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CHANEL SEPTEMBER: Becoming a plant-based human

OPINION

Where did it all start? This must be the number one question most people ask me when they find out I have adopted a plant-based diet. So, let me start in the beginning.

Nine months ago, I embarked on a journey I never thought I would.

What started out as a 21-day fast, cleanse and the ultimate body reset quickly turned into a new-found lifestyle.

For me it was like body positivity on a whole new level. It’s as if a brand new world had opened up to me.
Soon after embarking on my green journey, which I adopted for health reasons, I quickly noticed the results, which were endless.

Not only had I dropped nearly three dress sizes, but my skin cleared up, I was less bloated, my sleeping patterns improved, my sight improved (things appear much clearer these days) and my sense of smell and taste even improved.

Chanel before and after she adopted a plant-based diet.

I was also able to concentrate for much longer periods and then there was the vegan glow. AAH! Let me tell you about the vegan glow.

Firstly, it is real. Secondly, my acne healed, my skin was healthy, radiant and light for the first time in my life, and thirdly, many people noticed and asked what product I was using on face and what was I doing differently?

When you say “I am vegan” or even “I have adopted a new plant-based diet” – enter blank stares and eyerolls - lots of it.

I think for some it didn’t make sense that eating only fruits and vegetables would be the answer to youthful and glowing skin, weight loss or even better sleep, but that was the case for me.

Another secret benefit: my cravings for junk-food or anything sweet significantly decreased and as a former self-confessed sugar addict, this was huge.

**THE TRANSITION **

A question I get a lot: What has the transition been like? Difficult? Tough? Problematic?

No to all the above. After the body reset I had no desire for meat or any animal-related products. It basically went from ten to zero in three weeks.

I will, however, admit, I am all about transparency and to this day nothing beats the aroma of a good braai.

The smell alone evokes so many fond childhood memories, not to mention witnessing the sizzle of meat as it hits the coals. But it’s still not enough for me to dig in and have a lekker braai chop. I just braai my veggies instead.

These days there are loads of alternatives and by simply searching online, recipes and meal ideas are in abundance.

PLANT-BASED VS VEGANISM

What’s the difference between veganism and a plant-based diet? Isn’t it the same thing?

In short, no. It could be seen as similar, but there is a difference.

According to Knives over Forkes “A plant-based diet predominantly consists of plants; most people use the term to refer to a 100 percent plant diet, but some people include small amounts of animal products. A vegan diet eliminates all animal products”. This means that many vegans also don’t purchase leather goods or any animal-related by-products.

Reducetarian, flexitarian, pescatarian, vegetarian - there’s something out there for everyone. That’s why it’s important that you have the right information before making any major changes to your diet.

VEGANISM IN SA

A study compiled by the blog Chef’s Pencil this year found South Africa ranks among the world’s 25 nations where veganism is most popular. The study looked at Google Trends data.

It shows the Western and Eastern Cape provinces have the highest concentration of vegans.

As far as its top cities are concerned, Stellenbosch, Randburg and Cape Town are the top three most popular cities for veganism.

THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS

Like any new mother or one to be will tell you, getting advice from others in abundance is the norm. Everyone will give their two cents on what you should eat shouldn’t eat.

Below is a list of the five questions I've frequently been asked:

  1. What do you eat?

  2. What do you mean you don’t eat meat?

  3. How do you survive? This is crazy, Chanel.

  4. Where do you get your protein sources from?

  5. What made you decide to adopt this type of diet?

My response is usually, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle: cue more blank stares and eyerolls, but politely I would inform them about my green journey and what my weekly meal plan includes.

I’ve come to realise that no matter what you do, people are always going to question you, give advice and share their opinions. You can’t change that.

I think it’s part of the journey and part of starting something new. It comes with the territory. Just embrace it.

So, if you considering venturing into veganism or the world of a plant-based lifestyle, remember you have been warned.

**IN MY HUMBLE OPINION **

This has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I wish I had started this journey sooner.

Some may view it as a fad, but choosing to be vegan, vegetarian or plant-based is so rewarding and, as mentioned, the benefits outweigh the opinions of others. I believe your body will thank you in the end.

You have free will to change your life and choose how you want to live.

I can go on and on about the benefits of veganism and the plant-based lifestyle, but I won’t.

My advice: Go on, try it for yourself.

Chanel September is an Eyewitness News reporter based in Cape Town.

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