How to Relax in a Vegetarian Diet

How to Relax in a Vegetarian Diet

These seven words changed how I ate: “Eat food, not too much, especially plants.”

Michael Pollan, the American journalist and author, wrote them in his book ‘In Defense of Food’ (Penguin, 2009). Pollan means we should be eating “real foods” rather than processed foods that only contain “nutrients.” To eat food, the ingredients of which we would recognize; food closest to the source. Usually that means plants.

And to eat “not too much”, to eat protein-rich foods and foods rich in fiber and real nutrients (especially whole grains). Food that fills and satiates. Again, usually that means plants.

After reading “In Defense of Food,” I changed both my cooking and my food. I didn’t sign up to become a vegetarian or vegan, but I started cooking more vegetable and grain based (especially) Indian dishes because it is so flavorful to cook vegetable based. I ate (and ate) red meat and poultry much less often than before. I fell in love with canned fish and tomato sandwiches (not together).

And I found a friend in Jessie Funchion. (Full disclosure: She was a family friend at first.)

Thanks to Jessie Funchion

Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, teaches both individuals and families how to prepare and eat a plant-based diet.

Based in Pennsylvania, Funchion is holding her own from her home in Pennsylvania, especially well in her Instagram posts at and through educational emails.

And like Pollan’s best (whose “In Defense of Food,” she says, “was a big book for me too”), she’s just so healthy.

Her advice about living a plant-based diet, such as the meals she suggests for both adults and children, is balanced and based on solid science.

“If you’re vegan because your moral stance is animal rights or a concern for the planet,” she says, “you’re probably vegan.

“But if it’s for health and nutritional reasons,” she adds, “I don’t believe in being a strict vegan.”

“First, a behavioral reason: Any sense of limitation—saying no to eggs and meat—leads to backlash,” she suggests, “even to binge eating or overeating. Allowing a little will help yourself in the long run, the rest of the day.” your life.”

“Second, with kids, saying ‘no’ to them will really backfire,” she says. “In addition, it is very important to expose them early and often, especially in the first six months, to allergens in, for example, fish, eggs and dairy products, so that they can tolerate them.”

Funchion finds wisdom in young people and how they eat (she and her husband, Nick, have two under the age of three). “The younger, the better,” she writes of accepting a plant-based diet. “Babies are more open to trying new foods than toddlers.”

It can demand the attention of the parents. “Repeat, repeat, repeat,” she also writes. “It often takes 20-30 exposures for children to accept food.” Also: “Take the pressure off.” Tell your child, “You don’t have to eat it, but I’m going to serve you a little bit anyway.”

Of course, Funchion’s advice is also holistic. “You need a good diet and exercise for good health,” she says. “You cannot avoid a sedentary life.

She also takes away many of the concerns associated with a paradigm shift from meat-heavy to plant-based eating.

If you eat a plant-based diet with solid amounts of fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and legumes at most every meal, we don’t have to worry much about what ends up on our plates or those of our children.

“Don’t worry about carbs,” she says. There is no need to measure or count calories. You are probably getting enough protein. Eat every three to four hours. Don’t forget your vitamin B12 supplement. And use animal products as garnish, if at all.” (On the latter, she suggests they make up “less than five to ten percent of your diet.”)

Being vegan (or, threateningly, a “veganist”) isn’t all it is when a vegan drinks vegan — OK, but sugar-laden sodas and juices, snacks or vegan (but also sugar- and fat-rich) cookies, crackers and chips, dairy-free ice cream as an evening treat and refined grains such as white bread.

Plus, as Funchion points out, “Tasteless food is sad.”

Lots of goodies grow out of the ground. Let’s cook it; let’s eat it.

Extremely Easy Soba Bowl

From (Jessie Funchion). Serves 4-6.


  • 1 pack of soba noodles
  • 1 pack of pre-fried tofu or 1 bag of frozen peeled edamame
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bell pepper
  • Teriyaki sauce or sesame dressing
  • Coriander and peanuts for garnish (optional)