A friend asked me recently why I decided to go plant based. I thought I should write about it because there were a number of factors that contributed to the decision.
I had already lost 150 pounds, so it's not like I needed to change my diet further to keep the weight off. I was mostly flexitarian, eating occasional eggs, dairy or poultry 3 or 4 times a week for a couple years. But I had an issue with my weight loss; I was left with loose skin. I wanted to tighten my skin, not just around my abs, but in my arms, etc. Weight loss really does a lot of damage to the skin and I refuse to get a tummy tuck.
I bring this up because I wanted to build muscle. This was the only way to tighten my arms. I was already lifting weights, although I wish I started the weights while I was losing the weight. I was working hard but getting nowhere. In my mind, I needed more protein to build muscle. This helped me to shift to a plant based diet.
I was reading about what excessive animal protein can do to your body. I didn't want to damage my liver or kidneys just to build muscle. That's when I discovered vegan bodybuilders like Robert Cheeke (author of "Shred It!"). These bodybuilders were building muscle without needing any meat at all. I thought "I can add extra plant protein and build muscle, while not having to worry about excessive protein doing any damage". Another thing is that I like challenges. I like the fact that it goes against the conventional thinking that meat is needed for muscle building. I can prove something to others at my local gym who do not know about vegan bodybuilders.
Eventually, with additional research online and listening to lectures at the NYC Veg Fest, I came to realize that I didn't need the vegan protein powders I was consuming. I was getting more than enough protein with whole foods. Now don't get me wrong... I do still use a protein powder. The only difference is, I use it only on days that I feel I need extra protein, such as a tough workout. The protein powder consists of yellow peas only, no other ingredients.
Another factor was the week long vegan challenges I would do. Each time I did the challenges, I realized how great I felt. I would be sad that the challenges ended. The last challenge I did was a 13 week challenge based on a workout journal by Robert Cheeke, which lasted for 13 weeks. But I never wanted to go back to my old way of eating after that.
Also, my compassion for animals has increased so much. I hope that even the carnivores out there can acknowledge how bad most farm animals are treated. It's hard to ignore the abuse once you give up meat. I look at animals different now. I see a pig more as an animal that could be a pet and wonder why dogs and cats are conventional pets and not other species. I never thought this way before going plant based.
This started out as a challenge for me, not knowing that I would stay on this eating plan. But, I've been building muscle at a much faster rate as plant based. I feel energetic and healthy being plant based. I rarely get sick... I can't think of the last time I had a cold! Now, I can't imagine eating meat. I ate meat and processed food all my life, so to be over 10 months plant based is an incredible feeling!