A decision I made in January 2019 would impact me in ways I could never have imagined. A simple switch from a standard western diet to a predominantly plant-based has been one of the biggest life-changes I’ve ever made. Bigger than the time I moved to New York, or London, or Hong Kong. Maybe even as big as getting married to the love of my life.
Going plant-based (and subsequently vegan) is a change that has affected almost every part of my life; not just my weight loss.
The beautiful truth, I discovered is that (after two years of skeptical research and fact-finding) was that not only can a person live healthily on a plant-based diet: they can actually thrive.
I was extremely skeptical about the plant-based diet when I was first exposed to it — especially given it was touted as “the healthiest diet on the planet.” With so much conflicting messaging out there in the media, it seemed like this might be another of those fads. Much like the sugar-free diet, paleo, keto, 5:2, Atkins; it’s hard to look anywhere online or in a bookstore without being told “this” or “that” food(s) is good, or bad for us. I expected this “plant-based” diet was probably another one to add to the pile. If it wasn’t for a few negative health concerns, I might have turned away and ignored it — after all, it did seem quite restrictive and animal products happened to be my favourite foods.
Research and learning
Instead I discovered overwhelming evidence which shows that people who eat predominately plant-based diets, not only live longer, but lead healthier lives too.
Plant-based diets, for example, have been shown to prevent and reverse many of the leading causes of death. Some examples include prevention of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Furthermore, I discovered the longest lived people in the world, who live in the Blue Zones, eat diets based around whole-grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. In these regions people have low rates of obesity, alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and stroke. In Ikaria, for example, people live eight to ten years longer than in the United States and have a 50% lower rate of heart disease, less cancer, and almost no cases of dementia.
Scientific studies in the Blue Zone region of Loma Linda, California are one of the most powerful studies completed on nutrition. Roughly 9000 Seventh Day Adventists make up the Blue Zone in Loma Linda. These Seventh Day Adventists, who, for religious reasons, eat few or no animal products, live roughly ten years longer than the average American.
In 2016 the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, wrote: “…vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and…are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products….”
The Academy found that by adopting vegetarian diets globally we could avoid 7.3 million deaths and vegan diets avoid 8.1 million deaths.
If you consider a healthy diet, one that enables you to live free from disease and live a long life — then the data actually suggests that the less animal products you consume, the longer and healthier your life will be.
Getting started with a plant-based diet
So sure, I had all the evidence, but actually making the switch took time. I started first by adding a few plant-based meals to my diet, then eventually I completed a 30-day-trial. Turns out eating exclusively plant-based was not only easy, but one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. After 30 days of eating a whole-food plant-based diet my energy levels began to soar, my muscle inflammation went down, my neck, hip and back pain began to disappear, and I lost weight. Now a year-and-a-half later I’m completely vegan, healthy, happy, and 11kgs lighter.
Whilst being vegan I’ve travelled to supposedly ‘impossible’ places to be vegan: like the Philippines, Cambodia and Malaysia and never have had to consume animal products, nor eat a meal I didn’t enjoy. In Sri Lanka, Bali, Thailand, Australia, The UK, Singapore and New Zealand, I’ve found it even easier. Healthy, tasty, vegan food is surprisingly readily available across the globe.
Eleven ways switching to a plant-based diet transformed my life
1. Quicker recovery after exercise.
2. Muscle pain and inflammation have gone.
3. Weight loss.
4. Improved energy levels.
5. 0 cholesterol in my diet.
6. Reduced my risk of the world’s leading killers including heart disease (learn more on Nutrition Facts and Nutrition Studies).
7. I eat the same diet as the longest lived communities in the world.
8. No food cravings. I’m always full and eat way more than I used too.
9. I’ve reduced my impact on the planet including; water use, forest clearing for animal agriculture, ocean dead zones from overfishing, species endangerment from forest clearing, plastic pollution from fishing, and carbon footprint.
10. I save roughly 300 animals from slaughter per year (3 billion animals are killed around the world everyday for food.)
Becoming plant-based was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
Now that I’m plant-based I wouldn’t dream of looking back.