Last updated on October 13th, 2023 at 02:20 pm
My dream to be a life coach, international public speaker, and world traveler requires staying healthy and fit. It takes a lot of energy to do what I dream of doing.
Years ago, I made the conscious choice to eliminate meat from my diet, and recently, I took the leap to embrace veganism—going beyond a vegetarian diet to exclude not only meat but dairy and eggs. This transition to a vegan lifestyle has unlocked a source of energy beyond my wildest imaginings.
But How Do You Get Enough Protein?
I find it so interesting that no one seems to worry that people who exist on McDonald’s and bacon double cheeseburgers will not survive and be healthy. But if you tell someone you are vegan, probably about 50% of the time, they will ask you, “But how do you get enough protein?”
Everyone seems very concerned that people who do not eat meat will wither away and die since the typical American diet is predominantly meat-based. I think they believe I munch on lettuce all day long. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, I still eat all of my favorite foods, including childhood comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, except I now eat the vegan, plant-based version.
There are vegan hot dogs, veggie burgers, vegan turkey (Tofurkey), and vegan sausages. Vegan (dairy-free) cheese can be used to make mac and cheese or vegan pizzas.
I still eat the vegan version of burgers, hot dogs, lasagna, meatballs, tacos, Sloppy Joe’s, pizza, mac & cheese, turkey, sausages, hamburger crumbles, and more. I am also gluten-free now, eating gluten-free bread, pasta, and pizza crust rather than wheat-based. Trust me, I am not wasting away. I do not go hungry; I have more energy than just about anyone I know. I do some form of workout daily, including the gym, lifting weights, yoga, dancing, and/or hiking and walking.
People know me to be somewhat of an “Energizer Bunny.” There do not seem to be limits to my energy usually, and I don’t even always know what to do with all of it.
What Does A Day In The Life of a Vegan Look Like?
I start every day with a vegan, gluten-free protein shake with 25 grams of protein when I make it with almond milk and less than 250 calories. As a 5’4″ 130-pound woman, I need about 50 grams of protein daily. I don’t count calories, and I don’t starve myself or diet, but I do count the grams of protein I get in a day, and I quickly get more than 50 grams of protein every day while eating a plant-based diet.
Lunch is usually either a salad and soup, maybe with a hummus or vegan turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread, or if I am indulging in one of my favorite tempeh Reuben sandwiches. And yes, you can make a vegan version of a Reuben sandwich, and it’s delicious.
I tend to have either some kind of veggie dish like a stir fry or gluten-free pasta with spaghetti sauce and meatballs or a traditional favorite like a veggie burger with all the fixings for dinner, along with greens or a salad of some kind. And I eat a little bit of dark vegan chocolate every single day.
How Can You Try A Vegan Diet?
There are so many resources to help people learn more about eating a plant-based diet without any meat-based products. Here is an excellent list of vegan sources of protein.
I love the website Happy Herbivore, which has tons of great vegan, low-fat recipes, offers weekly meal plans that can be purchased for only $1 a day, and includes grocery lists of what you need to shop for to make a week of vegan meals.
For those who have not seen it, the documentary Forks Over Knives does a fantastic job of sharing how “going vegan” has saved countless lives by curing people of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and more. Most diet-related illnesses are linked to saturated fats, nitrates, chemicals, and more in meat, dairy, fast food, and processed foods.
Why Go Vegan?
Statistically speaking, research shows that less than one in ten vegans are obese, whereas one in three meat-eaters are obese. Vegans have a lower BMI and much lower incidence of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Former President Bill Clinton became a vegan to cure his heart disease. Many celebrities are now proud vegans.
Ellen DeGeneres, Beyoncé and Jay Z, JLo, and Brad Pitt are some of the more well-known vegans who share how much they love this diet and lifestyle.
I have found that it’s infinitely easier to maintain my figure and ideal weight when eating plants than when I indulge in meat, dairy, fast food, and processed foods. In college, I gained over 40 pounds, which I lost again. It was all due to eating the typical American diet and too much of it. These days, I don’t diet. I eat when I’m hungry and until just before I am whole. I eat a plant-based diet and find creative recipes and ways to make everything I have always loved. I don’t spend much energy planning meals ahead, either. I am busy and tend to eat on the fly.
But I have learned what staples to keep in the house, which for me include gluten-free bread and pasta, tempeh, tofu, vegan hot dogs and burgers, vegan hamburger crumbles, vegan sausages, vegan cheese, vegan cream cheese, spaghetti sauce, chickpeas, black and other beans, almond milk, almonds to snack on, and of course lots of greens and vegetables and fruits as well.
I have more energy and am told I look better and younger than ever.
Other, More Global Reasons to Eat Vegan
There are other, more global reasons to go vegan as well. The United Nations has said that the best way to reverse climate change and heal the earth would be for everyone to adopt a vegan diet because the meat and dairy industries are incredibly damaging to the environment. Beef is the worst offender: we cut down irreplaceable rainforests for cattle to graze, endangering the environment, the earth, and some rare species.
Of course, there are the animals. Some people now choose to eat only grass-fed beef from local farmers, which is an improvement. But the reality is that most of the 3,000 animals slaughtered every second for human consumption lived terrible lives entirely of suffering.
Best Decision I Ever Made
As I see it, there is no downside to eating vegan. I still eat all my favorite foods, but I eat the plant-based versus the meat-based version. I am healthy, fit, and feel unique and full of energy. My skin is clear, and my outlook on life has never been more positive.
My conscience is clear because I can say with every meal I eat that “no animals were harmed in the making of this meal.” I used to think, “I could never be vegan” because of cheese, but I’ve also gotten used to not eating cheese. I do eat vegan cheese, but I can live just fine without eating dairy regularly, and I don’t honestly really miss it.
To be a happy vegan is a source of personal joy, energy, and health, but it also provides me with the mental and physical means to make my dreams come true.
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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