Today marks 30 days of doing a whole food plant based diet, or what some people call vegan, as they are very similar. Yes, that means no eating ANY animal products. No pizza with cheese. No mayonnaise because there is egg in it. No chocolate bars because there is usually milk in it. The list goes on. I know right now you are asking yourself why? Like so many people have asked.
Before I tell you my “why”, let me just say I didn’t realize that your own personal diet was such a controversial subject. Every time I told someone that we were eating a whole food plant based diet, there was some sort of questioning of it. Not to mention some of the intense discussions I got in with loved ones. I felt like I had to defend the choice I was making to try this diet. What blew my mind is it’s not like I was going on an unhealthy diet to lose weight. In fact, I felt I was doing quite the opposite. I was changing my diet to have more carbohydrates than I have had in years, but also filling my meals with way more fruits, vegetables, beans and grains than I ever have before.
Some fresh vegetables from our garden!
Also, before I continue, please remember I have no nutritional or medical education behind me. This blog post is mainly focused on my experience and what I have read and learnt on this 30 day journey.
Like so many people, I have always thought of myself to be on the healthier side of things when it comes to eating. I have watched many documentaries, but one, which I am sure you can all guess, made me finally take the jump to try out eating a whole food plant based diet. I never thought I would do it, and in all honesty, I was one of those people that also questioned people who were vegan. It wasn’t because I was completely ignorant of the many reasons why people go vegan, for me I honestly think it was more of jealousy thing. I like meat, period. That’s it. I never thought I could not eat meat, and to go beyond that I never even thought of not having any dairy. NO CHEESE with my wine?! That was a terrifying thought! So, when I met people who were successfully vegan it was jealousy at the fact they have so much self control. Many people decided to eat vegan for health and environmental reasons but my main reason was to see if I got more energy from it. Since a health reason is my main reason behind trying to eat this way and from what I have grasped, our diet would be called a whole food plant based diet, not vegan. Being vegan has more ethical reasons first, as to why they eat the way they do. Although not everything is the same, it is very similar.
This year especially, I really felt like I just didn’t have my usual energy and motivation. I feel like a lot of people had the same problem, maybe due to us having an actual winter that felt REALLY long. Lots of people claim they had more energy on this whole grain plant based diet and that’s really my main reason that I wanted to give this a go. So that I did, in the middle of wedding season. My busiest time of the year…
Although super supportive, my husband thought I was crazy to decide to do this at my busiest time of the year. He is so awesome that he did the 30 days with me, and for not really wanting to do it, he did a great job and I am so thankful for him! I think one of the main reasons he thought I was crazy is because it isn’t easy to just all the sudden switch to eating a whole food plant based diet.
Here are the three main things I learned that I wish I thought about a little more before I just jumped right into eating a whole food plant based diet:
1. You are basically learning to recook. I was amazed at all the basic stuff we didn’t have in our pantry that are filled with nutrients. There are so many types of grains, beans and other ingredients that we didn’t even have in our home that could be used to cook with. We now had to learn to use these instead of what we were used to eating like meats, cheese and eggs.
2. Eating out is really hard to do still. I know vegetarian and vegan options have come a long way but you still go to many restaurants that have limited to no options. You really have to think about what you order and make a lot of substitutions. Sometimes this just resorted in me not really eating until I got home. It also resorted in some accidental slip ups because sometimes you really think you ordered properly but somewhere hidden in that vinaigrette dressing there is cheese.
Example: Olive gardens signature salad dressing has cheese in it, totally didn’t even think of that as I ordered the breadsticks and salad. To my surprise, and my weakness, Olive Gardens breadsticks are completely vegan. Their topping is made out of soy, not dairy! Best news ever!
3. Going to friends’ places for dinner or parties is tough. Going to most of our friends or families places was definitely not vegan friendly unless they were vegan or vegetarian themselves. When we went to our friends places, we pretty much just had to eat before or hope they had a tray of fruit and veggies or bread.
Because we were only trying 30 days, we didn’t go to the extreme of getting certain ingredients that we may never use again. We also don’t have a food processor, which I think is a staple item to have if you want to cook whole food plant based meals. There are so many delicious looking recipes I wanted to try and make but a food processor was needed. I originally wasn’t planning on blogging about this, so I didn’t take many photos, but I enjoyed what I learned over these 30 days that I changed my mind!
Here are a few photos of some things we made that I found on my phone.
Breakfast Power Cookies
Red Lentil Cashew Carrot Soup
Pesto Farro With Golden Beets, Tomatoes and Green Beans
So what did I really learn and experience from these 30 days? A lot!
To not bore you, here are the three main things I gained out of this experience.
1. Health. Eating a whole food plant based diet took me back to the basics of eating healthy. I was tested to pick fruits and vegetables over the junk food in front of me because, in order to stick to this diet properly, I had no choice. I am enjoying fruits and vegetables more than ever. I have gotten use to making them part of pretty much every meal, as well as snacks throughout the day. I plan to continue to do this!
2. Energy. I honestly have felt really good this whole month. I definitely feel like I have more energy. Some things I noticed was I didn’t have any naps this month, (besides the one day I was hungover and was up until 3:000AM the night before due to a bachelorette), I normally do have naps on days that I am just tired. I have also had some nights that I have been able to work out after dinner. This NEVER happens for me. Normally once I have had dinner that’s it for me, you will not catch me even close to doing a work out. This was huge for me. To finish a dinner and 45 minutes later want to work out was super strange, but so awesome! A big reason to do at least 30 days was to see if it effected my period and hormones. And to not get into too much detail with you, I am on my period right now and the fact that I am writing this without crying, getting upset or having major cramps or any cramps at all, is such a bonus!
On a side note: My husband said his energy levels were up and down. He also lost about 12 pounds this month. I think there was two reasons for these things. I think he did get energy from eating healthier and also lost weight. However, I feel he also wasn’t eating as much as he should because, like I mentioned, a whole food plant based diet is a learning curve. Sometimes I think he just didn’t know what he could eat on the road while he was working which resulted in eating less than he normally would. I know as we learn more about a whole food plant based diet and get used to what we can eat, these things may change for him, for the better.
3. Will Power. I DID IT. I ACTUALLY DID IT. 30 days without meat, and only a few accidental slip ups. I would have never thought I would/could do this and honestly it was easier than I thought. Well it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as I imagined because eventually I just got used to it, or perhaps, I even enjoyed it! I am so proud to say I stuck to what I wanted to do and learnt so much about myself. I would recommend trying out a whole food plant based diet to everyone just to see what you can take from it.
There has been so many positives to this experience. We have decided to take in what we have learnt this month and continue to eat like this as much as we can. With that being said, we will be having some meat and dairy in our diets but plan to go about it in the healthiest ways we can and much more limited than before.
The 30 day challenge is over and you would think I would rush to go eat something I haven’t been able to have all month, but instead I have had a whole food plant based breakfast at home as well as I went out for lunch at The Little Donkey in Fort Langley, and had their vegan burrito. Weird right?
Together as a couple, we are going for a date night to celebrate. We have decided to go to for Indian to get our favourite dish and also to try out a vegan dish. To be honest, I am a little nervous to eat meat again, but maybe once I eat it tonight that will all change? Or maybe I won’t like it anymore? I guess I will have to see.
Overall, I wanted to share some of my experience with you all in case you were curious of trying out a whole food plant based diet. Hopefully you can take something from this blog, even if it is, “nope I could absolutely not try that out.” I know reading about other people’s experiences is what helped motivate me and I am so glad I have done this. I am excited to get a food processor and experiment more with making some more whole food plant based recipes, and continue to eat healthier than I was!
I hope everyone is having a lovely Wednesday! Thanks for reading!