Plant-based diet. It’s a phrase I never recall hearing growing up, but now seems to be everywhere. I’m assuming it was poll tested by some word gurus at one point and seemed to resonate with people better than the word “vegan” or “vegetarian”. Whatever the case may be, the stigma around being vegan, or at least making vegan meals a steady part of your diet, seems to be dissipating.

For years, various celebrities and musicians have publicly talked about not eating meat, or living a “vegan lifestyle,” usually centered on their opposition to killing animals for food. To the average person, this type of talk was usually chalked up to Hollywood elites living in a separate world from most folks. In recent years, however, that narrative has changed.

Today, it’s not just celebrities and animal rights activists touting the benefits of “going vegan.” We can now find a growing number of pro athletes extolling the virtues of a plant-based diet and eating foods filled with plant-based protein.

Why do I say all of this? Well, regular readers of this column may recall my various attempts over the years to stay healthy and active as I get older. When I was 21, I could run a marathon with a diet of nothing but beer and bacon. Those days are long gone.

So now I’m trying to integrate a plant-based diet into my routine. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone “full vegan” and likely never will. But I have made changes. For example, I’ve been doing “meatless Mondays” for several months now. I usually cook plant-based protein spaghetti noodles with pasta sauce mixed with plant-based protein that resembles ground beef. I actually like the taste of it better than my previous spaghetti repertoire.

I’ll also mix a few vegan hot dogs, or vegan bacon meals into my week. If I go to Burger King, I get the Impossible Whopper (made from plants), which I think tastes very close to a regular Whopper. Probably 40% of my weekly diet is now plant-based.

Despite a very chaotic year we’ve all been living through, I’ve managed to (knock on wood) stay relatively healthy. I’d like to think the increase in plant-based protein to my diet is a part of it. Now I just need to work on what I’m eating/drinking with the other 60% of my diet, but I’ll save that column for another day.

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