New Blog Site Address -- Please Unsubscribe Here and Resubscribe There

I started this blog site, Finally Our Time, eight years ago when I first retired at the age of 64. At that time, I was writing about retirement, trying to do kind of a humorous look at what it meant to be retired. While that was fun, and it helped me to sort out my thoughts on retirement and what it meant to me, I found it was difficult to keep coming up with ideas for the humorous side of retirement. I'm not really a comedy writer.

Then I went to writing about local restaurants. My wife and I enjoyed eating out a lot, and I got this hare-brained idea that if my blog postings were reviews of restaurants, then I could take a tax deduction for every meal when we went out to eat. Well, that didn't work out. I discovered that all our evenings out were not going to be tax deductible, and besides I discovered that the years between the ages of 65 and 70-1/2 are the golden years when it comes to taxes. I wish I could go back to them.

Then I discovered whole food, plant-based eating and decided that's what I would write about. For the last six years, this site has been devoted to my thoughts on eating whole food, plant-based. And it's been more successful than I ever imagined it would be. It turns out that a lot of people like reading what I think about eating whole food, plant-based.

Then two years ago, I started a second blog site titled The Art of Plant-Based Meal Creation, where I started posting recipes that I was experimenting with. Then it developed into some of my favorite recipes. And now it's where I want to consolidate my writing on the whole food, plant-based lifestyle. Therefore, I am asking you my reader to do two things. First, click on that link and subscribe to The Art of Plant-Based Meal Creation. Second, in the email where you received this blog posting, click Unsubscribe.

It's important to unsubscribe to Finally Our Time because once again, Finally Our Time is going to change. I'm spending more and more time (not to mention money!) on photography, and I've now decided that it's finally time for me to blog about photography.

I will be archiving all the past writings on eating whole food, plant-based that are currently on this site. But they will not be lost. Over time, I plan to re-publish the most popular posts from here on The Art of Plant-Based Meal Creation site. And if you watch for my book that I'm working on, Twice the Man; Half the Weight, then you will find the best and most popular blog postings included in that book too.

I'm not going away. I'm just moving to a new site, and that requires some action on your part if you want to keep reading my blog postings on eating whole food, plant-based, and you don't want to read my thoughts on photography. If you do want to read my thoughts on photography, then stay subscribed here too.

Thank you for being my reader, and I hope you continue to be so at The Art of Plant-Based Meal Creation. And if you're a photographer, stay here too.

J Lanning Smith
Twice the Man; Half the Weight
March 14, 2019

The Complementary Missions of the Vegan and the Whole Food Plant-Based Movements

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about how vegans and those living a whole food, plant-based lifestyle fit together. I'm thinking about this for a couple of different reasons. One, as a club officer in a whole food, plant-based oriented club, I'm concerned about some of the confusion and misunderstandings that I see. And secondly, I've been thinking about it because of some of the statements that I've heard from people who identify themselves first and foremost as vegans. And what concerns me there is a philosophy that says eating whole food, plant-based is a subset of being vegan and wfpb doesn't have the same level of moral consciousness as being an ethical vegan does.

Like many non-vegans I know, that attitude rubs me the wrong way. It doesn't change the fact that I hold the same values as ethical vegans do. I am opposed to animal cruelty. I live that in my every day life, not just in terms of food, but also in the consumer products that I buy and the causes I support or don't support. I think most of us who are whole food, plant-based believe in vegan ethics and try to live a vegan lifestyle, whether we identify ourselves with the more strident vegans or not. We can actually live out a vegan lifestyle without ever calling ourselves vegans.

And I say that because in many ways, I would like to get away from the word vegan, but not get away from the values expressed by it, because I think it is misleading to those of us trying to eat a whole food, plant-based diet. It can lead us to think vegan when we go into a restaurant for example and that can lead us to order a vegan cheeseburger or other vegan dish that is full of chemicals, salt, oils, etc. In other words, while it can lead us to not eat animal products, it can also lead us to eat foods that really aren't whole food, plant-based or good for us. And that's contrary to our goals.

I always suggest thinking whole plant-based foods instead of vegan foods. And one way I like to look at it is when I go into a restaurant I have in my head Dr. Fuhrman's acronym G-Bombs, which stands for greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds. I look for dishes that have all those components in them or as many of them as I can get. And then if I have to, I tell them to leave out the meat and the cheese (and the oil). If there's nothing specific on the menu, then I look to see how many of those ingredients are used in other dishes, and then if they're all there, or mostly there, I ask the chef to make something focused on those ingredients.

Thinking G-Bombs instead of vegan really helps in getting the right foods when eating out. But that's not the purpose of this blog post. In fact, I recently wrote on doing that before. This blog post is about the conclusion I came to about the complementary missions of the vegan and the whole food, plant-based movement. And the missions, when stated this way, are very complementary and put each on equal footing. It doesn't make one a subset of the other and it doesn't make one less equal from a moral standpoint than the other.

So, what are those complementary missions? They are (and these words are mine; they are not official explanations from any overarching organization):

  • Being vegan is about being compassionate and kind toward the animal population that we share the earth with
  • Being whole food, plant-based is about being compassionate and kind toward the human population 
Of course some vegans will say that those who are whole food, plant-based are only concerned about themselves, but I don't believe that's true. I believe most of us want to see others become whole food, plant-based as well. We know that it will save our loved ones from a decade or more of decline and ill health in their last years. We know that it will help our loved ones to live better and more fulfilling lives. So, at a minimum, most of us promote this lifestyle to our loved ones when we can.

But we go further too. We promote it to those we interact with in restaurants. We promote it to people around us. I know several people who converted to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle as a direct result of talking with me and seeing the results that I achieved. And people who come to this then also become more conscious of their impacts from food choices on the animals and on the environment too.

So, anyway you slice it, the whole food plant-based movement is on equal footing with the vegan movement. One is about the animals and one is about humans. In other words, the two together cover the entire animal population of the world. Our missions are truly complementary.

J Lanning Smith
Twice the Man, Half the Weight
February 28, 2019

Missing the Forest for the Trees

Something I believe I read from Dr. John McDougall when I first started eating whole food, plant-based was that eating this way was as easy as finding five or six recipes that you enjoy and to just start eating those. Or as most advisors on anything will tell you, the easiest way to consistently do something is to do it the way that you will most likely continue to do it. For example, if you're President George H.W. Bush who famously does not like broccoli, then it probably wouldn't be a good way for him to go whole food, plant-based by consistently loading up on broccoli. You have to pick foods you will continually enjoy.

I'm going to expand on that theme in today's blog posting because it's a way of thinking that I'm familiar with and it definitely led to my success, but it's also a way of thinking that I have gotten away from lately. And I think others have too. I can kind of pinpoint when I started losing sight of it. It was in December 2015. That's when I stopped losing weight (about 10 to 15 pounds before I wanted to stop losing weight). It's also when, after 18 months, I stopped eating my standard colcannon dinner at night and my miso soup and sweet potato for lunch every day.

Instead, I began to become concerned about getting specific foods into my diet each day because of their particular benefit in fighting this cancer or that cancer or because one particular food was super packed with antioxidants or what have you. I don't know if that influenced my stop in weight loss or not; it may have just been time for my body to stop losing weight. I've talked to a couple of our WFPB doctors who both suggested that was probably the case. They both told me the body wants to stubbornly hang on to that last ten pounds or so. But it could have also been that the change in how I ate may have increased the calories I ate each day. Now instead of just eating what I enjoyed when I was hungry, I was making a conscious effort to eat certain foods every day. That became so important to me that I would eat some cooked mushrooms, for example, just to get them in (whether I was hungry or not). And that could have increased the calorie load.

Or another possibility could be that moving from colcannon and miso soup and sweet potatoes to bigger salads and soups and chilis and other dishes could have changed my gut bacteria in a way that the new bacteria were more interested in fighting cancer and heart disease than they were in weight loss. So, who knows for sure? But as the last three years have gone on, I've almost laser focused in on eating this food for this benefit and that food for that benefit. In a way, I bad become reductionist, as Dr. T. Colin Campbell talks about in his book, Whole.

But this past week, I've had some opportunity to think about things and to reset my thinking. For example, in my last posting, I mention how I have become so focused on food as nutrition that I've begun to short shrift the other very important aspects of . eating this way, which includes the environment and the ethical treatment of animals. While I do not write on those subjects in my blog postings, I really never want to lose sight of their importance, and I have the highest respect for my friends who place those concerns front and center.

Now, as I reflect on my thinking and in getting ready to teach an orientation class to our newest club members, I'm finding myself going back to the model that says the best foods to eat on a whole food, plant-based diet are the foods that will keep you eating whole food, plant-based. Maybe this is driven by a craving I'm having for colcannon right now, which I've decided to make for my next week's worth of meals, but I really think it's good advice. Sure, my colcannon has redskin potatoes (white inside) and it has cashews for creaminess and some might object to one or both of those. But it works for me. I ate it every night for a year and a half from March 2014 to December 2015 and during that time I lost 150 pounds, got off all prescription meds and I looked forward to every meal.

I think what's important first and foremost is the giving up of all animal products, oils and highly processed foods. By doing that, we are taking away what I believe are our biggest contributors to chronic disease.So, now the question is, do we need to eat certain foods in order to further prevent chronic disease? For example, does the fact that Brazil nuts help to lower cholesterol now mean that we need to add them to our diets? I'm going to say "Not necessarily" because we've already taken away the most significant causes of higher cholesterol in our bodies. Eating whole, plant-based foods will only make your body stronger.

And the studies that show a benefit with a particular plant food are never done on people who have eliminated animal products, oils and highly processed foods. They're done on people who eat a more traditional standard American diet.

So, for me, I'm thinking that information about specific foods is worth knowing about and worth keeping in mind as we think through our diets, but I'm also thinking the most important criteria is to find foods we enjoy and make those our daily diet. I'm pretty sure that people in Blue Zones, where people have lived the healthiest for the longest period of time, have not worried about getting enough of any specific food in their diet. I doubt that any of them have ever read a book on eating whole food, plant-based. Nor do they have a list of foods they insist on eating each day. They just eat the foods that are available to them in the most likely ways they can enjoy them. If I live and stay healthy in doing so for as long as the Blue Zones participants, then I will have considered this way of eating to have been a success for me.

In fact, we know fasting is good for us. So, that would suggest just the opposite of eating this food or that food. Instead of worrying about getting enough of any particular food, we probably ought to think about how to get less food overall.

J Lanning Smith
Twice the Man; Half the Weight
February 10, 2019

Revised Statement

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with the awful realization that in my own boneheaded ways, I've been wrong about something. I hate when that happens because it means for somebody like me, who so freely expresses my opinion and thoughts in a public way, that I have to eat humble pie. And when it happens through a blog posting, it can be all the worse because thousands of people have likely read the offending blog post.

Fortunately, yesterday's blog posting is not one that was widely read. According to my stats, just a couple hundred people read it, one of the lowest numbers ever on one of my blog postings. And from comments I received, a number of those agreed with the posting. But I no longer agree with the posting.

I am replacing what is written in that blog posting with the words that I am writing here.

Here's my confession:

I have for some time now mixed up my "professional" responsibilities with my more personal, ethical responsibilities. When I say professional, I mean my role as Vice President of the 620-member Eat Smart Live Longer Club as well as my role as a newspaper columnist and a magazine columnist. Those responsibilities require me to focus on the nutritional benefits of eating a whole food, plant-based diet. And many people who follow me in those endeavors have looked to me as being a food expert.

As that has continued to build, I have however lost sight of the other major concern that I have, and that is the abhorrent effects on both our society and on fellow beings that we share the earth with when it comes to the exploitation of animals. That too is a major concern that dramatically affects the environment we live in, our chances of surviving climate change and more.

I have become too focused on nutrition, and will continue to focus on nutrition where it is appropriate to do so, but I am also re-committing myself to the larger issues of animal exploitation as well.

This came to a head for me this past week because our Board in the Eat Smart Live Longer Club is voting on whether to support the Lowcountry VegFest again this year. And I may be the swing vote on that. When I wrote my blog posting yesterday, I was stating why I didn't think we as a club could support that. But that wasn't clear in my blog posting because my blog goes out to a larger population, so I have to write for a more general population. I came across sounding as if I opposed VegFests in general.

My position as one of five club officers is that because our club was founded on being nutrition-focused and our membership is still nutrition-focused, we as a club should be donating to events and organizations that advance those goals. In my humble opinion, it would send a message to our membership that we are endorsing some of the manufactured vegan products as being nutritionally good if we were to donate to an event that emphasized processed vegan foods over healthy plant-based foods. And that would go against what we believe. So, as a club, I am not in favor of donating to VegFest. However, I can still change my mind on that if someone has a good argument to the contrary.

But, not being a club sponsor does not mean that we as individuals cannot support VegFest for what it is doing, and that is bringing the message about animal exploitation to as wide a population of locals as possible. I intend to make a donation as an individual to the VegFest this year. And I encourage the other officers, particularly those wanting to vote in favor of the club donating, to also donate to VegFest this year. I would also encourage all of our members who are concerned about animal exploitation, and it would be nice if that were everybody, to also donate to VegFest this year.

Together we can make a difference. As individual donors, we may give even more than would have happened otherwise. I do support VegFest. I have donated to it every year since its inception, usually more than once. I also served on the planning committee for it one year and I have been a volunteer at VegFest every year except this past year (due to family visiting and my dad's funeral that same weekend). I don't mention that to brag about it. I mention it in order to show my continued support for VegFest.

Tonight, today, this morning (whatever), I am like the prodigal son returning home. It can't be my piece of the puzzle versus someone else's piece of the puzzle. It all fits together into a lifestyle that rejects animal exploitation and rejoices in a diet of whole, plant-based foods. And to be truly healthy, that should also include rejection of processed foods, which is also severely damaging to our health and hazardous to the environment as well. I believe we can all learn together from each other. And while I write with a lot of assuredness at times (most of the time), I too am continually learning.

Thank you and see you at VegFest.

J Lanning Smith
"Twice the Man, Half the Weight"
February 8, 2019