If you asked me to give up meat and dairy two years ago, I would have laughed. Due to my husband’s health issues, however; I found myself at a Plant-Strong Diet class at Whole Foods Market. The presenter, Gerrie, shared how she cured herself from a serious medical condition through this diet. She’d gotten my attention, and I listened intently as she reviewed the studies that show how going plant-strong dramatically reduces one’s risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Captivated by the class, I poured myself into research. I quickly came to believe that going plant-strong would help my husband reduce his blood pressure and cholesterol and that we’d lose weight, improve our skin and reduce our chances of having a stroke or getting heart disease, cancer, diabetes or dementia. There was no denying the phenomenal benefits, but was it worth it? The diet just sounded extreme.
From where I’m at now, I can tell you that it’s absolutely worth it. You can’t put a price tag on your health and looking great is icing on the cake! More than this, once you get used to it, the diet doesn’t feel extreme at all. Most people who go plant-strong find the transition easier and MUCH tastier than they expected.
This is not to say that it’s not challenging in the beginning. In fact, my husband and I only went plant-based Monday through Friday at first because it sounded too difficult to do all the time. And even following the diet part time was hard for awhile. As I discovered easy and delicious plant-strong recipes, even amazing sugar-free dessert recipes, however; it became easier. After a few months, my husband and I came to love plant-strong eating so much that we started doing it all the time. Now we can’t imagine going back to how we ate before.
Of course, it took a lot of convincing for us to take the plunge. If you’re at the point now where you’re wondering if this diet is too extreme, I know where you’re at. You don’t want to give up hamburgers, cheese, ice cream and bacon. You don’t want to change your routine. You don’t want to learn a new way of eating. You don’t want the hassle. What’s more, you’re afraid that it means a life of denial.
I get it, change is hard. When I think about the suffering my neighbor’s son is experiencing in his seventh month of dealing with leukemia, however; I can only imagine that this is harder. I went out to lunch with my neighbor today and felt for her as she tearfully spoke about her son’s condition and the pain it was causing him, his wife, his kids and her.
Imagine what it would feel like for your doctor tell you, “You’ve got cancer.” What is it worth to you to know that you’ll likely never have to hear that? Or what is it worth to you to finally lose that extra weight? Or to finally have the clear, beautiful skin you’ve always wanted? Or to know that the odds are against you having a heart attack and leaving your loved ones far too early?
Which is more extreme, suffering from disease or changing your diet? Only you can make that decision, but I can tell you that if you choose to go plant-strong you’ll find it’s not nearly as extreme as it first appears. It’s just new and different. It’s like learning a new sport, you have to learn the rules and practice the plays before it becomes familiar and comfortable. Just as you can learn to play tennis, you can learn to go plant-strong. And once you learn how to play, you’ll discover that plant-strong eating is more fun, fulfilling and delicious than you ever imagined!
For more info on a Plant-Strong Diet, check out The Engine 2 Diet.
Image courtesy of BrianHolm / http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
I agree! A plant strong diet also seemed extreme to me before really looking into. It’s so full of options too 🙂 I found it helpful to start with one meal and slowly to build on that.
I think easing into it is the way to go for most people. I do know some people who were successful with going cold turkey, but most people I know transitioned gradually. Thanks for your comment Helen – I appreciate it! 🙂
Great post Celeste! I love the link at the end. I’ve been hooked on the food documentaries on Netflix and just watched Forks Over Knives the other day. Also loved Food Inc., Food Matters and Veducated as well. Great info!
Hey Myra! I love Forks Over Knives and Vegucated, but I have yet to see the other two flicks. I’ll have to check them out. Thanks so much for reading chica – I appreciate it! 🙂
No problem! definitely check out Food Matters and Food Inc., you’ll really like them 🙂
Very touching story about you neighbor’s son. Hope that is getting better.
He’s not doing well, so please keep him in your prayers Mom. Thanks! 🙂
It’s amazing how our mentalities can shift! At first I thought going meat-free would be tough, but once I was vegetarian, I thought veganism was impossible! It’s all about baby steps!
It really is amazing! I honestly never, ever thought I could give up dairy. It just seemed impossible. Now I don’t have any desire for dairy products at all. Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your experience – I appreciate it! Celeste 🙂
Cancer is an equal opportunity screwer-upper. I hate that children can be afflicted with the dreadful disease. My best to your neighbor and her family through their journey to arresting it.
Engine 2 Diet is a great start. There is so much beautiful, tasty, exhilarating food options out there in the plant world — and so very easy to prepare and grow at home! — the days of bags, boxes, and carcasses are over for me. The only unintended consequence that I have found is that I spend a whole lot more of my time nurturing my family. The beginning and learning was hard, but now that I’m firmly rooted in it, I no longer miss the “inconvenience” of slow food.
Since our switch wasn’t health-related, an all-or-nothing approach was taken, no M-F easing into it — we went cold tofurkey, you might say. Keep up the great posts. I’ve missed you!
Cold tofurkey, haha – I love it!! After my husband and I watched Vegucated and decided to become ethical vegans, we went cold tofurkey too. This isn’t saying much because we were almost there anyway, but I still think it made a difference. For example, if we were only following our diet for health reasons we’d probably cheat a little (or maybe a lot) on holidays and such. But, because of our ethical stance now, we’re very strict about abstaining.
I just had the thought that “cold tofurkey” may not be the best term for me since I refuse to eat tofurkey. When I told people I was hosting a vegan Thanksgiving, they all asked if I was serving tofurkey. People just don’t get how many things you can make vegan. Thanks so much for popping by Shannon – it’s always a pleasure hearing from you! 🙂
I also don’t eat Tofurkey much (I put it in the “boxed or bagged”category, since it’s hardly a whole food!) but we get it occasionally because the kids seem to like it. Not particularly fond of the flavor or the texture.
And just why is it that reformed meat-and-cheese eaters NEED to eat foods that mimic meat or cheese? There are so many non-cheese cheeses out there, it’s rather funny. My son is convinced that pizza tastes way better without all that goo on it. At 12 — and only a year without cheese — he’s adept at how to tactfully decline the cheese pizza at his friends’ houses. So proud!
Haha – I love how your son calls cheesy pizza gooey!! That’s classic! Yea for your son!
Every word so true, Celeste, we are completely in control of how good we want to feel and how much we want to look after our own health.
Thanks SO much for reading and for all of your support – I really appreciate it! 🙂
Sorry to be a nay-sayer but I think you’re wrong to say that a plant-based diet will likely guarantee you to not hear a bad diagnosis from your doctor, I think it’s misleading to say that, and it’s isolating for people who become ill, because not only do they have an unpleasant illness but they also have parts of the community telling them they did something wrong. Not all cancer is down to diet, there are other environmental factors and genetic predispositions to consider.
I am an ethical vegan myself, I would love to tell people to follow this lifestyle and you’ll never get sick, but it would be misleading. I can tell you that I don’t get headaches any more but that’s the only health benefit I can personally attest to. I can also say that eating more plant-based food looks like it will reduce the chance of getting some illnesses, based on research I’ve read, but it won’t eliminate that chance completely.
Thank you for your comment! I certainly agree with you that cancer cannot be 100% prevented through diet. However, it is my belief that one’s chances of getting cancer an other illness can be reduced through a plant-based diet. I feel that it’s important for me to highlight this because I hope it will encourage people to look more carefully at how they’re eating.
When I went to a plant-based diet class at Whole Foods Market, I thought I was eating healthfully. The class illuminated the many ways I was not eating well and how changing my diet would improve my health and likely reduce my chances of getting many diseases. This was new information for me, and it eventually caused me to adopt a plant-based diet. And adopting this diet has caused my husband’s blood pressure and cholesterol to go down to normal, has caused both my husband and me to lose weight, has caused our persistent skin conditions to clear up, and has made us look and feel so much healthier. Just from how we look and feel now I really believe that our chances of getting other diseases is reduced. I just can’t believe that our healthy bodies are as prone to disease. I want other people to discover how great they can look and feel too!
I certainly don’t want to make anyone who suffers from cancer feel bad or that they somehow brought their illness on themselves. And like you say, diet can only do so much. Still diet can do a lot, and I want people to know this. If I can encourage some people to change their diet and improve their health, I want to do so. I try not to make it sound like you will be completely immune to getting diseases if you follow a plant-based diet, but perhaps I need to tone down my enthusiasm a bit. Perhaps my excitement about this makes it sound like I believe a plant-based diet is a cure-all, which I certainly don’t believe. Thank you for making me aware of how my words may be coming across. I’ll try to be more aware of this in the things that I post.
I also want to note that I’m also an ethical vegan. So I have more than one reason for abstaining from eating animal products. This is VERY important to me too!! I will note that my journey to ethical veganism began through changing my diet for health reasons. After my husband and I started following a plant-based diet, we watched a lot of plant-based movies to inspire us. Someone suggested that we watch Vegucated. This movie is what opened our eyes to the suffering of animals and we both became ethical vegans after this. This is an important component to why I write this blog. I also believe that other people, like my husband and me, may come to ethical veganism by first changing their diet. I can’t say this for sure, but it is my hope.
Lastly, as I’m sure you know, there is a difference between ethical veganism and following a plant-based diet. On the diet that my husband and I follow, in addition to not eating meat and dairy we also don’t eat processed foods, sugar, extracted oil or coffee. I will admit that although we’re strict about not eating animal products due to ethical reasons, we’re not always strict on following all of the restrictions of our diet (oh well!). Anyway, I believe that these restrictions are part of where the health bennies of a plant-based diet come from.
Oh boy – this was a long comment! Anyway, I just want to thank you for sharing your thoughts!! Celeste 🙂
Even going heavy on the veggies and very light on the animal products offers a huge improvement in health. If people did only this it would greatly lower the demand for lots of cheap meat which, of course, creates the terrible factory farm conditions for animals. I really like how you liken a new way of eating to taking up a sport. It is just like that! And progressing in steps toward healthier eating is the way to go. If people would just stop the fast food and cook it would be huge for the food industry. I’m waiting for it to change organically, from the people, as they wake up from the manipulation the food industry is wresting on them. I’m worried, though, that many many people are too mind-fogged from all the chemicals they ingest. We’ll see…
Yes, yes, yes! Just following a plant-based diet part-time can make a huge difference. Like you, I’m waiting for people to wake up from the manipulation of the food industry, but this may take a long, long time. What’s more, people just don’t want to cook these days. I heard recently that breakfast cereal sales have dramatically declined because people want a grab-and-go breakfast instead. How long does it take to make and eat cereal, for gosh sakes? My fear is that it will take a tragedy, like some kind of terrible illness caused by the meat industry, before people wake up. Anyway, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! Happy holidays chica!
Very interesting to read the story of how you arrived at this way of eating. You make such a convincing case … the challenge of taking the plunge is definitely a road block though for me
It is a HUGE change, and I can understand why you’d be hesitant to take the plunge. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I made this change, it just doesn’t seem like something I’d ever do. I think that my husband’s health issues really motivated me. And like I said in this post, once you do take the plunge and get used to eating a new way you realize that it’s a lot easier than you imagined it would be. It really is! Most people don’t believe me when I tell them this, it’s just something you have to learn by doing I guess. Thanks so much for reading! Celeste 🙂
Thank you for writing which is quite good and best wishes always, and greetings
Thank you so much for reading and commenting – I appreciate it! I also want to say that I love looking at your photo. Your smile radiates your peaceful nature. I feel more calm just by looking at your smile. 🙂
I found the full transision to being Vegan very easy, saying that I had been a Vegetarian previously so I guess I was halfway there already.
I first thought Veganism was too extreme and I could never go out again,bake or eat chocolate, wow how wrong was I most things can be substituted but the biggest benefit for me I discovered so many new foods to eat I only lost dairy but gained so much more.
I lost weight without even trying, my skin is better than it’s looked in years and I have so much energy I started doing Yoga and at 51 I feel better now than I did in my twenties.
Your experience is so similar to mine Karen! When I tell people that making the transition wasn’t that hard, I know most people don’t believe me. And I’m sure no one believes me when I tell them that I don’t miss eating meat and cheese and that I love eating this way.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I hope that others considering the transition read your comment. Celeste 🙂
Celeste, a great post. I think the problem mostly lies within the meat, diary and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to the 1950’s the American diet did not consist of eating meat on a daily basis. Meat was maybe on Sundays or special occasions. It was with the advent of the supermarket and the the mass marketing by the meat and diary industries that we now have the mindset that if you don’t consume meat, aka dead animal flesh 3 times a day you will die. But hey if you get sick the pharmaceutical companies have just the right drug for you at just the right price.
It’s all about the marketing. If the Vegan industries did as much marketing as the above mentioned 3 industries have done the world might be Vegan sooner. But the Vegan revolution is being heralded by the raising of consciousness much like the the civil rights movement and the feminist movement.
Awesome comment Ivonne! I absolutely agree with you that the marketing of the meat, diary and pharmaceutical industries (and our governments support of these industries) is a huge part of the problem. Meatonomics is a great book that delves deeply into this issue. http://meatonomics.com/
I hope that there is in fact a vegan revolution going on. I’m connected to a lot of vegan bloggers, so when I’m Online I feel like veganism is catching on. In my life outside of blogging, however; it doesn’t look like much is changing. I know change takes time, so I’ll just keep blogging and doing my part. 🙂
Hi Celeste, love your post! I’ve been having some heated debates lately with family members about WHY a plant based diet is so good for you. I want to educate others on what I have learned and continue to learn! That’s probably why so many of my posts over on my own blog lately are research articles instead of restaurant reviews. I figure if I share enough strong, valid scientific studies from multiple sources the weight of the total evidence will be too much to ignore.
Also, as my husband and I continue to be more and more plant-based, it’s interesting how ethical reasons are factoring in as well, just as it sounds like it did for you. In fact when I heard a place was giving away 112 turkeys this week my first thought wasn’t about health but “poor turkeys”. It could be because since I’m pregnant we’ve discussed how we’ll raise our son and we think introducing him to ethical reasoning first for not eating animals will be easier for him to understand.
Hi Stacey! I love your research article posts chica! People need to be informed about what they’re eating. Before I took a healthy cooking class at Whole Foods Market that introduced me to a plant-based diet I was clueless about how bad my diet was. I know that information won’t make everyone go plant-based, but at least it allows people to make an educated choice.
And yes, it’s funny how once you stop eating animals that you develop more compassion for them. I love your idea about introducing your son to ethical reasons first. Like you say, it will be easier for him to grasp. Are you familiar with Violet’s Veg*n e-Comics? She has some great vegan children books. Here’s a link to “I’m Not Dinner” my favorite of her books: http://violetsvegnecomics.com/im-not-dinner/
Funny, I’ve been looking for some good children’s books on veganism to add to my baby registry. This book is great, I wish it was in print!
This is very interesting! Thank you for sharing!
You bet! 🙂
I love this! Thank you so much for sharing your honest story of going vegan.
Incredibly persuasive and accessible and user-friendly – like all your posts Celeste. Thank you. I am considering giving veganism a chance… maybe for a month to start so as not to get overwhelmed. btw- we made the meatless meatloaf and the pumpkin squash soup for Thanksgiving- both were hits with everyone. Thanks again.
Yea!!! I’m cheering really loudly over here! I love that you’re considering giving veganism a chance. It is challenging in the beginning, so don’t get discouraged if you cheat a lot (I certainly did!). And if doing it all the time is too much at first, you can always try just doing it part time (like Monday – Friday, or until 6 everyday). I’m here if you’ve got questions or need encouragement or support. And I won’t judge you if you decide not to continue down this path. I know it’s something that you have to really be ready for.
I’m also so glad that the meatless meatloaf and pumpkin squash soup worked out for Thanksgiving. I haven’t made either of those recipes, but maybe I’ll try them out.
Thank you, Celeste! I will definitely keep you posted :). Yes, the dishes were delish. Highly recommend. My non-vegan nephews liked the soup so much there wasn’t enough to go around.
I like 🙂
Aww thanks! 🙂
This is a great post! I love the idea of it being a ‘Plant-Strong’ diet 🙂
I also wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award! Thank you for your support!
Thanks for this inspiring post, Celeste!!
Wonderful article Celeste! Like anything, changing your diet takes time, knowledge and a little practice. It then becomes a way of life and you don’t think anything of it. It becomes natural after a while. It is amusing how many find eating a plant based diet so extreme. How is eating artificial, processed, toxic “stuff” out of a cardboard box not? 🙂 Keep up the great work
I certainly thought a plant-based diet was extreme when I first heard about it, but like you say it’s just a way of life now. And you are SO right about how extreme the SAD diet is with all that greasy, chemical, processed crap. Wake up people! 🙂
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