*Disclaimer: I’m not a nutrition expert, nor do I have food allergies/beliefs that required me to take part in this challenge. The main reason I tried the 7-day vegan challenge was to test my will power and see how the diet would affect me mind and body. Plus, I actually do love vegetarian/vegan meals, so I was excited to try it out.
Instead of this week’s typical “Meet Me On The Mat” post where I reflect on the weekend’s fun and set the tone for the week, I wanted to share something a little different…
As many of you already know, just over a week ago, I randomly decided that I wanted to try a vegan diet for one week.
Why? Keep reading…. 😉
If you’re not already familiar with what “vegan” means, it’s basically one step further than vegetarianism. It’s diet that doesn’t include meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Basically, deciding to go vegan stripped a large amount of what I ate daily out my diet. Before this challenge, I would start most mornings with greek yogurt, add creamer to my coffee, and often end each day with a sprinkle of cheese on my chicken stir fry or .
So, how the heck would I make it through seven days without all of that?
In a simple effort to test my will power and break out of routine, I decided that I could do this—and really, anything—for just a week’s time. Dropping certain staples from my diet would be a challenge but I was more excited to keep track of how my body and mind felt through this totally do-able and brief (personal) exercise. The reason why I want to call attention to it being “personal” is because I didn’t do this for anyone else but me and for no other real reasons other than wanting to study my own health.
Are you vegan, or have you ever tried a vegan diet?
Here are what my breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners looked like this past week:
– Ezekiel toast with either peanut butter or avocado, Silk almond milk yogurts with fruit, Simple smoothies, Oatmeal with chia seeds, Overnight oats with banana and cinnamon, Quinoa oats, Saturday brunch out at Flore Vegan in Silverlake (cranberry walnut french toast and a bit of their avocado toast with tofu ricotta).
Brunch at Flore Vegan (if you’re wondering what that center photo is of, that’s Sam’s vegan “chicken and waffles”)
– Salads, Veggie stir fries with brown rice or quinoa, Veggie fajitas, Von’s Nourish bowls (without the cheese), Veggie burgers and sandwiches, Soups, Acai bowls
– Lara Bars, The Complete Cookie, Fruit (grapes, berries), Banana with almond butter, Pickles, Rice crackers with garlic dip/hummus, Pumpkin seeds, Almond milk yogurts, Cucumbers with salt and pepper
– Falafel wrap with tabouleh and grape leaves, Smokey tempeh with veggies, Corn cereal with almond milk (yes, I had this for dinner one night), Sweet potato and lentil mix, Veggie salada, and a date night out to Elf in Echo Park (highly recommend)
Dinner at Elf Cafe
I’ll admit, in the beginning of the week, it wasn’t always easy to eat vegan. It was either that I didn’t really enjoy my meal fully, I was left a little hungrier than normal, or it was hard to find an option at whichever restaurant I was at.
I know I could have done a better job preparing for the challenge, so if you’re going to try it yourself, I recommend reading more about it and doing a big shop to set yourself up for the week.
As the week progressed, my attitude started to shift and I felt way more positive about the challenge. I felt full all the time and really clear-minded. This is what I was hoping for!
I also kept track of how I felt each day. Take a look!
Monday, Day 1
Today I’ve been feeling pretty good, maybe just a little hungrier than normal but there’s no doubt that I love plenty of non-animal products, so finding other options should been a synch. I told Sam that I felt kind of off and he reassured me that I was probably just feel withdrawals from foods I normally ate. I think he was right. I also think I hadn’t really had enough food throughout the day, so my body was probably crashing at night.
Tuesday, Day 2
Overall, I didn’t feel as hungry the second day and I got a little more excited about all the foods I could try. My friend, Joy, gave me an incredible list of LA restaurants to try and I also chatted it up with a couple other in-office vegans. This definitely helped me feel more motivated. Some things I learned: Simple Mills brand at Whole Foods has great cookies, I should start cooking more at home, Lenny and Larry’s is good and Umami has amazingly realistic vegan burgers I have to try. Not going to lie… the diet kind of affected me in a weird way a couple days in. I felt bloated and my stomach felt upset.
Wednesday, Day 3
By the third day, I felt a little better but when I went out with friends for lunch and I only had one meal option, I was frustrated. I felt like I was depriving myself of what I wanted but I stayed strong and kept to the challenge. This night Sam got on board and we made falafel wraps together and that really got me excited for the rest of the week. The same bloated feeling happened today too, but I knew it was just from all the fiber I had been consuming.
Thursday, Day 4
Thursday was super busy so I didn’t even really have time to think about what I was even eating or when I was hungry. The day flew and I didn’t feel to hungry at all until getting home after my late work night. That night I made a tasty tempeh stir fry.
Friday, Day 5
This was the day that things really started to click for me—a whole five days in. I felt energized, happy, and excited for our date night to Elf, a veggie/vegan restaurant in Echo Park. I had an acai bowl for lunch and really enjoyed dinner to the max. Even Sam did! I was really starting to feel great about the diet and how my mind/body were feeling.
Saturday, Day 6
Another great day. I woke up for some morning yoga and then brunch with friends at Flore Vegan. Eating out at vegan places has been fun! I think it’s actually even more exciting than I thought it would be because the options are endless—more endless than my fridge/expertise. Haha! I didn’t feel hungry throughout the day and even managed to say “no” to cheese at my friend’s wine and cheese night. WOW. 😉
Sunday, Day 7
Feeling accomplished, happy and proud of myself. We had a great lunch at Tarme, which has awesome Mediterranean food and the cashier who was vegan herself, steered me in the right direction. I did it! Honestly, 7 days flew by.
So what did I learn through this process?
- Eating as a vegan is hard and takes more dedication/attentiveness than most diets.
- My body definitely reacted to this diet change in a bloated way in the beginning but then I started to feel way better.
- Preparedness is key. I should have shopped more ahead of the challenge.
- There are a lot of filler ingredients in some vegan foods that kind of has me raising my brow. I think instead of having fake cheese that tastes weird, I’d rather just not have any at all.
- Being vegan sort of took the fun out of eating for me and made me want to eat out less… but then, I started going to only vegan restaurants and that really turned the whole thing around for me. I am obsessed with a lot of the restaurants I went to this past week and will return 100%.
- Even though I don’t plan on staying vegan, I will definitely be adding more plant-based meals into my everyday life and choosing to eat more “whole” when I have the option to. I’m going to UP the veggies and maybe just skip the cheese here and there to have a more balanced diet.
That’s about it for now. I’m so happy to share this experience with you and really feel good that I was able to stick to it, even through all the little temptations that made their way into my week (at work, restaurants, and outings).
If you have any questions about going vegan or what it was like, reach out! I’d be happy to tell you even more tips.
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