So, what’s a plant-based diet all about, anyway?

By Lori, a regular gal who gets plenty of protein from plant-based foods!

hippy

If you’re like me, in the not-so-distant past (maybe even as recently as this morning!), upon hearing the word “vegan” your eyes would roll at the thought of some enlightened, idealistic hippy foraging for nuts and seeds on their commune. Surely they don’t realize how important meat and dairy are to a healthy diet, right? I mean, come on, take a look at the food pyramid! Milk does a body good, beef is what’s for dinner!

A few years ago, I had lost some weight on a meat, egg, dairy, and oil-heavy “paleo” diet. My blood panels didn’t seem to get much better (some even got worse), but I lost weight! My triglycerides, C-reactive protein, and other blood levels were still worrisome, but I was looking better! That is, until the weight started gradually creeping back on. I felt like I was the only person in the world who could eat such a “healthy” diet of chicken, turkey bacon, fish, “healthy” oils, eggs, butter, skim milk, etc., and still have weight issues and not-exactly stellar blood-test results.

Then one day, Dr. Bridgeman made the simple suggestion that I curl up on my sofa and watch two documentaries. “The Game Changers” and “Forks Over Knives.” Something clicked and I immediately made the decision to switch to a plant-based diet. I should also add…I haven’t moved to a commune, and I’m not out foraging for nuts and seeds.

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After just one month of never feeling hungry, discovering new and exciting plant-based recipes, and sleeping and feeling better than I had in years, I lost 10 pounds, and my bloodwork saw significant improvement.  Seven months after truly committing to a healthy plant-based diet, I’m down over 50 pounds. And honestly, the continued weight loss feels effortless now…as if I’ve just adopted an amazing new lifestyle with the side benefit of steady weight loss), feeling great, and loving this new way of eating (and so is my family).

This graphic is my actual weight-loss graph from the “LoseIt” app I use to track my eating, exercise, and weight. Of course I cropped out the column that shows my weight, because, well, a lady has to have her secrets!

We’ll discuss how I made the transition, what I eat, and further results in a future blog post, but for now I’d like to share with you some of the resources that have been valuable to me—and my family—in learning more about the benefits of plant-based eating.

Watch

If you just want to learn more about plant-based eating, this is where I’d recommend you start. After watching one of these documentaries my 16-year-old son immediately switched to a plant-based diet and hasn’t looked back!

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The Game Changers – The title of this documentary is not just a clever name. Watching it was truly a game changer for me and my family! While the documentary focuses on improvements in athletic performance due to a plant-based diet, you will also get a great education on the overall benefits of ditching the meat and dairy. Currently available to watch on Netflix…with some subject matter that may not be appropriate for young children.

Forks Over Knives – This documentary was created in 2011, and I’ll admit, I’d had people suggest I watch it several times over the years…but I was afraid. I was afraid that knowing the impact my diet was having on my health would make me realize I needed to bust out of my comfort zone and rethink the way I was eating. And while yes, it did cause me to totally change the way I was eating, I wouldn’t say it scared me into it…rather it inspired me. Available for rent on YouTube (well worth the $2.99!).

What the Health – This one gets….uncomfortable at times. You know how you cringe a little when you witness someone being called out on something? The filmmaker confronts large organizations—even non-profits—that claim to advocate, educate, and fund programs to combat disease yet accept funding and publicize programs and claims made by the very industries whose products contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other dangerous health conditions.  Catch it on Netflix or YouTube.

Read

Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs – by Dr. Neal Barnard

Think Type 2 Diabetes is a life sentence? Think again! Reviewers of this book reversed their diabetes, lost weight, and turned their health around in just a matter of months. Check out the accompanying cookbook, too!

Dairy Does A Body Bad: A Scientific Report on Cow’s Milk, Health, and Athletic Performance

Dairy has long been touted as the wonder food for building strong bones and muscles. But this easy-to-read, free downloadable report debunks these longstanding myths and digs deeper into the real impact dairy has on health and athletic performance.

The Easy 5-Ingredient Vegan Cookbook: 100 Healthy Plant-Based Recipes – by Nancy Montuori

I was first introduced to this author through her podcast, Ordinary Vegan. Then I tried one of the recipes she posted online for pumpkin muffins. Oh my goodness, this woman knows how to create delicious food from healthy, plant-based ingredients!

How Not to Die – by Dr. Michael Greger

Dr. Greger is a celebrity in the plant-based world (I even met him in person at a live speaking event…I have a picture to prove it!). The title of this book says it all. One reviewer wrote, “At first I found it hard to read, but not because it difficult or confusing, but because it was changing everything I thought I knew about food.” Check out the accompanying cookbook!

Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes – by Dana Shultz

Ms. Shultz creates some of my favorite plant-based recipes. Her cookbook features “…101 all-new simple, vegan recipes that all require 10 ingredients or less, 1 bowl or 1 pot, or 30 minutes or less to prepare.”

Forks Over Knives―The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year – by Del Sroufe

This comprehensive cookbook is a follow up to the popular documentary. With recipes like Pad Thai and “Better-Than-Mom’s Banana Bread,” who says plant-based eating is just salads and twigs??

Listen

Just about every morning, you can find me taking a walk around my neighborhood with ear buds in. But I’m not listening to music…no time for that with all the great podcasts about plant-based eating!

The Exam Room Podcast– by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

I love this podcast! It’s a terrific blend of stories of regular people like you and me who took charge of their health by switching to a plant-based diet, along with doctors taking a deep dive into the science behind a plant-based diet.

The Switch 4 Good Podcast – by Olympic medalist Dotsie Bausch and Baywatch actress and certified health coach Alexandra Paul.

These two are so fun to listen to! Not only do they share their personal stories of “switching for good” (Dotsie became the oldest Olympic medalist in her discipline after switching to a plant-based diet. Wow!), but they invite guests onto their show to share their personal stories of transforming their health and how they are introducing others to this delicious, healthy way of eating.

Ordinary Vegan Podcast – by Nancy Montuori

I already told you I love her recipes, but when I listen to her podcast I feel like we’re sitting in her living room having a nice chat about the joys and benefits of a vegan diet. I love when she steps into the “Ordinary Vegan kitchen” and walks listeners through creating delicious food in their own homes. Her descriptions alone will make your mouth water!

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We live in an amazing time, with all the information and resources you could possibly need (on any topic) available to you 24/7 online! Some of my favorite resources:

The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart – by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

The same great people who bring us the Exam Room podcast have put together this FREE 21-day program with meal plans, recipes, and advice from nutrition experts. Available online or as a downloadable app.

www.nutritionfacts.org – Visit this site for excellent, medically based videos and references by Dr. Michael Greger.

Pinterest is not just for home décor ideas! Use this app to search for yummy vegan recipes and save them to your own virtual bulletin board. Follow Dr. Bridgeman’s plant-based favorites!