A few months ago, my wife and I decided to shift to plant-based eating. She had been heading in that direction for a little while, but for me the change was more or less over night. This isn’t a post about the reasons for shifting to plant-based foods—whether it’s a health thing, or related to the environment, politics or ethics—it’s simply to relay what it was like for me.
Before I went plant-based, I was eating a lot of animal foods. Meat, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, eggs—the usual suspects. Six months ago I never would have considered going plant-based. If you had asked me about it, I would have said what most people say to me, “Good for you—I could never do that.” But I did, and, truth bomb: it’s been easy and enjoyable, in large part because my wife is doing it too. It would no doubt be more challenging as the only person going plant-based in a household of omnivores.
Here are some of the most common questions I get as a newly plant-based eater.
What do you eat?
My breakfast hasn’t changed much. I eat oatmeal with raisins and almonds. Usually I’ll have an orange or grapefruit too, plus coffee. I eat way, way, way more fruit now than I ever have, and I have never enjoyed it so much. I’m not sure why, but it tastes so good to me now. I probably eat five servings a day.
For lunch I usually have a smoothie. My wife and I both work from home, and we take turns whipping one up. Here’s our recipe for two big smoothies: two bananas, 1.5 tablespoons of flax seeds, 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, around 300 grams of mixed frozen berries, around 90 grams of spinach, 100 mL of water, 250 mL almond milk, and two or three small pieces of ginger, which might be the secret to a delicious smoothie. These things fill us right up and they are packed with vitamins and minerals.
For dinner we eat all sorts of different things. Lots of roasted vegetables, plant-forward soups, pasta and sauce, salads, lots of tofu and tons of beans and lentils, which are nature’s miracle food. One of our go-to websites for plant-based recipes is Minimalist Baker, and there are many more out there.
Do you miss animal foods?
So far, no. Not at all. I haven’t yet passed by the dairy or meat section of the grocery store and thought, “I want some of that.” We used to go out for pizza a lot at this one place, and I really liked the pizza, but we’ve found other restaurants in our neighbourhood that have lots of plant-based dishes. Plus, there’s a plant-based pizza place not far from where we live.
I am still eating honey right now, even though it’s not a strictly plant-based food. Once we finish what we have in the cupboard we probably won’t buy any more.
How do you feel?
Great. I would say that for the first couple weeks I was sluggish and tired. Perhaps it’s because I was eating fewer calories. But now, over two months in, I’m feeling great. I feel light, and have lots of energy. I’m jogging four days a week and recovering quickly, and don’t feel like napping, which is big for me, because I’m kind of a napper. My arms used to fall asleep easily when I was in bed. That stopped happening suddenly just a few weeks after going plant-based. I can’t say if it’s related or not, but it was something that used to happen all the time, and doesn’t anymore. I’ve lost about five pounds. It wasn’t a goal—I haven’t made any effort to lose weight. It just happened. Again, likely because I’m eating fewer calories.
Are you worried you aren’t getting enough nutrients?
No. Reputable studies (such as this one) suggest that a well-rounded plant-based diet scores very highly on nutrient intake, compared to other types of diets. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also agrees that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” Of course, if you aren’t eating whole foods, but instead eating vegan junk food, you aren’t going to get as many nutrients. I take a B12 supplement, since that’s a nutrient that is not supplied in a plant-based diet.
How do your friends and family think?
Fantastically supportive. Most are curious about how it’s going and how it works, and have been happy to support it. At Thanksgiving in October there were many dishes that worked with our plant-based approach, and it was all delicious. We’ve gone out for dinner a few times to restaurants that either focus on plant-based food, or have many options, and our family has been eager to try them out.
Are you plant-based, or would you ever try it? Share with us in the comments below!
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