Why have I decided to change to a plant-based diet

I was always a bit sceptical about becoming a vegan and I have always said I could never survive more than two days without eating a meat product. I mean, last year I decided to try and be vegetarian for a week and on day 2 I completely forgot about it and made myself a chicken sandwich. I think that says a lot.Having vegan friends have made this topic coming up in a lot of conversations. Though I completely understand their motives and motivations, for me it was never more than I’ve had meat my whole life, and I like fish way too much to be able to give up on it.

However, this January, after watching DiCaprio’s documentary in partnership with Nat Geo, I made the decision of doing Meat Free Monday for environmental reasons. I was always environmental conscious and watching that documentary made me realise how much meat consumption is damaging the environment. And I was able to fulfil that except one occasion – Easter Monday. I was super hungover and in desperate need of a fatty burger.

About three months ago, I watched “What the Health!”, after my vegan friends recommended it to me. And then everything changed. I was on my flight home and thanks to the new Netflix feature, I was able to watch it during my flight. And I was shocked. I mean, I kinda knew some stuff that was going on in the food industry but all that left me astounded. I had no idea the stuff they put on the meat, the way they leave dead animals next to the ones that will later be consumed, the way big companies and pharmaceutical companies sponsor doctors associations and governments.

Honey and Sesame Tofu
Honey and Sesame Tofu, made with organic tofu from The Tofoo Co.

Hearing the stories they shared about people with illnesses that after going vegan became less dependent on medicine and generally improved their health made me think. So, I decided to cut my intake of meat products and give a plant-based diet a try. And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. For someone that loves cheese, fish and a bit of meat every now and then it was a real challenge. Swapping milk was easy. I was only drinking Rice and Almond milk and only eating soy yoghurts since April. The hard part was the cheese. And finding alternatives.

Since I gave this new diet a try, about 3 months ago, I have only had meat about 20 times up until I went to Portugal last week. Most of the times were actually because I had no alternative (either went for a meal at places where vegan and vegetarian options weren’t the best or went for a meal at friend’s houses, which are not vegan/vegetarian). But I was surprised with a number of times I really felt like eating meat. That showed me I could actually do it.

But do you want to know the hard part of it? Going to Portugal and not eat meat. Unfortunately, our diet is based on a lot of fish and meat. I went to eat out twice and not once the menus had something else than fish and meat. Buying meat alternatives is much more expensive: unless you go to Aldi, any alternative milk is not less than 2.5€, soya cream is about 1.70€, soya yoghurts almost 2€ for a pack of 4. And also, and I apologise to vegans for this, but our meat is really tasty and we do really nice fish and meat dishes.

On the other hand, I felt super good about myself since trying this new plant-based/vegetarian diet. I have noticed I am much less bloated, I feel more energetic and also, with exercise in the mixture, I’ve lost a lot of fat. It has also made me fall in love with cooking again, as I have tried many different dishes, such as this sweet potato, chickpeas and spinach coconut curry.  In general, I feel much healthier than before.

Vegan Apple Crumble
Homemade Vegan Apple Crumble

This experience has helped me find a diet that suits me and my needs. As I am only doing this for health reasons, I will have a mix of a plant-based and vegetarian diet, with one day a month where I am allowed to eat meat, which I’m hoping in a few months that day will be completely cut. And whenever I go to Portugal, as it would be super hard not to eat meat for the reasons I mentioned above, I’ll try my best to eat as less meat as possible.

Just to clarify, I am doing a plant-based diet, not vegan. I do try to use cruelty-free makeup and beauty products, but I still wear clothing items with leather and eat honey.

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