The dinner was really great. I got to talk with a couple of the other bloggers, which was neat - it seems we all have a very different niche, but we can unify with this eating challenge. I got to meet Rip Esselstyn, a former professional triathlete whose book, The Engine 2 Diet, is full of information on going veggie, as well as lots of manly recipes - these were the recipes that helped him win the stomachs of his fire company in Austin, TX. And I got to eat some super delicious vegan food:
Dinner was Black Beans and Rice Extravaganza (from Rip's book) and a kale salad tossed with avocado and lemon dressing. For dessert, a chocolate mousse made with soft Silken tofu and raspberries on a thin crust made of dates and nuts (very closely resembling a Larabar). It was really delicious and very filling - the only unsettling part was when I was getting my plate together, and Rip commented that my plate wasn't very full, I'd have to get ready to eat more than that. The comment he made was before I introduced myself and talked a little about my blog - mentioning losing over 135 pounds in 9 months stunned him a little, and I'd like to think it put my portioning into perspective.
Per the recipe, a serving of the beans and rice is 550 calories - or roughly half my daily allowance. The dessert didn't list calories, but knowing how many are in an average Larabar, I can reasonably estimate. So, needless to say, I'm feeling a little anxious about the challenge. Reintroducing rice and pasta would be a bit tough for me - so I don't plan on doing very much of it. I'm fine with my pasta substitutes, and I'm looking into different things to try like quinoa and bulgur, which are still calorie-dense but at least are packed with protein and nutrients.
Rip isn't a doctor, but his father is - he's Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, one of the doctors whose work is featured in the documentary.
(Unrelated to the film. I just loved it.)
The film was about what I expected: lots of statistics on cancer and food/weight-related illnesses in countries where the main staple of their diet is meat vs. those with more plant-based eating habits. They discussed the noteable increase of instances of cancer and cardiovascular disease that parallel the increase in popularity of fast food diets, citing that only "1-2% of cancers are actually gene related." They interviewed doctors, patients, and even a vegan athlete, all of whom swore by the plant-based way of eating.
I have a hard time with a lot of movies classified as "documentaries," as I feel that a true documentary is factual and unbiased (things like NOVA presentations on whales or indigenous peoples); the term "propaganda" seems a bit too harsh, but films like this tend to only document one side of an argument. (My cousin Sarah, who went with me and who has also agreed to try the challenge, calls them "advocacy films.") There were a lot of claims made in the film that I agreed with, and some of which I was not entirely convinced. With films like this, it's important not to necessarily take every word as fact but to still glean (!!!) information and help define your own opinion on the subject. I'm not a doctor so I can't really argue with the results they presented, but I also couldn't walk away from the screening feeling completely unaffected. One quote stood out to me above all others:
"The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition."Dr. Esselstyn, along with Dr. T. Colin Campbell, talked about doing research in this field at a time when bypass surgeries were first being completed - it was a remarkable achievement, but the studies were focusing more on treatment for symptoms than prevention of causes. Will going vegan solve every health problem? Unlikely. But thinking about how, personally, my body feels much better (and cleaner) after eating a bucket salad than it does after eating a fast-food cheeseburger, I can't help but wonder if they're on to something.
What about you? Do you think that you incorporate more whole foods into your diet now than, say, six months or a year ago? What's your favorite whole/natural/unprocessed snack?