by John Rafacz
My wife is the founder of Michy’s Foods and she is vegan. She runs a vegan cookie company. We raise our kids on a plant-based diet. When we dine out, we tend to visit vegan establishments or at the very least seek out vegan menu options at non-vegan restaurants.
So, why in the world am I 100% vegan, 80% of the time?
I’m sure that conjures a few questions out of the gate. So, understanding how I approach the issue of diet is probably a good place to start…
One of the many things I love about my wife is her personal philosophy on diet/nutrition: she is all about helping people make better choices. What's nice is that she doesn't promote any sort of radical shifts in diet -- it's all about the baby steps toward a better future -- which I think is a fantastic approach.The person making a “McSomething Meal” choice, probably isn't ready to move to a full, plant-based or full vegan diet. (I know, because at one point I was that guy.) She will work with what someone knows, help them understand the value of, making better choices, what those choices look like, as well as the progression involved toward healthier eating habits. Hopefully, in time, that will mean a plant-based diet.
For the multitude of individuals that are looking to “eat healthier,” I would argue that the vegan lifestyle is not an immediate decision – it’s a lifestyle choice that is based on a process of educated choices, awareness and discipline. Everyone walks their own path and my wife is always eager and compassionate enough to help people walk theirs one step at a time – and of course, remind them that there are some awesome vegan cookies waiting for them on the other side. (I know because I’m there, eating them…mostly by the bag…nom, nom, nom.)
Keep in mind that as of 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese1. I don’t believe that you can change that kind of world overnight by making people feel excluded or ashamed. Making them feel included – and empowered with better decision-making – is the way to go. And that’s where I feel my wife nails it on the head.
Now, when it comes to our kids, clearly they’re in a different camp – we’re raising them with a plant-based diet. My “20%” never takes place when I’m with them – it is always relegated to business trips and situations where I’m outside of my comfort zone. When I’m in town, I have my Native Foods, Veggie Grill, Whole Foods, etc. When I’m traveling, I can only do my best – and sometimes my best means a work dinner at a steakhouse. (Hey, it happens.) But when I’m with the Little Ones, it’s 100% vegan, 100% of the time
A few years ago, Forks Over Knives had a profound impact on how I view the consumption of animal proteins. As a CrossFit enthusiast – a community that is no stranger to the Paleo diet – I had to re-examine how I looked at protein intake. Gone were the whey proteins and in were the plant-based protein mixes. I can’t say enough about the Raw Vegan meal replacements and protein powders from Garden of Life. The chocolate flavors tastes great and it’s been amazing. (Mix it up with Pacific Chocolate Hemp Milk and you are golden.)
So, how does my 20% reflect on my wife’s company?
I hope it reflects well, because at one point that “20%” was more like “60%.” She was integral to helping me make much better choices about my diet.
Think about this – when we got married six years ago, I weighed more than I ever have. I weighed 206 lbs and I was two points from being medicated for high cholesterol. (As a point of reference, that’s about 45 lbs over my target BMI weight.) Let’s just say that I was living more of a high-calorie 40%/60% lifestyle. In layman’s terms, I “could stand to lose a few pouds.” Frankly, I was lucky that this amazingly beautiful woman said, “I do” to me and my other chin. But I digress…
Michelle really helped me understand how to take control of my diet and make better decisions. I put myself on a plan – one that owned exercise, diet and proper supplementation – and in about six months, I lost 25 lbs and dropped my cholesterol by 100 points. And that was a few years ago. Now – thanks to a healthy CrossFit routine (Thanks West LA CrossFit!) – I’m in the best shape of my life. (Not too shabby for 39.)
In short, my 20% is probably the cleanest 20% I’ve ever seen and if it weren’t for work-related travel, I’d be pretty close to being 100% vegan.
Life is complicated to begin with – for everyone. For me, I’m trying to be a good husband, a good father, manage a demanding career, find time to invest in my health, eat right, pay bills, work through early mornings and late nights, etc. – you know, life. And one of the most difficult parts is that no one is there to give you a pat on the back – and that’s just for the “life” things, say nothing of losing a few pounds, running farther/faster, setting a new personal record, or just getting up in the morning to “accept the challenge” when no one else notices or cares.
So, thank you to my wife, Michelle for being the person that cares – for helping me to make better choices and for helping others.
I’m living proof that – if you’re like me, starting out at 40/60 – you can make 50/50. And if you understand what it takes to make it to 50/50, you’ll enjoy getting to 60/40. Eventually, you’ll be better than my mere 80/20.
It’s all about taking one step at a time and helping each other out.
So to do what I can to help aid the cause, here are some of the things that have proven helpful for me.
Native Foods: http://www.nativefoods.com
Veggie Grill: http://www.veggiegrill.com
Forks Over Knives: http://www.forksoverknives.com
Garden of Life:
West LA CrossFit: