HUMP DAY: WHAT IS A PLANT-BASED DIET?
“57 Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet”
I’m asked all the time, what made you go vegan? I expect that they are anticipating an answer to the extent of; “the poor animals” or “I’m against animal agriculture.” While yes those are factors, the biggest aspect and my answer is always health. A whole foods, plant-based diet is what I believe to be the optimal way to eat for a long and healthy life.
I began eating a plant-based diet on July 16, 2016 and the amount I have learned and the benefits I’ve seen in those seven months are endless. This article may seem like a bit of overkill listing 57 different ways a diet can improve your life. However, I myself have experienced most all of these benefits and know of many others who can attest to these as well.
Here’s the thing; you can still technically eat a vegan diet and barely eat anything that resembles a plant. White bread, Oreos, soda, Sour Patch Kids, potato chips, pasta, sugary cereals. All of these things are most often vegan. So yes, you can still be vegan and have a completely unhealthy diet. While yes, these things are still nice to have for an indulgence once in awhile (believe me if I find a vegan donut I am all over that), the rewardingness of a whole foods plant based diet is far greater.
The number one biggest change in my life has been energy. Right from the start I noticed that I just had so much more energy. It may sound absurd but (under normal circumstances) I am almost never tired. I fall asleep easier and naturally wake up early. Those groggy give-me-caffeine days are gone. The food I eat is fuel for my body and I am not backed up (literally and figuratively) by food that doesn’t belong in my body.
I’d say the next best thing for me is the amount of food I can eat. If I’m truly eating whole-foods, there is no restriction. I’ve had a history of unhealthy relationships with food. I could never control my portions and then would feel this terrible guilt due to my lack of control. However, with eating this way I can eat huge portions and feel amazing afterwards. Personally this is just something that helped me build a better relationship with food, which I think is a key component to nutrition.
Lastly, it can be so satisfying! With the extent of the internet today, recipes and videos can allow anyone to learn to create delicious foods. I have loved to bake my whole life and I swear some of the best desserts I’ve made are vegan. YouTube has an amazing vegan community with a huge variety of food ideas. You would be amazed by the amount of foods that can be “veganized.” *Fun fact I made my family’s whole Thanksgiving meal (except the turkey) and no one believed that it was all vegan.* It is super fun to try and recreate things you love.
Basics of my diet include:
- A wide variety and ample amounts of fruits and veggies
- Whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa, bread)
- Almond milk
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and nut butters (almond butter is a gift from above)
- Cereal (I believe cereal is a main food group. But not the sugary stuff)
- Plant protein powder (I cycle a lot and it’s just an easy source)
It is really difficult for me to narrow down hours and hours worth of research into a short article. But if this interests you please do your own research, it can be really eye-opening and fun! Netflix and YouTube can be useful resources! I am by no means trying to tell anyone they need to eat this way. I am simply hoping that my experiences could help someone else the same way it helped me.
Written and researched by Peer Educator, Amanda George