The Vegan Experiment: 6 Weeks

Just about a month and a half ago, Greg I decided to give up all meat, dairy, eggs and any other food that came from an animal for six week.

See these cute little piggies? We didn’t eat any of them.

Okay, maybe that was in poor taste….

Six weeks later, I’m feeling good! Time really flew by, and I could easily go for another six weeks. Heck, I think that I could continue with a vegan diet… but I’m not going to 100%. Here are some of my thoughts on the six weeks of the vegan experiment:

The good:

VARIETY: I think I was just in a real food rut. Before the experiment, I was making the same meals over and over again, and by cooking vegan, I created many new recipes!

THOUGHT: I wasn’t putting a whole lot of thought into exactly what I was cooking with. Eliminating entire food groups really made me focus more on the ingredients that I was using and how to substitute for animal-based products that I had been eating before.

CREATIVITY: I am much more creative when I cook without any meat, because it’s really important to me to cook meals that taste good. For me, it’s not that easy to just throw together a vegan meal that actually tastes great, and I discovered a lot of new (to me) ingredients that I will continue to cook with.

MONEY SAVED: Buying a block of tofu for $1.99 that will serve as the protein for at least two meals is a lot cheaper than the same weight of organic meat. I also cooked a lot with legumes, which I buy dried, and are dirt cheap.

CLEAR SKIN: My skin did clear up quite a bit over the last six weeks. My hair seems a lot shinier too… but I’m not sure if that has anything to do with eating a vegan diet… I’ll have to look that one up.

LESS IMPULSE SNACKING: I’m the type of gal that never passes up a free sample at Whole Foods or my local organic grocer. However, I’ve had to look at the ingredients on everything, which often contain milk. And if I think something may have milk or butter, I just assume it does, and pass it up. This has (sadly) kept me from sampling many baked goods and sweet treats!

The bad:

TIME: It did take a lot more time and effort to prepare meals. Like I mentioned above- it’s really important to me that food tastes good, and that just requires more effort!

EATING OUT: It really wasn’t that hard, but there were a few times (like at the airport) where there weren’t ANY vegan options, so I had to bring my own food and/or have a back-up plan. I know that this was a huge issue for Greg, because he goes out to eat much more than I do. Luckily, the bulk of my eating out was in Colorado, and it was super easy to find vegan food there!

FEELING FULL: I didn’t have a huge problem with this, but I know that Greg did. He said the he felt hungry all the time. He was always a huge meat eater, and the bulk of his calories came from that. It wasn’t as easy for him to replace those calories with plant-based foods.

I feel really good about doing this 6 week experiment overall. And I have mixed feelings about “how” I’m going to be eating from here on out. I know that I don’t have to put a label on anything and what I eat is completely my own business, but I admit- I am struggling with it a bit. Part of me would be completely happy eating a vegan diet forever, but there’s a larger part that would just rather eat less meat and dairy and focus more on plant-based foods. As of right now, I really don’t miss meat or dairy. Eggs? That’s another story. I do miss eggs…. and plan on eating one today.

As far as buying meat (for either Greg or me), I’m going to be a lot more conscious of exactly where it comes from, how the animals were raised, and if they were treated in a humane way (prior to being slaughtered, of course…). Luckily, there are a lot of local farms that sell chicken, pork and beef (that aren’t “factory farms”) and the animals are raised in good conditions. Sure, I may eat a meat at a restaurant some time, and I may not know where it came from, but that’s my choice and I’ll have to live with that. In all honesty, I’m a bit conflicted.

Honestly, I feel a little weird about eating meat again after not having it for so long. It’s hard to explain, but it just feels “strange.”

The game plan for now is to continue a (mostly) plant-based diet with a little bit of meat/eggs thrown in the mix. I want to stay away from dairy a little bit longer, because I think it may have caused my stomach to be upset quite often. I’ll add it back in later on and see if it was the culprit.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite vegan recipes from the last 6 weeks:

Greg’s Favorite Breakfast Burrito

 

Spaghetti and Bean Balls

 

Maple-Vanilla-Cinnamon Cashew Cream

 

Miso-Glazed Sweet Potato Salad

 

Pumpkin Sage Polenta

ONE MORE THING!

The smoothie recipes listed in the comments section of the PlantFusion Giveaway post are SO AWESOME. If you haven’t checked them out, please do! The winner of the giveaway is…

#1!! How about that. Michelle, please send shoot me an email at lauren@oatmealafterspinning.com with your full name and mailing address! CONGRATS!

Have a great Monday!

Do you put a “label” on how/what you eat? If so, what is it?

 

Comments

  1. Congrats on the 6 weeks. Eggs were the one thing I really missed when I ate a vegan diet.
    I transitioned back to what I consider a more balanced way of eating – eggs, turkey, some cheese and milk, but mostly fruit, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds.
    Have a great day.

  2. Yay! I’m so excited to try this new protein powder! Thank you! . . . And I’m always sure I’ll never win a giveaway if I’m the first one to comment. :)

  3. When I did my 2-week gluten free trial, I found the same thing happened in regards to samples in stores and at work at stuff – I simply passed on them because I thought they probably had gluten.

    I guess I would call myself pescatarian – I eat fish/seafood, dairy (though I’m trying to limit it) and eggs. Most people tend to think that I am a vegetarian, especially those that are not and seem to think that fish are vegetables!

  4. I am so proud of you guys – especially Greg. ;) When I went vegan I felt the same way you did about the pros/cons. The reason I stayed plant-based so long was how I felt – I loved how clear my skin was and how much energy I had. And I’m a volume-eater… spinach was made for bulk.

    Enjoy that egg! That’s one I could never give up. :)

    • Greg really likes that you’re proud of him. He was reading this post/comments and had to point that out. :) I’m a volume eater too- big time! Thanks goodness I love veggies!

  5. Im making the pumpkin sage polenta tonight! Looks amazing!!!

  6. Congrats on finishing your 6 week experiment and thanks for sharing it with us! It was you that inspired me to check out those vegan films and to do my own experiment. I opted to do the full 12 weeks that Forks Over Knives suggested, so I am half way through. I am feeling some of the same things you did. I do however feel hungry a bit more, so maybe I need to play with some of your recipes. Did you lose any weight? I’ve lost quite a bit in the 6 weeks. Thats encouraging! But I do miss eggs too… and fro-yo!

    • I didn’t remember the movie suggesting 12 weeks- I must have missed that! But since I wanted to do this with my husband (it’s much easier when both of us are on board!) I was lucky that he even agreed to 6 weeks! Good for you though- that is awesome!
      I weighed myself before I went to CO and had lost 2.5 lbs. But, I’m pretty sure that I gained it back with the amount of beer I drank there.
      There’s a place near me that has SOY fro-yo. It’s SO good too!

      • Soy Fro-yo?? That is awesome! In Forks Over Knives, they had all their patients do a plant based diet for 12 weeks. In Vegucated they did 6. I went for 12 to see if it is something I could sustain long term. So far so good. But whew, like you I miss eggs!

  7. The breakfast burrito looks delicious! Congrats on finishing the challenge. Did your weight stay the same through the 6 weeks or did you lose some lbs?

  8. Congrats on the challenge!!! I think I would miss eggs the most too! Okay. And fro yo!

  9. Great job on the challenge girl! I was vegan for 3 years, but I feel so much better adding eggs and fish back into my diet!

  10. Loved reading all about your experience with trying a vegan diet. My husband and I have some good friends that have recently switched over to a vegan diet and are ALL about it. We’ve talked with them quite a bit about it, and I’ve considered trying it out. I think the main thing I’d miss is dairy… I LOVE eggs, cheese, and yogurt way too much. The meat would be easier for me, and I’ve already tried to incorporate more meals that don’t have meat in them throughout the week. You’re right, it sure is a lot cheaper to go meat-free!

    • Lol about your friends being “ALL about it!” I think that everyone is like that when they switch to some new diet, no matter what it is. You’ve got to get yourself psyched up about it! :)
      It’s worth trying though- if nothing else, it introduces you to ingredients that you probably haven’t used much before!

  11. Great job Lauren! So glad you enjoyed it overall and YES, there is definitely a link between a vegan diet and clear skin! The money savings is huge too. Many people think a vegan diet means eating “obscure” items, and I guess it can, but some of the best and easiest meals are based on veggies, nuts, grains and legumes. I’ve found that using the right spices the key to making really flavorful, interesting dishes.

    I noticed you said in an earlier post that beer is vegan…but apparently that isn’t the case, as some beers (and wine) are processed using fish or animal bones. I don’t know a ton about it and it seems like it would be quite a task to know and remember which ones are. I did find this reference:

    http://www.barnivore.com/beer#

    P.S. Tried your maple-cinnamon-vanilla cashew cream, WOW!! Thank you for sharing that!

    • WHOA! I wouldn’t have ever thought that some beer and wine are processed with fish/animal bones! GROSS! Thanks for the heads up!
      Glad you like the cashew cream- I could bathe in it!

  12. Its been really interesting to read about your vegan experiment! You certainly were creative with your food. I was vegetarian for 10 years and when I finally made a move back to meat (fish and poultry) I felt weird at first and then I after my body started to feel normal I felt fine. I don’t think a vegan diet is for everyone but I think it is good to know about all the various diets and the pros & cons of both. Sounds like you guys learned a lot about your bodies and how they react to food. Tons learned from the experiment!

    Oh, and about the beer…Laura is right. There are quite a few beers that aren’t vegan. I had no idea until I mentioned it to a vegan friend that I would exist on beer alone.

    http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegan-beer/

  13. for a long while I went vegetarian and mainly vegan. I love yogurt and eggs though – so I never went fully. With my health issues this year I added back and when I did eat it on occasion before I always had this sensation of guilt and some other strange feeling that I still cannot put my finger on. my bf and I have found that some of our favorite meals have been vegan, and he is a big meat a potatoes guy. I don’t tend to put any rules on anything or follow any diets – I pick and choose what works for me from every diet – vegan, paleo, etc. I just mainly want to give my body what it needs limiting processed foods, artificial ingredients, and added sugar. If I crave a burger – there is probably a reason. So I will have a burger but it will be organic, human, and sustainable. I ususally get any meat from whole foods or farmer’s market.

    My own recipes do tend to lean towards vegan. sometimes the optional goat cheese addition. Really – I just want to eat what makes me feel good and fueled for life.

    Interesting about your skin though – I had opposite problem. And hair might be the more variety? Idk.

  14. Heather @ Better With Veggies says:

    When Kirk orders meat out, he asks where it came from and we often will check the conditions before ordering. He’s not 100% strict on the rule, but it helps to be informed & it helps restaurants know we care. I’m glad your experiment went so well! =)

  15. Hooray! You made it! As you know, I don’t really think labeling your diet is important, and no one should really be commenting on anyone’s food choices, unless they ask for an education about what they should or should not be eating. [For the most part anyway.] Doing what works for you is the best thing.

    I definitely have MUCH better skin eating mostly vegan, and dairy was definitely hurting my stomach. I still eat Greek yogurt on occasion (almost every day), but it works for my system. Again, it is knowing what works for you!

  16. Lauren! This is absolutely amazing.. I’ve been looking into a vegan diet. Like you, I don’t like to put a label on everything I do. I’ve met some vegans who all rant and rave over the benefits.. I was vegetarian for a year but it is really difficult when your significant other loves meat! I’m going to start my “vegan” experiment Jan 1. I’m excited/nervous/kind of confused! There’s so many ways to go about it.. raw is an interest of mine too!

    But seriously, go you!

  17. I know I’m late to the party on this, but my husband and I just started our own 6 week challenge and I’ve been looking for ideas.

    The whole label thing has been bugging me as well, because I realize being 100% vegan after is more than I can commit. Welike to travel and will eat whatever is good locally – this will certainly include animal products. I think it’s an important part of getting to know a place.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

Comments are welcome (and encouraged)!