Twenty-one Days In (it only takes 21 days to form a new habit so they say…) and in the short time that I have been a plant-based girl I’ve often struggled with the word meat (AKA PROTEIN) and those that consume it…is it/are they a friend or a foe now?
It’s truly funny to me that the number one question I receive from any meat consuming individual when I tell them I’m now on a “plant-based diet” AKA: VEGAN (to which I get a look of disgust, grief or disappointment) is how or where am I getting my protein from… such a genuine concern, how sweet (insert mild sarcasm).
Now it’s no surprise to me since American’s have successfully promoted the mass production and consumption of meat for decades and heck, just 20 days ago I was still somewhat of an omnivore, especially when faced with any cured meat or cheese, to which I often summoned my inner Oliver Twist voice with my Asian brown eyes, open mouth, and eager taste buds wafting in the salty goodness with a…”please sir may I have some more.”
But as I went into my first week on a plant-based diet I had absolutely no idea where to start and therefore my body had absolutely no energy to sustain me throughout the day, let alone throughout a workout. My only knowledge at that point was the flashing red light screaming STOP whenever I saw meat, fish or dairy and the giant neon light pulsating YES whenever I picked up something that stated vegan. Every documentary or existing vegan told me to get my protein from vegetables, grains and beans, but I was ill-prepared I tell you!!! I kept consuming already prepared food that didn’t contain enough protein or enough calories for that matter, and I could literally feel my knuckles dragging on the ground…my body mirroring that of a limp noodle. I was like the little excited impala hopping and bouncing on the vast terrain called the Serengeti when I had made my decision to be plant-based and then BOOM!!! Out of nowhere came a cheetah screeching me to a halt, making me quiver at the knees.
Luckily, like the tiny impala, I too was eventually able to stir up some courage to bob and weave to safety. As I approached the start of my second week the obstacles in my new found veggie-land started to morph into cleaner, better sources of energy. All of a sudden I was on a high and finally felt in control of fully supporting my active lifestyle. The moment of clarity started when I finally decided to make my own food. I started using more nutritious foods like beans, vegan cheese, vegetables (spinach to be exact) and whole grains in a variety of different meals, helping me to sustain my energy throughout the day and continuing on this new found path.
Oh but the struggle is real (gurrrr)! Some of my friends and certain coworkers who have questioned or poked relentless fun at my decision to cut out all animal products, continue to remind me, if everything is about meat, “protein consumption” (because to me that’s the real basis for which people that are not plant-based raise their judgmental eyebrow) then really who is the friend or foe? Meat protein or the fiercely scolding and mocking individuals that consume it? And how much daily protein do we need and what’s really the best type?
The answer, neither. Everyone is different and what we consume and do to our bodies is our prerogative. My decision to decide what’s best for my body is no different than someone else’s decision to go Paleo, keto or organic. My point is, the type and amount of protein (which is coincidentally more than what the food pyramid recommends -42 grams a day) my body consumes is actually working for me! Who knew I would thrive so well by cutting out any and all animal consumption. And again, my friends/coworkers and quite frankly the millions upon millions of people out there consuming meat, you are neither a friend nor a foe, you are just you. Doing and consuming what’s right for your body. Albeit, sometimes with exhaustive conversation and snarky remarks but truthfully, I probably deserve it (but only a wee bit) as I have committed similar crimes of ignorant obnoxiousness in the past.
So what I say unto you, “protein” whichever type you are and however much of you that’s being consumed (fun fact #646…from the Forks Over Knives website -great documentary by the way-vegetarians and vegans actually consume around 70 grams a day and non-vegetarians over 80 grams…that’s DOUBLE than what we actually need), thank you for being a source of sustainable energy, nutrients and building block for our bodies. Whether you come from a delicious plant or succulent cut of meat, you are doing your job for the many individuals that need you on a daily basis. For me though, I’ll take the delicious plant-based version of you.
Follow @mhope33 on Instagram for recipes, as I go through this new plant-based journey.