I know all the benefits of a plant based diet and I have many friends and loved ones who have chosen to switch to plant based and vegan lifestyles, but for me, switching over to a lifestyle that cuts out animal products all together wasn’t something I could realistically do. I have never been someone who could give up eating meat, or more specifically, cheese.
However, I was watching a video where celebrity dietitian and Well+Good council member Kimberly Snyder helped out a team of people on Buzzfeed create custom diets. The video is very informational and contains some good tips on how to clean up your diet a bit. Plus, the morning routine she assigned each of the women had aspects I wanted to integrate into my own morning routine, so I started looking into Kimberly’s books and articles a bit more.
You can find the Buzzfeed video here.
Maybe you too will become inspired to include some of Kimberly’s amazing tips! The one tip that stood out to me was when she suggested that one of the diets should strive for 2-3 vegan days a week. This got me wondering, can a part time vegan diet be beneficial?
After doing some research, I have found that you don’t have to completely eliminate animal products if you want to experience some of the benefits. In fact, striving for a vegan diet part time can also allow you to maintain some essential nutrients that are harder to get with a completely plant based diet.
So I have started a part time plant based diet, where I limit my intake of animal based products such as meat, animal based dairy, and refined sugar to 3-4 days a week.
While there some great health related reasons to eat more plant based foods, some people have given up meat and animal products for moral reasons. So if that is more you, well then you can still read all about the amazing benefits of a plant based diet, maybe even learn about a plant based swap or two 🙂
Benefits of a Plant Based Diet
Turns out, the consumption of meat is significantly impacting the environment.
I am sure you have heard that the consumption of animal based products is killing the environment. Well this seems to be a true claim. According to a 2006 study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock activities accounted for at least 18% of global emissions. Additionally of all the global emissions that the agriculture industry had contributed, livestock contributed nearly 80% of all agricultural emissions.
Basically, just farming livestock for consumption contributes a huge chuck to our global emissions. The more we consume meat and animal products, the more livestock is farmed, supply and demand. Thus, by decreasing consumption of animal based products, you are lowering your carbon footprint. In fact, experts say that giving up beef alone would reduce carbon emissions even more than giving up cars.
Even going part time vegan, reducing or even eliminating beef from your diet is a great way to make an individual stride towards reducing your impact on climate change.
Not only is a plant based diet better for the earth, it is better for your body.
Studies have shown that those with a plant based diet often have better weight management and lower BMI’s. According to PopSugar, including more plant based foods in your diet will help you to achieve weight loss as you are naturally consuming less saturated fats and more fiber.
Fiber is such an important aspect to a balanced diet, and many people don’t get the recommended daily amount. Fiber helps keep your digestion tract healthy, reduces bloat, and helps control blood sugar levels. Plus, you are less likely to overeat, as consumption of fiber helps control hunger levels.
If you are like me, and you want to make strides towards having a good environmental impact, and increasing your health, but you aren’t ready to give up all your guilty pleasures, reducing your intake of non plant based foods can still have a hugely beneficial impact.
Plant Based Alternatives/Swaps
One concern with switching to a plant based diet is the reduction of essential nutrients we often get from animal products. However, when done the right way, switching to a plant based diet should allow you to get all the nutrients your body still needs.
The important thing to keep in mind when switching to a plant based diet is intake of essential nutrients often found in animal products, such as B-12, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, if you are not careful, you will heavily reduce the protein in your diet which could have negative impacts on your overall health.
If you have no idea where to start, check out these easy plant based swaps.
My Journey to a Part Time Plant Based Diet:
I have reduced my animal product intake to 4 days a week. Which means the other 3 days of my week I have been attempting to stick to a completely plant based diet.
Small Swaps helped me along…
I thought that this would be easy, because I don’t eat a lot of meat anyway, mostly because it costs an arm and a leg (no pun intended..?) and I really don’t like milk. I was so wrong. There are so many things that have animal product in it that you wouldn’t think about if you’ve never had to. Like pesto, totally forgot about the cheese! I think the biggest challenge in this is forcing myself to cook more foods, so that I can control what goes in them.
I have also been trying to have probiotics before breakfast. Probiotics are live cultures and bacteria which help your digestive track. I was drinking a Yakult lite every morning and trying to eat more yogurt as a snack. Problem is, these are both diary products. So, I switched to powdered drink supplements that contain probiotics, and I am eating coconut yogurt rather than diary. It’s small swaps such as these that have kept me from feeling completely overwhelmed in reducing my animal product intake.
I found myself eating more veggies and high fibre foods.
Okay, I have never been a poster child for routinely getting my 5 a day. In fact, I have a friend that invites me over for dinner and feeds me copious amounts of veggies to preserve my health. So yeah, it has been a big challenge getting all the good nutrients I need. Well the good news about a plant based diet, you kind of have to eat your veggies!
Simply by following a plant based diet 3 days a week has helped me to focus my meals on nutrients I was often neglecting. Additionally, it helped me to increase my fibre intake which aids in digestion and the feeling of fullness, so you don’t overeat.
Another plus of plant based foods? There is much less bloating. I have noticed that I don’t feel as bloated after plant based meals, and I feel lighter. You know that not so great feeling after a heavy meal? like you have a rock dwelling in the bottom of your stomach? well I don’t have that feeling since switching over to a plant based diet. Even on days that I do allow myself to eat animal products, I am much less likely to overeat.
Okay Let’s Glow
I would be lying if I didn’t say that one big reason I chose to partake in a part time plant based diet wasn’t the promise of healthy, glowing skin. Not only does that sound brilliant, but healthy glowing skin is the key to getting up in the morning and not having to put on foundation (really my reasoning is I am just lazy but want to look cute).
To be frank, a huge part of healthy glowing skin is a healthy diet but unfortunately there is more to it. Not only do you need to eat a healthy and nutritious diet for healthy skin, but you need to hydrate, reduce stress and invest in a solid skin care routine void of harmful chemicals and ingredients. Basically, eating healthy skin foods will only get you part of the way.
So, I had a look at my habits and identified what other things I needed to do to bring about my lazy day skin. I found that for me, the biggest issue was my water intake, or lack thereof.
Ideally, you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day. The standard recommendation by health officials is that you drink about 2 Liters of water a day.
I downloaded a water tracking app because I am that person that grabs a coffee when I am feeling meh. I also sometimes have good intentions, but I end up forgetting to drink water until the day is done. I end up super dehydrated and guys, apparently dehydration is the literal devil. Dehydration impacts your skin, your hair, your cognition and focus levels as well as your digestion. Fun fact, did you know that drinking up to 1 glass of water can improve your cognition by 14%? This is me after finding that out:
After downloading the water tracking app, I have consistently been hitting my water target for a couple weeks now. There are a lot of apps that not only allow you to track your intake, but send you hourly reminders to drink water!
At first, I had to use the bathroom every 5 minutes (not even joking) but after the first two weeks of consistent water consumption, this side effect ebbed a bit. But I did indeed feel more productive and focused, and I saw a huge difference in my skin. It looked more fresh, plumped and hydrated, plus the bags under my eyes became quite a bit less noticeable. Not sure if this was the water or the daily eye masks I’ve been using? Either way, I am happy.
Part Time Plant Based Strategies:
There are a few ways to modify your diet to be plant based on a part time basis. First is by following the diet a certain number of days in the week ie. 3/4 days a week, adhere to a plant based diet. OR you can do PB until 6pm. So essentially, you eat vegan in the morning and the afternoon and after 6 can have grass fed/ lean meats.
For me, I know I would have a hard time sticking to it if I didn’t have a full day of plant based foods. It is much easier for me to go, no, I am having a PB day than waiting until 6pm. I know I would probably try to cheat if I allowed myself animal products after a certain time.
Stock your fridge with easy PB options
As you have seen by my grocery haul, my fridge has mostly plant based options. I bought some easy things to make for when I am tempted to eat out (which is a lot harder to do on a PB day). One thing I’ve started keeping around are vegan veggie burgers. These are super easy to heat up for a quick meal and have lots of protein which is great after one of my evening work outs. I just slice some avocado and put it all on whole wheat, diary free bread.
One thing I like about the glowing green smoothie is that it makes A TON. I literally had to blend it in batches because it was wayy to big for my blender. This meant that for one day’s effort, I had three-four amazing plant based breakfasts ready to go! This smoothie is super thick and full of fibre, so it is a great way to start plant based days.