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Five Simple Rules for Leading a Plant-Based Lifestyle

The Army is getting its green on! Living a vegan lifestyle is for everybody—even military guys! Here’s 5 simple rules from an Army perspective!

Eat Plants

Sounds simple enough, right? But the initial transition from consuming animal products to only plant products is often difficult and scary. Because of this, people tend to start off with fake meats—which are totally vegan, but also totally processed. It’s always best to stay away from the boxes and move towards nutrients coming from whole food sources. A good rule of thumb: if you can't pronounce an ingredient, move along. When in doubt, reach for the fruits and veggies and Charlie-Mike (that’s Continue Mission for you civilians)!

Do PT (Physical Training)

Whether or not you've chosen a vegan diet for health reasons (perhaps you have your own personal, moral, or even environmental causes, which are all good!), you should at least reap the benefits. Let's be honest, your body performs at a higher level when you take in that which grows from the earth: fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Take advantage of that higher performance and try to get outside and move around for at least 30 minutes a day. If you can manage, make it during the hours the sun is out so you can double-dip on sunlight and get some much needed Vitamin D.

Hydrate (...or Die)

When I was in Basic Training, any time we privates wanted to drink water, we had to take a knee, and bellow out thunderously, "Hydrate or die! Hydrate or die, Drill Sergeant!" Sounds pretty corny, but this is actually a valuable lesson when you break it down. Life moves rather quickly and it is not always easy to adequately hydrate. Between work or school or parenting, filling and draining 8 cups of water per day is not always the top concern or even something we think about. Also, it's pretty time consuming! To make life easier, I bought a 40oz stainless steel canteen. I know that in order to properly hydrate, I need to empty this thing three times a day. Basic math, advanced hydration. Don't skip out on the water. Without it, your organs and performance suffer. So, take a knee and hydrate.

Battle Buddies

Sometimes, we are not lucky enough to have a choice in the matter and our battle buddies are chosen for us, but if you do get to choose the people you’re around all the time, be discerning. It's too easy to fall into bad nutritional habits when you are surrounded by unsupportive people. You want someone who's got your back. Luckily, I'm surrounded by very supportive teammates who are always considerate of my nutritional needs. They trade supplies from MRE's (Meals Ready-to-Eat) if I'm ever stuck with something I've chosen not to eat. Also, when I'm home, my amazing wife (also vegan!) is a tremendous pillar of support. {2qgi584q}

If you feel like you have no support, do a little legwork. There are tons of vegan support channels on the Internet, hosting meet-ups and functions for networking. Choose a gym buddy. A yoga pal. Even a coffee shop tag-along. Someone with whom you can rave about how awesome living a plant-based lifestyle is, share recipes, cook and shop with, and someone you can lean on (and who can lean on you) when times are difficult.

Have Fun

In the military, we are constantly reminded to "embrace the suck." Some of my best memories have been wrought in horrible circumstances made hilarious or endearing because of the fun my squad was able to make out of the situation. Be reminded every day of your impact on the world by choosing a plant-based life. While it may seem insignificant---and surely no one is going to come knocking down your door to remind you what a resplendent human being you are for your choices---it is actually a pretty big deal. Being vegan is fun. It forces you to be creative in restaurants and in your own kitchen. It constantly spurs conversation with new people. And frankly, it transforms your body into an optimum, battle-ready fortress.

Now, move out and conquer!

Reward your awesome lifestyle choice with some amazing vitamin-rich protein brownies!

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