Plant-based, the lazy way
Reading time: 4 minutes
This will be my third Thanksgiving eating plant-based, having switched two and a half years ago (though the first one doesn't really count since I did end up eating some turkey). And as I think about what I’m going to eat this afternoon beforehand, as I do every food-filled occasion/event, I realize that I no longer have to think all that hard anymore. I already know: the side dishes. In fact, finding what to eat, at home, or when going out, has gotten pretty easy, even for someone like me who doesn’t cook and is lazy about any kind of prep work involved with eating.
Taste and habit
During my first year of eating plant-based, my taste in food had really started to change. I slowly stopped wanting to eat the things I did before. From chicken, to beef, to pork, to eggs, to cheese. Now even anything milky kind of grosses me out. I can’t even eat cereal with soy milk which I used to do almost daily a year ago. Now I just eat a banana in the morning. I think part of this has to do with gut microbiome that no longer has any remnants of those kinds of foods to crave them.
I don’t really think people believe me when I tell them how much our taste in food can change. I hardly believe it myself sometimes. But there’s a book I started reading recently on the research that’s been done around it called First Bite. It’s all about how we develop our food tastes which are influenced from when we’re babies, and in some ways even before we’re born!
Smell is a big factor in our tastes. I still enjoy the smell of certain foods I used to eat. Apparently, this is because most of the impact of our smells and cravings have to do with memories that smell triggers. So I still enjoy certain smells because of over 35 years of memories! But the cravings are completely gone.
Another aspect of the book is about how a large part of our eating is based on daily habits and cultural rituals. Which means we change what we eat by changing how we eat. And we change quite a bit without even knowing we're doing it. So doing it with intent could be easier than we realize!
Both our tastes and our habits help in keeping us lazy in our decision-making when it comes to eating.
During my second year of eating plant-based, after getting a better feel of my newfound taste preferences, I started seeing patterns in how I chose what I ate. I essentially got better at filtering out my options. It turns out that having a reduced amount of options to pick from makes it easier to be lazy and decide! But the truth of the matter is, that I think I did the same thing in the past, even before eating plant-based, it was just a different set of things I normally enjoyed, either out of the habit trap, or because I knew I couldn’t go wrong with my go-to’s.
At home, I buy essentially the same items, usually from Sprouts, or enjoy the occasional leftovers that my mom gives me to take home. And I’ve found that I’m happy with eating essentially the same things over and over again, especially for lunch when I want something quick and easy. There’s a story that David Lynch, of Twin Peaks fame, eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch so he doesn’t interrupt his work with an involved process of eating. Not having to decide on what you eat all the time is definitely a great way to be a lazy eater!
At restaurants and parties, I look at potential vegan-specific options, then salads, then side dishes. Mixing and matching a couple of sides can easily make a meal. My latest thing is bowls which a bunch of places now have for anyone that cuts out empty carbs from bread (which I've been doing lately). At Panera a grain bowl with greens; Subway has a salad with guacamole; Taco Bell has rice and black beans with lettuce and tomatoes; even Filiberto’s will do a rice, lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo bowl instead of as a burrito. Again, the things I used to get on a plate on the side.
And Thanksgiving is the best example of side dishes, there are plenty to still stuff one's self with: garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn, green beans, roasted Brussels sprouts, candied yams, even pumpkin pie for desert. So now I look forward to Thanksgiving and all other food occasions the same way I did before without any kind of anxiety since I just eat in my natural, lazy way.