My plant-based journey
Since giving birth two years ago, I’d been able to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but at some point I noticed my energy was low and that I wasn’t feeling confident about how I looked. I recognized something wasn’t right and I felt I had to make this lifestyle change for myself.
I considered my food intake, but I’d always been so wary about documentaries on veganism and wasn’t ready to watch animals being killed in unsanitary slaughter houses, and being guilt-tripped about my favorite food choices. I also wasn’t ready to give up fried chicken, bacon and steak.
Then my sister, who gave up meat late last year, told me to watch The Game Changers on Netflix. The documentary focused on the science behind eating plant protein versus animal protein, and how a plant-based diet has fueled the energy of athletes. It was relatable, inspiring and guilt-free. The timing was perfect since I’d been working out regularly for a month. I was motivated by how a plant-based diet can alter my energy and power my work-outs. So, the next day without hesitation, I switched completely to eating only whole foods. Here’s how I adjusted to my new, high-energy normal.
I started to fill my plate with more vegetables and fruits that I would normally eat and could easily find on the island-- lettuce, arugula, kale, pechay, sitaw, mango, bananas and avocados (just to name a few). At the same time, I completely took out all animal protein (fish, beef, pork, etc) including dairy from my meals. Then, I got sick with a sore throat and had a skin allergy for three consecutive nights. It felt like a shock to my body. I took it as a sign that my body was probably getting rid of stored toxins. I told myself to have faith and stay on track. After the allergies cleared up, I was back in the gym and continued eating only plant-based food. I started to prepare my own meals as I usually find myself with only two options when dining out: “Should I get a salad or vegetable curry?” I started looking online for vegan or plant-based recipes and this encouraged me to get creative with ingredients that are very basic and accessible.
There were many occasions when I was tempted to eat meat because it smells amazing but I would tell myself to stay focused. I would give myself a little pep talk and think of the reasons why plant protein is what my body needs and the pep talk usually works — it makes me want to be strict about a plant-based diet. The challenge is convincing my own family. My partner loves to eat meat and processed food so I haven’t stopped cooking these for him each time he asks me to. I try to make him eat a vegan meal twice a week and I always prepare an extra glass of green smoothie for him in the morning. As for my two-year-old daughter, I am starting to introduce healthier dishes to her and I’m
ONE MONTH LATER
I started to feel more energized and stronger at the gym. I progressed faster and kept adding more weights to the machines. Even after a two-hour gym session, amazingly, my body wouldn’t be sore the next day. I felt lighter, stronger, happier and satisfied. I no longer feel sluggish after a meal and rarely need to take my occasional afternoon naps. I also discovered a new passion for cooking and I rarely cook the same thing twice. There are just too many good yet simple recipes to try! I have started to obsess over vegan recipes to the point that one night I couldn’t sleep well because I was too excited to cook the next meal.
I’ve been a carnivore for 37 years but after trying out this lifestyle my overall health and mood are better, plus my body is more lean than ever before (in just over a month!).
My takeaway from this ongoing journey is that the plant-based diet is simple and sustainable. It’s also delicious and enjoyable. If you’d like to try, I’ve included some of my favorite and simple plant-based recipes you could make at home.