TheVeganJunction recently got the chance to interview Will Kriski of PotatoStrong about his transition to a plant-based, vegan lifestyle. If you haven’t yet heard of Will, he and his wife Bonnie run the website PotatoStrong.com which offers numerous plant-based, oil-free recipes that are sure to make meal time something to look forward to! Will also has a YouTube channel, PotatoStrong, where he shares his experience and advice about plant-based living as well as interviews with various plant-based doctors and nutrition experts. So, be sure to check out PotatoStrong after reading the interview!
Will’s before-and-afters on a plant-based lifestyle
What led you to a vegan lifestyle?
Basically after getting Netflix and watching Forks over Knives I decided to go plant-based. More specifically I looked into Dr. McDougall as he resonated with me and picked up The Starch Solution. I didn’t eat any meat or fish before that but I still ate cheese, sour cream. I used to think that the cows didn’t get killed to make cheese/sour cream but now I know more about the realities of that area as well. I was still pretty unhealthy as a vegetarian as dairy is as bad or worse than meat.
And how long have you been following a plant-based diet?
On June 30, 2015 it’ll be 2 years of consistent plant-based eating.
What health effects have you experienced since going plant-based?
I lost 35 lbs, cholesterol lowered to 112 mg/dL. Previously my triglycerides were so high they couldn’t measure the LDL! My blood pressure is really good now – the systolic went from 145 to 110 or lower. I had chronic lower back pain and that is now much better.
Are there any books or resources you would recommend that have really helped you, especially in regards to health?
The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall is probably the best book I could recommend. I read everything by the plant-based docs (The China Study, The Campbell Plan, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Engine 2 Diet, Salt, Sugar, Fat, Whole, The Low Carb Fraud, etc.) Nutritionfacts.org puts out regular videos which discusses new studies that come out. PlantPositive is a great Youtube channel that discusses a lot about saturated fat and cholesterol and refutes a lot of things that the paleo/low carb community says.
What are some of your favourite plant-based meals or recipes?
Some of my favs are baked fries and gravy and/or ketchup, cauliflower wings, shredded wheat/oats/puffed rice in almond milk with fruit, mashed potatoes and gravy, tacos with ‘refried’ beans and salsa, tofu scramble with breakfast chunky potatoes.
Could you share what a typical day of eating looks like for you?
In the winter I typically have oatmeal for breakfast topped with bananas and strawberries and maple syrup. In the summer I have cereal – shredded wheat/oats and puffed rice with bananas, blueberries and unsweetened almond milk. For lunch I might have falafels with vegan tzatziki sauce, or baked fries with ketchup or leftovers. Dinner might be whole wheat linguine or penne in a spinach/tomato sauce and kale/romaine salad with balsamic vinegar, or homemade baked taco shells with refried beans, onions/peppers, salsa and guacamole, homemade pizza, stir fry with udon noodles and sweet thai chili sauce. I eat well!
Will with a plant-based grocery haul
Did you find it difficult to adjust to a plant-based lifestyle, particularly in the kitchen and preparing meals? Is there any advice you would give to someone just finding the plant-based path?
For some reason I found it pretty easy. I think it’s because I learned a lot and spent time coming up with new variations on recipes that I liked. I just adjusted what I typically ate and make sure I fill up on starches which is key. For example switching from 1% milk to almond milk, pizza with no cheese, whole wheat pasta with lentils instead of meat sauce. My advice is to get educated as to how to eat this way (books/videos), tweak some of your favourite recipes, remove all the junk and animal products from the house and do this 100% as your taste buds will adjust. I don’t feel moderation can work – as it always keeps you addicted to the old habits. 100% worked great for me and is surprisingly easier than trying to wean off addictive products.
Do you currently have a particular exercise routine? And, if so, what does it usually entail?
I’m very sedentary so I try to get people to realize that ‘It’s the food’ as Dr. McDougall says. I’m not a big fan of exercise but I like to take a walk for an hour and a half around my neighbourhood. I also started doing bodyweight training over a year ago which is just some quick sets of chin ups, push ups, and dips mostly. I don’t have a set routine or days of the week. I just do a quick set here and there when I think of it. It keeps it fun. Also I suggest people do things they like such as sports, cycling, etc. Since I’m on the computer a lot I bought a DeskCycle so I can cycle under the desk at a casual pace for hours while I surf the web, answer questions, etc.
The beloved Kemo
You have a furry friend at home, who is also a rescue, could you share a bit about them?
Bonnie and I were grocery shopping and she went to a hardware store to get a few things. When she came out this cat was there in pretty rough shape, bald patches, bone thin covered in a thick grease. So we took him to a vet and paid for his treatment which included an infection. After 2 weeks of caring for him we were hooked. Now he’s a big spoiled lovable Maine coon. I have to also mention my dog Ben who died this past August at the age of 19 and a half. He was the love of my life and I am still pretty devastated. To me it’s like losing a child. I loved him so much and always did whatever it took to fix any issues no matter the cost. The last few years he needed around the clock care so I’m glad we were home to take care of him all day.
What do you feel is the best part about being vegan?
I feel like I’m really helping the animals and the environment so now I am consistent with my strong love for animals and minimizing my impact on the planet. Being lean while eating a lot of food feels great too! So now I’m sharing this information with people around the globe and it is very rewarding to help so many people.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your vegan lifestyle? Are there any activities you have become more involved in since going vegan, ie. helping with rescued animals, gardening, etc?
I want people to know that you can eat amazing, tasty, easy recipes that are comfort foods. A lot of people think vegans eat kale and quinoa and starve themselves. The food is so amazing. Also you can be strong and not a skinny, weak looking person. I’ve recently gotten into vegetable gardening and composting. So I’m growing my own veggies and also planted some fruit trees. I want to ramp up the volume of food over time so I can eat a lot of my own food. Our season is short here in Canada but there are ways to extend the season.
You and your wife have a website PotatoStrong.com that provides a great recipe resource. Could you share a bit about it, as well as where else people can follow you?
I put all my recipes up on the website on the front page organized by breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks/desserts. I also have a recipe guide if people want a digital version for their tablet or printable version at https://leanpub.com/potatostrongrecipeguide. People can follow me on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter as well.
Thanks Will, for taking the time to share a bit about your vegan journey!
You’re welcome. It’s been fun!