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The Vegan Diet: An Interview With Jessica Dalliday

How many of us have thought about changing our diets to vegan or plant based diet? Maybe it’s because of your personal preference, doctor recommended, or diet restrictions. Either way we are seeing more and more people now days switching up their diets and so many more vegan based restaurants popping up. I’m not sure about you but I constantly have questions wondering if this is the right switch for me and what the outcome be if I swished my diet and got rid of my animal products. I am sure many of you have had many questions circling your mind and maybe some of you have already switched over and consume a 100% vegan diet. If you do, then good for you! For those of you who are still on the fence and would like to know more about it, I have reached out to one of my dearest friends Jessica Dalliday. Jess runs her own health & wellness website over at The Healthy Sweet Potato. If you need recipe ideas, fitness tips, or just want to head over to her Instagram page and say hello to her gorgeous dog Allen then you definitely need to visit her page. I have known Jess for quite some time now. We are both Canadian Certified Athletic Therapists and have interacted as professor and student, colleagues, and now friends. Funny enough, we both launched our blogs together around the same time last year so I could not be more happier than to have her over here on my blog to speak to you all and hopefully provide you with some vegan and plant based knowledge. I asked Jess a series of questions that I had in my mind that I wanted answered and I also came up with a few questions I thought would help benefit you all as well. So without further adieu lets get started!

1. How long have you been eating gluten-free/plant based ?

 

I’ll start with gluten-free as that has been going on the longest. I began having a lot of digestive issues in university and finally had a diagnosis around 2009. The GI specialist found gluten antibodies in my blood and told me that I would need to stop eating gluten because my body was essentially attacking itself.

After a lot of tears and several months of going on and off a gluten-free diet, I finally went all in and went completely gluten-free. A lot of my digestive symptoms cleared up and I thought that I had completely fixed my problems.

I was gluten-free for 5 years before some of my symptoms starting creeping back in. I was having really bad acid reflux and indigestion. A lot of the same symptoms I was having before that I attributed to the gluten.

I was so disappointed and worried that I would now need to eliminate yet another food group.

This was around the same time that I was getting married and looking back, I can totally attribute a lot of my digestive sensitivities to stress (wedding prep, university exams, grad school, etc.)

This was when I discovered plant-based eating and I’ve been eating mostly plant-based now for about 3 years.

I was introduced to plant-based eating after watching countless documentaries on Netflix and realizing that a lot of my digestive issues could come down to what I was eating.

Although I thought I was eating healthy at the time, I was still consuming a lot processed foods including dairy, which I later found out was a huge trigger for me.

I decided (with the help of my Naturopath) to go on an elimination diet. I had already eliminated gluten, so eliminating dairy and other animal products wasn’t that difficult.

After a few weeks on the elimination diet, I felt so much better. It was incredible. My acid reflux was starting to go away and my indigestion was non-existent.

I decided to keep dairy and meat out of my life for good.

I did this for several reasons (which you can learn about here) but honestly, I just feel better eating this way and it’s what’s working for me right now.

My diet may change as I grow and evolve, and that is something I am open to.

I have been trying to be better at listening to what my body wants rather than controlling it, which has been quite the journey! But I will leave that for another blog post <3

2. How has this diet plan changed your life? Explain the pros and cons if any.

 

Oh, it has changed my life in so many ways! Some good, some not.

I’ll start off with the hard parts:

-It’s tricky finding restaurants and I always feel like such a burden when going out with friends.

-My family finds it hard to cook for me and I hate creating extra work for them.

-I can’t enjoy some delicious food even though I really want to eat it. (Although, this is sort of a blessing in disguise which I will get to).

-Some gluten-free foods are sub-par compared to the real-deal.

-There aren’t as many gluten-free craft beers out there as I would like there to be haha 😉

Some of the good parts:

– My body looks good to me and I feel good. You don’t realize how good you can feel until you’ve removed all the harmful foods and toxins from your body.

-I eat a lot more plants and thus, I get a lot more nutrients than I used to eating a conventional diet.

-I eat a lot more whole foods and avoid harmful additives from processed foods

-I feel like my choices are making a difference in the world

-I am more creative in the kitchen and get to try new recipes regularly

-When a new vegan restaurant opens, it is the most exciting part of my year!

-I have met and connected with so many like-minded people and built some awesome new relationships I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Overall, I feel like eating plant-based has made me a lot more aware of the bigger issues going on in the environment, and with food and nutrition. Some of it is scary, but I firmly believe that we can all make a positive difference.

 

3. Would you call yourself a vegan? If so why did you decide to become vegan?

 

Yes and no. I don’t eat meat at all and I do my best at home to eat completely plant-based. I don’t buy dairy or animal products but my husband does.

When I go to other’s homes or when we are on vacation or out for dinner, sometimes there will be dairy in the food that is prepared. I will have some dairy like cheese in small amounts but I know that eating a lot of it doesn’t make me feel great.

I try my best to look for plant-based options when I’m out, but I try not to be so hard on myself if there is no viable option (especially one that is also gluten-free!)

I recently wrote an article as to why I switched to a plant-based diet where you can learn all about why I decided to become a plant-based eater 🙂

 

 4. Is living a plant-based lifestyle Expensive?

 

No not at all. I think we save a lot of money since we stopped purchasing meat – it’s expensive! Especially if you are purchasing high quality meat products as more and more of us are.

Produce can get expensive but we’ve learned not to overbuy and only purchase the amount we need in order to reduce food waste and wasting our hard-earned cash 😉

And Beans – so cheap!!

 

5. Would you recommend this diet to anyone? Why or Why not?

 

Yes and No. I think it’s important that you work with a health care practitioner, like a Naturopath, Holistic Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian to come up with a plan that works for you.

Plant-based eating is not for everyone, but eating more plant-based foods is! Everyone can benefit from swapping a few meals per week to plant-based ones to reap the health benefits of eating more plants. Not to mention the huge impact it can have on the environment and animal welfare.

6. When you decided to eat a more plant-based diet, has there been any bumps in the road? If so how have you overcome them?

 

Yes and Yes! It was tough. I found it really hard to know what to eat for dinner. I was so used to “meat and potatoes” type dinners that it was a huge learning curve coming up with new, easy recipes that tasted good.

Luckily, I had been using the OhSheGlows cookbook quite a bit and found it super helpful during my transition.

Some days were easier than others, but as I acquired more “user-friendly” plant-based cookbooks, it got easier and easier.

It was also tricky at the beginning because my husband Mike, was not super thrilled about my new diet change. He obviously was affected by it and he used to enjoy consuming copious amounts of dairy milk every day.

I never pressured Mike into eating plant-based or to stop drinking milk or dairy. He slowly over time changed his eating habits too. He still eats meat and cheese the odd time, but he eats mostly plant-based at home too now.

We oftentimes will try making new recipes together, and he has really taken a liking to the vegan, gluten-free cookies 🙂

 

7. One of the problems most people find switching over from a non-vegan diet to a vegan diet is the love and taste of meat, what are some of your best meat alternative suggestions to try?

 

Oh man, I’m not a huge meat fan at all! I don’t miss it and very rarely look for “meat” substitutes, especially because the ones in the groceries store are often very processed.

However, here are some ideas for those that love meat:

  • Tofu is very versatile in texture and taste so it can be a good choice when looking to replace meat in a dish.
  • Lentils are great in spaghetti sauce or meatloaf type recipes.
  • Chickpeas, black beans and mushrooms are great ground up for burgers!

 

8. Where do you get your protein?

 

This is an excellent question and one that I get all the time.

Animal products are NOT the only source of protein as we have been lead to believe.

Sure it is bigger source of protein than plants, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better.

Take driving for example: it might be easier and more convenient than walking, but that doesn’t mean it’s better for your health.

Plants contain protein too and when you eat a diverse, plant-based diet, you are sure to get all the essential nutrients and amino acids (and this is actually easier than you think).

Things like beans, nuts and seeds, tofu and grains are great sources of protein.

If you are looking for some more specific ways of how to get plant-based protein into your diet, you can read my article: How to start eating a plant-based diet.

       

9. If you don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, etc. then what do you eat?

 

Haha! Oh my god so much!

Oatmeal J Beans, legumes, all nuts, seeds, all fruits and vegetable, rice, quinoa, avocado, coconut oil, dark chocolate, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free pizza (topped with nutritional yeast), olives, homemade cookies, pancakes, tacos, plant-based burgers, sweet potato fries, and the list goes on and on.

You can make anything plant-based and gluten-free and so many restaurants are adopting it now, it’s easier than ever

 

        10. Can you get all the nutrients you need by eating a plant-based and gluten free diet?

Yup. But I recommend working with a nutritionist or some other health care provider to make sure you are getting all the right nutrients.

 

11. Do you need to take supplements because of your diet? If so which ones are they and why?

 

Yes I take a high quality multi-vitamin every day to ensure I get enough iron and B12 as I was low in those vitamins and minerals in the past (even before switching to a plant-based diet).

However, I recommend working with a health care practitioner to monitor your all of your vitamin and mineral levels so you can ensure you are getting enough regardless of your diet.

12. Are there any Vegan/Vegetarian/plant based cook books you would recommend?

 

Yes! I’m in love with both Oh She Glows Cookbooks as well as the Minimalist Baker and Thug Kitchen.

 

I’m always looking for new cookbook recommendations, so please share if you have any good ones!

 

Xoxo

Jessica

 

I want to thank Jessica so much for taking the time and providing us with so much valuable information and I hope this really helped you all as well and gave your some insight. If you would like to know more and talk to Jess personally then visit her blog by clicking here