Let me begin by telling you that I’m a life long carnivore. I know people say to eat red meat “once or twice” per week, but the reality is, I’ve eaten red meat once or twice per day since college. While I’ve never experienced any health problems, I do know that I should cut down on the red meat, and I may even lose weight in doing so.
I’ve lost almost 30 pounds since 2015. I’ve eaten red meat all along. I enjoy it, and even when I’m going “clean” I find myself making lean, ground bison meat along with onions and spices. Trying to eat a vegan diet is probably more difficult for me than about anything I’ve tried in dieting, mostly because I’m a routine person and I know what I like, and what I dislike.
My good friend Rick told me to read a book called “The China Study.” I didn’t read it, but instead asked for his cliff notes on it. Since he’s a plant based eater and rarely touches meat, he’s pretty passionate about the topic and he was more than happy to break down the takeaways discussed in the book. He urged me to try eating a plant based diet, and really took it as far as offering to bet me that if I truly stuck to it, that I’d like it.
“Do it for a day. Then do it for a week. When you make it a week, and see and feel the difference, you’ll want to do it for a month.”
I’ll be totally frank with you all in that I had to consult with multiple websites on “which foods are vegan friendly.” Obviously I know that any plant based meal (salads, stir fry) without meat or fish is vegan. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. However, there are many foods that really hit that list of “questionable” vegan foods. Even my friend told me there are people who claim to eat vegetarian, only to find out they are eating some foods that simply aren’t 100% vegan.
Which Foods are Vegan Diet Friendly?
I’ll give some insight on what I found out that vegans consume, but I’m also going to share my sources with you.
Peas, beans, and lentils make up a great part of a vegan diet. They contain fiber and protein, which are both of obvious importance to the human body.
#2: Nuts and Seeds
Not just peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds in the raw form, remember that all of these can be made into butter as well as cheese!
#3: Hemp, Flax, and Chia Seeds
These are higher in protein than the above list, and they offer other health benefits like reducing inflammation.
People also eat tofu, but I can’t stand it, so I won’t be adding it to my diet. Instead, I’ll use that hunger to eat more greens, either in fresh pressed juices, or raw vegetables.
I can house yogurt all day, any day. With the amount of high protein yogurts available today, they are not only delicious, but healthy.
#5: Whole Grains, Pasta, & Cereal
I’ve grouped all of them together because in previous diets I’ve been on, these foods were untouchable. I did the “Anabolic fasting” diet, which is essentially skipping breakfast and eating protein, greens, and healthy fats for the rest of the day, and these foods were all off limits. Ever want to dive into a bowl of cereal? Well, vegans can! I’ll be adding cereal and oatmeal to my breakfast, that’s for sure. No qualms about that!
#6: Fruits and Vegetables
Being in Florida, these are easy to come by. I love fresh fruit, and consume mangos just about every day as it is. I’ll be adding kale, spinach, and romaine to my diet, at least once per day and probably twice.
Given all of the above ammunition, I told myself I’d give it the old college try and do this for exactly one week. Seven dedicated days to see if I can change my mindset and purchasing habits.
I thought about blogging daily about the struggles to keep this dieting attempt going, and perhaps I’ll continue to update everyone as to how I’m eating, what choices I have to make on a daily basis, and more thoughts on the diet plan, but condensing this first week into one entry will be much easier to follow. Of course, I’ll update you to let you know what I ended up doing after the one week test!
Eating Like a Vegan for One Entire Week – Results
So one week is officially up, and I have to tell you, this wasn’t as hard as I thought initially, but it’s certainly challenging. The thing with my diets is that most have been high protein and healthy fats, leaving starchy carbs by the wayside. So when I embarked on this journey, I thought that it was a God send that I could eat things that I had cut from my past diets, such as:
- pizza (with vegetables of course)
These are all things I enjoy eating, so having these back in my diet were kind of fun, I must admit. I love a morning bagel due to the ease of making or ordering it, and of course, with some almond butter or vegan cream cheese, it’s quite tasty.
In the morning, I found myself gravitating towards bagels, and additionally added fruits such as diced mango. A smoothie was also highly delightful and I found myself mixing my protein powder with organic blueberries, pineapple, coconut, and strawberries.
I found that avoiding animal proteins in the morning was quite easy for me.
I also decided to cleanse my insides during this time.
What do Vegetarians Eat for Lunch?
Here is where things got a bit more challenging. From Monday through Friday, lunch is the meal I look forward to the most. It’s where I eat for muscle recovery (I work out in the mornings) and energy to carry me throughout the rest of the day. I normally gravitate towards Chipotle or another bowl type of nutrient rich meal, but sometimes eat salads with a protein in them.
Eating a salad without an animal protein, for me, was like going to the Prom without a date. It just doesn’t feel right to me. No matter which type of salad I eat, (Cobb, Caesar, Italian, Southwest, Pacific Rim) I always have chicken, steak, or salmon on top of it.
Eating salad without those items is more challenging than you would expect. Sure, the meatless Caesar salad is easy to find, but for every one of those you’ll find four salads with fried chicken on top of them.
Apparently, getting protein comes from legumes. I found myself at Whole Foods, where I made my own salads, quite often. Greens, veggies, legumes, and some olive oil.
My Typical Meatless Lunches
- Smoothie or juice from a raw juice bar
- Rice with stir fry vegetables
- Pasta (tortellini normally doesn’t have meat)
Over this time of eating differently, I found that I enjoy the following:
- Frozen, ready to make pastas. (These are low calorie but high in fats and sodium.)
- Quinoa macaroni and cheese.
- Raw juices. I always liked these, but I was doubling up sizes since these were now meals and not just snacks.
I found myself snacking very often when I tried to eat like this. I often consumed sunflower seeds, almonds, and fruit. I resisted every urge to eat my go to snack – beef jerky.
What Do Vegetarians Eat for Dinner?
Of course, you can copy the lunch menu and bring it to dinner, but being a foodie, I wanted to get creative and expand my options as much as humanly possible.
If you aren’t afraid to do your thing in the kitchen, you can start with these advanced meals. (I’m not going to waste time and post recipes, they are all widely available in Google if you are interested in learning more.)
- Three bean chili – rich in protein, you can make this with kidney beans, chick peas, and cannellini beans.
- Asian hot pot – a brothy noodle soup with mushrooms.
- Linguini with capers – again, going back to the pastas with this dish.
How Did The One Week Go?
I’m all about accountability and honesty, so here it is.
My first two days of trying to eat vegan went extremely well. I didn’t waver once at eating anything that would get me off the program. The third night, I had ONE SINGLE BITE of my son’s rigatoni bolognese, which of course, was a meat sauce, so if you want to get technical, I went off the deep end and broke the diet. Oh, well.
On the fifth day, I once again broke my stride as I consumed raw fish. What can I say, I was at a birthday party at a Japanese restaurant and I had a few pieces of sashimi.
I made it through the final two days and completed my one week attempt at eating vegan. I’m sure many haters will say I didn’t come close to accomplishing this goal, and they are right, but I’m chalking this up as a moral victory because I made it a long, long way. (Again, I’m a carnivore.)
I didn’t feel much different eating this way, and managed to lose only about two pounds, which is even debatable because I started the task a bit on the bloated side after some travel where I ate much less than healthy. I will say that my bowel movements were very sharp and easy. It was “healthy” from that perspective, so I think eating cleaner like this is definitely a good way to do a more natural cleanse.
Will I Attempt Going Vegan Again?
Probably not more than a day or two.
If I want to de-bloat, perhaps I’ll eat more greens and lay off the red meats, but I think for me, a better move versus going entirely vegan is the popular “pescatarian diet.” I’ll be writing about that in an upcoming entry.