Energy, clarity, a healthy, youthful appearance, and longevity: these are all things that we innately crave.
Energy drinks are a multi BILLION dollar business; 5-hour energy alone brings in around $700 million per year.
The skin care product industry is estimated to exceed $100 billion within 5 years.
The medical and pharmaceutical industries bring in hundreds of billions of dollars every year selling drugs, surgical procedures, treatments, and therapies to those dealing with heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death.
Replace the meat, eggs, dairy, and processed foods in your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Doing so could drastically decrease your risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, give you abundantly more energy on a daily basis, and may even improve the health of the body’s largest organ, your skin.
The majority of my life I was a fairly heavy meat eater. Chicken breasts, turkey sandwich meat, eggs by the dozen, and lean beef cutlets went into my belly on a fairly consistent basis. My nutritional goals usually centered around gaining and maintaining muscle mass. In order to best accomplish this, I knew (as any faithful muscle magazine reading bro did) that you needed to consume AMPAP (as much protein as possible). And clearly, the best protein came from two sources: meat and Muscle Milk. Simple.
From the ages of 16–24, I adhered faithfully to the one, true diet of lean meat, complex carbohydrates, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. And, to be fair, I felt pretty healthy. I maintained a pretty balanced body composition and was able to successfully gain about 40 lbs of muscle mass. Status quo was dece.
Earlier this year, my cousin (a former adherent to the bro diet), casually mentioned that he had replaced the meat, eggs, and dairy in his diet with plant based food. He also informed me that he now felt fantastic— better than he’d ever felt in his life. More energy, more mental clarity, and improved recovery— just a better functioning human being in general. I was skeptical. I proceeded to cross examine him:
Turns out the answer was simple: you get your protein from plant sources.Whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are all excellent sources of protein.
He’s a smart dude (Stanford grad), and I was intrigued with what he had to say. So I decided to do a trial run of a whole food, plant based diet myself. In April of this year, I took the leap and swapped out the meat, eggs, and dairy in my diet for tofu, quinoa, nuts, and beans.
I had constant energy throughout the day— no more afternoon crash. My skin stopped breaking out. My mental clarity during all hours of the day noticeably improved. My recovery from workouts was quicker. Even old, lingering injuries I had in my hip and back (from trying to set squat and deadlift world records back in 2011) started to heal.
Contrary to expectations, I didn’t lose a single pound of muscle. If anything, I’ve maintained my 200 lb frame while shedding a little bodyfat. In case you’re wondering, here’s a snapshot of what my diet looks like now.
As the weeks went by and my positive results continued, I researched more into the whole food, plant based diet and lifestyle. Perusing Netflix, I stumbled upon the documentary “Forks over Knives.” It’s an eye opening movie, and I highly encourage you to watch it. It woke me up to just how shady the meat and dairy industry are, how much animal cruelty occurs from “pasture” to table, and how many (not so subtle) ties the USDA has to these industries— ties which trump their concerns for our actual health.
One can argue all they want that eating meat hasn’t caused them any immediate distress and isn’t going to necessarily hurt them. But, when applied to the long haul of life, the numbers seem to tell a different story.The China Study, (one of the largest nutritional studies ever conducted) showed a significant correlation between animal protein consumption and increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
I kept digging. The rabbit hole got deeper. I had swallowed the red pill, and there was no going back. More information surfaced — the meat industry’s process of raising and slaughtering animals in mass quantities is slowly destroying our planet’s vital resources. Turns out our meat eating habits are the #1 controllable factor contributing to the steady path of global warming. I felt uncomfortable accepting the fact that my daily food choices had been contributing to this epidemic.
I then asked myself: what is meat actually doing for me that’s beneficial (besides of course tasting good)? It provides protein… but is it even the best source of protein? Based on the evidence, the answer seemed to be no. The only essential vitamin which comes exclusively from meat in a natural form is B12. And, nowadays, it’s quite simple to supplement an adequate dose of B12 in your diet.
I acknowledge that it’s extremely difficult both logistically and culturally to replace animal products in your diet with plant products. But, if you have the means, discipline, and willpower, it’s my opinion that the rewards will be completely worth the sacrifice. Start small— substitute a plant based alternative in place of meat for one day a week, then gradually work up from there. You’ll soon discover that there is a bountiful world of delicious plant based food which is just as satisfying and filling.
(Whole food, plant based diet )— (animal products) + (B12 supplementation) = (Best chance at longest, disease free life for me) + (Minimal impact to sustainability of life on earth for future generations)
Five months in, I’ve seen nothing shy of fantastic results. If you are willing to take a risk and try out a whole food, plant based diet, I’m confident that you too can unlock a disease free world of energy, clarity, and health.
Note: Balancing your macronutrients correctly (protein, carbohydrates, fat) is still vital when eating a whole food, plant based diet. Experiment with your food to find what works best for you. In addition to Vitamin B12, I also supplement Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and creatine monohydrate. As a disclaimer, I’m not a certified nutritionist, so make sure to consult a professional if you have any doubts about making this dietary transition.
Title Photo Credit: Flickr
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