5 Reasons Why I Went Vegan and Love Plant-Based Cooking

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Going vegan and eating plant-based meals has become a welcome trend these days. I’m quite excited to see so many people (and grocery aisle options!) going on a plant-based diet, but does that mean the plant-based lifestyle is here to stay? Well, I hope so.

Personally, my food choices always leaned to vegetarian since I was a little kid. Yeah, I was that girl that loved broccoli, and eagerly chomped into the apple in my lunchbox. Celery and peanut butter as a snack made total sense over beef jerky (it always kinda seemed like a dog snack to me). I was by instinct a vegetarian and refused to accept that chicken came in packages.

So I’ve spent most of my life as a happy vegetarian.

Yet, during my 20s, my belly wasn’t quite as happy as my tastebuds were. I was a student of French classic cooking. We used the essentials: butter, eggs, white flour, sugar. Butter and eggs are two irreplaceable ingredients in many French recipes. Back then, I was obsessed with cheese, another thing I thought I’d never live without. (Well, hello there belly bloat! I’d like to introduce you to feeling sluggish, have you two met?) But I did not feel good eating so much fromage.

Why not go vegan?

Here’s just a few simple reasons why I made the change:

  1. I felt better.

Is it that simple? Yes, actually. For many people, cutting out meat and dairy helps them feel better. I must admit, I was a big cheese lover, a daily egg eater, and binged on butter. When I gradually left out those ingredients out and found really good plant-based replacements, I noticed my energy level improve, my digestion worked better (no bloating), and my skin glows like I’m 20 again.

2. I look younger.

Serious real talk here: Many people think I’m in my 30s. Guess what? I’m almost 50. Yeah, I know, I live in Los Angeles, but promise you: no botox, no plastic surgery, nada. This is me at 48.5 years young, lookin’ hot. When you choose to eat plant-based foods— grapes, apples, oranges, melons, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, lettuces, cucumber, celery, and must I mention, kale— you get the water and minerals you need for replenishing your body.

3. You are what you eat.

Do you want to be a greasy charred dead animal? You’ll definitely feel like one if you eat that. Not to mention sodium elevating your blood pressure, bad fats clogging your arteries, and all that dead meat clogging your colon. Gross, right? Yep. Pretty darn gross. Have you watched any vegan documentaries like Forks Over Knives or Cowspiracy?

4. I love eating fresh food.

I really love fruits and veggies! My basic staples are green apples and avocados. I love salads, and add fresh ingredients to all of my daily meals. If I have something out (like a big veggie burrito) I totally enjoy it. I also know that if I indulge in that tortilla with loads of guacamole, rice and beans, I’ll make sure to eat a salad or a few green apples to balance that out. (Guac is good stuff though! Load on those avos!)

5. Creating meals with fresh ingredients is fun!

Cooking and creating meals using plant-based foods is really fun to me. I enjoy finding vegan options to replace ingredients in recipes and get excited when it turns out well. Like making “meatballs” with lentils, “cheesy” Mac ‘n’ Cheese with sweet potato and nutritional yeast (instead of that suspect orange powder), and a hearty Shepherd’s Pie that makes my whole family ask for more.

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Eat lots of fresh fruits & veggies! Get at least 5/day.

Get the good fats: olive oil, avocados + nuts.

Make a vegan meal at least two nights/week.

Eat fruit for breakfast:

green apples + almond butter

berries + coconut yogurt

grapes, melons + papaya

Go for the greens! Add them into everything you can.

Make salad a meal and fill up a big bowl!

Eat fruit for dessert + keep your sugar cravings down.

Eating more plants and less animals works for many people. Rather than make going vegan a restrictive diet, choose to enjoy more raw fresh foods and see what happens. If you are feeling challenged by this idea, take it slow and find a healthier choice (fish instead of that hamburger) and go with your gut (it will thank you). There are so many delicious options out there (oh hello, plant-based Impossible burger!) that you can make it an adventure instead of a struggle. Have fun with exploring the greener side of eating.

Cut down on meats, sugar, salt and dairy for one week. Use monkfruit instead of other sweeteners, clean your palate of extra sodium by using herbs and spices, and discover all of the dairy alternatives (almond, coconut, oat, and rice milks). Try vegan meats instead— many are quite tasty! No matter what way you choose, either full on 100% vegan or just cutting back halfway, do it for the sake of feeling better.

Ditch the soda, potato chips, burgers and fries and replace them with smoothies, almonds, veggie burgers and sweet potatoes. Instead of creamer in your coffee, try cashew milk or froth some oat milk. Read labels. Pick foods that are ingredients, instead of foods with ingredients. Do this slowly, take your time in transition. Enjoy new ways of eating rather than making a huge change all at once. I hope you find that you sleep better, feel better, and have more energy than before.