Plant-based diet: where to start?!

In an earlier blog I shared that one of the most important lifestyle changes I made started with an experiment… I decided to adopt a plant-based-diet for 40 days. What this meant? No animal products (hence, no milk products including my only real addiction: CHEESE 🙁 ). You might think: ‘Not all is lost, how about sugar’. But I decided to refrain from sugar and even alcohol aswell. A WFPBD (the sexy abbreviation for a whole-food plant-based diet) basically means eating plant foods that are unprocessed and unrefined before being consumed (whole grains, tubers, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts). Sounds like fun or what?!

Let me share with you how that went…

The first few days of my experiment were bearable; I knew how to make a few tasty dishes with the limited options that I had, but I was running out of ideas quickly. I’m a fan of zucchini and tomatoes, but to eat that more than 4 times a week was a bit much, even for me…

I had only just moved to Austria when I started this experiment, so while I was getting lost in the supermarket I was also in the process of learning German. I experienced a lot of similarities between my dietary change and learning a new language.

Embarrassment

In the beginning I felt like an idiot trying to speak German and it really frustrated me that I lacked the words to fully express myself. I can recall a few really embarrassing phone calls and awkward conversations with German clients who obviously had no idea what I was trying to say. I still manage to get a red face and sweaty hands when I think back at that :-S.The thing was: I knew a quite lot of German words, but that didn’t necessarily mean I could construct sentences that actually made sense.

Apart from the red face and the sweaty hands, I went through more or less the same phases with regard to this new diet. In the beginning I found myself feeling absolutely miserable in the supermarket: my options seemed very limited because I had to ignore 90% of what the supermarket had to offer and could only work with the remaining 10%: basically the fruits & veggies department. I was feeling quite sorry for myself.

Now, I’ve always had a good relationship with vegetables, that was not the problem. But because of my experiment I had to ‘upgrade’ them from the status of a relative to my best friend. I would see this new best friend every day for the next 40 days, so I had to step up my game in order to become  ’local’  in the ‘plant based nutrition-jungle’.

My new best friends

You have to imagine that I’ve learned to cook with whole foods (unprocessed and unrefined foods) quite late in my life. I left my homebase when I was 18 and from then on I basically cooked a lot with prepared, manufactured sauces. Why make it up myself if the experts of ‘Nestle’ or ´Maggi´ have already done the thinking for me, right? Throw in some pasta, meat and veggies and you’re done. During my university years, me and my friends always threw what we called ‘Monday night dinners’. Every week somebody else would cook for the group.

There are some great chefs among them so I was always pleased to enjoy their dinners, but when it was my turn the poor girls had to put up with Nestle´s E numbers. Despite all that, we’re still good friends, no traumas there. What I’m trying to say is that I came from far; I really had to develop my knowledge of nutrition and cooking skills. But it is possible!

And the internet proved to be my best friend: I was very happy to find so many great websites with recipes and nutritional info (just send me an email if you want to know my favourite websites and other things that helped me develop my knowledge of nutrition and cooking).

There was (and is) hope!

In the beginning I was cooking stuff that didn’t make sense (and sometimes even tasted shit) and my body did not seem to have a clue what I was trying to say (I basically didn’t get much of a response). But after some time and trial & error (I’m only talking weeks here) my body was starting to pick up my signals…

Enough ‘foreplay’; I’ll tell you more about the results of my plant-based diet experiment turned lifestyle change in my next blog…

In the mean time, if you want to read more about a whole-food plant-based diet (WFPBD) and what it means: this is a responsive and reliable website for more Information.