Embracing a plant-based diet
I have been a vegetarian my whole life. But after watching a couple of documentaries on healthy food choices, and listening to the Minimalists podcast, I decided to significantly reduce dairy from my diet and eventually I will be eliminating it completely. Being a hardcore lover of cheese, yogurt and ice cream, it was a tough decision to make. But I’m proud I have progressed pretty well.
I have never eaten meat of any kind, so my transition to a whole food, plant-based diet is going to be easier in comparison to someone who eats meat. Generally, animal meat is considered to be a significant source of protein, especially for people who are athletes and indulge in rigorous exercise routines. But there is no reason to believe that we cannot get the required protein from a plant-based diet. In addition, there are plenty of plant-based protein powders available in the market that can help you in your muscle recovery process.
The main argument against dairy products is that as humans, it doesn’t make sense for us to have milk of some other animal. I had never questioned it because that’s how our society and diets are designed by default. But then that was a question that seemed like a valid one, and it got me thinking. I used to think milk was very important for our diet as it is a great source of calcium, vitamins and other minerals. But in reality, milk being an indispensable source of calcium is a big myth in our society today. We can get them from a plant-based diet. There are vegan options such as almond milk that can provide those nutrients as well.
If you would like to make this transition, some action steps for you to get started with a plant-based diet are:
Understand your WHY: My number one reason for being dairy-free was to reduce my body fat percentage. That has been my biggest motivator. I’ve significantly reduced my dairy intake since past couple of weeks, and I have seen my body weight go down (I have been sticking to the same fitness and weight-lifting routine).
Keep one meal or day a week where you can eat meat and/or dairy: If you’re someone who has had meat and/or dairy your entire life, then it will be a wise to choose one day when you can let go. With time as you build resilience, you will be able to get rid of animal derived products entirely.
Using meat substitutes: These days there are plenty of products such as veggie hot dogs and burgers that have similar textures to meat but are soy-based. If you have a hard time, consider switching to these for a smooth transition.
Educate yourself: Watch documentaries that guide you towards healthy eating and living, listen to more audiobooks, and read more books and articles. As you get educated more, you will learn about the healthier food choices that surround us. This will fuel your WHY behind embracing a plant-based diet.
Start with a small experiment: Start with a 30-day experiment, and see how you feel. Listening to others’ experiences is great, but why not do it yourself and give it a try? If you see its benefits, you can continue; if it doesn’t align with you and your lifestyle, you can always customize your food choices based on what makes you feel good.
Do it NOW: We read about healthier choices everywhere but we never switch to them. The reason is that we like being in our comfort zone and are afraid of making changes. Treat your body like a temple as the popular adage goes. Do not delay in making healthier choices. The sooner you start, the earlier you will see its benefits reflected in your life.
Spread the word: As you tell other people about it, it will help your friends in living a healthier life, and at the same time help you in being accountable to them. When you are instructing other people and not practicing yourself, you will be questioned about it. As the famous quote says, be the change you want to see in the world!
Changing habits, especially the one involving your taste buds is hard, but with a step-by-step process, the transition can be simple. All you have to do is figure out the reason(s) why embracing a plant-based diet is the best way to go for you and your body.
I have made the decision to continue because I want to eat what is best for my body and keeps me at optimum health, and I will do anything for that. For me, embracing a plant-based diet is the path of least resistance, because along with my body, it’s the best choice I can make for our environment and other living beings that we share our planet with. The choice is yours!
Further helpful resources
I recommend watching the following documentaries (they’re available on Netflix):
- Food Inc.
- Food Choices
- Forks over Knives