What motivated you to try the Plant-Based Eating Challenge?
My sister recently became vegan and a couple close friends. I was curious as to why and how they could not eat so many things. I am a pretty healthy eater, so thought I was up for the challenge.
Have you been plant-based before and if so, why did you decide to stop eating plant-based in the past?
I was vegetarian for a couple years in my early 20's. It was not really a strict vegetarian plan, so I fell back into eating more meat without hesitation after a couple years.
How would you describe your experience with the plant-based challenge?
The first week was tough. I was pretty tired, albeit that could have been life, but I associated it with the change in diet. After that first week, I felt great, got in more of a swing of cooking meals that tasted really good and didn't feel like simply a bowl of rice and veg.I definitely felt less of a 'full', uncomfortable feeling after meals and I noticed an uptick in my energy level at the gym and throughout the day.
What was something you learned?
I read a lot about the stress on the environment and resources with consuming meat and dairy products. It was kind of alarming and it felt pretty good knowing eating my little plant based diet would help slow down this depletion of resources.
Eating the plant based diet made my monthly cycle way more tolerable. Less cramps, bloating, irritability, and overall energy was higher. After reading about this connection it seems that all the hormones, inflammatory agents in meat and dairy were exacerbating the above symptoms. So, I'm super happy about that:) So is my husband!
What ended up being your favorite recipe that you discovered over the 21 days?
My favorite recipe was from Oh She Glows, the Vegan Lasagna. My sister came over and we decided to have a cooking night. I was thinking how the hell is this basil cashew concoction going to replace cheese....but low and behold it did and was actually better! My husband had a meat option for dinner and started with that, then ended up eating 3 pieces of the lasagna!
Are you still plant-based today?
I actually am and it's been a fairly easy transition. My husband and son are still eating eggs, meat, and fish, but less frequently because I'm cooking vegan options that substitute meat or fish for them. My husband feels like his energy level has been higher as well, even just cutting out meat a few nights a week.
For people who are hesitant to try plant-based eating- what advice would you give them?
I say try it. The evidence is there that plant based diets can reduce incidence of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Who doesn't want to live healthier and longer? Do it cold turkey and stumble through the first week like I did and then you'll most likely find a rhythm and find foods that taste as good as your old meals did. Oh ya, another thing that is amazing is your grocery bill! It is way cheaper to be vegan. Meat, eggs, dairy products are pricey. I was shocked at how much less we spent at the store.
What did you like most about the challenge?
I liked being able to commiserate with my sister about vegan recipes, be able to relate to her choices, how she feels when out to eat, or eating with the family. It definitely takes some extra work, but it honestly makes eating food feel more simple. You know exactly what it is and where it came from.
I'm still working on eating fruits and veg that are seasonally appropriate. The store makes it so easy to buy fruits and veg that are not in season. So, lots still to learn and I'm excited about it!