How Eating Plant-Based Has Changed My Life
I never, ever, ever, in a bazillion years thought I would be eating a plant-based diet. I never thought I’d even be anywhere close to plant-based. I thought it would be impossible and that I wouldn’t know what to eat or how to order and that I would feel super deprived. But, now that I’m here, I really don’t know what I thought I’d be missing so much - or why I thought it would be so hard.
I’m definitely not going to sit here and tell you “I feel so much better!” because, honestly, I feel exactly the same as I did before, physically. But I did want to take a minute to share what has changed, because it’s really been quite awesome.
1) Cooking. Cooking (and grocery shopping) used to make me cry. On the reg. It was embarrassing. Eating plant-based has completely transformed this area of my life. It’s truly astonishing, actually. (Just ask my husband!) The external structure of just limiting what I can eat down to whole, plant-based, foods, has made the entire process of cooking actually enjoyable for me! Now, I wouldn’t have been able to jump into this without even more external guidance - which is what I currently receive from the awesome Forks Over Knives meal plans - but it’s just taken this tremendous weight (and guilt!) off of my shoulders! I’m sure there are a thousand different options for meal plans out there, but I’ve never found one before Forks Over Knives that didn’t leave me feeling completely overwhelmed and confused. This one is so easily customizable, they take full advantage of leftovers, they build a grocery list for you that makes it sosososo simple to just cross off what you already have at home (or maybe don’t want). It’s just honestly been so refreshingly simple, I can hardly get over it.
2) Saving money. Ok. This is a completely unexpected result and is actually happening in a few different ways. First off, my groceries are actually cheaper. Yep. You read that right. I had genuinely expected them to be more expensive. Huge bonus (and surprise!). Also, I’m saving big bucks by taking my food to school with me! Plant-based food is so easy to travel with since there is no meat or dairy. The food keeps really well just in my backpack - no need for ice packs or anything fancy. This is so fantastic because it keeps me from buying crazy $13.00 salads or eating junk.
3) Less food wasted. I used to try to buy fruits/veggies, because I knew they were good for me. But since I didn’t know what to do with them or how to cook them or what they would go well with, they would very often just go bad and wind up having to be thrown out. And I hate food waste. It would make me so mad that I was such a guilty party there!
4) Nutrients. I’m getting more nutrients in me than I ever have before. I quite literally used to live off of pizza and frozen meals and ordering in, which almost always equated to lots of the bad kinds of carbs and lots & lots of cheese. I’m now regularly getting lots of leafy greens in me (kale, spinach, etc.), mushrooms, peppers tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, cucumber, beans, lentils, quinoa, HEARTS OF PALM (I didn’t even know what those were before!), bananas, avocado, etc. etc etc….I could go on forever. But rather than that. Let me show you some of the delicious meals I’ve made! (It’s a gallery, so you can scroll through if you want!)
PS - the coolest part is that the meal plans have been getting me so comfortable with cooking, some of the dishes you see above are things I actually came up with myself! I know that might not be anything impressive to you, but it was just such a massive milestone for me to feel comfortable enough to actually get creative and try to create something new.
5) Spirit. But the best part, I think, is what it’s done for my spirit. I really hated the fact that I was contributing in SUCH a big way to the horrible suffering of so many animals as well as some crazy environmental sh**. I could no longer stand the hypocrisy I felt in being vehemently against something like dog or cock fighting, while having no problem turning around and eating meat from sources where those animals lived an entire miserable life of torture. (The podcast Hidden Brain had an episode called “Animal Instincts” that really drove this home for me. It’s not at all a podcast about not eating meat or anything like that…it strictly was dissecting how screwed up and hypocritical and contradictory our relationship with animals really is. I highly recommend it.) Now, listen, this is NOT me preaching here. I had a burger a few weeks ago when we had friends over for dinner. I have not yet given up dairy, and I really don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do so. But I sleep so, so, so much better at night knowing that even just pulling back on how much meat I was consuming actually makes a difference. We all really don’t need as much of it as we think we do (even major athletes have gone meatless, like Tom Brady)….and I just really feel more at peace. Super personal decision. Not one that I would ever try to push on anyone. But I did want to write about it because it’s been such a significant thing in my life and I like to share things that have been helpful for me. Also, my cousin - who has been vegan for a long time - really helped me out by sharing her experience and introducing me to Forks Over Knives. It made all the difference to have someone to go to the process with, so I wanted to put my story out there in case it’s helpful to any of you! The best part about all fo this is, I’m doing it in such a relaxed way that it has just felt like such an easy and seamless change to make in my life, which is much of why I think I have loved it so much. The Forks Over Knives people don’t use oil, for example. I do. I like it, I think it’s good for me. And so I used it. So! Make of it what you will. I know some people will think I’m crazy and some won’t think I’m crazy enough but I’m just doing what feels right to me. So, gimme all the plants! :)
PS again - I couldn’t remember how to spell “hypocrisy” for my life and in looking it up, I came across this definition: “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform…” which exactly encapsulated how I felt. If I physically saw someone doing to animals what I know in reality is actually done to them I would hurt that person. I would probably punch them right in the face. Sorry. I just….I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I would lose my mind. Now, this is also not to say that there aren’t very ethical ways to raise animals and eating animal products. However, let’s be real: the tremendous majority of the meat and animal products we consume are raised and harvested in pretty horrible ways. So, what’s the answer? Well, for me, it just really became quite clear. Just stop supporting the thing that would make me lose me mind. It’s very simple and, thankfully, the beneficial consequences have extended far beyond the relief it has brought my spirit.