I Ate a Plant-Based Diet for a Week and This Is What Happened
A couple of weeks ago, my cousin Yaron called me and began to yap on about his “banting” diet. “Nat,” he said of the latest Atkins diet derivative, “the results are incredible.”
For a second I had some doubts. I thought who is this infomercial and what has he done with my cousin Yaron? Now, for those of you who don’t know him: My bubbly cousin, whose character closely resembles that of Joey from Friends, can be quite convincing when he wants to be… but I continued to eat my cookie dough while listening half-heartedly, and then carried on living my life. The banting diet, which cuts our carbs and refined sugar, is a diet I’ve tried over and over again but have never sustained, but still — he did get me thinking.
I went to a wedding that week, and all bets were off in terms of diet. I’m talking all the wine in the world, hors d’oeuvres upon hors d’oeuvres that I couldn’t pronounce, and basically a weekend of food debauchery.
I came back with a new goal in mind: My mission was to get healthy. Alas, I didn’t really have a choice, my body was not co-operating — and it was letting me know. I chose to go the plant-based route. My plan was to bulk up on veggies, limit high-sugar fruits, and cut out meat completely. I started with berry-flavored, protein-filled smoothies in the morning, celery hummus snacks, fibrous salads for lunch, and take-out vegetarian Indian food for dinner. I like the grilled vegetables and chana masala — the heavy spices made me feel satisfied, but sadly, I still wasn’t feeling much difference.
On day three I woke up, looked in the mirror, and suddenly realized: My skin was glowing. Not a blackhead in sight, I tell you! I went makeup-free that day and was re-inspired. That Wednesday I took the stairs instead of the elevator at work, I even took an impromptu hot yoga class with a teacher who was clearly positioning himself in some questionable corners to say the least. But I chaired it out, took some deep breaths, and figured I’m taking one for the team here. Om.
The morning of day four I leapt out of bed. OK, I actually just got up — but with an extra spring in my step! It was a novel feeling. You see, I’m a big fan of the snooze button and intermittent yawning throughout the day. So when I felt that burst of energy, I was quite chuffed; I was even more thrilled when I noticed my bowel movements had become easier. Heck, I think I saw a rib in the mirror that morning.
Day five was a fantastic day because my pals at Provenance Meals made my life much easier and sent me some wonderful pre-made, all-organic meals that were truly delicious. I also discovered another product I’m a big fan of as a vegetarian: jackfruit. It’s got a very realistic meat-like texture.
So lo and behold, I held out, and as I did I noticed more healthy things happen to my body.
I wanted to keep going with it — so much so that I am still staying true to my meat-free diet today. I only had a small bit of smoked salmon over the weekend, and I savored it because you really do appreciate that protein when it’s not taken for granted.
So my fellow protein hulks, take it from an avid cook with a taste for steak: This whole no-meat thing is actually possible, and quite frankly—pleasurable. I’m not saying I’ll go meatless forever, but it has certainly changed my dietary cravings and shifted me out of the “carbs are the enemy” mindset.
Cousin Yaron is still doing well on his banting diet (bless his cotton socks) but recently informed me that he too is inspired to join the plant-based revolution and is about to cut out meat completely. Hey, if you can change this guy's mind, you can change the world. We've rounded up some tasty plant-based options for you so you don't miss the meat!
Natalie Lobel is a Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal who enjoys navigating the food space with a compass and a wooden spoon. You can follow her food andventures and diet experiments on her Instagram @natlobel.