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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. 


Pensguys said…
Your body was needing the PROTEIN, not necessarily eggs..but the high amount of fat and protein they contain.
Lauren Brooks said…
Pensguys, WIth all the legumes, nuts, and seeds i was eating the protein was very high in my diet. I was even taking a protein supplement drink. I just think I needed the B, D, and E vitamins and the Iodine. Or it could have been mental. ;-)
Nice post, Lauren. I've been eating vegan on and off for about two years to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. I find it really hard to maintain muscle mass if I eat purely vegan, no matter what the vegan proponents say. So, I also eat eggs (egg white protein powder and liquid egg whites, with the odd yolk every other day or so) in addition to a vegan diet. By the way, Dr. Joel Fuhrman's books are a really good resource for vegans, if you care to check them out.
Lauren Brooks said…
Mike, I love Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat To Live. It has so much great information. Glad you are able to find that balance for yourself. I never thought in a million years i'd be eating like this, but it feels really great.
Melody said…
Awesome, Lauren! It's so good to hear how well you did on the vegan (mostly :) ) diet! There's so much unfounded negativity out there about the viability of veganism, it's great to see a positive experience from a strong, smart woman like you. Yay!
Anonymous said…
Nice post, Lauren.I've been waiting your update on your 30 day Vegan experience.
I know my question is not related to your vegan experience.But I need your opinion based on your knowledge and experience on what is the best protein sources for grown up children.I live in the country with the mentality-"Cow's milk is the best protein and calcium source for the growing up children".FYI,I am a mother of 2 kids-2 and 5 :)
Lauren Brooks said…

Thank you very much. I don't see myself going back to eating meat, especially with how good I feel without it. Maybe things will change over time, but we will see. I think there are enough creative ways to eat this way that makes it safe and effective. It does take a bit more work but it's worth it and gets easier.
Lauren Brooks said…

Neither of my kids drink any cows milk. As soon as Chloe stopped her digestion started working better. Cow's milk caused her to have constipation and bleeding. Within a week of eliminating it she has never had a bloody stool since. With that being said, I don't think it's positive for many.

They get their calcium from Hemp Milk, Almonds, Fruits, Vegetables such as Brocolli, Spinach, Peas, Seaweed.

My kids are not vegetarian nor would I try and push that. We have definitely cut down on having animal products in our house, but they eat organic free range poultry and fish from on a weekly basis.

Hope this helps. My kids are 2 and 4, so I understand how it is. ;-)
Chef Amber Shea said…
GREAT job going almost-vegan! I hate strict labels too. Be flexible, have fun, and be healthy - that's all that matters! :)
Lauren Brooks said…
Thanks Amber! I like your way of thinking. Much more fun when there is a bit of flexibility in my life. I think many feel that way as well. Just checked out your site. Good stuff!! ;-)
Anonymous said…
Hi Lauren...may i know your stat.Your BF % etc.I can't believe to see your abs despite the fact that you are a mother of 2 kids :)
jondotkom said…
Great post!

I've been a vegetarian of various strains for the last quarter century, but the one thing I learned, perhaps in a harder way than I had hoped, is flexibility is vital. Everyone is a little different, and has different nutritional needs.

The key, really as far as I'm concerned, is that one consumes as many whole, unprocessed foods as they can, organic if possible.

And it's fitting that you utilized a quote from the Dalai Lama--even he's not a vegetarian!
Anonymous said…

How very different your eating is now compared to the weight loss diet you recommend on one of the bodybuilding websites! I have been struggling a great deal with my weight lately, though I follow a rather strict paleo diet. I keep my carbs in line, but I have gained 20 pounds over the past 2 years since I started eating paleo and have been experiencing a great deal of fatigue lately. I have been considering the Clean program - maybe I'm not supposed to be eating so much meat? Have you heard of this, and if yes, what are your thought? I want to be able to maintain some high activity and lose the pounds that I have gained; I am concerned about cutting protein from my diet, as I have a very hard time maintaining muscle mass as it is. Do you believe juicing will have a negative impact on insulin (i.e. cause possible insulin resistance due to the 'liquid food' spiking blood sugar levels)?

Thank you for your insights...

Lauren Brooks said…
Hi Jessica,

Thanks so much for the post. You are not alone with feeling fatigue and weight gain with eating a high meat diet. High meat/fat and low carb tend to be very very low in fiber, which can be very taxing on the gut. When I wrote the nutrition sample plan for it was about 5 years ago when I was a clean eater and enjoyed meat on a regular basis. I have evolved and with my research I have changed my approach. As much as people can lose weight on almost any nutrition philosophy whether it be Paleo, Primal, Meat, Gluten Free, and Veggies, or Vegetarian you have to find the balance with what works for your lifestyle. I have learned so much and I look forward to posting my 4-5 month recap of my "almost vegan" experiment with myself.

I gained 8lbs on a high meat and fat diet and no grains when I experimented with a Paleo and Primal approach. Each person is different and there is no right or wrong road when it comes to this. There are so many gray areas and I would never force someone to do exactly what works for me since they may need a different approach for their lifestyle. My opinion on juicing is this. Fresh juice that is made with much more fruit will definitely spike insulin and if consumed too much will of course cause weight gain, like anything. Green base juices with Kale, Spinach, Celery, are very low in sugar and will not be detrimental as far as insulin goes. The enzymes and nutrients are fresh as can be and can be very powerful for anyone to have. WIth many of the nutrients being met the body may not crave other foods as much since they are receiving what it needs. It can be challenging to take the time to juice. I recommend someone have a green or fresh made juice vegetable based, several times a week if possible or even a green smoothie. The more veggies one can get in the better really.

Hope you are able to start making the shift to more greens so you can get your energy back. Lots of meat and fat can be draining and toxic for a gut, which can cause your fatigue and possible weight gain. Let me know if you decide to take another route and how it works out for you. My motto is when something is not working, it's time to change it. Good luck and please stay in touch!

Best, Lauren
Anonymous said…

Thank you for your response, and I see you posted an update - great information! Just curious...I do see you incorporate a raw sprouted rice protein drink prior to your workouts. Is this good post-workout nutrition, too? I had already ordered some Sun Warrior brown rice protein, but are there other alternatives to pre- and post-workout nutrition for those of us leaning toward more of a 'veggie' lifestyle?

Thanks again!!!


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