Several months ago I wrote about my personal struggles with food. Since then I have experimented with plant-based diet and have found real success.
This isn't a post about what you should and shouldn't eat, nor will I lecture anyone about what a vegetarian is or why it is or isn't better than vegan, meat-eaters, paleo, etc.
I have dabbled in many diets - some I will definitely label "fad diets" - but one thing I can say with certainty is that there is nothing "fad" about eating whole foods. Nothing can replace real, fresh, wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The one thing I truly believe is "diet" is a word we should throw out the window. "Diets" have a negative connotation and are commonly thought of as temporary and usually harmful. Food is fuel and is as an integral and necessary part to feeling our best. So I prefer to talk about food as what it is: food.
There are many reasons why people choose to not eat meat, or not eat grains - some have allergy reasons while others have ethical concerns. Choosing what you should and shouldn't eat should be based on how you feel when you eat those foods. Many people will tell you that they stopped eating meat because it literally hurt their stomach to eat it. Other people find that chicken and beef are difficult for their bodies to handle, but fish is more easily digested. Grains are the same way.
Personally, I believe the genetic experimentation and chemicals put in our food have affected our bodies for the worse. There are times I can't afford to buy organic or non-GMO foods, but when my budget allows it, I try to buy the freshest, least-processed food possible. Additionally, I have certain ideological views, such as the belief in a sustainable lifestyle and the dream of having a farm one day - to provide both food and enjoyment. But not everyone thinks this way, which is ok.
After struggling for years with digestive issues, I tried different diets to see if one would help ease the bloating, weight gain, breakouts and headaches. The first to go was sugar. The next to go was all heavily processed foods. Then I had to eliminate dairy and that was the biggest help for my body at that point in time.
Then I tried gluten-free and meatless. I can now say with certainty that my body can digest meat and gluten with no issues. It's the processed food that my body hates. However, I enjoy putting more emphasis on plant-based foods and focusing on colorful meals. I still indulge in a bowl of pasta and a grilled steak, but with less frequency.
While I don't label myself, I practice what many call "reducitarianism." I eat meat less often and focus on eating more vegetables throughout the day. It works for me and it makes me happy, which is all that matters. I've been experimenting with different foods and recipes and can say without a doubt that my palette is expanding and changing for the better! My new favorite meal is now vegan dahl - an Indian-style dish with lentils and red curry paste (thanks Tania!). SO GOOD!
Anyways, my main point with this post is to say food is food. Do what works FOR YOU. There are a million different view points out there - different diets, different lifestyles, opinions, etc. But every body is different. Experimentation is necessary so have fun with it! In the end, its all about how your body reacts and adjusts to the food you feed it.
Protein is a concern for people when they contemplate going meatless, particularly if dairy or soy is off limits. In this regard, I will say that I have found a tasty vegan protein powder that I love - S.A.N. Rawfusion in the Vanilla Bean flavor has been my number one protein powder for the last two years. I recommend it for anyone struggling with whey protein!