Our New Plant-Based Diet

Every once in awhile, something catches my attention and I get sucked down a crazy rabbit hole, obsessing over it. My post on natural living was the last time this happened, and I’m honestly really impressed with how well we’ve stuck to those changes we made in our lives. I’ve always known the next step in natural living is food-based, but it seems like such a massively overwhelming life shift, so I keep putting it off.
This past weekend, we were flipping through Netflix looking for something to watch, and we landed on What The Health, a documentary on the health benefits of eliminating animal products from your diet. Cue the rabbit hole. We were equally interested in the science behind a plant based diet and disappointed in society for trivializing and hiding the effects that meat and dairy have on our bodies. Like most health documentaries, What The Health takes some liberties with the emotional and social reasoning, and there are always some claims that deserve a second look or deeper investigation. So there went our entire weekend.

What The Health was a great simple starting point for us to jump into this topic, since it touched on the health benefits related to diet and disease, the economic and political factor, and the animal activist side. For both of us, the political aspect was horrifying, but the health side is what made it impossible for us to ignore. An hour of basic research showed me the incredible connection between autoimmune diseases and an animal-based diet, and another hour looped in the importance of treating your gut first and foremost. Every time I made a new connection, my mind was running a million miles an hour, trying to think 5 steps ahead. If I cut this out, what are the pros and cons and how will it affect everything else? I know now that meat and dairy are bad, but what about gluten? What about sugar?! We can’t cut EVERYTHING out…
Thankfully, Brian is incredibly even-minded and I stopped to ask him if I was getting too carried away. Both of us definitely want to be more conscious of our food choices, but he agreed that maybe we don’t need to jump to the extremes right away. I’m ready to give up meat and dairy entirely, but we agreed to continue eating our normal diet while we finish up what’s already in the fridge and keep researching plant-based diets. (We did decide to change up our meal plan for this week though, and have veggie tacos instead of beef.)

The more I read, the more clear it becomes that cutting meat and dairy out of your diet isn’t just a black and white standalone decision. Our bodies aren’t designed for such blunt changes, and it’s important to keep in mind that everything we eat has a domino effect on the way our bodies react. Nutrients need other nutrients and the right environments to be properly utilized by our bodies, and the most important part of a diet is for it to be balanced. The ultimate goal is to provide our bodies with the best suited foods so they can run as efficiently as possible. A lot of nutritionists and doctors have published what they consider to be the best diet, but as long as there are discrepancies, I’m going to continue to do my own research.

Researching diets is terrifying. Every article declares that this diet is the best, but there’s no way of knowing if the author has provided the full spectrum of information including the pros and cons. I spent a good amount of time this weekend, walking up and down aisles of books about “diets.” Every time I picked up a book and read a few pages, I was cautious and skeptical that I was getting the full story. I tended to select books written by doctors and scientists, since I trust numbers and studies. We’re at an advantage in this research stage since we both feel very comfortable in the kitchen, and I was able to avoid the cookbooks and focus on research, knowing that our hurdle won’t be the actual cooking. I picked up a book about our gut, a book about eating vegan, a book about reducing meat and dairy intake, and a book on wheat to round out the spectrum. This week is going to be enlightening for me, and I hope it’s the start of a better way of eating for us.

My quick takeaway that has had the most impact for me so far is this:
Our bodies are not equipped to efficiently handle meat and dairy products. In response, our bodies produce antibodies which are most commonly known for fighting infections and viruses. In the case of animal products, our body produces a specific antibody to fight the harmful dairy and beef proteins that get into our blood stream. While the antibodies are looking, they find a similar amino acid on other tissues within our bodies, and begin to fight them, thinking they are the harmful proteins they were looking for. This is the basis of autoimmune diseases. Also, obviously, I am not a nutritionist, nor a doctor or a scientist, and I probably explained the details poorly, so do your own research.

Some of the questions I want to answer this week are:
Braggs Amino
Nutritional Yeast
Bee Pollen
Eggs? At all?

John McDougall MD on Autoimmune Disease and the Impact of Diet
Dr. Terry Wahls
What the Health
Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe
The Cheese Trap by Dr. Neal D. Barnard

Oh She Glows – also ohsheglows.com (this has been one of my favorites for a long time!)
Thug Kitchen

ps… you know what’s a scary word? VEGAN. I’m not a fan of the stigma or pressure that goes along with it, so I’m holding off for now. Plus, we’re going to continue eating fish so I guess technically we aren’t reallllllllllyyyyy vegan. Just vegan-ish.



Monday, 8/14

I want to be better at writing on this blog. I have about 75 drafts saved and most of them weren’t posted because I was waiting for some time to upload and edit a photo to go with. While I definitely still love having beautiful photos on my posts, I don’t want that to stop me from posting. I read through my last couple posts and was reminded why I love this blog so much. It’s so nice to look back on periods in time and remember what we were doing, how we were feeling, and what our life looked like.

Things we’re doing lately…

Going to goodwill… a lot. We’ve had some really amazing goodwill finds lately, including:
-$5 camping pads (saved us $150 over the new ones we’ve been eyeing)
-$7 donut maker (I’m obsessed)
-school supplies for Margaret’s new classroom
-$4 rain booties (because, Seattle)
-alllllll of the 20-cent mason jars!

Spending time outside!
Summer in Seattle is AMAZING. It’s even more beautiful than everyone told us it would be. The mornings are chilly (70s) but the afternoons can get up to 85 degrees. It’s never unbearably hot, never humid, and there’s always an ocean breeze. We’ve been trying to eat dinner outside at least once a week, and ride to different neighborhoods after work. One of our favorite places to ride is to Fremont and Ballard, since we LOVE the Westlake cycle track for our evening commute. We sat on the hill by the locks one night and had a picnic dinner while we watched the boats go through the locks.
We saw Gregory Alan Isakov and Blind Pilot at the Woodland Zoo last night which was basically like going to a much smaller Ravinia. It was an amazingggg concert, and the weather was perfect. It was a little chilly, but Seattle really embraces sweater weather.

Hanging our clothes out
We hung a makeshift clothesline outside our back door that holds about 6 shirts, or 2 flat sheets. It’s tiny, but I LOVE the way our laundry smells after hanging outside for a day.

Going to the farmers market + meal planning
Seattle’s farmers markets are wayyyy more legit than Chicago. You can actually buy your entire week’s worth of groceries, including produce, dairy, meat, fish, flowers, grains, you name it. We’ve been trying to stick to a meal plan the past two weeks, so it’s nice having an actual set shopping list to go off of while we’re at the market, instead of buying produce that goes to waste if we don’t use it. Also, saves us lotsa money!

I’m totally looking our gift horse in the mouth right now, but we cannot wait to use up all of the free coffee we got from Swift during our campout. It’s dark roast and not really our thing. One more aeropress worth and we’ll be able to buy a new bag of light roast 🙂 mmmmmmmm


Listening to…..

M.Ward – Margaret (ward) is letting us borrow her record collection for a big, and unsurprisingly, her initial namesake album was in there. We loved it.
Nils Frahm – always. We already bought tickets to see him next March. Nothing like planning ahead!
Black Sabbath – we found a cheap record at the antique store, so naturally it’s been on repeat for the past few weeks


Thinking about…

Our government. And trying not to be sick to my stomach about it every single day. I get at least some minimal comic relief via Twitter and some of the cheeky responses people have. Lots of credit to Dana for joining in and sending me the best of the best!

Buying a wii on Craigslist. For $50, I’m not sure if we can pass it up. We spent a good month addicted to Mario Kart when we were borrowing it from a friend.

Taking a couple of long weekends soon. Our wedding barely felt like a vacaction since it was so action-packed, and we could both use some serious time off. On the list: Orcas Islands, Portland, Chicago, Vancouver, and Hawaii.

Margaret’s first day of school! It’s today, and she’s going to be amazing. Her classroom is all set up, her outfit is picked out, and Brian and I are so so so happy for her. She’s loving her roommates (and their friends-with-boats) and that’s great.

Fall. Ahhhhhh!!! omg! I’m sorry. Too soon. But pumpkin pie sounds delicious.




Brian and Veronica Almdale!

Almdale WeddingWe’re married!! It’s been almost exactly 3 years since we started dating, but it feels like we’ve known each other forever. When I think about my life before we were together, it’s out of focus and just unimportant. I can’t imagine a day that Brian isn’t in my life, and I’m so grateful and thankful that I’ll never have to spend a day without him. We are such a natural match, and we bring out the best in each other. My mom told me once to marry a man who is just a bit out of your league, so you are always striving to be the best version of yourself for him. Brian is exactly that, and he makes me want to be the best ‘me’.

We wanted our wedding day to be simple and small so that we could spend time together enjoying each other and not running around trying to put on a show. Neither of us have any interest in being the center of attention, and wanted to feel comfortable on our wedding day. I absolutely loved the way everything turned out, and even though both of our families were there, it felt like just the two of us while we stood under the arch. The home where we were staying was absolutely incredible, and their beautiful yard was a perfect backdrop for our ceremony.

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We are so so so lucky to have such amazing families who not only love both of us, but get along wonderfully with each other! My family spent the morning of our wedding doing the flowers and making beautiful bouquets and garlands for the backyard, while Brian’s parents took my massively oversized balloons to get blown up. The balloons ended up being one of my favorite things about the wedding, they were so fun and added that super whimsical touch to the day!Almdale Wedding

Our photographer was the amazingly talented Rafael Soldi, who was recommended to us by one of Brian’s coworkers, and we are so lucky to have found him. His photos are insanely beautiful, and he made us feel so comfortable in front of the camera even though we much prefer to be behind it! All photos in the post are by him as part of our first sneak peak, and omg we cannot wait to see the whole batch!! I’ve been trying to justify reasons for us to hire him again…

Our neighbor Erik Jackson prepared the most delicious dinner for everyone, and we have not stopped thinking about it! His menu highlighted the Pacific Northwest and was one of the best meals we’ve ever had. After everyone left, Brian and I sat on the couch and stuffed ourselves with the leftover salmon and kale!Almdale WeddingAlmdale WeddingAlmdale WeddingAlmdale Wedding

I’ve been dreaming of my wedding day for as long as I can remember, but nothing could have prepared me for this. It’s such a relief to be married, and to know that no matter what else happens, we’re going to be together through it all. We are so lucky.

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