How A Plant Based Diet Changed My Life
My transition into a plant based diet was not something that happened overnight, it was a slow process. It’s been almost 6 years since I first started to dabble in a vegan lifestyle. It has changed my life in many ways, from my health, my social settings, and how I look at food.
A little over 6 years ago I was dealing with chronic headaches and fatigue. Growing up I always had headaches. I saw doctors and chiropractors, but could never seem to find relief. I also went through a period of time where I was constantly tired. I would have to force myself to keep my eyes open on my 30 minute drive home from work. I went to the doctors for this, as well and got lots of blood tests, but they couldn’t find any reason for my fatigue. I decided to change my diet, and that is when I noticed these symptoms change. I no longer had a headache every day, and I suddenly had more energy during the day. I also shed about 20 pounds, which was an added bonus.
In the beginning of this my diet transition, I still didn’t know exactly how to eat vegan when I was out at restaurants. As I said, this was a slow process, and I was still ordering meat dishes when I would go out to eat. Over time, as I read more books and blogs about veganism and exposed myself to vegan cookbooks, I learned a lot about the food I was eating and how to create delicious plant based food. I had never been much of a cook so this was a whole new experience for me. Even though at times it seemed overwhelming, it gave me an appreciation for the food I was eating, and what I was putting into my body. I started to be much more cautious about what I ordered when eating out. I have gone to restaurants quite a few times, and had limited to no vegan options, which can be quite irritating, but I’ve come to just accept it. When I know in advance what restaurant I’m going to, I always check the menu ahead of time to see what my options are. If there’s not much available, then I’ll eat a little something before I leave the house.
People often ask me if my husband is vegan, and when I tell them he’s not they usually wonder if that creates any problems. It doesn’t. Our lives have only changed a little. We end up making two different dinners, which can sometimes be a hassle, but we are used to it by now. I know sometimes he wishes that I did eat meat and dairy, because it would make things easier when we go out to eat, but he has always been very supportive of my lifestyle. He is always willing to go to any vegan restaurant I want to try.
Every once in awhile I find myself having to defend the way that I eat, which baffles me. I never push my lifestyle onto other people, so wonder why people get so defensive, because I choose to eat the way that I do. I will admit that before I became a vegan I didn’t really understand it. When a friend told me that her boyfriend became a vegan I asked her, “What does he eat?!” I understood the not eating meat part, because I was a vegetarian for many years when I was a teenager, but I didn’t understand the dairy or eggs part. So I can relate to people’s curiosity, because it can be so foreign from what we are used to eating. Once I started to educate myself about what goes on in the dairy industry I finally understood. So when people ask me, I nicely explain to them what I’ve learned and what my reasons were for going vegan.
A few other positive ways my life has changed…
Gravitated to a More Natural Lifestyle
I started to learn not only about companies that test on animals, but what was in the products we were using every day. I started to make my own cleaning products, face scrubs, and switching to more natural soaps and beauty products.
Exposed to More Fruits, Vegetable, and Whole Grains
Suddenly I realized there were more fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains than I ever knew existed. I would get so excited about experimenting with all these new foods, and loved learning how to cook with them.
Stopped Being Afraid of “Carbs”
Before I changed to a plant based diet, I knew so many people that were on low-carb diets. I even went through a phase of this lifestyle. While I did lose weight, I didn’t feel good and I had an unhealthy obsession with food. Once I stopped eating meat and dairy, I realized my body felt so much better when it was filled with whole, plant based foods, and I still kept the weight off!
Stopped Eating as Many Processed Foods
Since I was constantly looking at ingredients to see if a product was vegan, I started to learn about all the additives and bad things in most packaged food. This lead to me eating less processed foods, and making most of my food from scratch. I learned that I could make granola bars at home with just a few ingredients, that tasted better than store bought ones.
“I could never go vegan because I LOVE cheese too much.” This is probably the number one thing I hear when people find out that I don’t eat dairy. Do I miss cheese? Yes. Every once in awhile I miss having a good slice of cheese pizza. Do I ever crave it? No. My taste buds have changed over the years, and I never find myself craving the things I no longer eat. I’ve learned so much in the last 6 years, since I started to transition to a plant based lifestyle. It can be difficult at times, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways, that I wouldn’t change a thing.
– Amber Makahon