Plant-Based Tips and Tricks

I’m back in New York for a week and couldn’t be more excited. Five straight weeks of travel with visitors nearly every weekend has been amazing, but I’m ready to try a routine for a week or two and get life in order - particularly considering I’m running a marathon in just over a month’s time. More on that in a future post.

For the last two weeks, our team was in Atlanta facilitating the fourth of five “go-lives” on this project and overall it went really well. The hours weren’t too bad (though we stayed at the office til 12:30 the first night to make sure everything was working as planned) and we even had some fun team activities: fun hotel bar outings, Yin Yoga (which is very different from a regular yoga class) and even a plant-based team dinner at a fancy vegan restaurant - in the South!

The yoga and vegan meal were part of the Healthcare consultants division’s “Healthy Eating Week”. We were trying to show our colleagues that our project team takes healthy eating seriously, so people asked me to share some helpful tips for staying (mostly) on-track with the vegan diet while also being a road warrior and not wanting to be anti-social. So as an easy, cop-out blog post, I thought I’d share the email I sent to our team and maybe you’ll get a sense of how I think about the diet and how I operate on the road.

The email is below:

Hey Team!

As part of Healthy Eating Week, we’re sharing tips and approaches for healthy eating both on the road and at home to incorporate into your daily Voyager life. Today, I’m sharing more info on plant-based eating, a diet I’ve been following for a few years. I hope this gives you some (plant-based) food for thought 😉

Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) Diet

  • About WFPB:

    • Similar to a vegan diet, WFPB eaters consume no animal products like meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, honey, etc. However, it’s very easy to be a “Junk-Food Vegan” eating nothing but potato chips, soda, and Oreos (yes, Oreos are vegan!)

    • A WFPB diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds that are minimally processed and as close to their natural state as possible. People who are really intense even try to eliminate oils from their diet (it’s commonly referred to as a health food, but technically it’s been processed from its natural form of olive, canola, coconut, etc.)

  • Why on earth would I want to try this?

    • Health

      • I got into this diet strictly from a health standpoint and really knew nothing about nutrition at the time, so I started reading. For anyone who loves data, The China Study is the most comprehensive longitudinal nutritional study that’s ever been conducted and its conclusions are captured in the book:

        • Plant-based or even plant-slant diets are associated with lower risk of heart disease, obesity, hyper tension, diabetes, and cancer

      • But what about protein, bro? All plants contain protein, and here are some protein-dense foods to try. There are some amazing plant-based athletes (Novak Djokovic, Lewis Hamilton, Cam Newton, and many more) who’ve adopted the diet due to the benefits of easy digestion, quicker recovery time, and increased performance

      • Caloric density. I always hear people remark “I could never get full on a vegan diet”. The truth is, whole foods are more nutrient-dense than animal products and processed foods so you can eat more without consuming as many calories. I like to think about this picture to help remind myself of the difference between caloric density and nutritional density:

Caloric (vs nutritional) Density
  • Environmental

    • Reducing your animal product consumption, especially beef, is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Climate Change

    • Meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein in our food system, but take up 83% of farmland!

    • Per 100g of protein, beef produces 105kg of greenhouse gases while tofu produces between 3 and 5 kg

    • Want to reduce your water consumption? Beef requires 1,847 gallons of water per pound while tofu requires only 302 gallons, so stop worrying about your long showers and just pass on the sirloin 😊

  • Cute Animals

    • More than 25 million farm animals are killed daily in the U.S. for food, and more than 150 BILLION worldwide are killed every year – pretty wild!

    • Of these, 9% never actually make it to slaughterhouses because they die of stress-induced diseases or injury

    • As for seafood, there’s ridiculous amounts of “by-catch”, which are large amounts of other fish that get caught in the nets but never make it into the food system

  • Nicknames

    • Start eating this way, and you might even earn yourself something as cool as “Tofu Mike”

  • How I do it on the road:

    • Whole Foods Market – an amazing option for lunch as their ready-made bar is filled with a variety of salads and fresh foods that are all labelled!

    • Ask servers! Often we’ll be out at a restaurant, and believe it or not, they’ve served vegans before! Ask if they can make something off the menu or if the chef can throw something together for you – more than likely they’ll appreciate the opportunity to be creative and servers are more than accommodating

    • Vegan restaurants – WFPB doesn’t have to be boring so I use it as a challenge to find a good spot and get my teammates to come along and try out new foods; shout-out FST!

  • Action Items… because Consulting – Want to give it a shot? Here are some tips I suggest:

  • At home: when grocery shopping try and stick to the perimeter of the store; the inner aisles contain all the processed and junk food

  • Read labels – not for calories or nutritional information but for ingredients. If there are ingredients in the top 5 that you can’t pronounce, it’s probably worth leaving on the shelf

  • Try filling your plate with 2/3 vegetables, reaching for as many fresh / minimally cooked veggies as possible

  • Avoid the “100% or nothing” mentality!

    • “I would go vegan but I could never give up cheese” is such a common phrase. My response is, “okay then go vegan but don’t give up cheese” - don’t let the label stop you from making better choices

    • Want some bacon? Go for it! You can still have healthy foods on the rest of your plate and not beat yourself up about it!

    • Try Meatless Mondays to challenge yourself to have WFPB meals once a week

  • Considering a snack? Reach for fruits or trail mix instead of chips or cookies

  • Swap out your afternoon soda for a green tea or a sparkling water #LaCroix

  • Follow some accounts on Instagram for recipe inspiration: @forksoverknives @vegrunrest @fitnessmia08 @bosh.tv @bestofvegan

  • Come to Herban Fix tonight for our team dinner!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

Mike