How A Plant Based Diet Saved My Life
It may seem drastic to title this “How a Plant Based Diet Saved My Life”, but that is how I genuinely feel. This is about my journey to health, to rejuvenation and overcoming an eating disorder.
It’s also about understanding what plant based means, what nutrients we can thrive on and debunking some of the most common myths around veganism.
First, let me start from the beginning.
Society Convinced Me To Eat Meat
I almost titled this ‘Society Made Me Eat Meat’, but in harsh reality, society did none of the such. Society leads you to believe through advertisements that you have to consume meat and dairy to have big muscles and strong bones– we all remember the Got Milk commercials.
When I was a child it was just the “norm” to consume meat at most if not all meals. Even at this young age, I gravitated towards fruits and vegetables (sugary snacks also made guest appearances), but I NEVER enjoyed eating meat. I didn’t like the taste or the texture, and internally it saddened me that animals had to die for me to eat them. It all just never settled well.
My parents always encouraged me to try everything, but most times I would slip meat to my dog(s) or pass it to my Dad at the end of the meal– this habit grew well into adulthood (at family and friends’ houses too!).
I began exercising intensely in 2013 and found that I craved meat– which was a first! I love cooking, so it was fun to make different dishes. I thought I was finally doing something right. Little did I know that my body was just craving a nutrient, not a food; especially not a food that did more harm than good.
I became heavily involved in researching nutrition, diet and the functions of the human body. What I learned, quite literally blew my mind and changed my whole entire life from that point on.
Quitting All Animal Products Cold Turk–Tofu?
(Just a little vegan punny (funny pun))
So– I became very interested in nutrition and the human body for a few different reasons:
- I was a health coach at the time and wanted to be able to extend my knowledge to people of all dietary backgrounds.
- I was experiencing severe acne and hormonal imbalances.
- I had been obsessed with health for some time– mainly because I had never been able to fully find the right food lifestyle.
When I started reading about how to clear my acne and balance my hormones, I came across a plethora of articles on the side effects of meat and dairy consumption. I was only slightly stunned as I had heard about hormones being in dairy, but at this point I really only consumed goat cheese and yogurt so I wasn’t totally sold.
I decided to take it a step further and get tested for food allergies/sensitives. I learned a lot that day– that I had high sensitivities to chicken, flax, agave, coffee, oranges and blueberries. This meant that these foods may cause reactions in my body that I am unaware of. Since chicken was the main meat I was consuming at the time (1-2x/week). In that exact moment I decided to give up all meat and dairy. I was an ‘all or nothing’ kind of gal.
Let’s get even a little more extreme- I went totally raw vegan. This is extreme to say the least. Raw Vegan means you consume all food raw. Your main diet consists of raw fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds (not raw meat and eggs like my friends insisted upon).
This is when I fell in love with my body and my mind.
Raw Vegan Was Easy, Regular Vegan Was Not
My mom and I decided that we would do Raw Vegan together after reading the book from FullyRaw Kristina. We planned on 21 days and then agreed “We would go from there”. 21 days came and went, so did many pounds and the constant concern of when and what I was going to eat next. It truly felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders; both metaphorically and actual weight.
Remember when I said I overcame an eating disorder? This was the first time in my life I had conquered my binge eating habits. I no longer had temptations because I was fully satisfied– in my mind and my body. I felt alive, fully of radiating energy and happy. I was happy to not eat large quantities of food, as if I didn’t know when my next meal was coming. I was happy that overeating was just not a possibility when you are living a raw vegan lifestyle.
This happy story has been on and off for the last 4 years. Winter time presents challenges as seasonal fruit is sparse and the cold temperatures leave you craving a warm meal. However, I can say with certainty that I feel my best when I am eating raw and strive for that as often as I can. Nothing compares to a meal of watermelon or a bowl of nice cream (banana ice cream!)–my two favorites!
But Where Do You Get Your Protein?
Let’s chat about the top myths when in comes to being plant based:
MYTH: You cannot get enough protein on a vegan diet.
FACT: People (Vegan or Not) get way more protein that is ever necessary. The saying for vegans goes: ‘Plants Have Protein Too’. Dark green vegetables contain loads of protein when consumed raw.
MYTH: Vegan food is bland and boring.
FACT: Vegan food is only bland and boring if you make it that way! You have unlimited access to recipes for comfort foods like mac n’ cheese, pizza and burgers– you can make anything delicious!
MYTH: You cannot build muscle on a vegan diet.
FACT: I think I will just show you a picture of one of the fittest people in the world; Rich Roll (ultra endurance racer)
Rich Roll –Vegan Athlete
MYTH: Being a vegan guarantees weight loss.
FACT: Goodness, I wish! There is a healthy way of eating vegan and then there is the ‘all you can eat Oreo buffet’ route that some people tend to take when they first become vegan. My suggestion: transition however you must (even if that includes some processed foods), but once you transition, primarily (or solely) eat a whole food based diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
This Is My Story– My Happy, Healthy Story
Becoming a vegan was easy, staying a vegan has been even easier. It is really hard to turn down quick muscle recovery, loads of energy, better sleep and a clear mind. I balanced my hormones, cleared my acne and have been able to focus my energy on our healthy aspects of my life like running and hiking.
Who knew endless fruit and vegetables was the key?
Can I challenge you to have one meal a day that is free of any animal products? You will be doing so much good for yourself and for the environment. Maybe, just maybe you will even love how you feel.
Stay tuned for some of my favorite vegan recipes!