After forty days of eating a plant based diet (vegan) for lent I have learned a lot, lost some weight and started a new journey of culinary exploration.
I started eating this diet with mostly the sticks in mind. I wanted to eat a more climate and earth friendly diet. I wanted what I ate to reflect my values of compassion-both for animals and for people. I thought that I might be sacrificing for my beliefs and for future generations, but I thought what would be gained would be worth the sacrifice. What I found after the forty days though was that there was very little sacrifice and it was the joys of the new way of eating that made me want to adopt it for life.
A whole foods plant based diet does appear to be the best choice if you are concerned about climate change (I’ll post all the research I did in a later post). It also is the best choice if you are concerned about animal welfare and/or animal rights. Even surprisingly I found that it is also the best choice if you care about preserving our ocean ecosystems (did you know that cows, chickens and pigs eat a lot of fish?). What makes it an easy sell though is how I felt after eating this way for forty days.
I lost weight. I gained an incredible boost of energy. The fog that clouded my brain slowly but steadily lifted. I felt sharp again. I noticed that my afternoon slump and mid day sugar crashes were eliminated. I stopped having undiagnosable stomach pains.
And, I started to fall in love with food again. I have so enjoyed exploring new recipes, eating a rainbow of new and forgotten fruits and vegetables and learning about how to eat not just to get through the day but to thrive…for a more optimal health.
I even consulted with a Dietition who assured me with some care and attention to key nutrients a vegan diet is not only possible but has a lot of very attractive health benefits. Especially for those of us paying attention to our heart health. I’ll post her guidelines in a later post. The trick though is not to just blindly follow a vegan diet. You can eat a very unhealthy vegan diet. The health benefits come from eating delicious, fresh, local if possible and new whole plant foods.
And, while I see continued improvements in my day to day energy levels and productivity, I also know that my choice is a better one for the world. I know my diet is sustainable and achievable for all people worldwide. Two carrots no sticks.
Sure sometimes I get a hankering for a cheese pizza. There are some foods that I have always eaten that I will miss, but when I think about how good I feel (both in my body and in how good it feels to eat in alignment with my values) I know I want that feeling more than I want the cheese pizza.
For those of you interested in all the information and resources I found doing forty days of research I will be posting it all in my next post. I’ll also discuss the gradients of choices that you could make if you didn’t want to go all the way.