My Best Decade Ever: Life with Meaning

A Ten-Year Adventure in Plant-Based Eating

I feel younger, healthier, and more vigorous now, when the clock is within striking distance of 2010, then I did back in 1999. In that year, I was more worried about my health and weight than I was about Y2K. Aging felt like it was overpowering me. Even though I was only 47, I was tired of coping with chronic pain and fatigue, weight that had a mind of its own, and ever-tightening clothes.

In 1999 I was meat-free, but still ate eggs and dairy products. I knew the remaining animal foods were at the root of my health issues, but simply did not feel ready to give them up early in that year. Partly habit held me back, partly fear, and partly laziness. What would the “center of the meal” be without some kind of animal foods?

I remember the last time I ate eggs for breakfast. They lay in my stomach all day like a chunk of cement. Finally about 4 in the afternoon I could feel them clearing and moving on to make room for me to breathe. I decided right then to never eat chickens’ reproductive materials again.

Finally, the big breakthrough for my health came at the end of 1999. I collected enough plant-based cookbooks and recipes to know I could make

Me hiking in gorgeous Northern California this summer

Me hiking in gorgeous Northern California this summer

satisfying food all day with many delicious alternatives. The last animal food to go for me was ice cream. I discovered soy-based frozen desserts in yummy flavors and never looked back. My prefernce quickly changed to these new frozen desserts, even if they tasted a little different at first.

Within months of going plant-based, I lost 25 pounds and have never regained them! My chronic pain episodes, sinusitis, and ear infections evaporated. Every day I felt more energetic than the last. How unexpected but how welcome.

Ever since 2000, I’ve felt like I’m aging in reverse. My body is detoxifying – this process takes years, not weeks. Toxic chemicals stored in fat are well incorporated and dissolved in the body. If you are still in the throes of an animal-based diet, you have no idea how fantastic it feels to give your body the time it needs to truly heal.

I keep setting new standards for myself in terms of health. This has been a gradual and highly fulfilling process over the last decade. Watching my two daughters also choose a plant-based diet, with vast improvements in their mood and energy, has also been deeply satisfying.

I am physically active every single day now. I’ve deleted virtually all manufactured foods from my diet, including trans fats, bottled oils, chips and any deep fried foods, white bread and bagels, and white rice. Most of my produce is organic and fresh. I can spin together a simple, plant-based meal after work with enjoyment.

My whole view of food has evolved. Now I look at animal “foods” and manufactured “foods” and see something that has no place in any person’s body, and especially not in mine.

With every dietary step up, my quality of life rises. I have never missed any food I decided to stop eating, even though I used to expect to. It just never happened. Instead, I enjoy food more and more and also feel happier and more spiritual. I feel ethically grounded and do not have to live in denial about causing harm to animals, the planet, or other people through my food choices.

So what does the next decade of plant-based nutrition hold for me and my family? I can’t wait to find out. The best part of this adventure is the meaningful direction and purpose in life. I want to share the wonderful secret of plant-based eating with everyone. You should feel this good, you should feel time running in reverse. Don’t deny yourself this pleasure. Choose 2010 as the first year in the best decade of your life.

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Blog by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, a nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.

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