There is a lot of social ideas around what it means to be “vegan.” Bohemian clothes, tie-dyed shirts, dreadlocks and “hippy” come to mind. And, to be fair, there are a group of vegans who fit the stereotype. But vegan for ethical reasons and being plant-based for health reasons are really different things. Let’s step away from the cultural stereotype of thinking we’ll have to by Birkenstocks and become an activist if we eat plants and think about it as an experiment.
The benefit of experimenting is you don’t have to be perfect. That’s the fun of trying something new. There is no “fail.” You can expect some things to not work. Maybe some dishes aren’t for you. Maybe you planned to eat plant-based but it ended up not happening. Not a big deal.
Let’s play a game of “what if…”
What if you decided to replace the beef in a dish with black beans and mushrooms? What if it was really yummy? What if you didn’t get that heavy feeling in your gut after eating it?
What if you considered eating oatmeal with fruit, nuts and seeds for breakfast and you realized you weren’t starving for lunch? What if your gut started to function like it did 20 years ago? What if it cut your grocery bill?
What if you realized that smothering your food in cheese was hiding the real flavors, that the salt was making you puffy and the lactose was creating inflammation? What if you decided to let your taste buds taste the flavors in food?
What if you realized you don’t actually like the flavor of chicken and that you can use the same spices to make a chickpea dish really yummy?
What if there are some AMAZING recipes for dishes you’ve never heard of or thought of trying and you’re missing out on them?
And what if it occurred to you that you could eat more plants, see how you feel and decide if it’s right for you? Maybe just being 80-90% plant-based makes you feel more alive, less tired and more engaged in your life.
Eating more plants isn’t all-or-nothing. You can try it and see what works best for your life and your body. You don’t HAVE to give up your favorite foods (although your favorite foods might change). And while there are some hardcore, you-have-to-do-it-100%-or-not-at-all people out there, they are the minority. Most of us are just trying to do what makes us feel good and gives us the best chance at having long-term health.
There is no downside and the upside is huge. What if that is an experiment worth trying?
Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.