Whilst plant-based eating has definitely become a more popular topic recently, whether it’s for improving the environment, our health or for moral and ethical reasons - many still don’t really know the benefits it can have! And there are a fair few. Check out Cara's experience below...
I’m Cara, Social and Media Manager here at Beingwell, and I’ve been following a vegan lifestyle for over a year now. In light of that, I thought it would be interesting (hopefully!) for our followers and members to know how that has changed my life, and make a more informed decision about their diet.
Enough chitter chatter - let’s get started.
I decided to go vegan when I met my now partner, who has been following a vegan diet for nearly four years. I didn’t know much about veganism, but I definitely had a pretty fixed stereotypes about vegans in my head - something many of us will be guilty of!
After a lot of conversation, I watched a few documentaries on Netflix - What The Health and Gamechangers were the first two - and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I won’t go into detail and leave it up to you to do the research, but here’s my personal experience with eating a vegan diet and how it has changed my life.
In terms of my actual diet, before eating plant-based, I generally thought of my meals as being centred around an animal product, whether it was a chicken breast, pork sausage or even an egg. Everything else on my plate would compliment that and I didn’t really eat many portions of fruit and vegetables because of this way of thinking.
Since eating a vegan diet, I honestly eat on average around 9 portions of fruit and veg per day. This is because I am making up for the protein I would get from meat with more vegetables, and filling up my breakfast with colourful fruits to ensure I am not only getting lots of nutrients, but also to keep me feeling fuller for longer!
Ok, I’m going to let you in on a little secret - before I went vegan, I don’t think I could’ve told you what a legume is… I really didn’t explore many avenues when it came to my food! I ate pretty much the same 4 or 5 meals on repeat. When I started a vegan diet, I had to consider where I was going to get my protein from, because as many of us know, a lot of it will come from meat. But actually, vegetables are a huge source of protein, and so are nuts, beans and legumes! I now eat chickpeas, legumes, a plethora of different beans and nuts on a regular basis, which is a much healthier option than animal products, not to mention that it’s much better for the planet.
So not only am I eating much healthier, I’m more adventurous with my foods. I now try at least one new recipe every week and I have fallen in love with cooking! I feel better in myself, and my new diet has changed many aspects of my health. For example, I suffered with really bad acne from the early age of ten years old, right into my adult life. Pretty much as soon as I went vegan, I haven’t suffered since! That on its own is enough to change my life!
I’m also much more mindful when it comes to mealtimes, something that can have a multitude of benefits for our mental and physical health. I find myself feeling less tired and bloated after eating and actually energised! Check out this blog to read more about the benefits of mindful eating and how you can include it in your day.
In terms of actual exercise, my cardio improved like crazy! I mean, I couldn’t even run for a minute before. And yes, whilst practice makes perfect, my diet definitely made a difference for me. The research is out there people…
As I mentioned before, I wasn’t bloated all the time, something that bothered me on a regular basis, and I also noticed I wasn’t so lethargic all the time. You know that feeling after you eat where you just want to collapse on the sofa because you’ve got a full belly? Well, after eating a completely vegan meal - I feel the opposite! I’m ready to move, I am energised and completely recharged!
For me, a lot of the reason that I went vegan was due to my own personal morals, which understandably will not be a contributing factor for everyone. Eating plant-based food alone has a significant impact on mental wellness in terms of nutritional value, but I found that I felt much better about eating consciously to improve the environment. Even though me eating vegan won’t change the world, it does help a lot! We can only do so much, and I know for sure that I’m doing my bit to ensure I reduce my negative impact on the planet and the environment.
Personally, I always knew that I didn’t feel right about eating animal products, so there’s no longer any uneasiness or guilt for me and that makes eating much more enjoyable for me. Knowing that my food comes from a healthy and organic source makes it feel much better to digest, that’s for sure!
I’ve also learnt so much about the process of how food gets to my plate - something I hadn’t even considered before! It ensures I am making the most efficient and environmentally friendly choices when I’m picking my foods and meals for the week.
As I mentioned above, cooking has become something I really enjoy and has helped me a lot mentally. It’s not only something I look forward to, but something that relaxes me and helps a lot with my anxiety - just a personal preference but something to consider.
A final note from me: I’m not saying (out loud) that I think everyone should go vegan, but making conscious choices to eat more plant-based foods will impact you in more positive ways than you may think. Whether it’s for your health, the environment or for your mental wellness, why not give it a try even for one night a week? You’ve got nothing to lose! There are so many wonderful resources out there, and lots of delicious alternatives to animal products than ever before. Let me know if you try it over on our Instagram @BeingwellFamily.
#meatfreemeals #veganexperience #plantbaseddiet #nutritionforhealth #eatingwell