Diet Smack-Down Part 2: My Month of Vegan

This is Part 2 of 3 of my Diet Smack-Down series where I share my experience eating vegan for a month followed by eating Paleo for a month. Read my study design and verdict in Part 1, and My Month of Paleo in Part 3.

Embracing a 100% plant-based lifestyle, vegan here I come!

The first stop: get educated – drink the “Kool-aide” so to speak. The vegan authors’ mantras echoed heavily in my mind:

Animal fats and protein cause cancer and heart disease by damaging endothelial cells. Plants give you all the protein you need, coupled with the fiber and nutrients that animal foods ’displace.’

Eating like a vegan: no eggs for breakfast!

Instead I ate cholesterol-free, fiber-rich oatmeal, granola or pancakes made with soymilk or almond milk. I enjoyed this… until about day 17. THEN it hit me. I wanted scrambled eggs and I wanted them bad! But no problem, I made scrambled tofu, with lots of vegetables and the spice turmeric. The first batch was HORRIBLE. I searched recipes online and made a second batch… better. The third try… quite delicious!

When it came to lunch (which often meant with clients), I had to turn away quite a few foods offered to me, because they contained yogurt, chicken stock or cheese, and I felt like a “prude.” However, I found soups and salads with beans and grilled or roasted vegetables and they were delicious.

For dinner, mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant became a meat substitute for me. I enjoyed amazingly flavored meatless bean burgers or Portobello burgers (both very delicious and satisfying, and yes, I ate both the top and bottom bun!).

Eating out at restaurants took effort and asking a lot of questions but I was rewarded with many delicious offerings. I let vegetables and leafy greens replace meat and cheese, instead of just using grains to replace them. Overall, my grain consumption rarely exceeded 6 servings in a day.

I lost weight! And only felt hungry one time.

It was when a restaurant served me a pasta dish that the server assured me was loaded with vegetables, but was in fact very sparse (her idea of “loaded with vegetables” certainly was not the same as mine!).

I crawled into bed each night, not hungry, but certainly “lighter” on my feet than usual – even though I had eaten a lot of “carbs” via cereal, bread and grains. At first, I felt my body hanging on to water more than normal (probably a result of the extra carbohydrates from having a few more grains in my diet than usual). But that leveled out after a week when my weight started dropping.

My energy remained high (if not climbed), and by the 4th week I had lost a total of 4 pounds! My body fat percent dropped as expected with that weight loss, and my already low cholesterol dropped further, but so did my HDL, and my triglycerides went up (not a good thing, unless these are just “transient” changes, which could very well be).

Overall “happiness rating” of my month of being vegan?

Let me just say that I fully understand why vegans are vegans, and I welcome and support them. It’s great for the animals and the planet, not to mention yourself!

My focus was clear, and I did not have gastric upset that some people feel gluten creates (you can, of course, be a gluten-free vegan). And, if you are vegan and come to my home, I can cook for you!

Being a vegan long-term? It certainly helps to hang out with other vegans, who keep you pumped up to “buck the culture of animal foods.” At my 30th day, though, I admit I happily went back to being an omnivore for my “wash out month.”  I dearly missed salmon and feta and yogurt, but I was pleased to learn the following:

  • I can get all the protein and calcium I need from plants.
  • I will forever slash my cheese intake to 90% of what it was previously (the fat, calories and even the calcium I simply don’t need).
  • I will forever buy mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant and enjoy them roasted and grilled as “meat.”
  • I have many delicious meatless meals that I will keep in rotation several days each week.

How did my workmates do on the vegan diet for 30 days?

Scott’s cholesterol dropped even further than mine did, he lost 4 pounds, reduced his body fat percent, and reported that he felt quite great. He enjoyed the food, except he missed cheese on pizza (although he was happy he could still have pizza).

Amy, on the other hand, LOVED being a vegan! She, in fact, ended the month reporting she WAS A VEGAN and would NOT be going Paleo with me and Scott for the next month!

Read about My Month of Paleo, and my final verdict!