Have you been watching more Netflix lately than usual? I know I have! This recent pandemic has given me time to reflect on how far Sweet Pea Living has come since it was first started waaaaay back in 2015. I remember that it originally featured low-carb, high protein recipes. You think I’m joking, but I’m not. My kitchen creations centered around cuts of beef, chicken breasts, sausages, ground turkey, bacon, and cheese (all the cheese). At the time, I believed that this was the best way to feed Jason and myself hearty, nourishing meals. Meat seemed like an essential ingredient in our lives and cutting out carbs was the easiest way to maintain our waistlines.
After about a year of following this low-carb diet, my husband and I had a “come-to-Jesus” moment when we both became physically ill after eating just a few — and I mean a few — bites of pasta at our wedding tasting in 2016. I was horrified. Would I become sick on my wedding day? What if my body wasn’t able to process carbohydrates anymore? We both agreed that we weren’t happy with our diet and we knew that something had to change… we just didn’t know what. I flirted with the idea of looking into more vegetarian-based recipes, but I felt like it wouldn’t be sustainable. How would my husband ever feel full or satiated on a vegetarian meal plan? It just didn’t sound right.
It was perfect timing for me to start asking questions. In 2017 a documentary called What the Health popped up Netflix feeds and the world of nutrition and diet was set on fire. Maybe not literally set on fire, but people were pretty upset about it.
And I was with them! Sitting on my couch, with my arms crossed, in an absolute rage as Kip Andersen told me that eating animal products would send me to an early, cancerous grave. His research was dodgy, his interview tactics were incomprehensible, but his reach was wide. I remember my favorite Paleo/Keto influencers posting YouTube videos ripping his argument apart limb-by-limb. But annoyingly, the documentary had a hold on me. How could a person make these claims? What truth was there in what he was saying? Surely, Kip Andersen wasn’t the only person who believed these things and I had to know more.
This wouldn’t matter so much to the typical person. However, I was producing meat- and dairy-based recipes and promoting them as “healthy” and “nutritious” to my friends and family. It was personal, but it was also very public. And to me, it mattered a great deal. So, I did what all millenials do. I went to Netflix for answers… and it was the perfect timing, too!
After watching What the Health, I went down a rabbit hole of diet-based documentaries. While some were more useful than others, I’ve compiled my list of favorite plant-based documentaries for you. I know you’ve got some extra time on your hands, so now’s the time to watch these movies and give plant-based recipes a try!
Forks Over Knives – Forks Over Knives examines the claim that most, if not all, chronic diseases (i.e. cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Crohn disease) can be controlled or reversed by removing animal-based and processed foods from diet. The film follows everyday Americans with chronic conditions and showcases how they learn to use a whole-food, plant-based diet to regain control over their health and their lives. It’s super educational and absolutely fascinating. A must watch!
In Defense of Food – Join Michael Pollan on an excellent journey to answer the question: What should I eat to be healthy? Busting myths and misconceptions, In Defense of Food reveals how common sense and old-fashioned wisdom can help us rediscover the pleasures of eating and at the same time reduce our risks of falling victim to diet-related diseases. In Defense of Food is no longer available on Netflix, but you can stream it for free on PBS.
Cowspiracy -There are reasons besides your health to adopt a plant-based diet. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. This movie showcases these atrocities and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population.
The Game Changers – This is the newest documentary on Netflix! The Game Changers tells the story of James Wilks—elite Special Forces trainer and The Ultimate Fighter winner—as he travels the world on a quest to uncover the optimal diet for human performance. In this documentary, James showcases elite athletes, special ops soldiers, visionary scientists, cultural icons, and everyday heroes. His discoveries permanently change his understanding of food and his definition of true strength. It’s inspiring!
My Netflix binge could not have been more helpful in pushing me to develop a new vision for the blog and for my dietary needs. By seeing the impact that small dietary changes can make in your health and life, it was a no brainer.
I have been on the hunt for new research and information since I first watched these documentaries and books, but these sources are what really got me started on this journey. Since we cut out animal products from our weekly meals and replaced them with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, Jason and I have both seen positive changes in our digestion, cholesterol, blood pressure, energy levels, and mood. It’s been 3 years now, and while this seemed like a huge lifestyle change for us back in the day, it actually took just a little bit of effort and planning to make it into our reality. But more on that another day…
Are you thinking of making the switch to plant-based eating? If so, share why in the comments below! Are you skeptical? Ask me a question! I’d love to hear from you and help in any way I can. Until then, happy watching and stay healthy!