Upon learning that I eat the way I do, I am just about always asked why I stick with it. How is it that the urge to eat cheese or a hamburger doesn't overtake me?
The reasons have turned into such a long list I could really going on forever, but I am going to condense them here. My going plant based all started a couple of years ago with a high cholesterol diagnosis and a severe lack of energy despite eating better than 95% of the people I knew. I decided to start researching nutrition and how it relates to health and it took me down this road that I continue to journey on as I learn more and more everyday. Each day affirms over and over to me that we humans would just be better off without animal protein. And it doesn't take a genius to realize that the animals that we fatten up to eat would be a lot better off without us eating them as well. Add another whopper to the list of beneficiaries... Our Environment. It takes a ridiculous amount of land and water to raise animals, and the planet is struggling greatly in both of these areas.
Here is an off the top of my head list of reasons I am in for the duration, and I am happy my hubby is in, though he still struggles. I feel like I might write that "he still struggles" aside forever. Maybe not, maybe so, but he tries real hard and still is a pain in the ass because he doesn't like SO MANY THINGS, but I love him anyway. He works hard at eating well and I am proud of him and my kids for making the effort and scarffing down the plants with few complaints, and actually quite a few compliments lately (my cooking has really come along.)
Below are the reasons I am committed. There are many more reasons to go plant based but these drive me. I have never worried about becoming diabetic or autoimmune disease, but they are 2 other big reasons to go this route. Anyway, these are MY reasons for sticking with the plants....
1. I feel damn good!! I have a ton of energy every day. Before I was hitting this wall every day at 3 o'clock or so, but that has all changed. I feel awake and alive and happy. I get through my day (without caffeine) energized and feeling great. Extra perk... I don't get sick all winter like I used to and that is a beautiful thing.
2. I don't have to think about my weight. For the past two years my weight has been exactly the same. I eat what I want as long as it's whole food plant-based and I don't think about calories. I get full pretty easily because my food is so nutrient dense. It's funny because if I get busy and start eating more refined foods (vegan, but junk food vegan) and oil (sometimes on vacations and holidays, I slip a bit) , I'm definitely hungrier and don't feel as well. Eating nutritionally dense food fills me up and keeps me away from craving junk food and sugar. I haven't eaten sugar in a year or so. Don't crave it at all.
3. My exercise endurance is incredible. I can run 10 miles and feel like I haven't even been out on a run. My pre and post workout meals had been lacking good carbs and they make a huge difference in exercise recovery. Too many people exercise then pound down protein. I have some plant based protein and a bit of fat from flax seeds after a workout, but I also have complex carbs. A fruit shake with Sunwarrior vanilla protein, a banana, blueberries, and flax go a long way in helping me go a long way.
4. I am heart attack proofing myself. Yes, I am relatively young, but I know a lot of younger and younger people are having heart attacks as our standard American diet catches up to us. We are really the first generation who have eaten SO MUCH animal protein. The first protein crazed generation and it is showing. People make excuses like, "I can't do anything, it runs in my family" or "I eat good enough, if it happens, it happens", but heart disease need not exist at all. Granted, there are some people who are just unlucky, and yes sometimes it does just happen, but very rarely. If it happens to me, I will know I did all I could. One of my favorite examples of how heart disease rates can be so quickly turned around happened during WWII. The nazis invaded Norway from 1939-1945 and took all of their livestock. During that period, heart attack and stroke rates plummeted. The nazis, left, people started eating animals again and rates went right back to where they were. Can't blame those heart attacks on stress which everyone likes to do either. I am fairly sure the nazis occupying one's country was even more stressful than not eating meat.
5. In protecting my heart, I am also protecting all of my blood vessels and therefore protecting against stroke, and dementia. Your endothelial cells are very important cells that line your blood vessels and they help to heal and protect your blood vessels. They make nitric oxide which helps protect against atherosclerosis and keeps our blood vessels in tip top shape. Keeping blood vessels flowing freely is something I dig, and I know that a plant based diet is the best way to keep this happening.
6. There is too much cancer going on these days. Way too much!! Too many friends being diagnosed and I want to do all I can to avoid this disease. Animal protein has been linked in many ways to rising cancer rates. Conversely, plants protect against cancer. Period. I could put about 50 links to research spelling this all out here. Read The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, and How Not To Die, by Dr Michael Greger and if you are still not convinced, I will give you those links.
7. I love animals and our planet and know I am doing better by both of them by eating this way.
I really could go on and on, but I think these reasons sum it up for me. I encourage you to try 2 weeks of a plant based diet and see how you feel. Or, try taking meat off the menu 2 or 3 days a week and add more plants to your diet if ditching it all together is too daunting.
Recipe of the week:
We have this once a week. Such a great meal and I send it with my son for lunch the next day
1 chopped medium sized onion
3 carrots chopped into 1/2 in pieces
1/2 cabbage head shredded into 1/2 inch strips
3 celery stalks chopped same as carrot
1 1/2 c split red lentils
6 c good veggie broth
1 T olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t thyme
1 t cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Take chopped onion, carrots and celery and cook until slightly tender (about 5-7 minutes) in 1 T olive oil. If pot becomes dry, add a little broth until they are slightly tender and onions are translucent. Add cabbage and toss in with onions, carrots, and celery and then add spices. Mix for 3 mins or so. Add broth and simmer for 30 minutes or until cabbage is soft. Add lentils and the lemon juice and cook until the lentils are done. About 15 minutes. The lentils are split so they cook fast. Turn the heat off as soon as they are tasting done or they can get mushy.
Play around with what veggies you put in. Can add potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes.... Whatever you are in the mood for. I sometimes add more cumin and lemon, and/or some hot sauce for a little zing.