Vegan Experiment…4 months later

When I started this experiment, four months ago, I intended to write about the experience consistently. The plan was to document the challenges faced and demonstrate the solutions I found. But, as my blogging has often shown, my writing impetus is often inconsistent. A slave to the whims of my situation and the well of my creativity, often dry, it can suffer in the pursuit of its stated goals. And so there are these gaps in time. I have been wrapped up in daily life lately. I was finally able to secure a job, though it was a seasonal one, and the season is now complete. This commitment drew a great deal of my time and concentration away from documenting my vegan experiment.

Coconut Curry Tempeh Sandwich. My sister let me try hers, still amzing without the avocado.
Coconut Curry Tempeh Sandwich. My sister let me try hers, still amzing without the avocado.

Despite the inconstancy of the blogging, my dedication to the Vegan Voyage has been complete. I am a very stubborn person and though I have faced many challenges in this pursuit, I have stayed true to the task.

Willpower was not a major issue.

At the end of four months, I can say that I have achieved my goal. I documented my mistakes. In June I ate a Milky Way Dark Chocolate Bar, I checked the label, saw the ingredients and ate it anyway. In July, I went to a friends party at a German restaurant. There is not much Vegan food at Gustav’s, I had a beet salad and lentil soup. The Lentil soup had bacon. I realized this halfway through eating it. Once at the restaurant where I worked, I accidentally ordered a garden patty instead of a vegan hem patty. The garden burger has a bit of cheese in it. My stomach felt it after both the Lentil soup with bacon and the garden patty with the cheese. And I worked in a restaurant, fuck no I am not going to send food back to my own kitchen.

Health

Basic Bowl at Blossoming Lotus in Portland
Basic Bowl at Blossoming Lotus in Portland

The first two weeks were a definite struggle. I remember feeling as if I would collapse during this transition phase. After that initial struggle, my body became accustomed to the diet. I supplemented using organic brown rice protein powder, it was Sun King. It was not very palatable unless added to a smoothie. I also took sublingual Vegan B12 tabs every day. After the tabs ran out I used Liquid energy B from Yogabody in a tincture form. I believe this helped. At the very least it set my mind at ease, since all the research emphasized the importance of using a B-12 supplement.

I felt the best during the middle of June through the first week of July. During these months I was using the Protein powder in the morning and drinking 1-2 large glasses of freshly juiced veggies and fruits. It can be hard to get the right number of nutrients if you have a limited amount of time. When I had the time to make a big salad, roast vegetables, grill mushrooms, and make big batches of soup and beans and rice, I felt wholly nourished.

When I was working out heavily or working a 9-12 hour shift at the restaurant, I found the energy demands could be difficult to meet. I met these challenges as follows: Fresh juice or smoothie at work, packed lunch with a good mix of fats, carbs and proteins example apple, pear, orange, peanut butter sandwich, 1/2-1 cup of almonds and raisins. Though repetitive, it helped get me through my shifts and refuel after workouts.

The main thing I learned was that to stay healthy and keep my energy up, I had to be aware. Planning was important. I could not rely on getting a break at work at the right time, so I had to be sure I took care of myself the way I needed.

Scares

During the first week I gave myself food poisoning by eating my week old lentil soup. I wrote about that in Vegan Lessons 1 and 2. This lesson reminded me to be more cognizant of freshness of my food and led to multiple grocery visits a week, with less volume purchased during each visit.

In my third week, I went to my normal Hot Yoga class with a friend. As the class progressed I felt weak and a mild headache began in the front of my forehead. I continued through the class, but felt more and more of a challenge.  After class, I discussed my issue with the Yoga teacher. My usual large can of coconut water, had little effect and she suggested I take an electrolyte supplement. As I headed out the door I paused, retreated to the restroom and proceeded to vomit two times. I felt so bad, that I just wanted to get home. The friend I was with works at Super Supplements, which was on the way home and luckily they were still open. I got three packets of electrolytes, a can of coconut water and a raw food bar. I immediately took two packets and ate the food bar and sipped the coconut water on my way home. When I arrived I took the third packet and slept for three hours. When I awoke, I felt refreshed, but also realized the danger I put myself in. I have a tendency to endure physical suffering to an extreme without changing anything. This is helpful when training, but can destroy ones health in certain arenas.

After this experience, I realized I had to maintain my vegan nutrition with vigilance if I wanted to continue my physical activity. I ended up reducing my practice significantly and adding the Brown rice Protein, hempseeds, and flax seeds to my diet. This is the greatest challenge for me with being Vegan. I have a high caloric requirement just for my day to day functioning. I also enjoy excessive amounts of exercise, from all types of Yoga, Tennis, Cycling, Hiking, Soccer, even an occasional run. I know that with the right combination of quality foods I can sustain myself, even soy and gluten free. It is this that I have to keep in mind for my future dietary excursions.

I know that an active vegan lifestyle is possible thanks to many people, but the first to show me the way was the mustache man.

Positive Growth

Blossoming Lotus's Mac and Cheese
Blossoming Lotus’s Mac and Cheese

When juicing, my energy was amazing. I don’t drink coffee or heavily caffeinated tea. But when I drink those juices I feel a great deal of energy that lasts. This was a great discovery and it is something I know I will implement in my future diet. Supplements are okay. As long as you are conscious about your use of value adding supplements, there is no problem with them. The problem arises, when you substitute them for healthy practices, like relying on vitamins instead of eating vegetables or coffee instead of sleep. These are simple but true examples.

Adventures in Vegetables. From Juicing to roasting, sauteeing to steaming,  and grilling to raw eating I experienced new foods and old ones in new ways. There will be more on this in a later post.

My digestion was phenomenal throughout the project and my sinuses were clearer.

I felt lighter after meals and could snack all day.

I lost about ten pounds initially, this has leveled out to 7 pounds less than my average, currently 178.

Cultivating my Metamorphosis

This experiment taught me that Vegan is possible. My willpower is strong enough and my taste buds are adaptable. Eating whole food and avoiding processed foods whenever possible has led to a multitude of wondrous new tastes. I am fine without meat or animal products, lowering my carbon footprint and reliance on an energy draining system. The challenge will be maintaining an active lifestyle and my health. I can do this by maintaining honesty and awareness of my dietary needs. And finding inspiration in those forging the path.

“Four months is a very short time, but I want to test it out, at the very least I can eat a bunch of different food and learn new ways of cooking while lowering my carbon footprint. If I can do this and stay healthy, without having to take to many supplements, I will extend it onward.” From my voyage starting, “The Veganing.”

Aside from a few minor bumps, I have achieved my goal. The four months is over. I am giving myself a three week period to re-evaluate my diet. With the chains to the old patterns broken I am free to explore my nourishment without hindrance. I am not sure if I will stay completely Vegan. I will post an update after my three week free period. If I follow through with my intentions.

Special thanks to:

mustachemantraining.com for inspiration and smoothie recipes

yogabodynaturals.com for vegan and raw nutrition advice and supplies.

Bikram Yoga Fremont for always testing the limits

Blossoming Lotus, making vegan food so much better than I can at home.

Anyone who actually read the entire 1500 plus word post 🙂

Eat vegetables,

C.A.

5 thoughts on “Vegan Experiment…4 months later

  1. Maybe you’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but how/why did you decide to go vegan and not vegetarian? I’ve been doing my reading, and am debating between the two…

    1. Sorry it took so long to respond to this. My reasoning is based on personal responses to certain foods. Dairy has always been an issue for me. Mostly it causes a great deal of mucus build up that leads to congestion and aggravation of allergies in spring and summer and causes sinus infections in winter months. It also isn’t that great for the rest of my digestive system.

      Since I had already cut out dairy, all I had to do was not eat meat, fish and eggs. Not eating fish was the difficult part.

      Part of the societal reason was to abstain from animal products because the cost of those products to the environment is tremendous. I wanted to see if I could do it while staying healthy. Adding dairy products didn’t add a whole lot to my health.

      But the main thing is to eat as many whole foods as possible. There are plenty of unhealthy vegan and vegetarian options. And you don’t have to be absolute about it, might be especially hard in Colombia. It is important to set attainable goals that will help build momentum for the future dietary and life experiments.

      The point is to do something that makes your life healthy in a holistic way. And the path to this is different for every human being.

      1. Thanks. Yeah, some things are hard to do/find in Colombia. BUT, I am definitely moving towards being a pescatarian and then maybe eventually making the leap to vegetarian, always focusing on whole foods/nothing processed or artificial.

      2. pescatarian is a good way to go, especially in a place with great sea food. You are totally right, the main benefits of Vegan and other diets are that they limit processed foods. The more real it is, the better it is for you for sure.

  2. Reblogged this on curlyadventurer and commented:

    Last Summer, I held a personal Vegan Experiment. At this point my diet includes a small amount of meat and dairy products and as few processed foods as possible. I am in the process of re-evaluating my diet choices. On the horizon are tests for Gluten allergies, FODMAP issues, soy, egg and other issues. The Acupuncturist I went to recently mentioned the similarities in my Tri-doshic Vatta-Pitta-Kapha constitution and her issues.

    As a VFCF, Very Food Centric Fellow (purposely uncopyrighted), food experiments are a blast.

    This Reblog goes over the lessons from last years 4 month Vegan Experiment and is a good place to launch in my next food foray.

    Cookin’ Curly,
    C.A.

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