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Plant-Based in the Philippines is a Problem

I’ve lived in the Philippines for the past 12 years. This place is many things for me, but mostly a place of healing where I came after I couldn’t live in the toxic environment of the USA anymore. I’ve spent the last decade in my comfort zone, restoring my mind, but it’s time to leave.

I have two more months in the Philippines before I go off to China to teach English as a second language at a university there. I have no doubts that China will be more conducive to a vegan or plant-based diet, but my problem is that the Philippines lacks in many ways.

Go to any store in America, and the produce section is huge, with so much variety and selection that even serious meat eaters will find something they like. But go to a store here and the produce section is miniscule. There are fruit and vegetable stands but not with a variety of any kind.

Things like greens and lettuce are very expensive here and not available at times. Broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, celery, and many of the vegetables that are so easy to get elsewhere are expensive and hard to get. There is not a wide selection of nuts, lentils, quinoa, beans, and other high-protein plants that are impossible to find.

Thankfully, tofu and avocados are plentiful, as are some vegetables native to the Philippines that will do in a pinch. But, buying enough of the things I need to go 100% plant-based is almost impossible, especially considering I cannot afford to pay the prices they want for good vegetables in this country.

I am going to have to get creative.

I have been seeing so many recipes on YouTube and blogs that look wonderful to me, and I would be willing to jump into plant-based with two feet if I had access to it all, but I do not.

But, as much as Americans like to demonize the Chinese, things are much more plentiful there and I should have no problem finding the kinds of things I need to make a go of the plant-based lifestyle. And with a new job, it will be easier for me to afford to buy the kinds of food that will sustain me.

For the next two months, I am going to have to be creative with what I eat and ease into it. I think I could manage to drink a green smoothie in the morning and start replacing meat in a few of my meals with beans. I can eat oatmeal, tofu, and avocados. If I ease my way into it, by the time I arrive in China, I can go 100% plant-based and really embrace the lifestyle.

As much as I want to flip a switch and be vegan overnight, it’s just not possible, even though I am highly motivated to do so right now. But what I can do is start to educate myself. I just bought the audiobook by Dr. Michael Greger, “How Not to Age,” which I plan to listen to on my walks and in the car when I am running errands. It is a massive book, with plenty of peer-reviewed research, the kind of stuff that I love to read. I have been watching a lot of YouTube and documentaries on Netflix about food.

The great thing about the internet is that all this information is out there for free, and all I have to do is find it and absorb it.

I am planning on a blog to document my journey, as well as keeping my newsletter subscribers and Medium audience up-to-date. I am going to document everything from the beginning, and as a writer, blogging is the medium I plan to use most often.

Today is December 27th, I am 280 pounds at 55 years old. I have a stent from my heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, mental illness, body aches and pains, joint pain, a bad back, and neuropathy in my legs.

I am co-morbid, and I need to start the journey now so I can satisfy the promise I made to my family that I will be around for another 30 years.

Right now, if I continue as I have been, I will be dead within 10 years, and I cannot go out like that. It’s time to finally get serious about my health, and a plant-based diet and exercise is only the beginning.

I will lose weight. I will gain muscle. I will cure my high blood pressure and diabetes. I will lower my chance of sickness and I will improve everything about myself, from what I put in my mind to what goes in my body.

I will not die a young man. I will live and I will have a healthy and long life.

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