I was a vegan. For 10 days. It was a challenge set by a friend looking for a group to run an experiment for her. The guidelines were:
*To eat a vegan diet high in fruit, veg, grain and legume
*Eat sparingly of:
Anything that had a face or a parent ie meat, fish, and dairy (milk, eggs, cheese)
Refined foods ie olive oil, white bread, bleached flour, refined sugars, extracted oils
Artificial foods with chemical additives
Concentrated fruit juices.
Salt (Reduce your intake)
This was basically VERY similar to the popular 80-10-10 way of eating, which is largely used by raw foodists – you aim to eat 80% of calories from carbohydrates, 10% from protein and a max of 10% from fats.
On the challenge I think people may have been using some soya products, as well as vegan dairy products (like vegan cheese). In my mind these are a contravention of the “no processed food” clause. Have a look at an example of a vegan cheese ingredients list:
What do you think? Yeah. I like my food to sound like food rather than like a science experiment 😳 And this doesn’t sound too much like food to me…On top of which I avoid soya products in my eating as they promote an oestrogen rich body environment and I have fibroids, which eat oestrogen and grow larger in those conditions. So I am very mindful of maintaining a good hormonal balance in my body, and the lifestyle adjustments I have made over the last 9 or so months balance and control my hormones very well currently.
I am going to put little headers to summarise my experience of this style of eating over the last 10 days, and some bold statements to help you skim read, as there is quite a lot to say. There have been positives and negatives. Here goes.
Preparation is KEY to a vegan lifestyle
I became very suddenly aware on day -1 that I had NO idea what I was planning to eat the next day. I mentioned this in my 1st post, but it is very apparent from the get go that if you aren’t prepared for this type of lifestyle it is going to be VERY difficult to maintain. When you go vegan no longer can you simply nip to your local cafe or bistro or food store in a lunch break and grab a quick sandwich, or even a salad – mayo, fish, cheese, meat, eggs….they are difficult ingredients to avoid. And then add in avoidance of processed foods? Yeah. You need to pack lunch. My meal prep was better than ever over last 10 days. This challenge taught me that I have no excuses for eating poorly due to bad prep and organisation. One day I did an hour of prep at 0630 before work, and had a vegetable curry, an aubergine dish and a set of grains and pulses ready for salads and accompaniments ready to go! There are no excuses people. Don’t wait for the time to avail itself. Make it. Get up earlier. Shift something. Just do it
Lots of raw food and lots of plant based eating feels good. Really good.
Don’t I learn this from pretty much every food experiment and detox I do?! 😃 but somehow I forget and these things are a great way to remind me just how much I enjoy and how GOOD I feel when I eat a lot of raw food, and cooked veggies. I would say in the last 10 days I have eaten at least 60% of my calories raw. Fruit and raw veggies are the ultimate fast food. The perfect snack. A brill way to pad out your lunch bag (if your lunch bag is anything like mine it is pretty big teehee!). Days when I was underprepared these were my go to. Days when I needed a little extra for being peckish, a trip to the local grocer and I was sorted with 4-8 pieces of fruit. = LUNCH!
I don’t enjoy being TOO raw 😏
On the back of the last point, I also remembered that I don’t like eating fully raw. There were days where for the whole start of the day I had only eaten raw foods and drank juice/smoothies, but by late afternoon my body was pleading with me for something warm in the tummy. I like cooked food. Warm food. I don’t know if I NEED it per say (as I’m sure many raw foodists would say we don’t), but I like it. And it is staying. I hear a lot of raw fooders implying that the “original diet” would’ve been raw. But I am not so sure really. If you have a creationist view, which I do, then God created the fruits and the veggies but He also created the grains and the pulses with them guys. The latter 2 of which need to be cooked to be edible (largely). I think that what has changed in our modern diet is not that we’ve cooked more but that we cook, process and prepare DIFFERENTLY. Mainly that we are able to process, manufacture and prepare foods quicker and easier than ever. For example, nowadays you don’t have to soak your grains to not have to find enough firewood to boil them for 2 hours, you can just flick your hob on and bingo bango. I bet cavemen soaked grains. And these are more likely to be the reasons we struggle to digest things and have societies rife with allergies. And if you were a caveman it would’ve been VERY difficult to consume the amount of extracted, refined sugars we do. It’s convenience that allows for those kind of bodily abuses to become widespread habit. But that’s another blog post I guess…
Way way WAY too many carbs!! = WEIGHT GAIN & BLOATING
I gained at LEAST 5lbs these last 10 days 😣 By the end I felt bloated, and had a fluffy look around my midriff. Low muscle definition, particularly in my stomach, and I felt heavy. Now this was interesting, because really I had only eaten plants, so how can this be you ask?? Well I happen to know I have a protein-type metabolism (I have had this assessed previously). This means I need meals rich in protein and fat to feel balanced, to feel satisfied when I eat, to maintain/lose weight and to keep a good body composition. This challenge, with restricting my fats, has been far too carb heavy for me personally. How did I KNOW my body was reacting badly to this? Eating meals and still feeling hungry afterwards or craving sweet things is a sign you have not eaten the correct balance of carbs/proteins/fat for your body type. For the 1st 2-3 days I had intense hunger sensations straight after eating and a strong desire to eat sweet things. Meals didn’t leave me feeling satisfied, even where there would be considered to have been enough calories or ruffage present to fill my tummy. Those feelings did subside a great deal after about day 3 or 4, but when they did the bloat arrived. I started retaining water, my tummy was puffy and I felt heavy. I think including more grains and pulses may have contributed to this, even though I soak all my grain when preparing them. If you have seen many of my food diary entries over the last few months you may notice that I don’t actually consume much grain. My main grain is oats – I eat overnight oats and oat cakes on a pretty much daily basis. You are more likely to find me with a sweet potato next to my curry/stew/protein dish than a stack of rice or couscous or quinoa. But if you were to find me with a grain, brown rice and quinoa would be my grains of choice. I can eat them happily with no tummy issues (I know this through elimination dieting, where you exclude food groups for a significant time and then reintroduce things one at a time to gage your body’s true reaction to them). This challenge I ate lost more pulses (I don’t eat so much of those nowadays) and experimented a few grains for variety. Clearly my body was unhappy with something about this. You may have heard me say the solution to pollution is dilution – this means when you eat things that are toxic for YOUR individual body or that your particular body type doesn’t much like, you will retain water as your body looks to drown out this reaction. You may feel bloated, you may notice the texture of your skin is different (more dimply or softer), you may just feel heavy or fat. Especially around your middle. This is your body telling you it doesn’t like something. When it does that LISTEN. My body told me in this challenge that it doesn’t like eating a carb rich, low fat, low protein diet. And that it may not like lots of grains or pulses either. I am taking this on board. I have delayed writing this post to confirm what I thought, and it has been confirmed – 4 days later and I’m already down 3lbs. You do not gain 5lbs of fat in 10 days (not eating like I was). So I KNOW this was water gain. You also do not LOSE 3lbs of fat in 4 days. So again, I KNOW this was water weight loss. If you are finding it hard to get rid of bloating you haven’t correctly identified the thing that is upsetting your body and causing you to bloat. Find it and the bloat will go. I am posting a pic to show you the difference between me at the end of the challenge, bloated out, and 4 days later (this morning). Not quite back to where I was, but definitely getting there. And you can see the difference quite clearly I think.
Pretty significant for 4 days right?? Feeling lighter already.
I need proteins and fats
They make my body happy 😊 I mentioned before that my metabolic type is protein-type, and this has just confirmed that for me. Going forward I will be more attentive to my macros, making sure I eat a good balance of fats and proteins and carbs at each meal, but also making sure I am not compromising on my fruit and veg content. Which was a mistake I have made previously.
I do not want to be a vegan… 😐
It was quite interesting (and a bit amusing to me even!) that even though I have only been eating poultry for a few months after 25 years of vegetarianism, toward the end of this challenge I REALLY fancied some chicken haha! Consequently, when I went to the supermarket on my 1st day off the challenge, THIS happened:
And I must say I’m looking forward to every last bit of it!! (My large pack of lemon and cracked pepper smoked wild salmon is not pictured, it was otherwise engaged at the time! 😉 nor was my pack of turkey bacon, nor the sliced turkey breast I ate in the car on the way back from the supermarket….goodness! What a meat head I’ve become!). I missed my organic natural live yogurt, and have been really happy to have that back. Tested yogurt on my 1st day off of vegan to be sure, and no adverse reactions. (Although I have tested before, and know my body tolerates live yogurt well, it’s always worth double checking. Especially as lately I don’t seem to tolerate cooked cow’s milk very well – e.g. in a white sauce). I found the lifestyle too restrictive. I enjoy eating out, and although it is more than possible to eat out vegan (I did it twice in the 10 days!), again the word ‘restricted’ comes in to play again. I didn’t experience any additional health benefits from being vegan these last 10 days than I have done from any other elements of my lifestyle, and probably from the group I was the only one experiencing a negative effect. But on the flipside of that,it’s likely that I had the least adjustments to make to my current eating than anyone in the group, as I already avoid processed foods, white carbs, additives, dairy in quite a few forms etc and eat a diet rich in plant based products. So to have received the least benefits I think was to be expected. Probably if I spent long enough in this life I would find ways to become increasingly creative and wonderful, but I don’t see a future for me being an 80/10/10 vegan with my metabolism type and my body’s requirements. So it’s a no from me. Was a good thing to try though!
I have quite a bit of bloat still to shed, and kind of feel like I’ve lost ground. And with all my proteins back in stock, I am going to be carb cycling over the next week at least to appease my body and kill the bloat. That’s also another blog post, and I will pop up my plan for the next 7 days later today.
That’s all for now folks. Are you a vegan or a raw foodie? What are your macros like? Have you trialled being vegan? What did you think? Look forward to talking to you guys about this.
Over and out