The Joy of Eating Simple Meals

Something weird happened when I adopted a whole foods plant-based diet: my tastes and preferences turned 180°.

When you adopt such a diet, it is (more often than not) a complete departure from what you have been used to eating for years and years, sometimes even decades. Suddenly you can no longer pick up some burgers and fries at the drive-thru on your way home. You can no longer eat out every single day (read that as: you probably won’t be eating out anytime soon, again). You can no longer fry fries in gallons of cheap vegetable oil until brown and crispy.

You will spend a huge amount of time planning what to eat, buying the necessary ingredients, schlepping them home (you know what I’m talking about when you don’t own a car!), washing them, peeling and chopping them, preparing them in one way or another, disposing of the leftovers, storing what you haven’t used etc. Boy, that’s stressful! But it’s worth it and within just a few days, it will become natural – I promise!

Initially, you will be surfing the web, buying and flipping through countless plant-based cookbooks just to get an idea of what the heck you can still eat. You will have hits and misses as you might not even know what kinds of foods and ingredients you actually you like. That was certainly the case for me – who knew I loved avocados and artichokes? The point I’m trying to make is, is that at first, you will need training wheels. To me, these training wheels are the tons of recipes that you find on this blog and on countless other websites, blogs and – if you prefer the old-fashioned way- books.

However, just as adults hardly ever use training wheels when cycling, I bet that you will sooner or later make the discovery that you do not need recipes or a lot of variation in your diet in order to maintain or achieve excellent health. In fact, you will probably come to enjoy “meals” that I call glop and mixed plates.

A glop is what I usually make when I am super, super, super lazy (read that as 80% of the time). A glop happens when you throw everything (yes, literally everything) that you have in your kitchen and like eating for that meal into a large pot, add water (or broth) and spices. Cook it until the ingredient that requires the longest cooking is done and – voilà): a glop! I know, it doesn’t sound particularly glamorous and my glops will certainly never ever appear in any fancy food journal, but I do not think that that is the point of eating. Just as I do not want my home to look like an IKEA store, I favor simplicity over spending hours in the kitchen and taste over extensively styled foods.  Just to be clear, I do not have anything against recipes (heck, that’s what this blog is about), I just want to explain why you do not need them. If you are ready to use your imaginary screwdriver to unscrew those training wheels – just do it! Even if your neighbors, friends, spouses, children, aunts and uncles will think you’re super weird for eating glop- just do it! It’s your life. Don’t pressure yourself to do something you don’t like.

So, what about mixed plates? Well, on the continuum of foods, they’re somewhere between glop and restaurant-style meals. A mixed plate comes together by making individual servings of foods that you like and eating them on the same plate. For instance, you can steam some corn and zucchini in one pot, make rice in your rice cooker and a serving of low-fat peanut sauce on your stove. When everything is done, place it on the same plate and just eat it. It’s still not a recipe (and is a really easy thing to do), but it looks somewhat better than glop.

Why is it possible to eat such meals without throwing up? A lot of people wouldn’t be able to eat as simple a meal as that. The secret is neuroadaptation. To put it simply: your body adapts to the new foods and you start liking them and it simply becomes unnecessary to consume foods with overly complex (=stimulating) ingredients.

To me, this is actually one of the main benefits of this way of eating. It just makes eating so much simpler, especially when you’re on the go.

  • Katie

    Thanks for the blog post, Christian! I keep putting off this WOE because I keep making it too difficult! I need to keep it simple! I’m also afraid of the social aspects–my young family likes to eat out once a week, I like the convenience of the drive thru after preschool pick up, I get tired of prepping in the kitchen instead of spending time with my kids, etc. But I know in my heart that this WOE will do wonders for me! I’m still wearing my training wheels, but sometime soon I will take them off!

    • PlantBasedChristian

      You will get the hang of it eventually 🙂 It all takes time, but after a while it’ll just come together. Just keep eating all those starches!

  • AJ Chef

    I couldn’t agree more! I once heard it said that variety is the spice of gluttony!