Before I start writing this, I want to say that these are the benefits that I, and many others, have experienced by adopting a plant-based diet. However, since everyone’s experience is different, adopting this diet does not necessarily mean that everyone will benefit from it in the same way. Some will lose some excess weight, others will finally find their ideal weight. Some will gain a lot of energy, others will feel a bit tired at first.
I also want to add to this that I still firmly believe you have to do what works for you. If this means that your diet includes the occasional piece of red meat, an egg a day and a piece of chicken or fish every other day, then that is fine, too! There is one thing that I have learned over the past two years, which is that there is nothing worse than labelling your ‘diet’ (the way you eat) and then having to justify why you do or do not eat certain foods to those around you. This often leads to feelings of insecurity, but also of resentment to those who criticise or question your choices. If you feel 10 times better eating only plant-based foods, then that is an argument in itself.
If anyone asks, just tell them you prefer eating fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains over animals and their by-products.
Something that really helps with this, is not being too hard on yourself and not feeling like you need to be perfect every step of the way. You might be familiar with the 80-20 method. It can be applied in many ways when it comes to food and fitness. In my case, I try and eat plant-based foods at least 80% of the time. However, and this has not yet happened, I know that in some cases I will not want to be too strict on myself. I am thinking of birthdays, holidays; think fresh fish from the Mediterranean or a bite of cheese fondue.
Sometimes, I will not be able to eat only plant-based foods all the time. Think fixed menus at dinner parties, restaurants where they use butter or cream for their soups or veggies, birthday cakes and so on. Remember that eating only plant-based foods is not a very common thing to do. Especially if you live in a smaller town or on the country-side, you will have probably noticed that people do not always understand it and are not very open to it. To be quite honest, you cannot really blame them. You are being a bit of a pain by asking them to make something that is not actually on the menu.
In the end, it all comes down to planning. If you know you want to keep eating mostly plant-based foods, try to adapt food-related situations to your advantage. Choose the restaurant you go to with friends (my friends now let me do this and otherwise I compromise), plan your meals, bring some snacks so you do not get too hungry when you are at the restaurant and make sure the place you go to has some suitable side-dishes.
Here are 6 things I noticed when going plant-based:
- This is my number 1 as it is the main reason I decided to start eating only plant-based foods: better digestion. Eating a lot of animal protein in combination with veggies can often lead to digestive problems as the latter wants to be digested quicker. This is why I chose to try out eating plant-based foods for one full day to see if it would make a difference. Sure enough, it did! I continued and here we are; I have not felt this good in a while.
- I have less cravings. This is a big one for me, as I have always had a bit of a hard time with cravings, especially chocolate and bread. If you hand me a box of chocolate or a loaf of bread, I promise, it will be gone in about 2 days. I am not saying I no longer have any cravings, but I feel a lot fuller after my meals than I used to, and thus eat less in-between my meals.
- I get to eat more (YES YES YES). This was a bit weird to me at the beginning, but I think it might be because I now eat less calorie-dense foods such as Quest bars, full-fat yoghurt, cheese and eggs. I have replaced these foods with more volume food (salads, fruits, veggies, tofu etc.)
- I am more creative with my dishes. This might come as a surprise to you if you follow me on Instagram, but no, not every meal looks colourful and no not all of my meals are different, I actually often eat the same thing over and over until I get bored of it. However, I now experiment with new ways of using veggies in my dishes and I can honestly say that no meal really looks the same nowadays!
- You can get enough protein from plant-based food, but it requires a lot of planning. My favourite ways of doing this are by eating tofu, Vegan protein powder, tempeh, beans and hummus (I will do a separate post on this).
- This one is quite important to me as well. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a strange love for cows and animals in general (but mostly cows). Do not get me wrong, I love all animals, but cows are where it all started a couple of years ago. However, now, is the first time I feel like I am being honest. The thought that I was being very hypocritical by not eating cows and pigs, but still eating chicken and fish kept lingering in the back of my mind. That thought is gone now, too!
Banner photo from thenaturalwayofhealing.com.