Whole Food Plant Based Cooking saved my life

11 years ago, when we were planning to make Cook Culture, I really wanted us to teach Cooking Classes. I was woefully ignorant to what that actually meant.

I’ve always been passionate about helping people cook food at home – and this was my personal goal for our Cooking Classes. We worked with local Victoria instructors to build some fun and tasty classes, and were fortunate that people were eager to learn. Over the years, through trial and error, we built many great classes, in Victoria, North Vancouver and Vancouver, that helped people cook more at home. Goal met – but my personal goalposts have moved.

Throughout the time that we’ve had Cook Culture, I’ve been on my own food journey. You’ve probably noticed this already through my heavily Plant Based biased writing! We’re now at a stage of the business that I’m going to further align what I know, practice, and believe, into our cooking classes. 

This is why

I was raised a vegetarian, by a mom who did the absolute best she could with the information of the day. I then wandered into my 20’s drinking and eating whatever. I started to get my nutritional self together throughout my 30’s and now I’m half way through my 40’s and I’m responsible for our family meals and their nutrition.

I take my paternal role very seriously. I’ve become obsessed with nutrition, and the best way to feed us. I spend all my spare time listening to what I believe is the best and most researched information regarding nutrition. 

What I’ve learned

I’ve read all of the leading books on Nutrition, along with deep and dry textbooks. Through all that I’ve absorbed, no one is better qualified to lecture on the foundation of human health than Dr. Colin Campbell. You will know him as the author of The China Study.

Dr. Campbell is, and has been, a global leader regarding human health, and preventable ‘diseases of affluence‘, for over 50 years.   He’s been at the forefront of policy in regards to nutritional intervention on health related issues. He’s a giant in the world of Nutrition due to his immense body of research on the effects of what we eat and how it can make/keep us sick or make/keep us healthy – specifically in regards to Cancer. 

If you have any interest in your health, and improving your health, then I HIGHLY suggest to read the China Study and his follow up book, Whole. If you buy into what he’s saying, you’ll be astounded by what he has learned in his life, and what he wants us to understand. He’s not selling anything, other than his book, and he promotes nothing, other than healthy nutrition for humans.

There are hundreds of ‘healthy eating’ books out there, which most have good reason for being written, however most of the time the overarching topic of nutritional advice is ‘reductionism’. Reductionism makes us, the lay people, confused, and makes others loads of money.  Example – If you’re convinced that Vitamin C is good for you, because you’ve been told that it is, then you could agree that if you aren’t eating an orange or Grapefruit daily, then you should take a vitamin C supplement, and you won’t be too worried about not eating an orange. Logical, easy to understand, and no scurvy.

The real story, as Dr. Campbell teaches us, is that the human body is so extremely complex and sophisticated that nobody actually knows how citrus fruit, that has vitamin C, is ‘fully’ processed in the body. What is known is that the relationship between the fruit and our body is dependent on the WHOLE, and what is understood and proven is that the whole food is what our bodies need to be healthy and definitely more nutritionally beneficial than any supplement. He proves this without a doubt.

He is also extraordinarily explicit on how meat and dairy is not food meant for humans, no matter what we have been convinced of.  This is a point of contention, and is not a message that many want to hear or accept however he has a logical and convincing argument to back up his claim.

If you have the slightest interest in securing your future health then I urge you to read/listen to Dr. Campbell so that you too can have a better idea of the relationship that humans have with Whole Food and why I believe thoroughly that whole food plant based nutrition is the bedrock of our health. I feed my family nearly 100% plant based whole food for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. We are not religious about it but we don’t have cheat days and we all are quite good at making good food choices independent from each other – like I don’t have to police my kids to eat their carrots and kale. 

Plant Based, yadda yadda

‘Plant Based’ is an overused marketing term but the idea behind it is that it replaces Vegetarianism and Veganism with a healthier way of eating that is less religious. The ‘healthier’ part can or can not happen. I was a fat, out of shape, 26 year old vegetarian who was on the way to some serious health issues.  If we do not couple ‘whole food’ with ‘plant based’, then we do not get the benefit of quality nutrition. The goal is whole food with plant based, or a ‘WFPB lifestyle’.

What is Whole Food

Simply put, Whole Food is food as it was intended. It is grown, in its whole form. Whole food is not:

  • Extruded Oil
  • Non whole flour
  • Refined Sugar
  • Salt

These foods above, which are Macronutrients, are in almost all typical North American food that contribute to weight gain and/or choke your health.

But what about my Protein (and other Macronutrients)

This is my favourite question and I get it ALL the time. ‘How do you get your protein?’.

Have a think about this question. If this is a question that you’d ask me, why would you ask me? You may be a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition, and your Westernized training would have you question and wonder why I would not feed my family the highest quality protein available in abundance, as we need protein to grow and repair our muscles. One of my heros, Dr. Gregor (https://nutritionfacts.org/), does a great job explaining the Protein Fiasco here, which I have thoroughly put to the test. Dr Campbell also goes to great lengths in The China Study to prove that too much protein may actually make us sick, and grow cancer.  I do not concern myself with protein.

And I can put that into perspective for you regarding my need for Protein. I am 46, I run around 6 to 15 hours a week (training for Marathons and Ultramarathons), I train with weights at least 3 times per week and do core work every other day. I spring out of bed, and have sustained energy all day. I build lean muscle mass and recover from hard workouts and races within a few days. I know that I am not deficient in Protein, and do not focus on one nutrient or rely on any supplement for my health.

Less is more

Lots of calories, in less food, is a big problem. Again, I know this first hand. I wasn’t always a lean Whole Food Plant Based Ultra-distance runner, 

In my 20’s, I ate a load of calorically dense food, for all meals. It was tasty and easy, but I was fat and tired, and got sick a few times a year.  Even as I picked up running I still ate dense food, because I believed that my body needed the protein and calories to repair itself. I believed what mainstream media told me, because why would I not? The media is full of doctors and scientists helping us understand how we can live a better life, through advancements in chemicals and medicine. I was sure that if I found the right magic combination of pills or powders then I would become thin and be able to run forever, and continue to eat what I thought was good food.

Run into the ground

I’m extremely fortunate to be able to exercise like I do…at my age. That makes me smile, I’m fitter now than I was at 26 but the path was not easy. I was determined to beat a certain time in a marathon and nothing makes me feel more at peace than running in the mountains. Due to my obsession, and being responsible for the family meals, I wanted to figure out how to become fitter, and faster, while maintaining overall good health. I ate loads of protein and carbs loaded with pasta and pizza before races. I drank fuel mixes and recovery drinks. I even went through a stage believing that chocolate milk was a great post run drink. Throughout these years I was getting a little bit stronger but not a lot lighter and would suffer from injury a few times a year. I thought that was normal, mostly because that was also the way it was for most of my friends that I run with.

My Normal

I will not go on about all the crappy races that could have been better if I had trained more, or less, with what I know now. Or the time and money spent on the massage table, or the Chiropractor, or taking Advil, or asking other runners how they deal with whatever my issue was at the time. I will, however, fast forward to around 2009, when we fully embraced a vegetarian lifestyle as a family, then slowly progressed into a Plant Based, and then a Whole Food Plant Based Family. Why? Results. Stunning results. 

Beyond My Dreams

I still deal with injury and still get sick, but very rarely, and when I do I bounce back quickly. This past year, we greatly reduced processed flour and most refined sugar from our diets and within weeks I felt stronger and posted gains that I hadn’t had in years – my recovery time was slashed. I ran a sub 3 hour marathon in May 2019, and was climbing the Grouse Grind at my top speed 3 days later, feeling great.  This past summer I ran 2 x marathons, and 3 x 50+ km ultra marathons, including a 3 day event with 91km and 10,000 feet of elevation, finishing 3rd in my age group. For me, this is the stuff that dreams are made of, and it’s 100% due to my diet. I feel amazing all the time, I have no medical issues whatsoever, and have more energy than I know what to do with.

The Hard Part

I’m a huge fan of a WFPB lifestyle and I am 100% convinced that the Western Diet is poison to humans. By this I mean, too much meat, dairy, all processed food and oils, and sugar is what makes us sick. As Dr. Campbell explains in fine detail, the Standard American Diet and the Healthcare system have been built to respond to sickness and make others lots of money. At no time in history have so many affluent people dealt with so much sickness and disease. Why? Money for others.

I was raised on the fringe of the North American diet and understand its power and influence. As humans we are hardwired to crave calorically dense food and work as little as we can – this is how we’ve evolved. This translates to eating a lot of meat and processed food due to its availability in the Western World, and we do little about our health until we get sick.

I’ve been selling kitchen wares for 30 years, and have spoken to thousands of people about cooking and the #1 common theme of those talks is convenience. NOBODY wants cooking to take longer and be harder. 

I cook almost every meal for my family. They eat nearly 100% WFPB, and I spend about 2+ hours per day prepping and cooking. This is what it takes when all of my ingredients are Whole Food, and very little comes from a can or a package.  This is my investment in us and I know that this diet is our very best insurance for our health and vitality. I realise that I spend more time than most people want to on making food but I know that the wrong food oppresses us, and keeps us in the reactionary health care system, which benefits the few and costs the many.  This may seem like a conspiracy theory, but I challenge anyone to do the research, spend a year living as close to 100% WFPB way as possible and then show me that I am wrong. Show me that they do not feel better, sleep better, have a better sex life, make more time for small things, are happier, and are probably able to give up medications. 

This is a real thing, but you need to invest in yourself to get the return – no pill or super concoction that you buy in the store will give you what WFPB lifestyle will give you.

Our WFPB Classes

So this is the beginning of the next chapter at Cook Culture, where more of our cooking classes align with our family values. 

We have a growing collection of Plant Based and Plant Forward classes for you here: https://www.cookculture.com/cooking-school/class-collection/health/

I’m always keen to hear from you so please leave me a comment.

2 responses to “Whole Food Plant Based Cooking saved my life

  1. Thank you. I’ve always wanted to take one of the cooking classes but because of the meat menu, I’ve always refrained. Now I can look forward to a class that suits my food choices.

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