I’ve been eating a plant based diet for over a month now. It has been an experience, but probably not in the ways that you would imagine.
I thought that it might be interesting to share with you my journey and some of the things I experienced. There is a lot of misinformation – you can’t get enough protein, nutrients, whatever. This article will give you the truth of my experiences and the incredible unexpected results that followed.
To give a bit of background, I am reasonably fit, but don’t have a six-pack – unless the one in the fridge counts.
I like to push myself to new challenges that feel to push me mentally as well as physically. This year I did a marathon with an injury and a 21km obstacle course with no training.
No, I didn’t plan to do either event this way.
The obstacle course without training was because I was a stand-in after someone dropped out. I’d only done a maximum of 12 km running after my injury. Anyway, that’s another story.
The Plant Based Diet Documentary That Changed It All
My journey started with watching some of those streamed documentaries – you know the plant based diet plans on netflix – “Cowspiracy”, “Forks over Knives”. I watched these and they confirmed a lot of what I had suspected, that there are healthier options out there. Watching these documentaries made me feel like I might want to try them, but they were biased. This made me skeptical of the whole thing, to the point where it did not tip me over the edge. I did discuss with my wife, the idea of at least becoming flexitarian (more vegetables, but occasional meat), which we did.
After a time, we were eating more vegetables, but we were also back eating meat a lot again. I had almost completely forgotten about the documentaries I had watched. Then on one of our TV watching days – up popped “Game Changers” which my wife put on. I think I had been doing something else in another room, so was not aware of what it was.
We watched the ex-MMA guy doing the battle ropes. He improved his max time from 8 minutes to over an hour, just from having a vegan diet. At that point I was convinced – I’ve done Muay Thai in the past, and I was very fit.
I know how physically fit this guy must have been. Whatever the method that gave him such large gains – I was in! Even with long distances I have been running, I still felt as though something was holding me back. As if someone put their hand across my mouth as a ran.
This concept they were presenting has a scientific reason for this effect and that could be proven. I was keen to give it a try, to see if it made a difference. I figured that I could quickly and easily experiment with what they were saying. No big deal, let’s get started!
Shopping For A Plant-Based Diet
The next shopping trip – we got a lot more vegetables – and I started my plant-based diet. I’ve always enjoyed eating things like rice with beans, sweetcorn, and tomato anyway. My first plant-based meal sorted. It’s a great go-to meal when I don’t know what to eat. I used to eat Rice and Tuna previously – so rice and vegetables is a very similar meal.
Eating meat isn’t something I’ve every missed at all. I think it is because of the meals I make, which are often a “stir fry” type affair. I throw in whatever vegetables or legumes or whatever I like the sound of or look of the meal.
Meals are a lot more colorful, and appealing looking, too. I do find that my taste buds seem to be more sensitive. The tastes of the vegetables seems a lot easier to detect, and the sweetness in them more pronounced.
One shocking thing that happened
I was cooking some chicken thigh fillet for my wife. She just fancied them – the smell was nasty – like an abattoir, certainly didn’t make me want to have any.
My wife didn’t have them either, even though she said she couldn’t detect the odor.
Challenges at a BBQ With Friends
At a recent BBQ is that the smell of all that meat cooking did smell nice. I could appreciate the smell without feeling the need to join in.
I had vegan sausages, which were okay. They did taste quite a bit like real sausage. I have no idea how much artificial gunk they put in them to do so. I bought those sausages because I wasn’t sure what I could make myself.
At that BBQ all my friends said there was no way they could have a plant-based diet, they liked their meat-based meals too much. I told them that I thought the same, but as we chatted, they wanted some of my vegan sausages to try – which indicated to me that maybe they will do it in the future.
I didn’t press the issue anyway – I don’t think it’s cool to do that. The other thing, which in my case I’m not concerned about, was that my friends were cooking their sausages, my sausages were very quickly touching theirs and in the meat juices. My point here is that people are not aware of how upset someone might get about that – I don’t mind personally.
I just thought that it was funny because they were not being nasty, it just never occurred to them.
That brings me onto another point – that we have been so indoctrinated into the eating of meat and taught that to not eat meat is somehow abnormal. If you’d like to try a plant-based diet, but you get a reaction that you couldn’t survive, you have to ask if this is advertising programming? Or maybe this is a cultural thing?
I still consider myself a meat-eater, I just haven’t eaten any for a time now, the experiment has gone longer than I thought I could.
The Benefits Of a Plant-Based Diet
The unexpected benefits the I have felt from eating a plant-based diet, that’s what you want to know, right?
First, the obvious one – fitness / athletic performance. I do training trail runs, and part of the circuit I did included these 3 50 meter very steep hills, one after another. The last time I did them, I had to walk the last little bit up to the top, and over, catch my breath then jog again.
After only a few days of being plant-based, I did the run again and got over all three of the hills. It wasn’t a fast time, was about the same as previously, but didn’t need to stop. In all honesty; I wasn’t 100% sure that is was due to the diet but running did seem slightly easier – as if I had a bit more energy/capacity.
I have since run a few other times, such as a 5km run where I was running with friends and said I would take it easy. My easy was a lot faster than it normally is. Whilst the difference isn’t quite as great as the ex-UFC fighter on the battle ropes, it is significant enough for me to be excited by it and stay on the diet.
Now, other benefits and this might be TMI, but my digestion is much more comfortable. What I mean by that, is that my insides don’t feel like they’re working hard to digest my food. It’s probably obvious if you think of the extra fiber I now eat. But that is a definite benefit – meat takes maybe two days to digest, vegetables maybe 40 minutes.
One other thing, if you do want to do this, you will get to a day where you are farting for fun, as your body adjusts – I knew it was going to happen but wasn’t much fun. It went away quickly, and I feel better for it.
Weight gain or loss – you’re interested in finding out if it helps, right? People complain about gaining weight, and I would suspect that it is down to vegan foods with lots of sugars or overloading on carbs – essentially swapping vices.
In 2 months I lost 10 kg – I have been eating big meals until I’m full. I eat more than I used to I think, certainly not less. I’m not 100% sure that the loss isn’t due to something else – I do tend to run longer distances (which can use up about 2000+ calories, maybe once a week) and a few other much shorter runs in a week. I didn’t drop fat last time I was training, even when I was doing 30km+ runs, and 80km in a week.
I was about 5 kg heavier than normal due to fat put on after running the marathon, and whilst recovering from injury.
What Do People Think Of You?
Something that I do experience regularly is the Vegan community for recipes – a lot of people assume you’re vegan. People immediately associate a plant based diet with being vegan. Not that I’m bothered personally.
Let me make it clear that I’m plant-based not vegan – an animal not suffering is a bonus to the animals but was never a driving force for me. It is becoming more acceptable to be Vegan or plant-based these days, so there is more acceptance of your lifestyle / dietary choices.
Even though it is just a diet change, there’s more to it than that, because of the way people are toward meat. I used to be too – it’s more than just what you eat. It’s more like what you’re told to think. Once I realized this, I didn’t want to be part of it anymore.
You have to explain yourself to people a lot, and some of them think you’re mad, or stupid, or both. I’d say that I am awake to the possibilities of such a change, and experienced in how much better you can feel, and can enjoy what you eat, and be healthier for it.
If you haven’t watched them, I highly recommend watching Cowspiracy, Forks over Knives, and Game Changers on Netflix – but please, question what you see, and work it out for yourself.
Or try it out, as I did, what’s the worst that can happen?