I am very lucky to know the gorgeous and very passionate Gemma from The Compassionate Road. Although we have very different diets, Gemma eats a plant-based diet while I enjoy grass fed, pasture raised, free range animal products, we both share a very strong belief in eating real food, listening to your body, making informed, educated decisions and sourcing ethical foods, especially when it comes to animal products.
I asked her to share her passion and to explain how she meets her protein needs on a plant-based diet:
HOW TO MAKE EMPOWERED HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES.
What is the golden way to health is a billion dollar question. Paleo, macrobiotic, vegan, fruitarian… labels, labels, labels…. It reminds me of secular religions. And how many wars start over religions arguing they are the way and only way?!
I don’t think there is one way to optimum health, and personally believe that even for the individual, as we grow through life, conditions will change, we will change and hopefully we adapt our diets, attitudes and choices along the way to fluctuating needs, demands and understandings.
I think we need to first be clear on where we are. Meaning really knowing what you eat and how you feel; start a food diary for a week, truly look at your cupboard, and have deep consideration on what effect you want to have on the greater whole. Whether or not a particular food is healthy for us doesn’t only stem from its nutritional value. It’s also about how your dinner got to your plate…
I personally live a healthy life where I do my best to live without causing harm to any living beings. This for me, means I eat a wholesome plant-based diet because I do not feel comfortable taking a life of an animal. Working as a Naturopath and living this way for over 12 years, I do not feel judgement towards others making this decision for themselves but always encourage to stay away from factory farmed products that cause unnecessary suffering to the animals and damage to the environment.
I do however get very upset and angry when large corporations hide or misrepresent the truth, so we as consumers, do not have full understanding of what it is we are choosing to eat and how is was made. This can be to do with pesticide use, additives, flavours, or factory-farming practices. All of which can harm others and ourselves. And the hard truth is in society today, if you don’t pay attention you will probably be consuming and supporting these food product and factory farming industries blindly- to your detriment.
I believe that no one wants to cause suffering to an animal and if they had the choice they would buy the meat or eggs that are from farms that allow animals to lead peaceful lives. I also believe no one chooses to eat food daily that is going to make them fat and sick. This means one of the most important part to learning to do what is right for your body, is to spend a little time learning about food- and not from packages or corporations.
Read books, watch documentaries and listen to speakers. There are conflicting views out there but at least you will be able to have some knowledge behind you to make empowered decisions, not blind ones while you are walking down the supermarket isle, tired after work, kids in tow…
You will find there is one golden rule that rings out in almost all of the labeled diets.
Eat Real Food. Eat food as mother nature made it, with all its nutrients, vitamins, minerals, acids, enzymes and phytonutrients, working together synergistically. The proteins, the carbohydrates, the fats, the fibre. Intact. The whole package. Without added chemicals, flavours, binders, synthetic nutrients. Food does not have to be a science experiment. There are some things in life that don’t need messing with.
For optimum health, eat whole foods and avoid food-like products. Learn the difference and choose wisely. Hold faith in mother nature, not the food-product industry. We have become obsessed with isolated nutrients rather than whole foods – eating foods as they are grown perfectly includes a range of micro nutrients and synergistic interactions that we will never be able to recreate in a science lab.
For me I do this with only plant-based food because thats what is unequivocally right in my heart. I do not do this lightly or at the cost of my own health. I make sure I pay attention and am conscious that I eat a wide variety of whole foods to feed my body and soul.
I understand that many people are concerned that you can’t consume sufficient protein on plant-based diets.
To make sure I get enough protein I eat a variety of:
Beans 1 cup 14 grams
Nuts and nut butters, 1/4 cup of activated almonds 8 grams
Seeds, such as in the paste tahini or 3 Tbsp chia seeds 9 grams
Tempeh 1/2 pack 20 grams
Lentils 1 cup cooked 18 grams
Quinoa 1 cup cooked 9 grams
Sea vegetables and Spriulina 2 Tbsp 8 grams
Broccoli 1 cup 6 grams
There are many examples of elite athletes who thrive on plant-based diets, such as former Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell, tennis star Venus Williams, pro surfer Esther Hahn, body builder Marcus Patrick and if you are interested I highly recommended checking out the wonderful website of ultra-endurance athlete, Rich Roll.
I make sure I do not fill up on empty calories. It does no good following any diet and consuming caffeinated or sugary drinks or only bowls of pasta and crackers everyday.
I encourage you to make sure the vast majority of your plate to be “living”.
I also want to highlight that it is 95% of the time. I am also a human and part of enjoyment in life for ME is having that pizza, or that slice of vegemite toast on Iggys bread on the RARE occasion when I really FEEL like it. I know the consequences and so do it with understanding.
I think this is the crux of living a healthy life that suits individuals needs and beliefs;
Get clear on where you are.
Pay attention and be conscious when making your food choices on how it makes you feel and how it got to your plate.
Do what feels right in your heart.
Gemma is a Naturopath, a Council Member of Voiceless: The Animal Protection Institute, a mother and wife. She is incredibly passionate about helping others live healthy, cruelty-free lives and she is on a mission to empower each of us to make compassionate choices that support ourselves and the greater whole. Practicing ashtanga yoga for over 12 years, Gemma deeply believes we need to take our yoga off our mats and live it by making kind, conscious daily choices. She shares her knowledge and tasty recipes through her thriving and caring online community on her blog, The Compassionate Road.
If you are interested in learning more about how to make healthy compassionate choices and why and how to avoid factory farms please have a look at The Compassionate Kitchen Guide.