Photos Cameron Flaisch
The New Year brings about change and the motivation to want to be better. Most of the time, this includes a good hard look at what we eat and how active we are in an effort to stay healthy.
It can be difficult to cut out some of the most important pieces of life; however, some people commit and make a drastic change successfully. One person who dedicated himself to living a healthier life took the leap and is thriving thus far.
Meet Matt Schieffer.
As the owner and creator of Lumina Coffee Company, he has been a vegan for around a year and six months.
“For me, becoming a vegan simply culminated through the journey of eating healthy,” explains Schieffer. “Since I was around ten years old, I suffered from serious migraines. They would sometimes put me out of commission for three or four days. It got to a point where I would get up to three migraines a week, and I just couldn’t handle it.
“I tried eliminating things from my diet,” he continues, “to see if that would help to alleviate my migraine symptoms, which started my journey with the paleo diet.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the paleo diet, (or any diets other than the latest Facebook fad-induced eating plan) it is a dietary plan based on foods similar to what might have eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from 10,000 to 2.5 million years ago.
This diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. The paleo diet limits food that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago, which includes dairy products and grains.
“While on the paleo diet, I was still having migraines each week, which concluded in me living off of medications every single day,” says Schieffer. “Someone turned me on to the Netflix film, ‘What the Health?’ and it changed my perspective on a vegetarian diet. I started doing research into what truly was the healthiest diet for what I was hoping to achieve, and I came across veganism.”
If you are like most, your daily diet likely consists of things like pop-tarts, hamburgers from any fast food joint of your choice or chicken, pizza and french-fries, etc. Going on any sort of strict diet is beyond the realm of consideration for those who are not health conscience in the least little bit. This is perhaps what makes his story worth a read.
“People normally go vegan for about three reasons,” explains Schieffer. “You could choose just one reason or choose all three. The first reason could focus around environmental damages. For example, the result of greenhouse gases that comes from slaughter houses and other lasting damage to our planet as a result of processing meat. Another reason is animal welfare. Lastly, health reasons seem to be at the forefront of the decision.”
Before we get too far into this subject, one who is not familiar with veganism may be wondering (besides the jokes they hear from other people about vegans) what exactly is the difference in vegetarians and vegans?
People who have a standard diet are people who tend to consume the normal things found on menus. They eat everything that tastes good, whether it grows or moos. Vegetarians do not meat but will eat animal byproducts like milk, cheese and yogurt. Vegans, however, eat no animal products whatsoever.
“Like I said before, the journey to eating healthy is where I started this vegan diet. Once I swapped to the vegan, plant-based diet, all of my migraines were almost immediately eliminated,” says Schieffer.
For the majority of us, especially those who love a good steak, the road to being completely convinced is riddled with obstacles. It is hard to tell a meat lover that going without meat is the best way to live a healthier life. How Schieffer achieved the correct levels of protein and calories on his plant-based diet is an enigma that is worth looking into further.
“I tend to eat a lot of beans, nuts and seeds which, from just those three categories, you can get plenty of protein. I track my food and usually get around 80 to 100 grams of protein a day, 80 to 100 grams of fat daily and about 300 to 350 grams of carbs,” says Schieffer. “For carbs, I am usually eating bananas, sweet potatoes and lettuce… all foods that are really great for you.”
Another question that generally arises is how vegetarians or vegans eat enough to make their body feel full?
Most meat eaters who have tried more of a plant-based plate say that eating a salad and nothing else is usually why they fall off the wagon. They are usually still hungry even after finishing the salad.
“As long as you are getting enough nutrients from the food you are eating, you will be full at some point. I have noticed that I eat more on this vegan diet than I ever did before, yet it is foods that are great for you. So, it is okay to consume more,” says Schieffer.
And the question any curious person always asks is, “Do you miss meat?”
“I honestly don’t miss meat that much. The first month after going vegan, I craved meat so badly. Every piece of meat I saw made my mouth water. But now, it is almost like my taste buds have adapted to where I crave and love healthy food and the way it makes me feel. I will say, however, that I do crave cheese pizza every once and a while,” laughs Schieffer.
“Veganism is just one of those things that is very difficult to get started. But, as you move into the practice, it becomes so easy and you reap the benefits of it,” says Schieffer. “For example, I never get tired throughout the day. It also really improved my immune system, as in the year and six months that I have been on this diet, I have gotten sick once with a cold.”
As mentioned above, friendly jabs about people who choose to live a vegan lifestyle are abundant. And those who say they have never joined in on the laughs may be taking the long way around the truth. One way we at V3 Magazine were able to truly get excited about going all-veggie was to see what vegan meals Schieffer had put together for us to try.
“There definitely are falsehoods about veganism where people think it could be boring. People often ask if I only eat salads, is it expensive and other completely normal questions, which is why I chose several meals that were super cheap and easy to obtain. They are also easy to make,” says Schieffer.
Chia Pudding Breakfast Bowl
What you will need:
Your choice of berries
Your choice of yogurt
First, add your choice of berries, water and a banana to the blender. Blend it up. Once it’s blended, add a scoop of chia seeds and store in refrigerator overnight. The chia seeds absorb the water and create a sweet pudding-like substance. The next morning, transfer the berry chia pudding into a bowl and top with whatever you would like—Schieffer topped his with vegan granola, mixed nuts, banana slices, coconut milk-based yogurt (not as bad as it sounds) and more chia seeds.
Schieffer normally makes his own granola, but for the sake of time and easiness, you can purchase a great bag at Kroger. Of course, you can also make this bowl with non-vegan materials as well. Either way, it is still loaded with protein and serves as a healthy breakfast option.
The second menu option was a Greek Bowl.
What you will need:
Vegan Taziki Sauce (Schieffer made his own)
Spices of your choice
This dish has a quinoa base—some of us had no clue what quinoa was before Schieffer introduced it to us, but it was surprisingly good.
First, boil the quinoa in water and vegetable broth. Once the quinoa is cooked, transfer to a bowl and add a little bit of lemon and chopped parsley for flavor. Mix together. Empty chickpeas into a pot and sprinkle whatever different spices you would like (he added cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and paprika). Once the chickpeas are soft, add them to the quinoa bowl and mix. Chop your cucumber, tomatoes and avocado and add to bowl. Top with Taziki and enjoy!
Expecting our raw opinion to be pretty biased, we surprised Schieffer with our true enjoyment of the two dishes. Some of the folks in our office have even recreated their own Chia Pudding Breakfast Bowl at home. Though the overall consensus is that some could not give up cheese pizza or steak and chicken, we applaud Schieffer and other vegan’s around the world for their creativity when keeping this diet.
So, should you go vegan?
We don’t know if we would ever tell someone they should; however, a healthier diet may be a better alternative. If it means giving up pop-tarts… well that’s another story.