I’m Trying a Plant-Based Diet and Here’s What I’ve Learned So Far

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Happy New Year, everyone! I wasn’t sad to say goodbye to 2019 and am soaking in this “fresh start” vibe for lots of reasons. I’m not really into the “new year new me” thing, though I get the appeal and the motivation behind it. Instead, I want this year to be full of nourishment. I want to nourish my mind, my spirit, and my body each day and not take balance for granted. I hope to be intentional in the choices I make and continue to pursue the things that light me up inside–and share them with you here! 🙂

Like I mentioned in my last post, that Netflix documentary Forks Over Knives really got me thinking about the best things to nourish my body with. Luckily, all that means is lots of fruits and veggies and whole, unrefined foods. I definitely can’t claim to be fully vegan or exclusively plant-based because I’m sure I’ll succumb to the temptation of an almond croissant at some point in the future, but I will say it’s been way easier than I thought, even through the holidays. Here are some things I’ve learned so far, plus the dish I can’t stop making!

Food is tied to “living fully

I’m learning that for my whole life food has been associated with really living fully, and thus being happy, so deciding to drop sugar and animal products felt like I was abandoning my roots and source of joy. Food is so much a part of my Italian culture and memories with my family. I know the same is true for so many people and navigating that is just tough! But if I’m being honest, I was more worried about what other people would say and how I’d explain myself than just trying it out. I’ve been phrasing it as “cleaning up my diet” which seems to make just enough sense to my Italian relatives.

This is not about losing weight.

This plant-based experience is about showing my body that I love it and want it to feel good. This might sound so weird, but after coming out on the other side of a number of health struggles this year, I started to view my body as its own entity and that’s helped me make more intentional choices around it. So while two bowls of Cocoa Krispies make my belly and brain feel good in the moment, I know my body deserves better. This process is just a mental commitment beyond anything else.

The hardest part isn’t…

missing cheese, turkey, yogurt, etc. What is hard is the extra time it takes to make snacks! For example, there’s nothing wrong with having pretzels after lunch. Like, at all. I love me some pretzels, especially those honey mustard ones. Omg. So it’s really not about some foods being “bad”, I just know I’ll be fuller longer and be giving my body more nutrients if I roast a can of chick peas with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes or if I slice up a zucchini really thinly and make crisps from that. It takes more time. It’s way less convenient. But it is totally doable.

What I’m eating and LOVING

I think I saw this the other morning on The Kitchen on Food Network, and it’s this crazy simple panzanella salad. It has all the components of a satisfying dish–saltiness from the Kalamata olives, the creaminess of the avocado, the acid from the tomato, the crispness of the English cucumber and the crunch of the toasted French bread. Toss all together with some basil, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil and you’re DONE. Cut up the loaf into big, rustic pieces, toast it at 350 for ten minutes, and mix into the salad. Let sit for 15-20 minutes (if you can) before eating to let the flavors marry and the bread soften just a tiny bit. Go crazy and throw in chick peas or black beans if you want more fiber.

All in all, I like how I feel eating this way. I like the pause to think about what I can concoct that’ll be good for my body. The real test is obviously how well I keep up with this once I go back to school on Monday. Nonetheless, I think this is the start of something good in 2020.

Thanks so much for reading!

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