From Crunchy Crap to Plant Powered

2.5 years, 130 weeks, 910 days I have been vegan, (as of August 1st 2020) which seems like it has been a short amount of time and at the same time it feels like I have been vegan for my entire life.

When I went vegan, if I am being honest, I did it because I wanted to lose weight. I thought that it seemed most vegan people I found online were very skinny and they seemed to have lots of energy. I was at a really bad place mentally and what started as something to change myself for a bad reason turned into something that changed my life in a way I never could have imagined.

In the time I have been vegan I have eaten many different ways. I ate junk food, struggled with orthorexia (being hyper focused on the “healthiness” of your food), ate no oil, ate no added sugar, ate super high carb and low fat, and now I have been plant-based for about a year and a half. It took me a while to figure out what works best for my body, but I can now say I know that plants are my favorite fuel.

When I began my journey it was pretty popular in the vegan community to follow a high carb low fat diet where you were encouraged to eat 80% carbs, 10% fat, and 10% protein. I was really watching videos of people making it seem normal to start their day with a smoothie made out of ten bananas plus other fruit. There may be some people who this would work for, but I am not one of them. I think it is important to eat a balanced diet and make sure to get enough fat and protein.

I have learned that there are many different ways to be vegan and there is no right way to be vegan, or rather, every way you are vegan is perfect. If you are doing the best you can with the resources you have and the knowledge you have then you are doing great! Whether you are someone who never buys plastic and only eats whole foods that are organic and locally grown or you are someone who isn’t fully vegan but practices meatless Monday I think you are making a great impact on your health and the environment and you should be proud of yourself for doing your part to help the earth and the animals.

The things I have learned are personal to me, but maybe you can relate to some of the things I have learned or maybe it can inspire you to eat more plants.

The first important lesson I have learned since going vegan is the way food affects your body. You have probably heard the saying “You are what you eat.” This statement is true. The cells in your body really do form from the food you eat. When I ate a SAD (standard American diet) I really felt like garbage all the time, got sick all the time, couldn’t focus, couldn’t sleep, and had no energy to do things. Once I stopped eating animals and processed food (this started after being vegan for a bit because right away I ate a pretty processed vegan diet) I couldn’t believe how my energy levels changed. I still get tired because I am human, but I do not need caffeine to function anymore. I actually get jittery after a strong cup of black tea and just three years ago if I didn’t have coffee to start the day and probably again in the afternoon there was just no getting through the day for me.

The type of fuel you put in your body is important. Would you put gas that has been contaminated with leaves and mud into your car or would you put gas that is clean into your car? What would make your car run better? The same goes for food and your body.

This is from before I went vegan. I am the person on the left if you don’t know who I am. You can see the bags under my eyes.
On the left here too. Vegan for just over two years in this picture. This was after five nights of 4-5 hours of sleep and walking around NYC all day. This was taken at about 11pm. I look like I have more energy here because I did/do.

The second important thing I have learned since going vegan is that preparing your food is nurturing your body in a whole new way. I definitely did not like to cook or prepare food before going vegan unless trying to make rootbeer cake and making my family taste it counts. I had an interest in food since a young age but I thought actually cooking seemed like a lot of work and I was not interested in something requiring more thought than shoving my hand into some crinkly bag jammed inside a box and cramming into my mouth as many little crunchy bits I could get in one fist-full to provide me with my fuel. How delicious. Now, I see the beauty in preparing my food. It makes me happy to be in the kitchen and to experiment with new food combinations and spices. I love to try cutting things in new shapes and to try different cooking methods. For example, a potato tastes way different made in the microwave, in a fry pan, in the oven, in the air fryer, or boiled.

I love to see how many colors I can fit into a meal and how to use the same ingredients to make different meals. Different spice combinations can change the way food tastes drastically.

Taking the time to prepare food for yourself is showing your body love.

Veggie pizza with a crust made from rolled oats.
Pumpkin pancakes with oat flour.
Loads of veggies with chickpea pasta and chickpeas.

The third thing I have learned since going vegan is how to care about people, animals, and the planet. I was quite honestly a self-centered brat when growing up. I think part of that had to do with my severe anxiety and that I felt uncomfortable being around other people, but I also really only cared about what I wanted and my own thoughts. I have now realized how to care for myself properly and to build myself up so I can help others. I love listening to people and learning about their lives. I love helping people when I can. I love being a health coach and helping people reach their health and lifestyle goals. I love animals. I love the beauty that surrounds me on this incredible planet we get to call home. There is really so much to be grateful for in my life.

There are many other things that I have learned since going vegan, but I think these are three of the biggest things. In terms of actual eating I know that I can fill my body with as many plant foods as I want. I now eat until I am full and listen to my body when I am hungry. I used to be scared of calories and fatty foods and now I eat to fuel my body and I incorporate lots of healthy fats into my diet. I know how to eat balanced meals that will give me lots of energy for all the activities I love to do. I know that I will continue to learn new things every day I am on this amazing journey and I can’t wait to see how much more knowledge I have in another 2.5 years.

I am so grateful to be able to live the lifestyle that suits me best and provides me with so much energy. I love the way I feel and I want everyone to have the opportunity to feel the best they possibly can.

The greatest wealth we have is our health so we should do everything we can to live a lifestyle that promotes health in our bodies.

If you are interested in working with someone to help you with your health and lifestyle goals, please reach out to me and we can see if we would be a good fit!

I hope you learned something new from this post and want to incorporate more plants into your life.

Until next time,

-H

Published by Hannah Opp

My name is Hannah and I am a certified integrative nutrition health coach. I love nature, animals, and going on adventures.

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