~ by Brad Grisley, July 2022
I've been on a mainly plant-based diet for about three and one-half years. Trying it — and sticking with it — has been a journey.
Back in 2019 my wife was one of the coordinators of a “ten-day plant-based challenge” for the staff of the school district she works for. She was going to take the challenge, which meant consuming only foods that come from plants and in as whole a form as possible.
She urged me to join her, but the thought did not appeal to me! I pictured myself eating carrot sticks and celery for the rest of my life — how boring! My mouth watered remembering the giant steak I had savored for my birthday two days before the challenge started, but I begrudgingly went along.
To my surprise, I saw in the first few days how varied and tasty the food was. Because the calorie density of the food is very low, I was shocked to see my weight dropping almost immediately. Since I had for years been struggling mightily to lose about 10 pounds, this really made me take notice!
After the 10-day challenge, we decided to stick with this new way of eating, found cookbooks to expand our meal selections, and enjoyed getting into the rhythm of our new life style. A month later a cholesterol check revealed a drop significant enough to get me off of my Lipitor prescription!
A few months into it I began to notice other things happening to my body. Significant knee pain while walking up stairs eased substantially. My digestion improved dramatically. I recovered more easily from workouts.
Along the way, I delved into the connection between diet and health, and learned that my body’s improvements were due to my change in diet. The Standard American Diet (aptly abbreviated SAD) is mainly responsible for all our chronic diseases: heart disease, many types of cancer and type 2 diabetes, along with many other maladies.
Many athletes are finding that plant-based eating has helped their performance. A couple of noteworthy examples are Tom Brady and Novak Djokovic. Brady is considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history and eats predominantly plant-based. Djokovic just won his 7th Wimbledon singles crown and his diet is 100% plant-based. My reaction: “Hmm- there must be something to this!”
Hearing how damaging the raising of animals, especially beef cattle, is to the planet was another powerful motivation for sticking with the diet. Beyond that, the astounding cruelty of industrial farming alone gave me reason to largely give up animal meat.
I'll be honest — we do a weekly “cheat night’” and eat whatever we want, usually going out or getting take-out (we don't keep animal products in the house). This has tended to ease cravings for that pepperoni pizza or bacon cheeseburger. When traveling we'll also go off the diet, mainly because it can be difficult to find healthy plant-based choices in restaurants.
Overall, changing to a plant-based diet has made a huge improvement to my life. I am grateful for a welcome and unexpected “Pachamama style” benefit — a deeper connection to myself and to the planet.