I have been eating a plant-based diet since January 17, 2017. This exciting adventure has changed not only my diet, but also how I view the world. I know that together, by changing our dietary habits, we can heal the planet and improve the quality of life for everyone.
My journey from chickens to chickpeas started out of curiosity. Am I really eating a healthy diet? Should I care about how companies produce my food? These are just a few of the questions that were bouncing around in my head at the end of 2016. But before I share how I made the transition, I’d like to give you a peek of my life, growing up.
Big Dreams with an Even a Bigger Appetite
Ever since I could hold a ball, my life centered around sports. Since the first days of t-ball, I always had a game to win or practice to attend. When I stepped on the field, winning was the only option.
I played several different sports growing up, but football was always my favorite. I loved everything about it: the training, the contact, the pain, and endless amount of food that came with it.
When you play football as a kid, it’s all about how big you can get. My dream was to play in the NFL and to do that, I had to do what the pros did: learn, practice, and eat. It’s the furious cycle that’s taught to every young athlete who has those same dreams.
And I absolutely loved it! My parents and coaches supported me at every stage, so I felt it was only right to work as hard as I could to make them proud. That meant stuffing my face at every meal so I would grow big and strong.
I was frequently referenced as the endless pit because of my ability to clear the dining table, which always included copious amounts of meat and dairy products. I was so hooked on dairy that even into my early teen years, I would order a glass of milk when eating out at a restaurant.
I’d bought into the idea that you must have animal products to excel in athletics.
Whey Was The Way
As I entered high school, free time became more scarce and football was now 24/7. I began to lift weights and was quickly immersed into the world of supplements.
Whey protein powders quickly entered my diet and my success in athletics soared. That was the same time when my interest in how food affects performance began to brew.
My P.E. coach would teach us how exercise can build muscle and how whey protein helps repair muscle. When I saw the other football players living and breathing this same message, my fascination continued to grow into more than just a hobby.
I started reading books and researching all that I could about how to build your body into the perfect machine. I believed that if I did all the right things, I would make it to the NFL.
As high school came to a close, I became one step closer to my dream. I was recruited and offered a full ride scholarship to play football for the Eastern Washington University Eagles (Go Eags!). This success reassured me that my what I was doing worked. So I continued eating my omnivorous diet and took my passion into study.
What The Heck Is A Plant Based Diet?
My obsession with the power of protein on muscle growth was at an all-time high, which led me to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. The books, professors, and guest speakers all echoed the same tune: animal protein is the only way to build muscle.
The only reason plant foods were ever mentioned was to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. But seriously, when was the last time you ever heard of anyone being hospitalized for having a mineral deficiency?
After four years, college came to a close and like most kids, my dreams soon faded as I realized my talent for the NFL was sub par. So I had to answer the question most college kids are unprepared for: what am I going to do now?
Following graduation, I moved back home to Arizona in the spring of 2013. I worked as a personal trainer at a big box gym and professional strength coach with the Seattle Mariners. I pushed everything I had learned in school to my clients and athletes: eat more meat and less carbohydrates (aka plant foods). Not once did I ever consider they could achieve the same, if not better, results eating a plant-based diet.
How Netflix Helped Me Transition
Fast forward to the winter of 2015, when I had my first encounter with plant-based eating after watching the documentary, Forks Over Knives. Although intriguing, it did not have that much of an effect on me. I was still stuck in my old ways and believed it was essential to eat animals for health and performance.
A couple of months later, my wife and I were on the road to Texas, after I took a new job. We were ecstatic for the opportunity to finally eat authentic, Texas BBQ with all the fixin’s. Yet little did we know, that excitement would be irrelevant very soon.
This time, these documentaries did have an effect on how we viewed eating. It prompted the thought: maybe giving up meat and dairy was the way we should be eating. So after a little research, we slowly started to remove meat and dairy from our diet.
After 26 years of being fed the same message that meat grows muscles and dairy makes strong bones, this change seemed radical. Our families and friends thought the same thing. However, I was concerned about the truth, and not popular opinion.
The Day I Went Vegan
Then, one weekday night in January 2017, my wife and I were watching the critically acclaimed documentary, Cowspiracy. I can vividly remember the moment that felt like my whole life did a backflip.
After watching several disturbing scenes of the treatment of animals at slaughterhouses and factory farms, we both made a promise to each other that night that we would no longer eat meat, dairy, or any other animal products. It was an emotional moment that we knew would change the course of our lives forever.
Once the documentary ended, we immediately stood up, walked to our kitchen, and disposed of all animal foods we owned. Meat, cheese, milk, eggs, yogurt, whey protein powder; all of it! I will never forget how exhilarating and terrifying that night was.
It’s Time For Us To Make A Change
Since then, our whole world view has changed and we finally understand the connection between eating meat and the animals it takes to produce that meat. Each one of those neatly, wrapped packages of steak and chicken in the supermarket was once a sentient being whose existence was nothing short of hell on earth.
We have been told the same story for decades and have had no concern to investigate because “that’s how things have always been done.” Well let me clue you in on a little secret: that story is a lie.
There is a reason slaughterhouses don’t allow visitors behind their cement walls. They are hiding the unspeakable brutality from us because they know we would be outraged.
Even the government is in the pockets of these mega brands. It’s time for us make a change.
Are You Ready To Thrive?
Today, I am thriving on a plant-based diet and have found a new purpose in my life: to share with you how good a plant-based diet can taste! And it’s not all salads either.
There’s burgers, pizzas, cookies, smoothies, and everything else you already eat today; minus the animal products. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at all of the delicious recipes you can create, using only plants.
I hope my story inspires you to get uncomfortable and give a plant-based diet a trial run. Whether you follow it 50% or 100%, either way is a win in my book. Any step you take to eat plant-based will improve your health and support a healthier environment.
Navigating this new terrain can sometimes be intimidating. To help, please subscribe to my blog and I’ll send you the latest plant-based health information and delicious recipes straight to your inbox. As a thank you, you’ll receive my FREE Plant-Based Grocery List so you know exactly what foods you need to get started.
I’d love to hear more about your journey toward a plant-based diet. Send me a message and let’s chat.