I was lucky when I started my plant-based journey.
I could say that the Plant-Based Diet found me. You see, I wasn’t really looking for it, but I grew to love it!
Table of Contents
- Forks Over Knives & Other Plant-Based Documentaries
- Began Cooking (Plant-Based Meals)
- Plant-Based Milk Instead of Dairy Milk
- Started Eating Salads
- Introduced Green Smoothies
- Game Changers – No More Meat
- The Results of No Meat (and Minimal to No Dairy)
So how did it happen?
Well, I met my wife. She was vegetarian (occasionally pescatarian).
I was eating a single-guy diet of fast food and frozen dinners every day. But I wasn’t at my healthiest.
In fact, my blood pressure was borderline hypertension. And, hypertension or high blood pressure ran in my family.
Forks Over Knives & Other Plant-Based Documentaries
My wife had seen the documentary on Netflix called Forks Over Knives (I hadn’t yet). Basically, it exposes a lot of the health risks from eating meat and dairy, all based on the scientific research of Dr. Colin Campbell.
She knew all the health benefits of eating plant-based, was an animal lover and had experience with eating mostly plant-based, especially while living overseas and away from the U.S.
(I also watched Forks Over Knives, as well as some other plant-based documentaries years later in my plant-based journey. I found them to be extremely eye-opening and made me even more dedicated to the plant-based diet.)
Began Cooking (Plant-Based Meals)
Even though I didn’t have much experience with cooking, I started my plant-based journey by cooking for us. My wife already had experience in cooking meat-free vegetarian dishes, especially when she lived in Africa for some time (they don’t eat much meat there), so she already had all the new recipes I needed. All I had to do was cook them.
Even though I wasn’t a cook before (besides homemade hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), but I quickly learned. Thankfully, the recipes were not too difficult.
If it wasn’t for her, I would not have known where to begin. But, thankfully, I had some good-tasting recipes (that I actually enjoyed too).
I bargained at first with still putting some meat in the recipes but cutting down the amount of meat that we ate to a minimal amount. At the time, I still thought that you had to eat meat to stay healthy and not fall apart, especially as a man. (Ever heard of the protein myth?)
I reasoned that we could eat 1 pound of meat per week between the two of us. It was a fairly minimal amount, but still something.
Plant-Based Milk Instead of Dairy Milk
My wife also didn’t drink cow’s milk. Instead, she drank plant-based milk, almond milk to be exact.
I began using it on my cereal in the mornings since it was what I was buying anyway. I didn’t have any problem with it, so I just kept on using it instead of cow’s milk.
(Later we switched from almond milk to coconut milk, and then soy milk currently)
Started Eating Salads
I decided to add salads to my diet every night. She was a big salad and vegetable eater, and I wanted to try it too!
I started eating a salad every night with dinner. I don’t know if this was the cause, but around this time I started having an upset stomach every night.
I remember Googling it and finding a forum in which vegetarians were saying that when they started eating more vegetables, they had upset stomachs at first. Maybe this was me!
The upset stomach at night lasted for about a month and then thankfully went away!
I later came to find out that this might have been the problem. The reason for that is your body needs certain bacteria in order to digest fiber.
When you start eating higher fiber foods like vegetables and salad, if you weren’t a high fiber eater before, which was my case, then you will not have the good bacteria needed to properly digest the new fiber you’re eating.
But, once you start eating more fiber, you begin feeding this good bacteria which begins to multiply in your system. (This system is known as your microbiome).
Then it becomes easier to digest high-fiber foods once you build up more of this good bacteria that can digest the fiber you are eating. Hopefully, that makes sense.
At the time I read on a scientific news site that I frequented, that a study found those who ate 6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day were statistically happier. I wanted to be statistically happier and try that out!
Introduced Green Smoothies
I was going to grad school every day around lunchtime, but I didn’t want to go to get fast food anymore. I came up with a new idea to get more fruits and veggies and eat lunch on the go.
I started experimenting with green smoothies. I liked the idea of those Naked brand, healthy green juice smoothies you could get in the stores ready to go.
But, I had been told they were not as healthy since they would heat them up and kill some of the nutrients during pasteurization (not sure if this is true!) and because you are just getting the fruit juices instead of the whole fruits. I also thought they were a little expensive for my small-budget grad school days.
So I opted to start making my own green smoothies. I found a recipe or two online for green smoothies and first started out following them, but then started adding my own extra ingredients and modifying them.
I did the green smoothies instead of regular smoothies because I felt it was a way to get even more veggies into my diet, as well as the fruit that the smoothies have.
I eventually started adding all kinds of extra healthy ingredients. I would research and find healthy foods to eat and superfoods, and I figured I could just throw them into the green smoothies!
I was doing everything from cacao powder, to mushrooms (yes mushrooms!) as well as even experimenting with spirulina.
I don’t do green smoothies for lunch anymore, but I feel they were a valuable part of my plant-based experience back when I was first starting! It was an easy way to get a lot of nutrients in at one time since I wasn’t eating as healthy throughout the day as I began doing later on (when I stopped doing the smoothies).
Game Changers – No More Meat
I was excited when I heard about the premiere of the Game Changers movie. It was produced by a ton of famous people, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it was going to be free to watch.
I loved the idea behind it. Athletes who had gone vegan were performing better and were healthier.
We watched it when it was finally available, and we loved it. There was real-life proof of athletes who were literally vegan or going vegan and were performing remarkably and breaking records!
How could this be? It seemed like you had to have meat and animal products (at least a little bit) in order to not only be healthy but especially to build muscle and perform as an athlete.
What was also eye-opening about Game Changers, is that they had doctors explaining that you could get all the protein you needed from plants alone!
It was eye-opening, and it made sense! Plants do actually have protein in them. This is exactly where animals that eat plants (Herbivores) get their protein from.
The Results of No Meat (and Minimal to No Dairy)
We actually cut out meat completely from our cooking and diet at that point. We also, cut out dairy and went pretty much vegan.
I actually started feeling even better and healthier. My blood pressure dropped down to a normal level as well and was no longer high! But, it was a little bit of a journey.
Game Changers didn’t exactly teach you how to eat, so I had to learn a lot on my own. I had to figure out what worked for me and what didn’t.
For example, I had lost some weight previously when I shifted to eating more plant-based. After going mostly vegan, I lost even more weight. (See how the low-fat vegan diet lost the most weight in this study here.)
But, I was actually underweight since I had been at a more normal weight when I started. I realized that I had to eat more food, eat more often, and also eat more fats (since they have more calories than carbs or protein).
Carbs are not necessarily the enemy of weight loss. It’s bad carbs and high amounts of fat in the Standard American Diet! (From fried foods, processed foods, etc.)
I actually decided to add in healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado oil in order to help increase my weight on the plant-based diet.
There are some who advocate avoiding fats in the plant-based diet, this is known as WFPBNO or Whole Food Plant-Based No Oil Diet. I believe it has its place, especially for those seeking to lose weight.
I also think it’s good to get rid of bad fats such as trans fats and those oils heated to high temperatures such as in most fast food and highly processed supermarket foods. But I do think that research shows that olive oil can be a healthy choice. (See more about this in WFPBNO Diet – My Experience, Thoughts & Weight Loss)
Lance has been passionate about the plant-based diet and we have been following a whole food plant-based diet for over 5 years. We focus on health, natural healing, weight management, animal rights, and the health of the planet and environment by focusing on whole plant-based foods and sustainable practices.
Learn more at the About Me page and follow on social media at the links below.