Plant Power: 2017 graduate cooks up healthy dishes on website after switch to vegan diet

In an ever changing world where climate change and pollution are becoming more apparent, people have made changes from gas to electric cars, coal to wind and solar power, and traditional diets to a vegan diet.

Not only does a vegan diet have a positive impact on the environment, but the mind and body as well.

2017 graduate Madison Palmersheim made the switch to veganism shortly after graduating last year. Over the past six months, she has posted and blogged about her vegan journey, sharing her ups and downs over her social media account @mindandbelly.

“Over the past year, I have struggled with finding food that agrees with my body. During my senior year, I would miss several classes a week from terrible stomach problems and discomfort. I tried pinpointing the problem with gluten or a different kind of intolerance and never found any solid answers for why my body was constantly sick. This continued on until the end of July last summer. My last non-vegan meal was a huge breakfast from Village Inn that left me feeling absolutely disgusting. In the spur of the moment, I decided to go vegan that day and haven’t turned back since,”  Palmersheim said.

After going vegan, she has experienced ups and downs, but has stuck with her regimine.

“The biggest challenge for me is living in a non-vegan household. I enjoy making my own foods and do my own grocery shopping, but I am always looking for someone to share this passion with. My family is extremely supportive and proud of my decision in going vegan, but they have a closed mind about trying some of the foods I make, which can be a little disappointing. A diet based on meat and dairy has been the norm for so many years, especially in Iowa. Sometimes it can be difficult to interact with people who aren’t yet willing to learn more about your passion and something that has become so central to who you are,”  Palmersheim said.

With her struggles she has also made many milestones.

“My biggest accomplishment with this lifestyle is my ability to stay consistent. It can be so difficult to pick up a new habit and eliminate old ones. I have attempted veganism multiple times in the past and have failed. I am now past the five-month mark of being vegan, and it has become second nature to me,”  Palmersheim said.

Switching to a new lifestyle is never easy, and there are many moments when it seems easier to give up. Palmersheim shared some of her tips for becoming vegan and what helped her make the switch easier.

“Expose yourself to the vegan mindset as much as possible,” she said. “Often times people will watch a vegan documentary on Netflix or read an article and immediately say they are going vegan. Unfortunately, the motivation for veganism quickly dies off, and they end where they started. You have to keep the inspiration high in the first two months. I recommend doing this by watching more documentaries, finding vegan YouTubers or Instagramers, and making delicious foods. Find your personal reason for wanting to go vegan, something that you can and will hold yourself accountable to. If you can find that within yourself, going vegan will be a piece of cake.

“Another tip I have is to listen to your body. A lot of people fall off of this lifestyle because they aren’t replacing the foods they have to cut out, and they end up in a lousy calorie deficit. The amazing things about a vegan diet is that most of the foods you are eating are low in calories, which essentially means you can eat a greater mass amount to satisfy your caloric intake. Don’t be afraid to eat until you’re full,” Palmersheim said.

For those looking for a healthier alternative or interested in testing out the vegan lifestyle, below are some of her personal favorite recipes. One can find recipes like these and more at @mindandbelly on Instagram where Palmersheim does different challenges and meals to inspire other to consider going vegan.

Explore Madison’s favorite recipes:

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