I’m not a dieter. I hate diets. I do not understand them. I hate having to count calories, carbs, fat, etc…. I have always felt eating should be balanced and in moderation. Pair that with exercise and you should be fine. That probably explains why I look like I do; I simply cannot moderate chocolate or caffeine in my life. 🙂
Every so often I find an article that I find interesting. I read that more pro athletes are turning to vegetarian or vegan lifestyles to help combat injury and muscle fatigue among other ailments. I thought it is just food, right? I’ve had problems with my shins and knees for months what could it hurt? What is the worst that could happen?
I decided to go vegan- with a twist. I knew I could not get my husband and 3 kids to buy into vegan eating. My lifestyle experiment was very specific; breakfast, lunch and all daytime snacks would be vegan. That way I would not be completely depriving myself of my food friends (cow, chicken and pig) and subjecting my family to my crazy recipes.
I started this experiment on October 30th. Yes I started before Halloween when milk chocolate candy was everywhere. I found my new lifestyle change was a GREAT excuse for not helping myself to the variety of crap sitting out. I prepped a full 5 days of breakfast options, lunch and snacks. Lunch was a pasta concoction and snacks were fresh veggies and grapes by the baggie full. Breakfast was the hardest piece since I love eggs. I did a quick search thru my two favorite recipe sites – Yummly and Pinterest – and found a variety of breakfast options.
During my down time I created a board on Pinterest for Vegan items as well as a collection on Yummly for Vegan recipes. I felt more at ease with my decision once I saw the variety of different foods I COULD eat for breakfast and lunch. I took this change a week at a time. I made sure to cook my lunches on Sunday so everything was grab and go. I prepped my snacks on Sundays as well. It was easy…well easyish.
Over a month later I can honestly give an educated opinion regarding my Vegan lifestyle experiment.
- I saw no change in my body aches and inflammation. None. It didn’t get worse and my running mileage increased so I consider that a small win.
- I lost 10 pounds. Yes – 10 pounds! I can not say for sure that Vegan eating was solely responsible but I had been running for over 3 months before and hadn’t lost a pound.
- I never felt stuck with recipes. I used ingredients I never knew existed (tahini anyone?) Not only that but I was able to vary from recipes to use what i had on hand. I had a few things I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to make again, but they were good and served their purpose.
- Reading labels is HUGE. I had a nice surprise when I bought “original” soy milk expecting to use it in a pasta dish and found out it was sweetened. Woops. I still used it. The finished dish had a mildly sweet taste but I was able to offset MOST of that flavor with salt, pepper and other spices.
- It was not a huge hit to our grocery budget. Yes I did spend $5 on a bottle of tahini (and I still have most of the bottle left to use). Everything else I used I would have purchased anyway; fresh veggies, pastas, beans, etc. Eating fresh isn’t overly cheap especially this time of year in the middle of Minnesota but I did my best buying veggies and fruits that were on sale.
- Pasta can be a crapshoot. Most pastas are made with eggs. I read labels and did my best to buy vegan pasta but I cannot be certain all of my pastas were vegan.
- Coffee was easy. I’m a sucker for the crap creamer you find in the grocery store. I use too much of it and I know it. However- I quickly learned that almond milk added to coffee works just as well as the expensive creamers. I also subbed almond milk into my favorite drink at the coffee shop. I do not like the up-charge for almond milk, BUT I do like the taste.
- I do not like chickpeas. I’ve tried them in every recipe- even adding them to a flourless banana muffin and I just can’t do it.
- I never caved and use tofu. I’ve had it once in my life and hated it then. It was the one “food” I drew the line on and never experimented with.
With the New Year upon us I can say that I learned a lot from this experiment. I can also say that I will probably continue with this lifestyle change. I actually enjoyed the foods. But I am not going to fret about whether or not I have everything 100% vegan during the day. If I forget my almond milk for my coffee I will revert back to the standard bottled creamer (although I did do that twice and my body didn’t really agree with it anymore.) I also think I am going to incorporate some of my new vegan favorites into my family dinner rotation. My kids were really interested in my lunch concoctions. I loved hearing them ask “what smells so good” and being able to tell them “it is my VEGAN lunch for the week.” My favorite recipes will be listed over in my recipe section just in case you are looking to try your own experiment. All in all I would say the experiment was a success and one that I hope to keep going for weeks and years to come.