I recently tried an experimental vegan diet. The motivation for trying it came from watching the film Food, Inc., a terrifying behind-the-scenes look at the mass-processed food industry. After viewing that film, I was filled with motivation to start putting more clean foods into my body. “We are what we eat,” goes the saying. So I decided to give a shot to one of the cleanest, healthiest diets known to man: a vegan diet.
There was just one problem for me regarding a vegan diet. I love meat. And eggs. And cheese. And milk. The idea of completely giving up all of these things cold-turkey just seemed unfathomable to me. I wanted to experiment with a vegan diet but I knew if I placed the expectations too high, I would fail rather quickly. The key for me was to find some type of happy medium where I could experiment with veganism without facing the daunting prospect of never-again eating foods created from animal products. So I came up with a pleasant compromise: maintaining a vegan diet for just half of the week.
Monday through Thursday afternoon, I would eat vegan. Then dinner on Thursday through Sunday, I could resume eating meat, eggs, and cheese as I cared to. I maintained this diet for three months until I unfortunately became sidetracked with the holidays and was unable to get back on track since. But that’s okay. I learned a lot from the experience and know that I can always go back to a vegan diet anytime I want and will have much less anxiety about it when I do.
Here are a few of the things I learned eating a vegan diet half the week for three months:
1. You can eat some really delicious stuff. I love food. It is truly a vice for me and I have to be really careful about what I put in front of me because chances are whatever it is I’ll eat every last bite of it. My biggest worry about veganism was that it would just be insufferable. “How could food be any good without using any animal products?” I worried before giving it a try.
What I learned was that food can be amazing even if you are eating nothing but plants. That is not the hyperbole of an earth-conscious hippie trying to sell you on eating quinoa and kale for the rest of your life. I like buffalo wings, BBQ, and an egg sandwich as much as anyone else. Veganism truly can be delicious! I found recipes that I still use to this day for the sole reason that they taste really good. When you begin to experiment with vegan recipes, you’ll notice that you can eat some really wonderful stuff.
2. It’s great for your G.I. tract. Without going into excessive detail, let’s just say that a vegan diet makes routine bodily functions vastly more efficient and enjoyable. Vegetables are high in fiber. And since you’re not eating any meat, which is harder for your body to digest, things really “open up” in the stool department. You’ll feel lighter than ever within just a couple of days.
3. Weight loss is not a foregone conclusion. A mistake many people make with a vegan diet is to assume it will automatically lead to weight loss. While it’s true that weight loss is much easier when you are avoiding meats and cheeses altogether, one shouldn’t assume they can stuff their faces on a vegan diet and that the pounds will quickly fall off. What’s most important when losing weight is cutting calories. There are many items that fall within the vegan diet which are high caloric foods. Oils, nuts, and rice are a few such examples. It is important to continue counting calories while experimenting with a vegan diet and not fall into the pitfall I did which was to assume I would lose weight. I actually gained weight while eating vegan because of how good so much of the food was!