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Could You Give Up Animal-Based Foods For 21 Days?

Moving to a plant-based diet is something my wife and I discuss from time to time, usually over chicken dinner.

Notice I did not say vegetarian, which means I would not ever eat meat, versus “plant-based,” which is the newer, trendy term that you can use at parties to make yourself sound cool and more like an athlete.

It also seems to indicate that such a diet would allow you to base your diet on plants but not be cheating if you occasionally enjoy a little beef brisket. Going that route allows you to never be cheating on your diet – all you have to do is adjust the meaning of the word ‘occasionally.’ Or maybe that’s just a huge rationalization, a key stop on the dieting train. 

Oh, and that’s a bad word – dieting. You’re not dieting, you’re changing what you eat forever.

It’s a much bigger step, and it’s one we’ve been supposedly considering for so long that you could conclude that we’re not seriously considering it.

This latest flareup of plant-based fever comes after we went to a dinner party a few weeks ago and one of the guests asserted that his doctor told him that he should eat more meat. Now, I have to say, when I hear such comments I generally think the person is stretching things or else his doctor is simply passing along personal bias. Of all the things I can imagine a doctor telling a patient to do “more of,” it’s hard to believe eating meat would make the list.

It would be a wonderful world if things worked that way. Can you imagine your doctor looking over your lab results and then saying, “Are you eating enough M&Ms?”

Plenty Of Evidence

If you consider the science, it seems quite clear that eating meat is better for the meat industry than it is for you – or the animals you’re eating. It is entirely false that your body needs animal-based protein for optimum health. More and more professional athletes who were lifetime meat eaters are improving their health and extending their careers with a plant-based diet. 

That should catch your attention. When you see manly men from the NBA and NFL extolling the virtues of a plant-based life, it’s convincing. (If you have not seen the films The Game Changers and Forks Over Knives, your health makes both worth watching.)

We also have our own anecdotal experiences. At one time I was a newspaper columnist at the Sun-Sentinel in Florida, a state that is home to so many elderly people we called it “God’s waiting room.” I met thousands of senior citizens in my time there and I saw a lot of people in failing health, existing but not truly enjoying life in their last years.

I noticed two groups who were still going strong as they aged: Vegetarians and people committed to an exercise program that included some type of resistance training. (Not necessarily weight lifters, sometimes just using body weight exercises, but regular training to build muscle.)

I share this with you because here at Manopause.com, we’re all about living well for as long as you live.

Knowing something is bad for you and continuing to do it is how addictions work. Make no mistake: Whatever you are eating, you are addicted to it. In many ways improving your health is about improving your addictions.

Start At The Beginning

If you wanted to make a change, how would you do it? You need local support. Here in the DMV (Washington DC/Maryland/Virginia) where I live, the GreenFare Organic Café (www.greenfare.com) in Herndon, Virginia goes beyond vegetarian – they do not serve any animal-based or processed food whatsoever, no cheese or traditional pasta, not even olive oil. It is entirely a whole foods approach.

Their pitch is this: Sign up for a “Kickstart” program that helps you persuade yourself. It includes blood work before you start, 21 days of whole food meals prepared for you by the restaurant, weekly meetings to share experiences and support, and blood work once you’ve completed the three weeks.

It’s a pure elimination diet intended to remove all inflammation-causing foods from your diet while you experience the great taste of whole foods. The success stories are legendary – weight loss, allergy relief, reduced joint pain, a clearer mind – simply by making an extreme diet change for three weeks. The human body has an amazing ability to recover, but you have to give it a chance.

Some people can’t do it for three weeks, some make it and can’t stick with it and some can’t believe how much better they feel and don’t want to go back. For someone like me, it’s probably the only way I could make it for three weeks as a vegetarian.

And it is attracting devotees. One of their recent speakers was former NFL player Darrell Green, who has moved to a plant-based diet and says his goal is to lead others in learning how to age well.

Doing something consistently for 21 days will not necessarily change a habit. That’s a myth dating back to a comment made by one doctor in 1960. More recent research suggests adopting a new habit takes anywhere from 66 to 254 days.

I don’t know if I can make it 21 days, much less 254. But there is one thing we all know: If you want to finish something worthwhile, you have to start.

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About The Author
David Meeks
David Meeks
David Meeks has never hesitated to speak truth to power. He’s uncovered shady coal mine operators in Alabama, corrupt politicians in Louisiana and supported single fathers in Florida. When New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Meeks, then Sports Editor of The Times-Picayune, refused an evacuation order. He commandeered a newspaper truck, assembled a team of journalists and won two Pulitzer Prizes. He has worked for the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and was the Managing Editor of USA Today Sports. He is Alabama-born and Michigan-raised, and today lives with his family in Washington, D.C.
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