Six Years and Counting! Is Being Plant-based All Salads & Sadness?
August 4th is the anniversary of when I became a vegetarian (closer each year to vegan). This year is number six! I’m proud of myself for sticking to my decision for 2190 days and for the investment I’ve made in my health for the future, not just today. I’ve also saved the lives of about 312 chickens! Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned:
1) Making one good choice leads to other good choices
It takes discipline to make a change and stick to it. Like exercising and going on a diet, no one truly wants to sign up for sore muscles or less ___________ (fill in the blank with whatever you crave that isn’t good for you). However, feeling healthier and seeing a difference will likely have a positive ripple-effect in other areas of your life as well. It did for me!
2) Food flavors are delicious on their own
I believe that God created the foods we eat with amazing variety and creativity, each with their own unique taste, texture, and ingenious “packaging.” As I began adding fresh fruit and vegetables back into my diet, I reconnected to the crunch of a green pepper or the juicy explosion of a perfectly ripe nectarine bite. I retrained my tastebuds and they’re happy 🙂
3) Adding ranch dressing, cheese, sugar, bacon, extra salt, etc. isn’t necessary
Neither is artificial flavoring, colors, or additives. We’ve gotten used to so much processed and fast food in today’s culture that what our ancestors would have been shocked to see is now mainstream – and fed to our kids. I don’t have to live on a farm to eat more fresh ingredients or cook my own food and neither do you. Start making a couple of recipes on the weekends and freezing the leftovers for meals during the week. Get in the habit of making a big salad every few days. Make your own choices about what goes into your food (and body!) not what commercial producers add to it. Bonus: plant-based fresh ingredients are easier on the budget too!
4) No one I know is getting any younger
The best day to start making healthier choices? Today. As we get older, non-healthy choices come home to roost. When we’re young, we feel “bulletproof” because we may not have experienced the consequences of our decisions – yet! For example, there are endless studies about how carrying extra weight can lead to many different health issues. It can also lead to hip and knee replacements and lots of pain and less mobility down the road. Who wants to sign up for that? We’ll all go through issues, but why not prevent all that we can and get healthier each year instead of old before our time? That’s my goal!
I have a friend in her 70s that made the decision last year to go Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB). Yesterday she told me she’s lost 40 lbs! If we do the math, a gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs. (3.78 kg). Her joints were carrying the additional pressure of 4.8 gallons of weight all day every day, but not any more. That’s a big deal!
5) Baby steps vs. cold turkey
Only you know if you’re the kind of person that eats a bite of cake, followed by the rest of the cake. Or, you may be the kind of person that has a bite or two and says, “that was awesome!,” then gets right back on the horse and keeps going. Eating a plant-based diet is a lifestyle choice. It’s your life. As for me, I did go “cold turkey” with meat. Cheese took longer and so did butter. Today, if I want a bite of “real” cheese I have one, then get right back on the horse (I also eat vegan cheese). As for butter, I use 0% cholesterol free oat butter now which is delicious and I truly don’t miss dairy butter at all anymore. It’s a personal process. Key word: process. Give it time and keep going.
6) Different can be good too
I’ve gotten a lot of different reactions from people who learn I’m a vegetarian. Here are a few classics, beyond “where do you get your protein?”:
- “Then we can’t be friends anymore.” (She was kidding)
- “Oh, I’m sorry!”
- My favorite of all time: “Isn’t it all just salads and sadness?” LOL!
Food preferences and boundaries can get real, real fast. If I could make one suggestion to anyone with a plant-based diet person in their life, it would be to give a little nod of respect. It’s a big decision – and they made it for a good reason.
The bottom line? A healthy life is a better life – in every area. I’m so thankful I decided to go plant-based six years ago. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner!