Thursday

30 Day Recap of my (well almost) Vegan Experience

First I'd like to begin by saying how wonderful this experience has been for me.  I was able to delve into the world of living a vegan lifestyle for the month.  I know it's very possible to live this way because I felt great most of the time.  Although being that I have always been someone who generally eats a good amount of eggs, poultry and fish, going cold turkey was a bit tough for me.  

I started this journey as a 3-day fruit, veggie and some seed "detox.”  Then it turned in to 7 days of mostly raw vegan since I was feeling really good.  By week 2, I felt that I needed some cooked foods, so I went ahead and listened to my body.  Coming to the end of the 3rd week I was starting to feel really lethargic and my workouts were suffering a bit.  I was still eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes throughout the day, along with a vegan protein powder, but I felt like something was missing.  Eggs kept calling my name.  I didn't miss the taste or texture, but I just felt that my body really needed them.  So by day 21, I added organic free range eggs back into my diet.  Wow, what a difference!  Although I had been supplementing my diet with B-12, my body still wanted eggs.  Since adding them back into my diet, my workouts have been much more powerful and I feel really energetic.  I still haven't had fish or anything similar yet.  

I had a chance to really learn a lot about the different classifications of how people eat.  Here are some of the classifications which I found quite interesting. 
  • Lacto vegetarians those who do not eat meat or eggs but do consume dairy. Most vegetarians in India and classical Mediterranean lands fell into this classification.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian, or ovo-lacto, do not eat meat but do consume dairy and eggs, this is the most common type of Vegetarianism in the Western world.
  • Ovo vegetarians do not eat meat or dairy but do consume eggs.
  • Vegans consume no animal products or animal by-products. This means no beef, poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy (many vegans also avoid honey). Veganism also extends beyond the diet. Vegans avoid leather, wool, silk, down, etc. Some people use the term strict vegetarian for people who follow a vegan diet but still use animal products in other parts of their lives.
  • Dietary vegans avoid eating animal products but will still wear or use animal products.
  • Raw/living foodists eat at least 75% uncooked (items may be heated up to 115 degrees), unprocessed, organic fruits and vegetables, with the intention of preserving more vitamins and minerals. There are very few “pure” raw foodists though many people “eat raw” at least occasionally.
  • Fruitarianism consists only of plant matter that can be collected without harming the plant.  They only consume raw fruits and seeds.  I found this one pretty fascinating.  
  • Macrobiotic diets are mostly whole grains and beans.
  • Natural hygiene is principally raw vegan foods. 

Diets that are not classified as vegetarian include:
  • Semi-vegetarian, where people avoid some meat (usually for health or ethical reasons) for example, ones who avoid red meat but still eat poultry or seafood.
  • Flexitarians lead a mostly vegetarian lifestyle but occasionally eat meat.
  • Freegans only eat food that has been discarded and would otherwise consume landfill space. 


At this point in my life, I'm feeling great as a vegan who eats eggs, which is considered an Ovo Vegetarian.  I’m not the kind of person that likes to be limited by labels.  If I get the urge to eat fish once a month I will.  I think the best thing is to follow what your body tells you.  I really enjoyed going through this and I think everyone should at least try a 3-7 day trial of eating mostly vegetables and fruits.   I will definitely do a detox like this at least 2 times a year.

I found within the vegan classifications, being raw, high raw and some cooked there are lots of support online.  There are loads of forums, recipes, books, to make it an easier transition.  I'm a strong believer that we are all different, therefore not one way of eating works for everyone.  Some do great with dairy, some do wonderful with eggs.  I do feel it's important for everyone to have vegetables.  I also don't think it's smart to restrict too much fruit, which many do.  Since upping my fruit intake I feel satisfied, energized, and my digestion is amazing.  
It's now been 40 days and I don't see why I will stop anytime soon. 

My experience with Raw Vegan so far

This all started after going on a trip filled with many indulgences.  I haven't taken a "relaxing" vacation to a tropical place in almost 5 years.  Since my honeymoon.  There were 11 of us that went to Ixtapa, 5 kids under the age of 5 and 6 adults.  Needless to say, meal time was a bit hectic.  Where we stayed, the dining hall had the most beautiful display of every type food imaginable.  The foods were fresh and tasty as well.  The dessert bar looked like something you would find on the Biggest Loser TV show as a temptation.  There was all you can eat ice cream, pastries, breads, cookies, pies, and they looked and tasted homemade.  It was not a good place for someone trying to eat healthy and stay lean.  Not to mention the make your own pizza bar, pasta station, sushi, and so many other types of goodies.  The first few days I was really disciplined and just reached for the vegetables, lean poultry, salads, and raw fish.  Then I would finish off with a large plate of fresh papayas and pineapple.  As the days went on and I watched everyone else enjoying all the goodies, I felt that maybe this is my chance to indulge.  When do I eat like this at home?  Never!  So from then on I ended up nibbling a little on the cookies, trying tastes of cakes, having an ice cream in the hot sun, and even had my share of fresh mojito's.  This place was an all inclusive resort that allowed you to have as much food and beverage, alcohol included, as you please.  I did what I felt was the right thing and indulged, but with control; well most of the time. ;-)  I continued to exercise during the day with activities such as kayaking, walking, barefoot sprints on the beach, and pull-ups.  So I wasn't feeling too guilty.  One thing I missed dearly was my fresh ionized alkaline water.  We had to drink lots of bottled water and I could literally feel and taste the difference. 

On the plane trip back home, I felt pretty sick to my stomach and bloated with all the horrible forbidden foods that I had eaten.  I probably put on about 4 pounds, which was the wrong way to go since I was running a February Fat Loss Challenge.  Since I don't normally eat like that my energy and body were really hurting from it.  I thought the best thing for me and my only option upon returning was to cleanse my body of all the sugar and junk.  That's when I decided that eating just fruits and vegetables would be the mildest, yet most effective way.  Starting Day 1, Monday, I went right for it.  It was also nice that Ben was on board with me.  My day consisted of tons of alkaline water with lemon, bananas, celery, cucumbers, lots of bell peppers, avocados, apples, and a green smoothie.  It felt good to be getting rid of the horrible food and putting in fresh fruits and vegetables.  I had some lethargy and headaches but knew this was to be expected. 

Day 2, Tuesday, came along and I was feeling good but not quite satisfied with all the fruits and vegetables.   Tuesday looked just like Monday, except I added a small amount of raw pecans and almonds, which made a world of difference.  My body started feeling really cold and I was getting the shivers.  I thought maybe it was just my body re-acclimating to the colder weather after being in the tropical climate for a week.  Then Day 3 came along and I was still waking up bright and early at 5:30 a.m. with lots of energy.  Normally I can't get out of bed until 6:30 or 7, so this was a surprise to me.  I had the same foods as Tuesday, but added some fresh young coconut and a few pistachios.   I also felt the need to try and add a few lentils to my raw salad.  Which actually didn't go so well with my stomach, so I nixed them.  My body was really shivering and cold.  I was actually shaking at times throughout the day and could barely hold a phone conversation since my teeth were chattering.  I figured it was a combination of my body detoxing from all the sugar and animal products.  I figured that I was also cold because I wasn't eating anything cooked.  I drank a few cups of Ginger tea to warm myself up inside and ended up taking a nap because my body was exhausted from all of the shivering.

Raw Spinach and Baby Greens Salad with a few lentils topped with Tahini and Lemon


Jicama topped with tomatoes and red onions and Mimi Kirk's Cucumber Dressing

Cucumbers, Bell Pepper, Pico De Gallo, Avocado, Hummus


My goal was to eat like this for 3-5 days, then slowly go back to my normal way of eating.  However, I started feeling so good that I decided to extend the raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds for 7 days.  The first few days were a bit difficult because of the detox feelings and not exercising at all, but the remaining days felt wonderful.  I ended up adding a scoop of Sun Warrior, raw sprouted brown rice protein powder, to my smoothies on Day 4 and my energy and mood improved ten folds.  Other than that, I had a very successful full week of being 90% raw vegan.  Mimi Kirk, Raw Vegan and winner of the Sexiest Vegetarian over 50, who is beautiful at 72, was driving 2 hours round trip to take my classes.  She is an incredible human being.  Mimi really helped me by providing me with some ideas and giving me the extra motivation to stick with the detox the first few days.  She also shared some wonderful recipes.  Mimi is releasing an amazing Raw Food book, called Live Raw, in May that you will not want to miss.  Even those who eat meat will benefit from adding more raw, fresh foods to their diet. 

I ended up making myself about 3 cooked meals total in the past 11 days, which I felt really good after eating.  So I have come to peace with myself that I like being more of a "High Raw Vegan" then 100% Raw.  I'm learning all the new terms with all the research I have been doing.  It's pretty amazing what people have been able to accomplish with their health by eating this way.  Asparagus is one that I learned I enjoy grilled.  Below are pictures of the other two.  So delicious that I don't think I need to eat these any other way, even if I do go back to an omnivore lifestyle.  These pizzas were made from Brown Rice Tortilla's, chopped walnuts very fine, light shmear of tomato sauce and lots of veggies.  I put them in the toaster oven for a few minutes and they were delicious and crispy.  I don't think that I'll ever need cheese again on a pizza when it can taste like this without it!

Vegan Gluten Free Red Pepper and Asparagus Pizza

Vegan Gluten Free Mushroom and Red Onion Pizza


Today is Day 11 and I am proud to say that I'm still 90% raw vegan.  I busted out my juicer and started making some fresh juices since I felt that I was getting a little too much fiber.  My favorite juice so far is a combination of Kale, Apple and Ginger.  Today I plan on making a Carrot and Ginger juice.  I could seriously live off of those!  SO good, but you don't want to over do it.  The few strength workouts that I've had since regaining my energy back on Day 4 have been incredible.  Even after taking 2 weeks off from strength training, I was able to jump back in as if I never left.  My plan now is to eat only fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, Sun Warrior Protein, and a small amount of grains when I feel it's necessary for a total of 30 days. The weight that I gained from the trip is completely gone.  I am back to my 111lb self.  I don't mind bouncing around between 109-113 since, depending on the time of the month, my body can be any of those numbers. 

Challenges

The preparation that goes into making some raw dishes can take some time.  There's lots of chopping, blending, juicing and cleaning up.  My grocery bill has also increased quite a bit.  Fresh produce can be very expensive especially since I go to places like our local Farmer's Market, Trader Joe's, Henry's and Jimbo's.  With the amount of fruits, veggies and nuts I'm eating it really adds up. 

What I do miss, and maybe plan on adding back in after the 30 days, is a little bit of raw fish.  Eggs used to be my staple breakfast for most mornings a week.  So I do miss my eggs.  I will hold off as long as possible and see if my body responds better without them.  I may, however, end up adding a few of those back in as well.  But we will see!

Successes so far

Now this could be the results from actually having a vacation, but I have felt much more calm and peaceful.  I don't find I get upset over things as easily and my stress levels seem to be much lower.  I have just as much work to do if not more, but I'm not stressing over it much.  I just tackle one project at a time and take deep breaths.

People have been asking me about my cravings.  I hardly get cravings at all.  It's actually been very freeing.  I haven't even had one morsel of dark chocolate since doing this experiment.  I can honestly say I don't even miss it. Which is weird because I reached for 1-2 squares of 85% dark chocolate daily.  I know there is plenty of raw cacao which I haven't tried yet and I plan on it next week.  I just don't feel I need it right now. 

Since "detoxing" I have completely eliminated all caffeine.  I was a black and green tea drinker.  Now it's just herbal teas in the evening and I feel more energetic.  I still feel the natural tiredness in the late afternoon and if it's available I will lay down for a 30 minute rejuvenation.  My sleep at night has been INCREDIBLE!  I haven't slept this good in years.  I used to fall asleep okay, but wake up easily throughout the night from any noise around me, then toss and turn until my thoughts would take over my brain and keep me up for hours.  Now as soon as I hit the pillow my body just flows into a deep, peaceful sleep.  Then I wake up early ready to take on the world.   Let's see how long this lasts.  Maybe it's just a honeymoon phase.

All in all I look forward to eating this way and continuing my journey.  I will post a recap after the full 30 days are over.