If you told me a couple of years ago that I would no longer eat meat or dairy and that I would thrive on a plant-based diet, I never would have believed you.
I was the typical guy: eating hamburgers, having meat at almost every meal, doing the milk-and-cereal thing for breakfast, and eating lots of processed foods. Basically, I was consuming the standard American diet.
I didn’t realize how food affected how my body felt, how fast I recovered after workouts, and how I experienced life.
I found myself skinny and fat at the same time — physically, I was thin, but I had low energy and a cholesterol level approaching 300. Not impressive. In my mid-40s, I was a prime candidate for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
One night, I stumbled across a couple of documentaries on Netflix, Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I became fascinated with the information and stories I heard.
Almost immediately, I started implementing what I had learned from watching these films and from the books I was reading. The process of transitioning to plant-based eating took about six months. I got rid of the food that was making me sick and learned to buy whole foods, which wasn't easy in the beginning, but it was definitely worth it.
Now only a year later, I'm the fittest I've ever been. I run at least 100 miles per month and play competitive tennis two to three times per week (and my running and recovery times are the best they've ever been). But my biggest win might be having lowered my cholesterol level without taking any prescription drugs.
Here are five key steps I took to transition to a plant-based diet:
1. I purchased a juicer and started making my own juices at home.
I didn’t do a cleanse or reboot; I just started making and drinking fresh juices every morning. This gave my body the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) that were sorely lacking in my former diet.
I focused primarily on leafy greens and vegetables (kale, chard, collard greens, cucumber, celery, beets, carrots) and added apple and lemon to the mix. I noticed a dramatic increase in energy levels from juicing after the first week or so.
2. I considerably reduced the amount of meat and processed foods I was eating.
Instead of eating meat, I started to eat more salads with beans, nuts, and seeds for protein. I cut out processed foods such as cereal, potato chips, and anything else I had around the house that came in a box or can and wasn’t a whole food.
3. I eliminated dairy.
After a few months of juicing and eating better, I decided to eliminate all dairy products. This is one of the best things I've ever done. Once I realized that dairy is high in cholesterol and saturated fat, it was a pretty easy decision.
As a result, my skin became clearer, my body felt even better because of the reduced inflammation, and I haven’t had a single stomachache since giving up dairy. As much as I loved cheese, I love feeling better even more.
4. I purchased a few plant-based cookbooks and started to cook at home more.
Once I had a few “go-to” recipes, it became easier to control what I was eating, and cooking actually became really fun.
5. I became keenly aware of just how good the body is designed to feel.
When you eliminate inflammatory and acidic foods like meat and dairy and replace them with anti-inflammatory and alkaline foods (like lots of leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables), it's absolutely incredible how much better your body feels.
My back and joints feel better, and minor aches and pains are gone. I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when my body felt this good — and I'm 48 years old.
The good news is thatanyone can do this! It all starts with raising your awareness. Watch the documentaries I mentioned and begin to increase your knowledge about food and nutrition. From there, start to implement what you learn over time.
Don’t judge or rush yourself too much. Focus on making this an enjoyable journey to health and wellness. I promise you it will be worth it!
Want more information about starting a plant-based diet? Start here:
- Everything You Need To Know To Start A Plant-Based Diet
- 6 Ways A Plant-Based Diet Can Make You A Happier Person
- 10 Reasons A Plant-Based Diet Is The Best Way To Eat (For You & For The World)
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