For the past 2 weeks, Lindsey and I were vegan. After watching What the Health and hearing more and more about vegan diets, we thought we should give it a shot. We wanted to see if we felt differently, had more energy, etc. You always hear stories about unhealthy and/or overweight people going vegan, and subsequently feeling fabulous, but that seems obvious to us. Of course, they should feel better! Simply adding more fruits and vegetables and cutting back on highly processed foods is always a plus! Our question was… what if healthy people go vegan? Not to sound presumptuous, but Lindsey and I probably eat healthier than 95% of the population. We eat mostly plant based diets, but boy do we love our cheese 😉
We were both convinced that there would be some sort of change, and we would feel differently some how. I was secretly hoping (but also dreading) that my allergy/congestion issues would go away. The results? We honestly can’t say we felt an improvement or really much different.
So is going vegan the best diet approach? I think what we discovered is what we already knew. The key to health is an abundance of plant based foods, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. We believe you can still enjoy meat and dairy products, but they should not be the focus. Also, learn where your meat and dairy products come from, how the animals were raised, what they were eating. You are what you eat, SO in many ways you are what THEY eat. There is a difference between mass produced commercial meat/dairy farms and local farms practicing organic and sustainable farming techniques. You definitely can go 100% plant based, but do your research and make sure you are eating/supplementing properly.
What we learned during our trial:
- Going vegan can be hard work. It requires more careful meal planning and is harder to eat out. I’m sure it gets easier over time, but the transition period to a vegan diet was slightly difficult, and that’s coming from 2 dietitian/chefs. We did have fun creating vegan recipes though!
- We don’t eat as many cooked greens as we should. Leafy greens are nutrient powerhouses. We should definitely eat them every day. A salad is an easy raw choice, but there are so many ways to add greens to different dishes. Why not do it?
- It was harder not to have eggs than cheese. Not to eat by themselves, but for cooking. As bakers, we really missed not having full access to milk and eggs. Sure, there are subs, but they aren’t quite the same.
- We should encourage people to focus more on a variety of produce beyond color. To think about the different groups: dark greens, cruciferous (broccoli/cauliflower), legumes, berries, etc. To also think about eating a variety of grains; don’t always go for brown rice or whole grain bread, try some farro, quinoa, barley, etc. Variety is important!
- You can and NEED to eat a lot on a vegan diet. Those first few days, we were painfully hungry. We were not used to portion sizes of a vegan meal. While very nutrient dense, vegan meals are not calorie dense (unless you are eating highly processed vegan food), so you have to up your portion sizes. I felt like I was constantly hungry and eating!
- If you are concerned about animal rights, vegan is the best route to go. If you are concerned about health, it is ONE of your options, but NOT the ONLY option. To quote Michael Pollen “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
It really was a fun experiment, and we would encourage others to try it out if curious!
To YOUR Taste!