I have known, for years, that following a plant-based diet is one of the most impactful things you can do to reduce your own carbon footprint and improve your health. I have certainly cut way back on meat, particularly red meat. When we do buy meat, milk, eggs, fish and cheese, we look for certifications, from organic to “regenerative farms”. But the reality is that I consume at least some animal protein every day of the week. Especially cheese.
Recently my daughter had me watch one of the Antman movies. Michele Pfeiffer is one of the stars and frankly, she looks incredible. It got us googling to find out how old she is, as I remember loving her when I was a teenager. 64! She credits her overall health and glowing, untouched by surgery, skin to eating a vegan diet.
Benefits of vegan diet
So following a vegan diet is not just incredible for the planet, it also might be one of the most effective preventative measures against aging? Yes, says science. It pains me to admit that THIS combination of celebrity example + science + personal benefit + planetary benefit combo is what finally convinced me, a serious eco-nerd who shouldn’t need a celebrity example, to give it a go.
My vegan diet experiment
So for the past four weeks, I have been following a vegan diet, with one modification that has made it shockingly easy. It’s weekdays only. After doing a lot of reading about Omegas and B vitamins and iron, I decided that having one meal with fish and one meal with meat would simplify life and help me avoid supplements. It also makes going to friends' homes - which we tend to do on weekends - less challenging. And when I’m totally craving a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, I know I only have to wait for a few days.
It also reinforces my general life philosophy, which is to not make perfection the enemy of the good. Moving to plants 71% of the time is a huge benefit, to the planet and to health.
Difficulties of going vegan
So what’s been hard?
Coffee. I have yet to find a plant-based milk that I like in coffee. I’ve tried Oatmilk, almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk. Coconut is the most tolerable, but they all kinda suck.
Eating out. Yes, I’m now that person next to you at the restaurant asking 25 questions. My second week in, we went to our favorite local restaurant for date night and sat at the bar. I asked the notoriously surly-but-hysterical bartender what on the menu was vegan. He gave me a long stare to start, then explained two dishes that could be adapted. Later in the meal, he asked if I wanted a second glass of wine. I said no and he just looked at my husband, then at me, and said, “I don’t think I like this new you”.
More meal/shopping planning. I’ve always put together high level meal plans for the week to guide grocery shopping, but it takes a little more planning and prep, especially lunch. But red veggie curry does taste a lot better than quickie rolled up deli meat and cheese.
I don’t know how long I will stay a weekday vegan. I’m not really sold yet on avoiding eggs (if pastured). I will certainly make exceptions. But I do feel better emotionally, knowing I’ve taken another big step for climate and physically, thanks to losing a few pounds in this process.
Given my own experience, and the data showing that celebrities can drive positive health behaviors, it may be time for plant-based diets to get a spokesperson. There are a ton of celebrities to choose from, from Natalie Portman to Brad Pitt to Jay-Z and Venus Williams. Or they could all go in together like the famous dairy campaign. I can see it now: “Got Plants”?
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