I can’t believe it, but as of today I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for about 6 months! My how time flies! I say “about”, because I didn’t write down the exact date that I officially removed all meat (including fish), eggs, and dairy from my diet, but it was about the same time that I started this blog – so that’s close enough for my purposes. :)
I’m not your stereotypical herbivore – I’m a moderate-conservative, born-again Christian, foodie, and endurance athlete, who also happens to eat a plant-based diet. This is why I dislike stereotypes so much. :)
After 6 months as a plant-strong athlete, I’m SO happy I made the switch. I’ve learned a few things along the way that I wanted to share with you!
1. I feel great! I just feel better without meat, eggs, and dairy. After stopping eating meat for a while, you notice that it just sits in your stomach when you start eating it again. That, combined with the fact that I’ve always been lactose intolerant, means my tummy is much happier and lighter since making the switch.
2. I haven’t been sick in 6 months – since I’ve made this change to my diet! I didn’t get sick much before, but typically something would hit me in January and I’d fight a cold or sinus issue for a few days. This year – nothing!
3. I have more energy – I have always needed 8 hours of sleep per night to function. Always. Now, I find 7-8 fairly normal, often I’ll wake up before the alarm goes off and I’m ready to go. It’s weird! I also don’t have the mid-afternoon slump very often.
4. It’s not hard, but it’s also not always easy – Eating at home is easy! There are so many delicious foods to choose from and making any dish vegan-friendly is fun. At restaurants, you sometimes have to be pretty creative. My trick is to look for a vegetarian dish, then decide if removing the eggs & dairy will leave a flavorful meal. If not, I start looking at the appetizers and sides from other meals to see what else I can add to make it taste better. Hummus is a great sub for cheese, balsamic instead of mayo in a slaw, grilled onions and mushrooms to top a burger. Or just ask the server and see what they can offer you!
We also discovered some pretty amazing veggie restaurants that we wouldn’t have even thought of before: Gymnopedie (Athens, GA), Healthy Happy Human (Indian Harbor Beach, FL), & Sugar Plum Vegan Café (Sacramento, CA) to name a few.
5. Protein is not a problem – There are plenty of vegan athletes that help prove that getting your protein from non-animal sources is possible (and easy!). There are vegans in triathlon, bodybuilding, mixed martial arts, running, and ultra-running. If you’re worried about protein, I suggest thinking about including a protein-rich food in every meal. Some of the common protein sources I eat are: nut butter, quinoa, non-dairy milk, tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, lentils, & nuts.
6. It’s healthy (for me and the animals): With no cholesterol or added hormones in my food, I feel good about how my food choices affect my health. I’m an athlete for my health (and the extra food!), so this is another way to make the right choices for my body. It also makes me happy that I’m not eating animals. :)
7. I’ve discovered so many NEW foods! How are there so many delicious foods that I had never tried before. Things like seitan, tempeh, nutritional yeast, quinoa – I had honestly never tried these previously. I’m so glad that I had a reason to try them and see how delicious they are!
I’m a strong, happy, proud plant-based athlete and I’m certainly not slowing down! After my ultra-running “debut” almost 4 weeks ago, I’m ready to tackle my 7th marathon in New Orleans this weekend. I’ve got big plans for the future and I can’t wait to see what I’ll accomplish next.
Questions for you:
- Are you a plant-strong athlete? What has been the biggest benefit for you or most surprising thing you’ve learned?
- If not, have you ever thought of trying a plant-based diet? What has been the biggest barrier for you?
- What stereotypes do you defy? =)