Vegan MoFo #9 – I am on the Plant-Based Spectrum

Vegan MoFo

So here it is: What I ate for Thanksgiving!

Mom made a delicious raw vegan dish, from Simply Raw Natasha’s recipe “Celebration Loaf.”

There were TWO quinoa dishes, because really, one is just not enough!

There was a giant green salad, basmati rice, broccoli and cauliflower as usual.

I made gravy, but ran out of time and just used the packaged stuff (if using, make sure you check the ingredients, meat and dairy can sneak in there!)

I must admit that dessert consisted of an apple pie that I didn’t ask the ingredients for. But that’s why I call my diet plant-based and not vegan right now. Which brings me to today’s topic: the plant-based spectrum.

This is the way I have eaten in the past:

Omnivore (well, my mother might argue that point considering my picky tastes as a child, but I wasn’t discriminating on what my food was, just what it tasted like).

Vegetarian (junk food variety – cheese, bread, sugar, white pasta, lots of bagels and cream cheese)

Raw Vegan (I was eating high raw, so I would only eat something cooked once or twice a week, and it was usually whole grains to quiet a craving).

Vegan, interspersed with junk food binging (like a poutine after a late night)

Vegetarian, whole foods

Plant-based diet

So why do I say Plant-Based diet and not vegan? Because while I don’t cook with animal products, or stock my fridge with animal products, sometimes when I’m out for dinner with friends, I might accept a slice of pizza with goat’s cheese say, or I might take a bite of my husband’s chocolate cheese cake. Why am I not so strict when I go out? Because as you can see from the long list above, labels can be crazy-making, and putting myself into a specific category can make me feel like a failure if I fall out of it. When you fall down the health food rabbit hole, you can easily forget how other people eat, and that you’re probably still eating a million times better than the average North American. We’re so busy having compassion for animals, that we often forget to have compassion for ourselves.

A few months ago I was attempting a cleanse, and I wasn’t doing too well (I realized after, I was cleansing too fast. If you cleanse, please work up to it, even if your body can handle it, your mind might have some issues!) and my husband told me how he had been talking to one of his hockey buddies who was also doing a cleanse. My husband said his friend explained the cleanse: “No meat or dairy, lots of vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lots of water.” My husband said he laughed because that’s what my diet was normally. This made me realize that while green juice and constant ingredient checking and a high raw percentage are probably optimal ways of eating, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the time I’m eating badly. I’ve learned my lesson with poutine and pizza, they make me feel like crap the next day, but a slice of apple pie on Thanksgiving that might have some butter in it? I’ll survive. Being vegan is something I strive for, but I am on the plant-based spectrum.  The more that I read, the more that I learn, the easier it becomes to turn down certain food, or to choose to ask what the ingredients are. But I am also on a mission to prove how easy eating a plant-based diet is. And I think that this Thanksgiving gave me another opportunity to do just that.

Anyone have thoughts on this? Do you feel like you land on the plant-based spectrum, or is it all or nothing?

Since it’s a yoga weekend coming up, look for a yoga post tomorrow!



About Sarah Tombler

I live in Ottawa, Canada with my husband and our twins. I work for the Public Service, and I have been a vegetarian for 18 years. Over the years, I have started to understand that what we eat effects us, through mood, weight and positive thoughts. I am working towards cutting most animal products from my diet, in an attempt to live a life of compassion, and to do what I can to help this small planet of ours. I also love letting people know that the secret to happiness may be as simple as what we put in our bodies. View all posts by Sarah Tombler

3 responses to “Vegan MoFo #9 – I am on the Plant-Based Spectrum

  • Karena

    Really interesting post. I consider myself to be whole foods plant-based. I don’t tend to label myself as vegan, except – for example – if I need to make dining arrangements at restaurants. I do this because my reasons for eating this way originated from a health perspective, whereas I take the true intent of the word *vegan* to be more ethical. The more I learn, the more the ethical stance is becoming a part of why I eat this way, but it definitely wasn’t the initiating factor.

    • Sarah Stumbles

      Hi Karena, I like what you said about using the word vegan if you need to make dining arrangements. I do that too. Sometimes it is just easier to say vegan, and people understand what that means.

  • Tara

    Hi Sarah 🙂

    I really enjoyed your post today, specifically the part about forgetting to have compassion for ourselves! I’m so quick to beat myself up over giving in and having an occasional piece of pizza or some cream in my “once a week coffee” that I forget that 90% of the time, I am eating what most people would consider a cleanse! Thank you for reminding me that labels can be very crazy-making and that it’s ok to go easy on myself from time to time 😉

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