Plant-based Success

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One of my big lifestyle projects for Q1 was to transition to eating a vegan diet 6-7 days a week. I planned to take a full 3-months to get there, increasing the number of exclusively plant-based diet days from the experimental 3 to the long-term 6 by adding one a month.

But good news! Turns out it wasn’t that hard!

In fact, it’s been kind of…fun? Yes, actually fun :)

As most anyone who knows me knows by now, I love to cook. This started as a defensive maneuver when I was a pathetically picky eater as a child. In high school & college, I worked at some great restaurants in Marin & Napa, including traditional Japanese, gourmet Indian, and the scaled excellence of the California-French fusion at Domaine Chandon. I worked mostly “front of house” as a waiter/backwaiter/runner, but I spent as much time as I could getting to know the kitchen and learning everything I could from the people there. Later, I was happy to befriend a group of foodies where I would go on to host full 7-course meals for a dozen people at my house. And in my couch-surfing period, I made a lot of great food for a lot of great people right in their own home.

My culinary choices have mostly been healthy (depending on how you count), usually pretty, always tasty!

Once about 15 years ago, I tried being vegetarian for about a year. I was pretty bad at it — not in the sense that I kept eating meat, but because my health/energy suffered. I ate a LOT of carbs & dairy that year, gained a bit of weight, and generally didn’t feel so great as a result.

This time, I did my homework. I’m supplementing my intake of B-vitamins, and getting plenty of protein. I’m drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest, two things I tend not to get enough of and make a huge difference to quality of life.

This diet change has been way easier because of the reasons I’m doing it too. While the word “vegan” pretty well describes my default diet, it does not describe my motivation. Though nothing about a factory farm should make anyone feel good, I’m actually okay with the idea of eating animals. I’ve eliminated meat and dairy from my diet for two reasons: personal health & global health. In other words, my longevity and the environmental impacts of that.

After 40, there are 5 things that a guy like me is most likely to die from:
  1. heart disease
  2. cancer
  3. neurological issues
  4. upper respiratory infection
  5. accident

Turns out that a plant-based diet drastically reduces likelihood the top 4. (And if there’s a dietary way to affect #5, I don’t know what it is!)

Given my inherited family history, heart disease and cancer are real concerns. Genetic predisposition is one thing, but our environmental triggers are the other. While I can’t consciously affect my genetic code, I can absolutely be more conscious about my environmental triggers.

There are many differing opinions about what is best to eat, but these things are not up for scientific debate:
  • Animal protein contains more toxins, hormones, bacteria, and other damaging ingredients than any other food sources
  • Feeding and raising animals accounts for more greenhouse gas production than the entire transportation industry
  • Consuming animal protein increases risk of heart disease, cancer, and certain neurological diseases
  • Human consumption of animals is the most common vector for pandemic

If you’d like scientific evidence for each of the above, it’s not hard to find. But this post is not a scientific paper, and I’m not seeking to convince you of what you need to do anyhow.

You do what you want, I’ll be over here doing what makes sense to me. I’m not the militant vegan telling you that you can’t have honey because the bees suffer. I’m not saying I’ll never eat anything cooked on a grill where meat was cooked. This is not an ethical or religious stance, it is a practical one.

Eating a plant-based diet seems like a good idea. I thought it would be hard, but so far it isn’t really. Yay!

I’ll make exceptions every so often, like last Sunday when having a traditional Japanese dinner with some Japanese friends. Probably for holidays with family and such, or whenever social pressures dictate that I eat what is in front of me. But having faced that situation often as a child, I have my ways of politely avoiding such scenarios.

What do I eat? Everything — except meat & dairy. Simple.

How I made this change:
  1. removed all non-vegan items from the house
  2. bought vegan replacements for things like cheese, coffee creamer, meats, etc.
  3. combined with 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule
  4. marked vegan & non-vegan days on the calendar, eating accordingly
  5. optimized every plant-based meal for taste above all for first 21 days

It turned out that about 21 days was really all I needed to make this lifestyle adjustment. Now that I have, I can continue to eat tasty things while optimizing for health.

Could you do this? I think so. What do you think? The comments are there for your commenting!

Here’s some soundtrack to comment by…

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