Peña: The results make up for the struggles of sticking to a plant-based diet

So, I started with the cook himself! I told my dad that I loved his food very much, but that we needed to get serious about improving our health.

For months, my father resisted any bit of change. He said that he was going to “live his life his way,” and that he just needed to “change portion sizes.” My father is a great person, but he can be very stubborn at times, especially when it comes to food.

I figured that if I jumped right in and got us going, we might actually enjoy cooking new recipes together, so I made us a list and we went shopping. The first dish we ever made together was a simple broccoli and tofu stir-fry. It came out really good, to our surprise, as we’d never cooked with tofu before (but enjoyed eating Asian food at restaurants).

As weeks went on, my father and I continued to make small changes together and replaced pantry items with healthy alternatives. We started going to stores with lots of healthful offerings, such as Sprouts and Trader Joe’s. We spent a considerable amount of time on YouTube looking up videos to help us learn how to prepare whole plant foods.

It actually became an enjoyable experience, once we got the hang of steaming vegetables without steaming up the whole kitchen. Soon, I had a spatula in hand and was tossing eggplant patties around like a natural.

While we were having fun in the kitchen, the full shift to eating plant-based whole foods did not come easy.

I found it incredibly challenging to consciously make the choice to eat this way every day, perhaps because I hadn’t yet fully made the decision. Professor Hagenburger talks about moving from “I can’t have it” to “I don’t want it.” My father, too, was finding himself slipping into his old habits.

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