Why You Shouldn’t Be “Vegan” or “Vegetarian” [Ditch the Diet Labels]

 

We sometimes get asked, are we vegetarian, vegan (or what)? Well, we are neither and Why You Shouldn't go Vegetarian or Vegan: Ditch the Diet Labelsboth and definitely the “what.” Confused? Let us explain: Honestly, we don’t like using labels very much (unless we’re reading the ingredients on a food product label, of course). Our walk and talk is more about focusing on real, whole food, more plant-based food and less about forcing ourselves to fit in a box or be part of a dietary trend. We’re not down with filling our plates with an ideology instead of health-boosting food that nourishes your body, mind and spirit.

And so we would also tell you not to necessarily become “vegan,” vegetarian” or anything else, unless of course you want to: If that is where your beliefs and passion lie and what makes you feel your best, that’s fabulous! Otherwise, we think labels are best left on boxes, and our food is best for enjoying and nourishing our bodies.

If you must label our approach, you could call it flexitarian with a focus on plant-based, whole foods. Flexitarianism is, in theory, a mainly vegetarian diet (or veggie-focused) but does allow for some animal protein. For us the meaning of this approach is broader, and we use it to refer to the practice of becoming aware of your body and its needs at every stage in your life and responding with personally appropriate dietary decisions. We are all unique and have different needs at different times in our lives, especially during cancer treatment. If a little quality animal protein gives you some needed energy during your cancer fight or otherwise, we aren’t going to scold you. In fact, we’ll even commend you for figuring out what your body needs.

We believe, and most other experts agree, that a whole-food, plant-based diet is the way to eat for optimal health. However, you can vary that quite a bit when experimenting with vegan, vegetarian, grain-free, nut-free, raw and every diet in between.

Allow yourself room to explore and alter your diet depending on your unique needs and situation. This is where bio-individuality comes into play. Bio-individuality means that we all have different bodies with unique genetic makeup, blood types, metabolism, genders and ages, so one diet is not going to be perfect for everyone. If we said that everyone should eat a vegan diet all of the time, we’d be wrong! One diet can’t possibly be the answer for every body, every day. Needs change from one person to another, based on age, makeup, location, climate, disease, treatment for disease and other changes throughout your life.

Many foodies and diet experts may tell you that their beloved diet is the right way to eat, that it’s THE answer. And it probably is – for them and for others. But not for everyone. In fact, it may be completely wrong for some. So don’t stress over figuring out the EXACT, perfect diet (there isn’t one), and then put yourself in a neat little box and label yourself (unless, as we said before, you believe passionately in a certain diet and want to give yourself that title). It’s entirely up to you! But if you’re just trying to eat well, and can’t seem to find your diet niche, just try to eat whole foods, get the processed and artificial stuff out, eat more/mostly plants and be flexible. Oh, and have FUN! :)

Buttercup Squash Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kendall: So I’m still on a pumpkin, chocolate chip kick (check out my post last week for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes). There’s something about the fall – I want to bake more, and I love that we have pumpkin, squash and carrots so readily available because they are fabulous in so many ways, but especially perfect in baked yummies. I have a couple pumpkins and a ton of squash from our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, so I decided to go with the squash for this one!

This recipe happens to be vegan – no eggs and no dairy.

As always, I try to use minimally refined/processed ingredients, so you’ll find real maple syrup instead of white sugar, and spelt and oat flours instead of white flour. I tried not to make these too sweet, and you may wish to add more maple syrup (just taste the batter!). These came out great – moist and tasty. I didn’t think the squash flavor was very strong (which you might be happy about), but buttercup squash is quite sweet, so I was hoping to taste it more. I also added coconut – why not? Anyway, these were a hit with friends and family, and I had a hard time stopping myself from eating them all. I ended up freezing half for later.

Yield: 4 dozen

1 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, softened or liquid

2 cups buttercup squash, cooked (also try butternut or pumpkin)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups flour (I used 2 cups oat, 2 cups spelt)

1/2 cup raw shredded coconut, unsweetened

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

12 ounces chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Cream the maple syrup, coconut oil, squash and vanilla together. Mix until well combined.
  • Mix the flour, coconut, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Drop by heaping teaspoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Let cookies cool on a rack.