It’s official; I’ve been plant-based for almost year! I made it!
And no, this was not something I wanted to try out and then revert back to my old eating habits. I truly made up my mind that I would give up dairy, meat and fish. After a year of diet adjustments, here’s why I’m never looking back…
When I made the decision to become a vegan last April, I didn’t’ go complete cold-turkey. I had already stopped eating red meat, about four years prior, and eggs two years ago. Soon after those adjustments, I gave up cheese and skim milk, which was SO HARD. Then came the biggest decision, abstaining from eating meat. This was supposed to be a temporary experiment to help me shed five pounds that I wanted to lose. At the time, I felt as if I had tried everything to lose weight and nothing was working. Back then I ate chicken twice a day, once at lunch and again at dinner time. So, this was a major change to my diet.
That first month was terrible…
Not only did I miss chicken, but my energy levels were suffering. I found myself extremely drained and tired midday and began drowning myself in coffee, four to five cups a day, which made it worse but somehow, I stuck to it. As the months went by, it got easier as I found vegan protein alternatives like mushrooms, tofu, etc…more on my diet plan later.
In order to gain the full benefits of my little experiment, I decided to extend my decision of abstaining from meat for another 2-3 months. I realized a month or two wouldn’t be enough time for my body to produce true results. By the sixth month, my body felt and looked different.
That. Changed. Everything.
Experts suggest you measure weight loss by how your clothes fit. Guess whose jeans no longer fit by the sixth month? In fact, I was swimming in all of my pants. It was as if I woke up one day and shrunk two sizes smaller overnight. I decided to weigh myself (which I never do) and lo and behold, those pesky extra pounds were gone! In addition to the weight loss, I found out that I was no longer deficient in Vitamin D, or Iron which, tbh, puzzled me, since I’ve been deficient for years, how it is now that I’m getting enough of those nutrients now with a such a restricted diet…?
I should mention that for the past two years I’ve had the same fitness routine; 6 days a week I do thirty minutes of cardio and thirty minutes of weight training, with few variations. The results poured in after my changed my diet.
Around the seventh month, family and friends realized I was “still on this vegan thing.” I believe their concern was concern whether I was eating enough. When in fact, I was eating more frequently than ever before. Dinners out turned into me explaining to everyone my reasoning for becoming plant-based, which was annoying. I made a point to downplay it at all times so no one felt bad for eating meat or fish in front of me, honestly, it really didn’t bother me. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I ignored most of the chatter and continued on.
I’ve recently dug a bit deeper into better nutrition. I’m still plant-based, I eat organic-only foods. I’m much more mindful about products that are gluten-free, Non-GMO, artificially flavored, marked “all natural,” contain preservatives or food coloring, and most importantly, foods with processed sugar or artificial sweeteners. My trips to the grocery store can take up to two hours, partially because I have a new found love for grocery shopping, but I take time to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists.
My plant-based journey is only part of the message for this post, the most important take away, is this: regardless what your diet is, pay attention to what you put into your body.
There are numerous studies on nutrition, be mindful of your sources and who is sponsoring them, but educate yourself on your favorite foods.
My body has never felt better. I’m not perfect, but I am my ideal weight. There will always be room for improvement. My friends, family, and even co-workers have fully embraced my decision. So much so, they now support me and take it into consideration when preparing meals and picking dinner spots. Some even picked up a few good eating habits due to my advice.
This was not an easy choice, there have good days and bad days but I’m still going strong. My original hope was to lose a few extra pounds. The knowledge I’ve gained about health and wellness was most beneficial part of this entire experience. My hope is that sharing this information with all of you will, in turn, help you make wholesome choices.
This was sustainable because I made it a lifestyle. I didn’t perceive it as a detox, fast, diet, or whatever temporary terminology is used when describing healthier eating habits.
My diet is pretty simple
I eat organic, veggies, fruits, grains, oats, beans, greens, nuts and oils. There’s much more to my diet but these are the staples. I have to very creative with my recipes. I stick to good fats but I work out every day which makes it ok. Every meal consists of protein and fiber. Yes, I eat carbs BUT I pair with non-starchy vegetables to keep my carb intake low while maintaining a high intake of nutrients and fiber.
I treat myself to a little dark chocolate (86% cacao) pretty often 😉
Some might think this is too strict and could never live like this and that’s ok. This post was not my attempt at converting my readers to become vegan, however, I do challenge you to start looking into the nutrition labels. Google whatever ingredients you’re unsure about. Just yesterday, I decided to take a look at my toothpaste and discovered it contained Carrageenan, which is a common food additive that is extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus, which is popularly known as Irish moss. I was mortified. Carrageenan, which has no nutritional value, has been used as a thickener and emulsifier to improve the texture of ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, soy milk, and other processed foods. It has been linked to causing IBS, liver cancer, fetal toxicity, birth defects, glucose intolerance, just to name a few. Here I am, trying to eat super clean meanwhile, my toothpaste contains this chemical.
I agree that if you read the ingredient list for most processed foods, you may find something wrong with most. That’s why I’m sticking to a locally grown, organic, plant-based diet. It’s simple and works for me. Hoping this post gave a little insight into a vegan’s life. Please comment below, I’d love to hear your feedback if you found any of this information useful. Xx, SAS