“Yes, I can.”
But I choose not to. First let me start by saying I am not perfect, and yes, still cheat and eat a Reese’s cup, but the fact of the matter is that I am very aware of the food that is passing between my lips. I used to be so nonchalant about what I ate; I thought buying frozen dinners with low calories was the way to be “healthy,” ate “white meat” instead of steak, started my day with yogurt to make sure I “got enough” protein and drank skim milk instead of whole. Yet I wondered why I still felt lethargic, bloated and took naps all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nap. A fluffy, yummy and delicious nap is perfectly magical in my book. But I used to take hardcore-fall-asleep-so-hard-wake-up-feeling-like-death naps almost daily. When I moved to Tampa, I started to realized that I had a problem with lactose. Hubby kept telling me my issues were from eating dairy, so I finally succumbed to his suggestions and eliminated it for 2 weeks. Lo and behold, the pains and all the other un-lovely things related to lactose intolerance came to a screeching halt. Over time, I also noticed that my rings fit me significantly looser than they did pre-dairy problem discovery. Looks like dairy causes bloating in more places than just the belly.
The point of this post is to prove that steering clear of meats is not about missing out on eating certain foods or not being “able” to eat certain things. Trust me, I love food, and if I wanted to eat something, it would get eaten. I eat a ton of food! I have a huge appetite, yet my weight has wavered around the 142-143 pound mark and I have been there for over a year without much trying (I am 5’6″, average build). Why? I attribute it to mindful, plant-based eating. I saw a funny article on the internet the other day posted by PETA about funny things meat-eaters say. It went something like “tell me how many animals you know of that are consumed for food and I’ll tell you how many plants I can think of that are consumed for food and after 60 seconds we’ll see who has the longer list.” I can think of like 20 right now! Eating plants is not about what you “cannot” eat – it’s about thinking outside of the box to come up with crazy good recipes, using your imagination and trying new things! Seriously! But, I think it’s TOTALLY fine to treat yourself to that cake, or have a frappuccino, but never forget that if you make bad eating a habit, the pounds could creep back. I do notice that if I stress-eat for a few days, I will gain a couple of pounds. I make the mistakes of going for food in boxes instead of food from dirt, ie plants. I don’t like that feeling. It reminds me of being fat, tired and under-nourished like I was before becoming dedicated to a plant-based lifestyle.
That is my next point. This is a lifestyle, not a “diet.” I hear it all the time: “oh, are you on a diet?”and “what kind of diet are you on?” I’m not on ANY diet. I just mindfully eat plants. I think this is hard for people to grasp sometimes because they see me as “missing out” or “not eating” foods we are told to eat. Just because your best friend told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it? Duh. No. I am doing just fine without hoards of animal protein. Trust me, if I “needed” animal protein so badly, I don’t think I’d have been able to run a half marathon. Yes, that’s right, I’m a plant-eating half marathon runner and I finished in 2 hours and 20 minutes and had only started running 9 months before the race. How about that? Protein, however is essential for muscle recovery after intense exercise. That’s why my husband and I both would down a big glass of vegan pea protein after runs. One serving contains 17 grams of protein and is good mixed in with your favorite smoothies too. We simply drank ours after stirring into a glass of orange juice. People may argue “plant protein isn’t the same.” Sure. Pea protein is supposed to be pretty darn close to a “full” amino acid profile of a “complete” protein (so is tofu), so I think it’s a good choice. To make sure you get all the amino acids, eat a bunch of different plants that contain all the different ones! It’s about variety…all about variety.
Don’t be afraid to try something new and different! Eating plants is good for you, good for the environment and they taste darn good too!