My journey to an entirely plant-based diet (so far)...

Here is a list of some of my favorite foods:

  • Nachos

  • Hotdogs

  • Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Sandwiches

  • Pizza

  • Chicken Nuggets

  • Etc

While I have always tried to eat a balanced diet, I love cheese, meat, creamy dressings, and everything savory! 

Choosing to begin a plant-based diet wasn’t necessarily a quarantine activity. Still, I did stumble across informational youtube videos, articles, and podcasts while I was home for the semester due to COVID-19, so I guess the coronavirus era led to my newly found dietary restrictions. 

Anyways, I am someone who struggles with chronic headaches, constant digestive issues, and I am always exhausted. I often nap and take Tylenol way more than the typical 20-year-old. I don’t enjoy complaining, but it seems like I could list at least six things wrong with me at any moment. FOR EXAMPLE, as I write this, my head hurts, my stomach is crampy, and I am exhausted despite the four-hour nap I took today. I don’t remember what kickstarted my interest in becoming plant-based. Still, there is a good chance that I saw a Tiktok about the diet’s benefits and then took to Google to find out more. 

A significant influence on my decision to give it a try was the idea that following a plant-based diet is the healthiest form of food consumption. It can help boost your productivity, including energy and focus, and help you maintain a healthy weight, not that I am an unhealthy weight, but I would love to shred a few pounds.

food in containers Pexels  There are also moral reasons for giving up animal products, like no longer contributing to the meat and dairy industry and helping the environment. I once went vegetarian for eight months my freshman year of high school because of a graphic video I saw of how cows are treated at a dairy farm. Still, I went back to eating meat because when I am living in a house with a family that does not follow the same diet as me, it is tough to be tempted by meals and keep up with the nutrients your body needs to survive. 

Around December 2020, I began to look into plant-based diets and figured that I might benefit from one. I thought back to my previous failed attempt to become vegetarian and decided to wait until I was back at school to start the lifestyle changes. It’s just a lot easier to constrict yourself when you buy your own groceries. I also considered how quickly I can lose motivation and decided that I would start cutting things out of my diet one by one. So, in late January, I cut out dairy. I thought this would be harder than it was, especially not eating cheese, but I’ve come to enjoy it. I really like oat milk, so coffee and cereal are covered. As far as pizza and nachos, I definitely miss them, but I’ve found that I snack a lot less than I used to. It’s easy to pick when there are leftover mozzarella sticks in the fridge or a party pizza on the counter after a night out, but not being able to eat dairy allows me to make more conscious decisions about what I eat. There are also dairy-free alternatives to pizza and cheese. My favorite pizza brand is Daiya, which is both dairy and gluten-free. I even made the viral feta-tomato pasta with Violife vegan feta cheese, so I am not falling behind on trends. 

Assorted toast Photo by Ella Olsson from Unsplash

On March 14th, once I was used to being dairy-free, I gave up red meat. This has definitely been a challenge, but as I said before, it just makes me more conscious about what I eat, which I enjoy. It is hard as a college student with a meal plan to go to the dining hall, and nearly everything contains some red meat or dairy. However, I am making it through just fine. 

As far as results, I haven’t seen many changes within my body. I still get headaches, and stomach aches, and lack the energy that someone my age should have, but maybe once I am entirely plant-based, I’ll feel on top of the world. That’s the plan anyway. But for now, I am slowly cutting things out of my diet. Next is either seafood or chicken/turkey, but I haven’t decided.