When you first try to alter just about anything in your life, the systems you’ve created and within which you live tend to resist.
I found this to be quite true in regards to a plant-rich food lifestyle, as much as with anything else. People were worried: What if I was doing something unhealthy? What if we couldn’t go to restaurants together anymore and enjoy ourselves? What if the turkey no longer showed up at Thanksgiving? And, on an ordinary day: What about the comfort foods? Wouldn’t this turn life unacceptably upside down?
Change does alter things. But, in the case of positive change, that’s exactly what we’re looking for. A plant-rich food lifestyle is not only good for the earth; it can also be super good for us—preventing cancers, arthritis, dementia, and more.
Still. People are people. Comfort is important. And so is tradition. So, yes, turkey still shows up at my Thanksgiving table, although I admit that for the very first time this year I cried when I began preparing it. (Accordingly, I promised the bird that I would not waste an ounce of his life, and though it’s now April, we are still making bone broth once a month; I just boil for about a half hour, then refreeze the bones until we want to use them again in about another month.)
I also discovered quite early on that it is helpful to pinpoint our healthy comfort foods and be sure to make them at least once a week. In my house, that’s potatoes, fixed any style. I also learned that, besides the memories that are a huge part of a comfort food, there are actual principles involved. The umami quality is highly-sought, and we can be sure to include it in anything we make, by including ingredients that provide it. Ingredients like:
• tree nuts
• soy sauce
• black olives
• sauerkraut (and other fermented foods)
Lastly, I don’t recommend using highly-processed substitute foods (fake bacon, etc., which often include a type of soy that’s not so good for us). But I do recommend using their flavors, which can be easier than you think. For instance, liquid smoke and fennel powder give a bacon and sausage flavor, respectively. Caramelizing onions gives a beautiful sense of the “roast” flavor so many of us love—me included 🙂 .
Identify a comfort food that would be hard to let go, because it is tied to cherished childhood memories. Put your comfort food in a poem, and be sure to include what has made the food important to you. As an aside, you can journal about what you might do to still include the food (or something similar to it) in your plant-rich food lifestyle, in a way that honors your memories but also honors your health and, potentially, the health of the earth.
Through the thick smoke
of sorrows he wrought, you
showed us what comfort
is made of.
It was the way you laughed
and let us mix the batter,
in a place that daily
everything we dreamed
because the war
had taken the same, everything,