How Going Plant-Based Transformed My Health and Happiness

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

A photography project prompted me to write about how my plant-based lifestyle shaped my life. Rest assured, this is not an attempt to try to convert you to vegetarianism. This is about my experience following the change.

Allow me to mourn first

Photo by Celesté Polley

The lingering despondency was no exception to the cold winter wind I felt in the misty air at Cowhouse. I stood on the opposite side of the fence. The bodies of the cows slowly awoke minutes before the sun made a slow appearance.

The closest cows stared at me in dismay.

Their curiosity caused a premature gathering where I stood with my camera in hand. While they waited to go on their daily browsing routine, the sound of loud coughs broke the eerie silence. As if to trigger the sun rays that greeted us on the horizon — the start of the golden hour.

In that fleeting moment, I stood motionless. As I gazed into the eyes of these sentient beings, I noticed the marks of abuse left on their bodies. And I mourned their unfortunate existence.

That’s when I decided to tell my story. To write about my personal observation following my conversion.

Here’s how a plant-based lifestyle improved my health and made me a happier person:

Health. Happiness. Compassion

Photo by Mental Health America (MHA) on Pexels.com

It’s an understatement to admit the stigma around vegetarianism affected my social life. Especially since meat is a favourite among South Africans. But in my perseverance, I noticed a major improvement in my health and performance. Awareness of my consumption habits increased. I started eating more fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts, and less artificial junk.

Within a month my chronic migraines, fatigue, nausea, and unexplained body aches vanished. Even my quality of sleep improved. To that effect, my mental clarity and energy levels also made positive strides.

My body felt renewed.

My sensitivity towards people and the environment also increased.

Everything changed when I realized the benefits outweighed my craving for crispy bacon.

That’s the moment I knew I would never look back again.

More reasons a plant-based lifestyle transformed my well-being:

  • The consumption of more fibre and antioxidant-rich produce makes a plant-based diet healthful.
  • A healthy dose of calcium from dry beans, leafy greens and green beans build strong bones.
  • Significant reduction in food-borne illnesses found in poultry, fish, seafood, and red meat.
  • Plants are naturally free from cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging animal products that slowed me down. I discovered good nutrition, in general, generates more energy.
  • Eating more vegetables means consuming more fibre, which pushes waste out of the body. And my stomach smiles all the way.
  • The devastation the meat industry has on the environment is significant. So it makes me happy that I contribute to the reduction of pollution.
  • No more exposure to steroids, hormones, or food-borne bacteria.
  • My concern for the well-being of animals increased following my conversion. I’m happier knowing I don’t support animal cruelty. If you didn’t know, farmed animals are not protected against cruelty under the law.
  • A simple plant-based diet costs less. Bonus!

Contrary to popular belief, going plant-based was not a breeze for me. The struggle was real. My body craved medium-rare steak and juicy ribs for at least 2 years after the conversion. But all the above benefits made the change worth it for me.

Now, here I am four years later and the healthiest I’ve been all my life.

We are all unique

Of course, everyone’s physiology is different. I align with nutritional agnosticism. This supports the idea that there is no “right diet” out there. What works for one could be catastrophic for another. To that effect, it’s crucial to listen to your body, take note of any changes, and experiment until you find what works best for you.

Most importantly, eat the food that loves you back.

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Celesté Polley

Celesté Polley

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Content on Mental Health, Lifestyle, Sustainability and Wellness.