast, and cheap biscuits at Martin's. Mmmm.

    Thankfully, I discovered Dulce Bakery in Kirkwood. That’s where the beauty pictured above is from; but after my first bite, I could've easily mistaken its origin for Heaven. 

    I got the sausage, bacon and cheese with kale and cucumber (all vegan). My first bite of the sandwich washed away all my initial disappointment at Dulce's lack of egg that morning. The biscuit was so comforting- warm, soft and fluffy. The sausage and bacon were flavorful and surprisingly juicy. The cheese was sinfully melty and savory, while the greens gave it a fresh and very subtle crunch.  

    100/10, would HIGHLY recommend.

    The bakery is small, perfect for getting together to catch up with an old friend- the reason I made my first trip to Dulce.

    But if you do roll deep, there is a long bench inside where I'm sure the sweet employees could help accommodate a bigger party.

    Note: I'm a health and wellness professional promoting holistic health, who happens to have adopted veganism. I neither believe that everything vegan is healthy, or that you should feel guilty for a meal that doesn't have an ideal ratio of macronutrients. An extremely restrictive lifestyle is not conducive to long-term success. With my general eating habits, physical activity, and simple love for delicious things- this biscuit took care of me as much as my kale salads do.

    Current Food Obsession: Pure Bliss Organics

    Y'all. I really think I'm about to find if it's really possible to have too much of a good thing. 

     

    "Once you pop, you can't stop" is the tagline for Pringles, but it so accurately describes my relationship with these much healthier and addictive energy bites by Pure Bliss Organics- made right in my home state of Georgia. "Naughty but Nice" is my flavor of choice. They're made of simple, organic ingredients like oats, chocolate chips, peanut butter,  and sunflower seeds,  sweetened with agave nectar- aka some of my favorite things in a pop-pable little cube. I always interpret a mocha flavor when I'm munching on them even though Naughty but Nice features no coffee beans. However, there is a Mocha Cacao variety, along with others like Lemon Cranberry (my second favorite flavor), and Peanut Butter Hemp.

    The combination complex carbs and protein make them a great pick-me-up snack during the day or post-workout treat before I make my drive home from the gym... Or when I'm studying... Or right before I go to sleep... Or first thing when I wake up.... They're really delicious. 

    Despite roots in Georgia, they've expanded their distribution all over the US. So you can probably find them near you.  But don't say I didn't warn you: Given that they're delicious, organic, minimally processed, and a good balance of nutrients- you may find yourself in an addictive cycle of justifying eating "just one more."

     

    Southern Vegan Necessities

    Ya' girl loves her a good biscuit. They didn't come out looking like the pictures on Minimalist Baker, but this easy recipe was fluffy, southern satisfaction. 

    The recipe calls for more than enough "buttermilk" mixture, so don't feel obligated to force it into the batter if you have a lot left over because you will not need anywhere near all of it.

    Follow the directions and enjoy for a cute Sunday Brunch with your family. 

    Vegreen Vegetarian Restaurant

    The new restaurant's soft opening seems successful, with every spotless and well-lit table filled on a rainy Sunday evening. 

    The hosts were super hospitable- looking after the kids I was babysitting while I parked the car. While my table service wasn't great, I'll attribute that to my broke-teenager-like appearance (augmented by my toddler dates). Speaking of dates- this would not be the restaurant to use to catfish someone. After taking in the bright white walls, delicate light ornaments, minimal floral fixtures, and feel good scripts- the ambiance lets your food and your company shine center stage. 

    The "Korean Mixed Green Soup Noodle" tasted fresh and savory with a pleasant gingery bite, with imitation shrimp, scallop, and squid that convinced even my very carnivorous kid brother. One of the ladies running tables gave us the check early didn't ask if we needed anything or wanted dessert- but the kids loved the Vegetable Dumplings so much that we ordered another plate of them anyway. The experience ended on a high note as the hosting staff very happily kept an eye on my little ones until I pulled the car around. My picky little brother made sure to ask: "Can we come back to eat here?", and I very smugly responded "We will ask Daddy," before blowing his mind about the lack of animal in his soup that night.

    A good friend of mine also recommended the Noodles in Soy Bean Sauce.

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    Update: I returned and had a delicious "Crab" Sushi Roll. Once again the hosts were genuinely friendly and kind- chatting it up with my mom and helping her with the door while I pulled the car around.