This is Part Two of Two in a series about our love for food, cultural practices, nutrition, the way we treat animals, what the Torah (Bible) says about eating animals, and where I think the puck is going (Part Two is the one bit about entrepreneurship, or future forecasting what I believe will be a very lucrative opportunity for the right entrepreneurs). This is more about what I've learned about these topics over the past four years in adopting a mostly vegan diet than my typical Lucky7 posts about entrepreneurship (with the notable exception I just mentioned above). I will not be offended if you stop reading now, and you now understand the context if you continue to read this series. I want you to know what you are getting into before you proceed; I believe this series will be a Matrix-type learning for you ("take the red pill, Neo") and once you know the truth you cannot "unlearn" it. You have been warned. :) Having said all of that, this is a topic that I'm very passionate about. My drive to write this series comes from the many questions I get from people about my diet, so I'm writing this to openly share what I've learned and this will also be more efficient - and comprehensive - for me than telling bits and pieces of this learning each time in conversation. My drive also comes from losing my father to a heart attack because of his diet. He was too young to pass away, and I miss him very much. I wrote a tribute to him here - he was an amazing entrepreneur and man.
Before I begin, I would like to thank my good friend, Ryan Cush (one of our best for many years at Bazaarvoice and an executive of Food on the Table, recently acquired by The Scripps Network), for discussing and reviewing this series with me. He is a wise and good man, and I always enjoy collaborating with him.
If you haven't read Part One, please do so first. That will give you all of the context for this last Part of the series.
Ok, so now that you have some of the learning that I do from the past four years of exploring this (sometimes sensitive) topic, what do you do if you want to make a change in your life towards a more humane diet - the original diet prescribed for us by G-d in the Garden of Eden? In this post I'll first address how to change your diet and next I'll address what the future holds, which is the entrepreneurial part of this series with the capitalist in me speaking.
First, let's talk about health. You can be an unhealthy vegan. A famous venture capitalist once told me, "You don't see any fat vegans, do you?" Well, actually, I do. Just like any diet, there are the junk-food alternatives in the category. If you haven't watched the documentary Fed Up, I highly recommend you do so. There are all types of vegan junkfoods that have high processed sugar content and will, in fact, make you fat and unhealthy if you eat them often. For the best vegan diets, I recommend you read The Engine 2 Diet or Thrive, as I mentioned in Part One. Also, there are many great Indian, Chinese, and Thai cookbooks and it is easy to eat healthy - but very tasty - vegan on those diets. When I want to splurge in Austin, I eat at restaurants like Sway, Clay Pit, Thai Fresh, and La Condesa, which all have great vegan options and are pretty healthy overall. When I want to eat really healthy vegan, I eat at Casa de Luz, which has many fantastic options. Here is a cool article on how vegetables are "becoming cool again" as according to Zagat. I recently had one of the tastiest vegan meals ever at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco (they have a cookbook available for purchase, by the way). When I do have a craving for meat - or a recipe that is usually made with meat (such as a bolognese pasta) - I turn to the great products by Beyond Meat (carried by Whole Foods and others). Their beef and chicken products have the same protein content as the real deal and satisfy the craving for me. They are also made with minimal sodium, sugars, fats, and junky additives.
But the bottom line is - the best vegan diet is one that is a whole plant-foods diet, not processed and not using heavy oils and sugars with no offsetting fiber (again the documentary Fed Up will explain the sad processed sugar situation to you as it pertains to tantalizing our taste buds at the dire expense of our health).