When I set out to eat a whole food, plant-based diet three years ago, I did it with the intention of doing it for two months to see how it went. I even created a safety net as I was telling people, and told them that I was committing to one month so that if I didn’t make it two months, I had a good excuse.

Three Years Later I’m Still Eating A Healthy Plant-Based Diet

People always want to know why I did it. I care about animals, but that didn’t really factor into the decision. I needed to lose some weight, but that had nothing to do with it either, at least not directly. I set out to get healthy. I had some friends who had gone to a whole food, plant-based diet (shout out to the Lean Green family) and so in an effort to “Mr. Ripley” their lives, I followed suit. I wanted to get healthier, and had the added motivator that I believed taking better care of myself (in conjunction with my meds) could help continue to keep my Crohn’s disease under control.

Some folks get annoyed by my use of the term whole food, plant-based diet. “Why don’t you just say ‘vegan’?” To me it’s because being on a whole food, plant-based diet goes beyond being vegan. There are a lot of “junk food vegans” out there (no judgment, just making the distinction). In my journey, I’ve cut out processed foods and sugar in addition to the meat products, eggs, and dairy. A vegan is simply (or not so simply) someone who doesn’t eat animals or anything that comes from an animal (and yes that’s simplifying it).

What Were The Results From My Plant-Based Journey?

Well, the weight was certainly an early indicator. As I was fueling my body with stuff that it recognized as food, my body was working to get to the weight that it is supposed to be. Over the course of a few months, I lost about 60 lbs. My grandmother was terrified that I was just going to keep wasting away. The reality was that in giving my body the proper fuel it needed, it seemed to be able to get rid of all the excess stuff I was carrying around. I didn’t have to count calories or cut myself off from stuff (besides the stuff I was choosing not to eat).

I quickly began to feel better, though I wasn’t feeling necessarily bad to begin with. I felt what I thought was normal prior to this journey, but what I didn’t realize was that my “normal” could feel much better. I had more energy and found that my mood tended to be better. I didn’t feel depressed prior to starting my plant-based lifestyle, but after the switch, all I can say is that my normal felt…better. I had a new normal and I was loving it!

One thing that never bothered me along the way was being around people eating foods I didn’t eat. It bothered other people. They would say, “I’m sorry, I forgot you can’t eat _________,” and they would feel guilty. I would always respond, in a way that annoyed a lot of people by saying, “I can eat anything that I want, but I’m choosing not to,” and it truly never bothered me, or made me uncomfortable. That may seem like a small point, but I think it was a big deal in my attitude about this whole journey.

What Have I Learned By Eating A Plant-Based Diet?

I’ve learned to view my food as fuel. This was oddly freeing. I took a lot of the emotion out of food. I’ve learned to research and learn about how to better fuel my body. I’ve found resources that I rely on for great information and recommendations, but then I’ve also learned to make my own plan, and find what’s right for me. I’ve learned that giving stuff up can be a great blessing. We are taught that quitters never win, but in the right circumstances, there can be something very freeing and positive about quitting.

Would I Recommend A Plant-Based Diet?

The short answer is yes. The longer, more complicated answer is yes, but…

Yes, but I don’t think the key is as much my particular way of eating (I’m certainly partial). I think the key is taking back control of your diet. You want to fuel your body with food that works with it, instead of against it.

I can’t say I have too many complaints from my three years on this cool journey. Three years ago, I never would have expected that I’d still be going plant-strong, and it has definitely been a crazy and rewarding ride.

Gary Beckman