Life Lessons: Replacement

September 18, 2009

Yesterday, on Day 17 of the Vegan Challenge, I ate:

– Small bowl of strawberries and grapes, plus two little clementines

– Veggie medley parfait: layers of cucumber slices, carrots sticks, strips of asparagus, and chopped cauliflower. I think vegetables taste better when they are arranged nicely. I had these in a big clear plastic container and thinking of it as a “parfait” made me smile as I munched.

– 2 pieces Yves deli “turkey” smeared with mustard and wrapped around a couple stalks of asparagus, and a handful of grapes

– 1 big carrot, a couple of mushrooms, another handful of grapes, and a chocolate milkshake made with 1 frozen banana, 1 cup unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze, kale, and a sprinkle each of flaxseed/wheat germ/cinnamon. The kale made it turn a very disgusting brown-green colour but it was really delicious. I guess I can eat the bunch of kale in milkshake form if all else fails for my enjoyment of that particular leafy green!

– 1 calzone with cheezy sauce, a couple beanballs, and a few more grapes/strawberries

How do the terms we use act as lenses for our perspectives?

I was feeling a little under the weather yesterday with a cold. Grapes are my go-to whenever I’m sick. They’re the perfect snack when I’m feeling poorly. I also decided yesterday to do a little experiment of not eating any kind of nut butter for the entire day. As healthy as nut butters are, throughout this whole vegan challenge I’ve really been eating them to excess. You can tell that from every time I don’t specify the exact portion size in my record of what I ate the day before. I figure that by not mentioning the amount that I eat, no one will be the wiser πŸ˜‰

As I learned when I turned orange from eating too many carrots, no matter how healthy a food is, you can definitely have too much of it. So I went the entire day yesterday without nuts or nut butters. And I survived. For my next couple weeks of veganism, I’m going to make a real effort to replace some of the nuts and nut butters that I’ve been eating with beans and legumes.

Above all, I really feel that that is key to eating healthy. And I think that’s also why many people are wary of “healthy” foods and are reluctant to eat healthier as opposed to “tasty” junk food. But that’s because we’re looking at it all wrong. Rather than telling ourselves, “I can’t eat this or that; those are bad foods so now I have to deprive myself of them”, we should be telling ourselves, “that food isn’t so healthy, so I’m going to replace it with this other equally tasty and far healthier food”.

It’s not a process of elimination. It’s a process of replacement.

While I’m eating vegan for the month, I’m not going hungry because I am simply replacing what I would normally eat- eggs and other animal products- with other food that does not contain animal ingredients. It is equally nutritious, it’s just different. If, rather than replacing my normal eats with plant-based foods, I simply eliminated the eggs and cheese and such, I’m sure that at this point I’d be wasting away. We’re exchanging one thing for another here. I’m happy to take this opportunity to discover all kinds of new and tasty foods, too.

What have you been replacing- not eliminating!- in your life lately? Do you find that having the perspective of replacement not elimination is a more effective way to succeed in the changes you are making?

There is always some way that we can improve, so if there is something you would like to change but haven’t yet, then that’s something you can work on this weekend! What will you replace?

Some of my own quick (and hopefully helpful!) reading material

– Looking at anti-smoking commercials and controversial PETA advertisements to understand how they are a reflection of what we care about.

– If you are interested in blogging but don’t know quite how to get started, or if you are planning a blogging information workshop, check out this outline that I drew up for a blogging workshop that I conducted for the staff at The Uniter.

– I have compiled a list of tips for note-taking that students might find very useful. Be sure to add your suggestions if I’ve missed something!

Here’s some ideas for motivating yourself when the weekend rolls around (or any time that you’re slacking!)

What exactly does “good for you” really mean?


  1. Absolutely! I don’t see my way of life as “giving up” anything… I’m adding so many healthy things that there’s no room for unhealthy stuff. The term I use, which I learned from Darya at Summer Tomato, is “upgrading”. It describes it perfectly.

    Carrots and mangoes can turn you slightly orange because of the beta-carotene. It’s not unhealthy, in fact, it protects your skin from the sun. If you were to go into the sun for a while, you’d turn a lovely golden brown.

  2. Oh I agree with you very much. I never tell anyone to eliminate anything from their diet, it just sounds cruel. Replacing with better options, most of the time, is a much better way to put it! I have replaced my fruit intake with more vegetables (maybe not exactly the perfect example). I did this because I realized my body can’t handle fructose very well, which stinks 😦 So instead of giving up fruit, I eat much less, then replace more veggies in their place!

  3. I like your attitude! πŸ™‚ I like the idea of replacing some of the not so healthy foods in our diets with healthier foods. By doing this, you will naturally eat less of the not so healthy foods… For me this has worked nicely with lunch and dinner. I eat a big salad before I eat anything else for lunch and dinner. That way, I get my greens in first and then don’t go overboard on the pasta, etc.

  4. Totally agree with the idea of replacement versus elimination! I love that you’re doing this – dedicating yourself to vegan eating in order to give a qualified, objective view point. Good job!

  5. Excellent commentary! I don’t consider it ‘elimination’ but ‘limitation.’ πŸ™‚

    I laughed at your salad parfait report. An older man at jason’s deli recently held out his salad bowl to me and (jokingly) asked if I would make him a salad as “purty” as mine. Arrangement does seem to make it seem like much more of a treat.

  6. i was going to comment in your amazingly insightful post but i couldnt stop giggling at “beanballs.”

  7. Hanlie- I love the term “upgrading”; that’s a good one! And yes, I know that they’re healthy foods, but we CAN have too much of a good thing. Too much beta-carotene and vitamin A can start causing all kinds of problems… I think mostly with regards to digestion and vision and weight loss, though I could be mixing it up with another nutrient. Anyway, point is, we gotta be careful not to reach toxicity levels with fat-soluble vitamins!

    Gina- I think that’s the PERFECT example. I eat a lot of fruit, and I imagine I would be better off if I *replaced* some of that fruit with veggies instead. I find that the transition is easier if I switch to sweeter veggies in the beginning and ease my way into it.

    Andrea- salad first works out so well!

    Jolene- I have fun with it πŸ™‚

    Cammy- presentation of food can make a world of difference! “Limitation” is another good term for that.

    Kelly- yuuuuuummmm.

  8. I like this idea! It’s definitely what I do – I never just get rid of something completely; I always replace it with something better.

    I think you could also use this thinking in other areas of life too…. our terms in politics, religion, government… and what terms other languages have for those topics – they give a good idea of what perspective a person has.

  9. Sagan, I don’t know how yo are giving up the nuts and nut butters. They are really my acceptable treat. Of course, as with you, I sometimes eat too much of them. In fact, I have thought that I should take a week off just to prove to myself that I can do without them.

    I am certainly not to the point I can go vegan for a month, although if I were going to do that, it would be during the summer when the crops are fresh. I have cut down on the meat considerably though, which is quite an accomplishment for me.

    Great post – make it a great day!

  10. Maggie- you’re absolutely right! I really like your take on that. Your love of rhetoric makes my love of rhetoric happy.

    Steve- OH GOOD LORD NO I COULD NEVER GIVE UP NUT BUTTERS! Phwew. Okay, I’m glad I got that out of my system πŸ˜‰ Am just cutting back a tad. I’m pretty sure eating the equivalent of half a cup or a whole cup of nuts a day isn’t the best idea. So just SOME of my portions of nuts are being replaced. They’re so tasty.

  11. Nice post! Teehee, I love my nut butters.

    Notetaking Tip: I like to take my notes by hand and then transcribe them onto a computer. It makes me go over it again.

  12. Hm, I agree with you at the part that we shouldn’t be denying ourselves anything. Replacing bad foods with good foods is a good healthy eating habit, but I wouldn’t say you should totally replace ALL “bad” foods, because that would kinda be the same as denying ourselves.

    And holy cow. you and I? twins. I used to overdo on nuts like crazy. I ate 3 lbs of nuts…per DAY. I’m not kidding. I thought since it was so good for me, why not? And for some reason that was the ONLY food I could eat, I rejected everything else, esp carbs. It completely got my digestive system messed up!

  13. What a great commentary on healthy eating, vegan or not. I can easily fall into a rut and start eating the same types of foods over and over to the exclusion of others. Thanks for the reminder Sagan.

    Also, I’m looking forward to checking out the links you provided.

  14. Hi Sagan,
    Replacement vs. elimination is really a great way to look at whatever life changes we’re making. Just the word “replacement” feels more positive and good. And while I haven’t commented much recently, I’ve been following along very much as you’ve traversed this month. Very nicely done, both doing this, and documenting it all…

  15. Mimi- that’s a great idea! Does it take up very much extra time or do you find that the extra bit of time is worth it?

    Burpexcuzme- oh I agree; we shouldn’t replace absolutely everything if, further on down the road, we then go crazy from it (which is usually the case from serious deprivation!). I’ll be reasonable about that one πŸ˜‰ The nut/nut butter obsession is a tough one to fight!

    Diane- hope you enjoy the links! I can be shameless in self-promotion πŸ˜‰

    Lance- the words we use can REALLY make such a difference… which goes hand-in-hand with so much of what you write about at Jungle of Life!

  16. […] nutrition philosophy of eating real food and trying to avoid or limit processed food (or rather, *replace it* with the real stuff), but you can read more of that on the sidebar (and, er, please ignore the […]

  17. The best thing is replacing with not healthy foods in our diets with healthier foods this is the best practise as doing this we can eat food and we our average will be maintained.

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