Feeling excited to get started on your plant-based (PB) journey? If so, superb; give yourself a pat on the back for looking to make lifestyle changes.
Before jumping in, it’s important to get a firm understanding of what you can, and shouldn’t, expect from the PB diet.
This way, you’ll know how to set yourself up for success and avoid seeking unrealistic results.
We’ll first explore principles true for any lifestyle or diet you choose to pursue.
Acknowledging Challenges and Proceeding to Problem-Solve
We think it’s great when people succeed at what they’re doing, share their experiences with the world about why the path they chose is the best or only way to go.
It’s often inspiring and highly motivating to listen to. However, once the novelty wears off the hard work begins.
Why do we describe it as ‘hard work’?
- firstly, it’s very likely that most of your friends and/or family aren’t interested in a PB lifestyle
- due to this you may feel isolated
- some of those around you may feel you’re making the wrong choices and this can be the source of what seem like endless arguments
- you have a new partner that accepts you for who you are but you also want to be accepted by their family and friends without keep talking about your diet
- even if your friends and family accept the changes you’ve made, you may still feel like the odd one out at gatherings or when going out to eat.
It can take a lot of courage to swim against the tide and keep walking in one direction when everybody else is traveling the opposite way. Some people find this distressing and upsetting which is understandable.
For some people it becomes too much, they give up and resort back to eating meat. In such cases rather than admit defeat, which nobody likes to do, they’ll find reasons why being plant-based is generally bad, or bad for them.
We have this perception that everything in the world is online, so it doesn’t take long to ‘research’ and before you know it, these people will find resources and people that agree with their point of you, whatever it may be. Family members, with nothing but the best intentions, often do this.
There are scientific papers, Doctors and self-confessed experts that will tell them want they want to hear and help convince them that you going back to eating meat was the best choice you could make.
In short, if you seek, you shall find.
So what do you do?
Science in itself is truly wonderful but it’s good to remember that it’s very rare that all scientists universally agree on the same thing. In addition, scientists often work for somebody and that organization, like all businesses, exist to make money. Even non-profits need an income to merely exist.
A scientific hypothesis exists in a moment in time. It is effected by:
- scientific trends (which change all the time)
- a need for funding that a research paper may legitimately help gain
- technology. Remember we can only use the technology and knowledge we have today, tomorrow this will change
and so on.
Research breeds research and it is standard practice for most papers to state that further research is needed, because this is true. Therefore, we can deduce that the next paper may claim the opposite, and the one after that the opposite again and on it goes.
Using a study to reinforce an argument is futile as for every paper one person confidently waves, there’ll be another that states the opposite. For every PhD. or M.D. that make a claim, there’ll be another professional that will say the opposite.
You can only make the decisions that feel right for you.
Absolutely there are times in life when we need to and should turn to experts, but don’t be confused with needing to do this every time.
If you have a need for external validation then you have opened yourself up for being manipulated.
The concept of vegetarianism and veganism have been around for hundreds of years, it’s not new and is a perfectly good and safe choice to make. Do it because it feels right in your heart.
So for example, if you need to say, see a Doctor, make sure who you see supports a plant-based lifestyle. There are many out there and the number is increasing all the time.
What the Plant-Based Diet Is NOT
The first thing to remember and be mindful of is that a PB/vegan diet predominantly refers to what you are not eating rather than what you are eating.
One can be unhealthy on any diet so it isn’t enough to just go plant-based alone. You could have soda and chips all day and legitimately say you’re plant-based.
Just as with any diet, a PB diet in itself isn’t a “perfect” solution. Depending on your aspirations, there are “optimal” and “poor” ways to practice the diet, as well as somewhere in between.
Therefore, we can see how it cannot be a cure-all diet that’ll automatically rid or protect you from all health issues.
Certainly there are many protocols out there where proponents have reported all sorts of benefits such as in the documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.
There are numerous approaches to tackling health issues and while we have personally seen incredible results from them, they are not to be confused with simply being on a PB diet.
Doing something for a finite amount of time to help with a health issue may, by definition, be plant-based (depending on the approach you take). But at the same time one cannot claim being “plant-based” alone is those things
This is because it comes back to what you’re not consuming, not what you are.
To achieve the most benefit, a health-motivated diet should go hand-in-hand with other, holistic lifestyle changes.
The PB diet comes in many flavors and variations, which is key, and that’s where the fun begins.
As you can now see, a PB diet isn’t an eating pattern where you simply sit back, relax and all your nutritional needs are covered.
A common misconception is that when switching to a PB diet, you absolutely must be careful of your protein intake, nutrients and essentially become a health-expert or bad things will happen. Well, you can and probably should pay attention to what you eat, but the same is true of any diet.
But for some reason it’s the PB diet that gets attacked while if you ate junk food, hardly anybody says a word.
How you approach this is, of course, your choice. You don’t have to go all out and become the health police at all. At the end of the day, we are only talking about how we’re fueling our bodies and it shouldn’t dominate our lives 24/7.
All people, regardless of diet, are generally advised to ensure they’re meeting requirements for a multitude of vitamins and minerals.
The reality is, unless you’re one of the few people left on earth who soak up plenty of sun each day and eat a nutrient-dense diet based on a wide variety of foods, you should always be mindful about what you eat.
The way we tackle this is from from a variety of perspectives and you’ll be able to decide what’s best for you.
Worried About Not Feeling Full?
When first switching to PB, some people report that they don’t have that same full feeling. This can be down to many reasons.
If you’re used to eating a standard Western meal of say meat and two types of vegetables, sometimes people get lost when you essentially start from scratch.
A lifetime of eating the same pattern of foods is gone and for some, that can be confusing so they resort to snacking and sometimes never having a proper meal.
A salad for many people is a decorative token of ‘something healthy’ on the side of the plate. Eating a big bowl of salad is a new concept.
To feel more full, focus on plant foods with higher caloric density, which include:
- plant foods with higher fat content (avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, etc.)
- beans, pulses, etc.
What the Plant-Based Diet IS
The PB diet, when appropriately planned with a health-first approach in mind, is a fantastic way to gain control over and improve your well-being.
It’s an opportunity for you to experiment with new foods and preparation techniques you may not have tried before.
You’ll be able to create enticing and beneficial meals worthy of inspiration and sharing with family and friends.
Today, government and academic bodies are paying attention and calculating the role plant-focused diets will play in the labor sector and food industry, public health, as well as environmental sustainability.
Finally, the diet has an essential part in withdrawing your support of an animal foods production system that’s become severely perverted, massively unsustainable, and out of control.