In 2012, after watching “Forks Over Knives” which made a compelling case for eliminating animal products from the diet (and frankly scared me into making this change rather suddenly as I was in my early 30s and very overweight), I switched to a plant-based diet. Over the next few months I gradually transitioned to a fully vegan diet consisting of mostly organic fruits and vegetables and avoiding heavily processed foods in favor of “whole” options.
Over the course of the next year I tweaked what and how I ate, whether I included cooked rice or grains, and the amounts and sources of fats and proteins I was consuming to find what would work best for me. I also devoured the research from the China Study and other research on the subject of plant-based (and non-plant-based) diets.
I became much more aware of what I was putting in my body and this was the greatest benefit of the changes I made.
Unfortunately I found myself with considerably less energy (no matter how many calories I consumed) and an immune system that didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders as I got sick several times — more frequently than I ever did as an omnivore. I also didn’t lose much weight and couldn’t tell you how much of the little weight I lost was fat versus muscle.
What did I learn? Well… Maybe one size doesn’t fit all. Maybe what works for others (morally, physiologically, psychologically) won’t work for me. I’ve had to experiment a great deal to arrive at that. Interestingly, it’s been a very low-carb (and commensurately high-fat though only moderate in protein intake) diet that has had the most profoundly positive impact (read: 90-pound reduction) on my weight and overall health based upon before-and-after measures of health markers (it turned out that at the time I switched to a plant-based diet I actually had pretty good numbers across the board already, I was just very overweight which posed its own problems).
Now I eat some meat (mostly chicken, I limit my beef consumption because of the high environmental costs) with a lot of fat and a lot of healthy, non-starchy veggies. It works for me and my body, that’s why I do it. It’s the only way I’ve found that truly does.