On December 30th Ron and I embarked on a totally vegan diet. We used Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live book and website as a guide.
Here are the basics of the diet in a nutshell:
I’ve dabbled in veganism before and made it about 2 weeks one time so I was no stranger to this at all. Also, I was completely vegetarian for 10 months back in late 2010 and into 2011 so I had plenty of confidence going into this challenge. (Note: Vegans have no animal products whatsoever. No milk, no cheese, no eggs, etc. Vegetarians have no flesh. They can have the dairy and the eggs.)
Weeks 1-3 were very good. We started off following the diet to a T and the weight slipped off very easily. We enjoyed trying all kinds on new recipes.
One of our favorites was the Creamy Cauliflower Soup.
I loved how creamy the cashews made it. I’ve read that cashews are great for lifting your mood and since I’ve had a lifelong battle with mild depression, I always look at this little nut as magic!
One of my least favorite recipes was this eggplant lasagna.
Ron put some ginger in it and didn’t dice it very fine. I got a big piece of ginger that put a bad taste in my mouth from the beginning. Not sure if I can ever love eggplant again.
Everything was going along very well but after a while, those huge salads 2 times a day started getting hard to do. They would fill me up so much that was all I was eating. That’s a good thing I know but as much as I love a delicious salad, sometimes you just want something hot. When I’d eat the salad at dinner, I couldn’t eat another bite. What I ended up doing was eating the cooked veggie creation first and then I wouldn’t have room for the salad. I promise you. 1 pound of raw veggies is a lot. And…it takes a long time to eat.
That’s the reason the salad at lunchtime started slipping away. I often eat at my desk at work and it just got too difficult and time consuming for me to eat the salad. At lunch, a hummus sandwich and a piece of fruit are about all I am interested in.
That’s were another trouble entered in. You are not supposed to eat between meals so if I did have a light lunch and skipped the filling salad, I would be famished by dinnertime.
Weeks 3-6 I stayed mostly all vegan but I veered far away from the 1 pound of raw and 1 pound of cooked veggies 2 times daily. Also during week 3-6 Ron and I started eating what I call vegan junk food. Get some fake chicken and smother it in an awesome buffalo sauce and you can have one heck of a delicious and satisfying dinner. Do this and I guarantee you won’t have room for the healthy raw veggies.
Out of the 126 meals (6 weeks x 7 days x 3 meals per day) 4 times I had a non-vegan component. First came a piece of my mother’s famous cornbread. All she had in it that was non-vegan was the buttermilk and then I did add some butter to the top. It was out of this world delicious. I didn’t feel bad at all about this.
Second came some cheese on a wrap at Chick-fil-A. I got a chicken wrap and asked for the chicken on the side but I forgot about the cheese. (I gave the chicken to my daughter.) When I had the wrap in my hands, I saw the cheese but I ate it anyway. Didn’t feel too bad about this either. We were traveling and I did the best I could.
Third came a veggie hoagie from Jimmy Johns. I knew it had the cheese on it when I ordered it but I got it anyway. Man was that good! This was when I started feeling guilty. I didn’t need to eat the cheese. It was lunchtime at work and my boss had treated me to Jimmy Johns. Like I said, I knew it had the cheese and I ordered it anyway.
After 2 slip ups with cheese, I was driving home from work one night and I really cheated big time! I have to drive far distances 1 time per week and this occurred on a 3 hour trip home. I veered into Hardees. I have no idea why but I ordered a cheeseburger. And.a.milkshake!
So as you can guess, weeks 3-6 the weight loss really stalled. I don’t attribute it at all to those 2 times having cheese or even my big cheat meal at Hardees. What I attribute it to was the huge decrease in raw veggies. It could have been the handful of nuts I was having daily too. Also was probably the extra bread that kept slowly slipping back into my meals.
Ron ended up losing 10.8 pounds and I lost 9.6.
At the end of the 6 weeks, Ron went as fast as he could and bought some grass fed beef and other meats. He announced he was Paleo! What I am learning is that Paleo and Vegans are really very similar. Both advocate the importance of whole foods and to stay far away from anything processed. The biggest difference to me is the meat for Paleos and the beans and legume’s for vegans.
At the end of the 6 weeks I ate a whole sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints. I ate some of Ron’s delicious beef stews. Just a little but man were they delicious. My car veered into Cookout on one occasion. Pretty much, I ate anything and everything I wanted. Not very much meat at all but still it was not healthy.
After one week of debauchery, I had all I could take. I was feeling physically terrible. Back came the vegan lifestyle for me. This time I downloaded some recipes from the Happy Herbivore (HH) and in only 3 days, I had dropped the 2 pounds I had gained during my cheat week and also another 2.6 pounds! I am feeling great again!
What I am learning from the Happy Herbivore is that I really can’t have all the avocados and the nuts if I want to lose weight. Yes, they are very healthy fats but I just can’t have them if I want the scale to drop. Also a huge difference was in the first smoothie recipe I made from HH. I always put 1/3 cup of raw oats in my breakfast smoothies. HH called for 2 tablespoons of raw oats in my smoothie. Also, hummus and me are great pals. I can eat a ton of hummus if you let me.
HH called for ½ of bell pepper with only 2 tablespoons of hummus. Measure out 2 tablespoons of raw oats or hummus. I dare you. It is such a small amount! However, it really is enough. If you dip sparingly, you can have hummus on each bite you take of the pepper and your smoothie will be just as delicious and satisfying.
What are our long term plans? I have no idea. Ron is already complaining about feeling sluggish and about the huge increase in the amount of money he is spending on the meats. He says he wants to try Happy Herbivore when we get back from vacation.
What I do think that I am leaning toward are the famous words of Michael Pollen:
Vacation begins for us tomorrow. We’re celebrating our 26th year of wedded bliss. I fully expect to have some cheese. I fully expect to have some desserts. I even know already that I’m having a famous chicken dish from the historic Chalet Suzanne Inn that we are staying in. My goal is to try to eat smaller meals for breakfast and lunch so I can splurge a little at dinner.
My plans for when we get back home and back to reality are to stay mostly vegan. The big thing for me that I’ve got to get away from is the wheat. My sister and nieces have been preaching to me the horrors of gluten and I’ve got to admit they may be on to something. Here’s a book that my sister recommended I read.
Ron is even on board with the no wheat. When we go to Mexican restaurants he orders his veggie burritos without the flour tortilla and gets corn tortillas on the side.
Happy Eating. Happy Running. Happy Living to us all!