It has been nine months since I made the switch to plant-based eating. I became motivated to stop eating all meat and food containing animal products. And now that I have done it, I feel light and fit. I feel clear and conscious. I feel aligned.
What I eat now
I don’t say I eat a vegan diet, because it isn’t that I have replaced meat in my life with non-meat substitutes. I have instead focused on plant-based eating. I eat a lot of starches – a lot of rice, corn, pasta, potatoes, oats and other grains, noodles and some bread. Along with that I eat a lot of fruit, vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and tofu. I have substituted soy milk for the milk in my drinks. I eat a lot of 70% chocolate (my favourite is Moser Roth from Aldi). I do eat some packaged foods that don’t contain animal products but I limit these. I have a varied diet and I eat a lot of food. I don’t monitor or track how much I eat.
I know that since I stopped eating meat, eggs and cheese which are very high in calorific value I can eat a lot of plant food. I keep processed plant-based oils low because I don’t think they are good for me. I don’t restrict, salt or sugar I just focus on eating a lot of plants and having that as my focus seems to stand me in good stead. I was already thin but now I am leaner. The fat I was carrying just fell away.
How I made the decision to switch to plant-based eating
I have been interested and curious about a vegan diet for a few of years. Three years ago, on a three-day yoga teacher training a wonderful yoga teacher, Gopala Amir Yaffe told me the story of how he became vegan. He’d been vegetarian for many years. And then he lived on a farm where he kept cows for milk and chicken for eggs. He cared for his animals but he came to notice something. When the cows had calves, the male calves would not give milk so they had no need for them and when the chicken had chicks, the roosters were not to be kept because they would not lay eggs and they didn’t eat the roosters because they were vegetarian. Gopala realised that by being vegetarian animals would still suffer so he decided to not eat animal products anymore.
I was very intrigued by this story. I didn’t feel good that animals were being exploited for my food but food is so habitual and breaking those habits is hard. What we eat is part of the way we fit in socially and in our families. Comfort food is food to me is food that I have eaten with my family for many years. And I had been told that eating animal products was good for me. I had been taught that I needed meat for iron and protein and milk for calcium. But I don’t.
Meat free Mondays
About one year ago I saw a documentary made by the BBC on the latest science on aging. One thing from that documentary that really stood out to me was the evidence to show that eating too much meat was not healthy. In the documentary, they discussed one way of reducing meat intake was to make Mondays meat free. I committed to meat-free Monday straight away. I felt a bit of resistance to it within myself but after I while realised how easy meat-free Monday could be. And I realised that I could probably go meat free every day and that is how I got my head around it.
How I feel now
Since I became purely plant-based I have a much nicer taste in my mouth when I wake up every morning. I have less body odour. I do not feel tired or lacking in energy.
I found many books, YouTube videos, podcasts and Netflix documentaries that gave me all the evidence to show me that I can get all the fuel I need from plants which feels so light and aligned and connected with the earth and all the animals on earth.
Plant-powered in China
My husband comes from China and his diet growing up was largely plant based with only small servings of meat and animal products. He knows that just because you are fuelled mainly by rice does not make you weak. You can get a lot of power from plants. He told me to look at the labourers on the streets of China, and not to think that because all they eat is a lot of rice and vegetables that they are not strong. He said they are very strong and they have a lot of energy. They are powered by plants.
Our family transitions
My husband is still eating meat. He is now supportive of me choosing to not eat animal products. It hasn’t been a completely smooth transition to me only eating plants in my family – there has been some tension but we’ve traversed the ground and made it out the other side.
The Potato Guy
One of the people that triggered my switch last year was the potato guy. I call him the potato guy, but he is a Melbourne man, Andrew Taylor who realised he was addicted to food and had no joy in is life except food. He was very overweight and depressed and knew he had to quit his food addiction. The only problem was he couldn’t give up food completely because he had to eat something. He did some research and realised that the potato is a perfect food. He uncovered research to show that whole societies of people had survived on potatoes in history. He started a year of eating potatoes only and now he hasn’t looked back.
Three reasons for plant-based eating: Health, Animals and the Environment
Now that I’ve really considered the whole topic of how we eat animals and animal products I’ve become really clear about my choice. I don’t want to eat meat, eggs and dairy anymore because it is unhealthy for me, it is wrong to exploit animals for my food and it is bad for the environment. So those three reasons keep me solid on the ground of eating just plants.
I offer these words so that they might nurture curiosity in those of us who are thinking about eating more consciously, weighing up the impact of the food we eat on our bodies, the environment and for the animals on earth.
This is the third in a series of blog posts that I am posting every week about my curiosity around yoga, movement, the body and our purpose and how these can align.