I would like to preface this post by clarifying that I love food. ALL FOOD. And so it is not easy for me to eliminate things from my diet without getting hungry.
But I digress… Vegan January was upon me. Every so often (and almost every January) I do some sort of month long “cleanse” just to see how my body reacts to things and if there is something in my diet that seems to be doing more harm than good. Last January was an alcohol cleanse, September I did Whole30 with a few friends, I think its good to experiment in a healthy way with your diet.
So lets start with the facts…
What do vegans eat?
Vegans eat all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Their diets are plant based, meaning everything comes from the earth. There are also so many products on the market to replace things like mayo, butter, cheese, meat and other non-vegan foods.
Vegans do not eat any animal products (chicken, fish, beef, etc.) or animal bi-products (milk, cheese, etc.).
You might be shaking your head and saying “there’s no way”, but I have to tell you, in this day in age it is not difficult to make this sort lifestyle work with ease. Being a realist, I would like to think that I could one day commit to this sort of diet permanently, however I know my limitations and for now I will do this for a month here and there until I am ready to commit fully. Lucky for me, I live in NYC and we have dozens of delicious vegan restaurants…and I LOVE trying new restaurants.
***Caution: There will be poop talk***
As with any diet change, there will be changes internally that your body needs to adjust to. (that also goes for when you are ending a diet as well). Keep in mind, you want to do everything gradually so not to shock your system. Just because a certain diet or detox is good for you, doesn’t mean it won’t do some initial damage to your system if it isn’t introduced properly.
That being said, I started introducing a vegan lifestyle little by little towards the end of December so that I could commit on January 1st without worry of getting sick. Full disclosure: I saw changes in my “regularity” immediately so I am so thankful that I made the change slowly.
Week Zero (Dec. 26-31)
Why Dec 26? Because Italian Christmas Dinner, Duh.
Fist thing I did was go food shopping. I looked up a few recipes before I went so I had a few meal ideas and made sure I didn’t go crazy buying too much at one time. 1) because I’m broke (whole single girl in the big city thing) and 2) because I knew I would be buying a lot of fresh food and I didn’t want things to go bad before I even had a chance to eat them.
*better to take weekly trips to the grocery and get fresh produce than let everything go bad because you bought too much*
Here’s a few great recipe websites:
Here’s my half-ass 1st grocery list:
- Mixed greens
- Garbanzo bean flour
- Brown rice
- Basmati rice
- Rolled oats
- Frozen Veggies; broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peas, etc. (way easier to keep fresh)
- Coconut oil
- Ezekiel bread (its gluten free and tasty and because it comes frozen and you keep it in the fridge, it lasts longer)
*Lastly I went to the Bagel/Coffee shop up the block from my apartment and picked up some of their tofu cream cheese. It’s so good that I even eat it when I’m not doing a vegan diet. If you don’t have a shop near you that makes it, you can make your own with this recipe.
The only thing I didn’t list here that I use a lot, are spices – many of which I already had in my kitchen. My best advice to you is do some inventory of what spices you already have in your kitchen so you don’t buy doubles. Also, I am a HUGGGGEEEEEE fan of Flavor God Seasonings. There are so many flavors and they make cooking 10 times easier.
Phone a friend.
Any diet or lifestyle change is always easier with the buddy system. A friend of mine and her husband are vegetarians that have been wanting to go vegan so they were happy to join me on my vegan adventure. Having a support system is always going to make the experience more fun.
Have a pot luck dinner and discover some recipes you might not have tried before, or if you’re craving some butter, call a friend so they can talk you off the ledge.
One of my favorite ways to do new diets, is with a Facebook Group. Post a Facebook group a couple of weeks before you want to start your month and ask people join the group and add their ideas, recipes, stories, etc. It’s a great way to connect and it’s always really funny to hear everyones stories. You’ll be surprised how many people you didn’t expect will join the group.
Week Zero End
Okay so It’s New Years Day and my week zero has come to an end. I have to say, I thought I would be sad about starting this vegan month, but I already feel good from the small changes I have been making this week. I’m also pretty excited to cook new recipes and try new restaurants and discover some healthy food substitutes.
Listen, I don’t care what anyone says or how proper you are, when you are pooping regularly, you feel like a million bucks. You have more energy, you feel lighter and you know your body is doing what it is supposed to.
Let the veganism begin…
Thank god for the vegan Asian delivery in my neighborhood. I’ve made a few meals home, however my schedule this week was all over the place so when I didn’t have the time to cook, that place really saved my life. Other than that I’ve been eating a lot of salads with chickpeas and beans to add some protein and tofu scrambles with veggies.
I have to say so far it’s really not terribly difficult. The only time it was difficult thus far was when I was out of town and when I went to dinner. Since I’m only a week in, I’m not a vegan expert so I tend to stick with salads and what not because I know exactly what is in them.
I am surprised when I look at the ingredients in a lot of items, how many things are made with milk and eggs. (Veggie burgers, RXBars, etc.)
I’m feeling less bloated for sure and it looks like I lost about 2 lbs but I’ll believe it when I see it stay off, could just be my body adjusting.
But so far so good!
I discovered a really easy vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe online and then adjusted it a bit for the ingredients I already had in the kitchen and they came out awesome!! Even some of my friends that are not vegan we’re loving them. I’ll be sure to make these again, they really fed my sweet tooth. Now I just have to experiment with replacing the sugar in them with something a little healthier.
At the end of this week, I am feeling good and like I am starting to get the hang of it. I have found a few great places in my area to eat and discovering some non-vegan restaurants that have great vegan options.
This week was a rough one, not so much because I was craving anything, but more so because I was home visiting my Italian family. I ate mostly bread and rice this entire week because it was easily accessible.
At the end of this week I had a baby shower to go to and unfortunately the only vegan option was the fruit bowl. I even tried to scrape off some of the cheese on the pasta and eat around the shredded chicken in the rice but unfortunately it was a failed attempt.
I now have a new found respect for all of the vegans out there in situations like this where your only option is to bring your own food or starve.
What this week has taught me is that is is really easy to be an UNhealthy vegan. All of this aside, I still feel way less bloated that usual and I didn’t gain any weight from that unhealthy week.
Bareburger Impossible Burger. God damn. So happy I didn’t find this in the beginning of the month, because I would have ordered it every damn day. I don’t know if you have a Bareburger near you, but if you do I highly recommend you trying the impossible burger. It’s a vegan burger that looks and tastes like a real beef burger, it’s amazing. They also have other vegan burger options along with vegan cheese, buns, and spreads. This got me by for two days and the rest of the week was filled with zoodles with tomato sauce, bhudda bowls, and a wonderful little joint called By Chloe in NYC that has a full vegan menu and is absolutely delicious!
In the end…
I have to say the only thing I am really happy to eat again is fish. I really miss sushi and salmon…and cheese. As for the meat, I still love eating meat but I don’t necessarily miss it like crazy. I do feel like I will start to incorporate a vegan diet for at least half of the week from now on and see if I continue to feel the benefits.
By the end of January, I was feeling consistency less bloated, lost a couple pounds and have never felt my digestion system feel so healthy and regular. I’ve done my fair share of “30 day detoxes” and this one is for sure something I will continue to practice as best I can. Not that I ever questioned it before, but I now truly see the benefits of a plant based diet.
For more information on plant based diets click some of the links below: