That’s right, I’ve been walking a mile in the vegan shoe (probably a Tiva) for the last six weeks. Why(??!), you (and everyone I talk to) want to know? Well, I’ll tell you, but buckle up for a long non-crafty post if you’re interested:
Last year my sister Eirene read this book Eat to Live by Dr. Twinkleel Fuhrman (you may remember him from Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead), and went on this crazy 6 week vegan diet and lost about 30 pounds. I thought it was extreme, and articulated rudely I would never be interested in doing something like that. Even though I was still trying to lose the last of my baby weight and wanted to be healthier as a family and eat more fruits and vegetables, I just thought that it was too over-the-top; I’m not a huge fan of extremism in anything. So fast forward almost a year later, and I’m over at Rene’s house again. I’m impressed by how healthy her family eats, by the things she’s feeding her kids, by the way she’s cooking, and by the fact that she’s maintained the weight loss. I realize that she’s really made some lifestyle changes that are nothing but really good for her and her family. I’m inspired. I decide to look into the book she read. I read it quickly, and am pumped to try it out myself.
My motivation for doing it was to learn more meatless recipes, more ways to incorporate fruits and veggies in my diet, more healthy snacks and meals for my kids, and to educate myself in nutrition. And also if I lost some weight I wasn’t going to cry (although I was back at my prepregnancy weight). I knew that for me, it would take something like this to submerge myself into that world, and force myself to really branch out and try new things.
So the diet is, in an unsalted nutshell, no meat, no animal products (dairy, eggs), no oils, no salt, no sugar, and like Allan loves to add , no happiness (funny, but not true!) It’s basically just fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans, lentils and one serving of whole grains a day. For more specifics, see here.
It wasn’t NEAR as hard as I thought it would be, and I pretty painlessly lost about 12 pounds. Hands down the hardest part for me was the no salt thing. I guess I must be a salt-addict, because the first week was nothing but bland and bleak. It did, however, get WAY easier, and by the end I found a few substitutes I really liked, and amazingly, I found my taste for it had really subsided. THAT BEING SAID, I think I had a much easier time than I would have otherwise because it is summer, I have an abundance of produce from our garden, and there were no major holidays to get through (except the 4th, which I admit, was tough). So not necessarily easy, bu it was completely doable, and for me, VERY worth it. I would even go as far to say that this was fun (you know, in this a new challenge fun), I would (and probably will) do the whole thing again in a heartbeat. I give the book and plan two thumbs up. The book is super informative and motivation, and I love the plan because you’re NEVER hungry. You’re eating a ton of food (probably more than normal!), and it’s completely filling and satisfying. You may miss your fatty comfort foods, but there’s no food deprivation, no counting calories. I will definitely be taking a lot of principles and habits with me. I started a pinterest board with meals that we tried and really liked, which I’ll be adding to regularly (I have a lot that aren’t on there yet). I love you frozen banana ice cream!!!
I kept it pretty simple, smoothie or blueberry banana mush for breakfast, salad with beans for lunch, and main dish with cooked veggies along with my grain for dinner. I repeated a lot of my favorite recipes (I’m a creature of habit!), but I also learned a ton of new ones that my whole family really like. Mainly I just learned the tricks of the trade, and am jazzed to continue learning and experimenting with my new nutrition skills. I feel like I know how to feed my kids healthier, and am trying to work on my vegetable-hating husband and find a balance that we can both live with.
I do not plan on becoming a full-time purist vegan, but here’s how I hope to go-on from here:
-continue to eat a mainly animal product free breakfast and lunch. No big deal: smoothie or berry-mush for breakfast, salad, veggie sandwhich or wrap for lunch.
-Eat salad for every dinner. I’ve learned that you can throw ANY maindish–soup, enchiladas, pizza, casserole, WHATEVER on top of a bed of greens and veggies and it’s delicious. This blog post changed my life forever, and I have gotten pretty creative with my salads since then. It’s genius though–you need a lot less of the main dish, and still get all the flavor and bulk from the greens. And you’re eating tons of healthy vegetables!
-Feed my family (mostly kids) less dairy, especially cheese. I love cheese, but we eat too much of it, and I’m trying to find alternatives that my family digs. I’ll still use it in certain recipes, but only when it shines. I’ll be more conservative and not just throw it in willy nilly to make everything richer. My husband and son are lactose intolerant, and I’m now thinking that maybe my daughter is too. I’m thinking about switching entirely over to rice milk. To combat the cheese cravings, I always have on hand some yummy hummus, bean dip, or “cheese” dip. Because my kids are not ready to quit cold turkey, so I’ve said that we can have two cheesy lunches a week (quesadillas), which is a step in the right direction for us. I stopped buying hot dogs or string cheese, which is sort of a big deal for us. I’m stocking lots of snacking veggies (cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers) and of course lots of fruits. For every lunch my kids have to choose a fruit and veggie to accompany whatever we eat.
-eat less meat (I know how to adapt normal recipes better for yummy vegetarian options, but again not a purist, we will still have meat just less. We have a couple family faves that will stick around and become a little more special.)
-eat less sugar (I know all the good substitutes now for everyday sweetness, but I definitely plan on enjoying my old favorites every once in a while, that means you, CCC of love. )
-eat less oil. You don’t need it in cooking as much as you think! I was totally surprised what a non-issue omitting olive oil was. So basically, I’ll use it when I really need it, but leave it out when I can.
-eat more whole grains (brown rice pasta is way better than wheat and it’s gluten free)
-stop my dang habit of eating off my kids dang plates. This isn’t part of the book, just a personal goal, I’m such a picker.
So most of those things I already knew, but this helped me to jump in and learn about good nutrition, learn how to cook with more vegetables (I’m looking at you Eggplant), and start some great habits. And it pumped me up, which was no small thing!
Here is my quest documented through a handful of instagrams:
-How did Allan survive? He was fine. He did his own thing for breakfast and lunch, and then just tried my vegetable meal and ate more of the pasta, rice or whatever else I had for him and the kids at dinner. He’s not much of a meat person to begin with, so that part of it wasn’t a big a deal. He does, however, LOATHE most vegetables, so I’m proud of him for trying most things I cooked as an example to the kids, and having for the most part, a pretty good attitude.
–Was it more expensive? Yes, a little. But it was summer and I have lots of garden produce, so the difference was nothing to shake a stick over.
–How did I get enough protein? People, you can stop losing sleep about my protein intake. I didn’t even have to worry about it, I got more than enough from all the vegetables and beans.
-How did I feel? Great. Really really good. I had tons of energy and just felt healthy and strong. My skin was AWESOME for the first three weeks, which I was THRILLED about. And then I broke out again, so I guess that dream was short-lived.
Have you ever done anything like this? Do you have any killer meat-free, whole foods or healthy recipes that I should know about? PLEASE share the wealth! I would LOVE to add to my repertoire!