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How Going Plant-Based Changed Our Lives – Unexpected Changes Since Going Vegan

I recently celebrated my 5 year veganniversary/plantiversary. 5 years ago I decided to consume a fully plant-based diet for my health, and also decided to go vegan to minimize harm to animals and the environment. 

In 5 years, many things have changed for us! When I first embarked on this journey, I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping that my health would improve and that I would lose some weight, but didn’t know how it would go and where we would be now. Many unexpected things have happened in the 5 years since deciding to transition to a plant-based diet and we thought it would be fun to retrace our steps and share!

Defining Terms (Veganism, Plant-Based, Whole Food Plant-Based)

TASTE BUDS HAVE CHANGED

When I first decided to go plant-based, I felt really strongly about the decision to do so, but was also very unsure of what I was going to eat and how I was going to make it work for me. I did not enjoy vegetables and wasn’t sure how I was going to make the diet enjoyable. I was also accustomed to eating a lot of processed convenience foods. I was pleasantly surprised that our taste buds adapted fairly quickly and have progressively changed over time as we continued to try new foods and made shifts in our eating habits and go-to meals.

CHRIS WENT PLANT-BASED & VEGAN TOO (Shift in perspective on “traditional masculinity”)

When I first went plant-based, Chris was not on board. Much to my surprise, he made the decision to go vegan about 4-6 months into my change in lifestyle. 

Chris has also shifted his perspective in terms of “traditional masculinity” related to food. In our culture, eating meat is associated with strength and masculinity. This concept is heavily reinforced in the media. Chris puts his new perspective this way: “I feel like I’m more masculine not eating meat and knowing that I’m going to be healthier, taking care of my son, and being able to be available for my family longer as a healthier person. That makes me feel stronger as a human and as the man in the house.” We no longer associate the consumption of animal products with strength, power, or masculinity. We highly recommend watching The Game Changers if you’re concerned about being athletic or building muscle or stamina on a plant-based diet.

CHANGES IN HAIR AND NAILS

We both have noticed dramatic improvements in the health and strength of our hair and nails. We have both noticed thicker hair and stronger nails that grow very quickly! Chris is especially loving his long, thick beard!

I LOVE COOKING & RECIPE DEVELOPMENT

This was a shocking change for me. Prior to going plant-based, I HATED being in the kitchen and spent the least amount of time there possible. When I first went plant-based, I kept it super simple and tried to be in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. I would make smoothies, eat oats, roast potatoes, and microwave lots of mixed veggies. We made a lot of chili, whole wheat or brown rice pasta with marinara sauce, and soups. Now, I love cooking! We still make simple recipes, but have experimented so much in the kitchen and developed many of our own recipes. Check out some of our favourite recipes here.

WE OFTEN ENJOY OUR OWN COOKING OVER PREPARED FOODS & RESTAURANT MEALS 

In the past, I was so confused by this sentiment. When others would tell me that they enjoyed their own cooking over prepared foods or restaurant meals, I was genuinely confused. I would think, “how is that even possible?” I never understood it and it just didn’t make sense to me. I admired others who were good cooks, but I didn’t cook much and I loved eating convenience foods.

Now, I COMPLETELY understand and agree with this statement. It’s fun to have a restaurant meal or take-out from time to time, but most of the time we prefer our own cooking over these meals. I never thought it possible, but we absolutely love the food and recipes we prepare at home!

WE ENJOY A WIDER VARIETY OF FOODS NOW

When I first went vegan, I thought I was sacrificing delicious food for the sake of my health, the environment, and animals. I thought being vegan would feel very restrictive and would be a massive upheaval in my life. It was indeed a big change and took some getting used to, but I was surprised at how quickly we got used to new routines, and started trying and enjoying new foods! We have tried SO many foods that we never even knew about or would never have even considered purchasing. There are so many different types of legumes and grains and countless options in the produce aisle. We’re having a lot of fun continuing to try new foods and experimenting with new ingredients and recipes!

INCREASED ENERGY & REGAINED HEALTH

We have both experienced a massive boost to our energy levels. I have completely regained my health and am off of all medications after suffering with several chronic conditions for many years. Our digestive health has also improved dramatically. 

WEIGHT LOSS

Weight loss was somewhat expected, but I had no idea that I would lose 80 POUNDS! I’m at the lowest weight I have ever been! Chris also lost about 35 pounds and weighs what he did at age 20. We’re also maintaining our weight loss easily!

PASSIONATE ABOUT HEALTH & PLANT-BASED LIFESTYLE

We’re both passionate about things we never cared much about in the past. When people want to talk about going plant-based, we both get really excited to share our experience. We also get frustrated by restaurants that do not serve any vegan dishes, junk foods in every checkout at every shop (electronics store, hardware store etc..), lack of healthy options in cafeterias, and other things we were never bothered by (or even noticed in the past).

NUTRITION NERD

It’s official…I’m a nutrition nerd. I have delved into so much research over the past 5 years and learned so much. When I first decided to go plant-based, I watched so many documentaries and read so many books. Check out my How to go Plant-Based post for online resources as well as documentary and book recommendations.

I attended the Remedy Food Project Conference in Toronto in 2016, and have been continuously learning since then. In 2020, I completed the Healthy Eating & Weight Loss Coach Certification through canfitpro (FYI-not a plant-based program), and the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate through eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. I keep reading, watching lectures, attending webinars and learning more!

STARTING THE PLANTFITMEG YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND WEBSITE

We watched YouTube and enjoyed it, but never thought we would create our own channel! We also never thought we would have a website where we share recipes, tips, weight loss, and fitness content. We want to keep sharing what we’ve learned, the mistakes we’ve made, our experience transitioning to a plant-based diet, and more! It’s been so much fun to connect with you through this website, our YouTube channel, and on social media. We’re looking forward to creating more content and offering support to others interested in a plant-based lifestyle.

CO-LEADERS OF LOCAL PLANT-BASED GROUP

Recently, the leaders of our local plant-based group decided to step away from leading the group. Chris and I decided to step into co-leading the group with admin support from a few other members. When I first started a plant-based diet, I never envisioned that we would end up leading a plant-based lifestyle support group 5 years later. We’re excited to connect with like-minded people in our community and beyond! Our group is part of the PlantPure Communities Pod Network. Click here to find a pod in your area.

It’s surprising, and so much fun to look back over the past 5 years and reflect on how much switching to a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle has truly changed our lives. We love eating a whole food, plant-based diet and living a vegan lifestyle! We are looking forward to continuing to share it with others!

What changes have you noticed since switching to a plant-based diet or adopting a vegan lifestyle? We would love to hear your experiences!

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