The Results From Going Vegan for a Month & My New Lifestyle!
Back in June I went Vegan for the month! My intention was to simply try it out. I had no expectations, but I was keen to see what the effects would be on my body - especially while training heavily. Well, needless to say it was an amazing journey that I am excited to write about! Let me detail the month for you - week by week - and then share my plans for my diet moving forward! If you're keen to get on your own Vegan journey - you may find this helpful.
Week 1 - The "Raw Vegan" Approach
Week 1 was exciting! As with anything I start, the momentum was strong and the adrenaline was high! So I decided to shoot for the stars and went completely raw. Ha! That was ambitious. For those who aren't aware, a fully raw diet contains foods that are pretty much uncooked, unprocessed and mostly organic. Staples included raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. Food is usually cold, room temperature, or even a little bit warm, as long as it doesn't go above 118 Degrees Fahrenheit. This is the purest and most natural way to eat food - but it came with severe challenges by day 7!
By day 7 I was craving warm food! While I was feeling incredible, I wasn't entirely satisfied! And if you know me, you know I love food. And I hate to compromise satisfaction... ever. So I decided week two would just be a vegan diet. Removing the "raw" portion was the best thing I could have done for my personal success.
Week 2 - The "Normal Vegan" Approach
Once I started eating warm food, I felt completely capable of carrying this journey through for the remaining weeks. The Vegan diet was completely easy to adopt as I based myself in Bali for the month. It was important for me to do this diet in a place that was free of temptation and would inspire me to continue.
By week 2, I was really starting to see the benefits. My skin was glowing, nails were strong, and my hair was growing. I felt energetic, I slept better, and my digestive system was poppin! Haha
It's important to note, I didn't just eat salads everyday. I really put effort into finding meals that would cater to my taste buds so I wouldn't feel deprived. Because I based myself in Bali, many of my meals were purchased at cafes that sell locally grown organic vegan food for a fraction of the price you would pay in many other parts of the world!
All in all, I was feeling on top of the world! A typical day would look like:
Breakfast: Cereal/grains with almond milk OR a smoothie bowl if I was craving something sweet
Lunch: Some form of a vegan bowl with grains, heaps of veggies, and dressing
Snack: Smoothie with plant-based protein
Dinner: Another vegan bowl OR something fun like a vegan burger/vegan curry
Have a look at some of the tasty meals I ate for the month, below...
Week 3 - The Slip Up
So by Week 3 - I was starting to feel weak with my training. I was energized in my day to day, but I wasn't feeling as powerful in my lifts. Also, I missed meat. I really really missed meat. So, I caved one night and enjoyed a chicken burger...with cheese. I may have been under the influence after downing a few glasses of wine, so I can't say the decision was purely intentional, LOL. But it happened... and man was it every tasty! No regrets! However, I woke up the next morning feeling ill which made me determined to keep at this vegan journey.
As for as my energy levels during training, I decided to pay closer attention to my macros/micros. I knew that I needed to ensure my caloric intake, protein, and B12 were sufficient. I'm not a macro counter by any means, but for the purposes of training, I had to focus on these areas. My issue with the plant-based diet is that many of the foods are not calorie dense. For instance, I tracked for one day and realized I was only consuming 1200 calories - I normally consume double that. So it was important I focused on getting enough calories in, and focused on foods high in protein and B12.
For protein, that meant ensuring I had protein-dense, plant-based foods in my diet. For example: hemp seeds, lentils, tofu, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, tempeh, spirulina, chickpeas, nut butter, seitan, and almonds (to name a few). When I needed supplements, my plant based powders included: rice protein, macca powder, or Prana powder (a great brand).
For B12, I decided on a multivitamin. B12 is most found in animal-based products, so it was important I supplemented it. (Side note: I did a lot of research on this vitamin - to see how I could get it from food alone. But it was best for me, for many reasons, to just get a vitamin supplement).
Once I focused on upping my calories, protein, and B12, the energy went up and lifting became a breeze again!
Week 4 - The Finale
So by week 4, I felt INCREDIBLE! I was the leanest I had been in a decade, and I was just loving the overall feeling. I knew I wanted to continue this longer term, with modifications. However, I was also preparing for 8 weeks in Europe. A trip I had been planning for months. And the plan was to let myself EAT this summer.... in all aspects with no restrictions. So I carried through the vegan diet for the remaining week, knowing it was something I would revisit after my summer of travel! But shout out to the #veganbody that came as a result of this miraculous month.
Then, a Summer in Europe Happened....
As planned, I ate... and ate... and ate. I regret nothing. At all. Pizza/Pasta every day for a month in Italy is something everyone should add to their bucket list. I still dream about the meat in Greece and Portugal and the seafood in Croatia. But that wasn't reality, it was an extended vacation! So while I enjoyed it, I'm now back and ready to make a lifestyle change!
Where I've Landed...
So, after a month of complete focus... and two months of no focus at all, I've landed somewhere in the middle. Since I've started thinking about this vegan diet, I've done a lot of research. I've watched all the documentaries and I've read many articles.
Health benefits aside, I have issues with the meat industry. The environmental and socio-economical impacts cannot be denied. My main reasons for drastically decreasing my intake is to a) reduce my environmental footprint and b) stop fully supporting an industry that causes so much harm. With that in mind, I'm consciously making a decision to cut my meat intake.
The 80/20 Approach
My approach (as with most things I do) will be following the 80/20 rule. 80% of my diet will be vegan, and 20% will be animal based products. The animal based products will likely be fish, eggs, and cheese. However, if I want a piece of chicken or steak, I'll have it!
The 80/20 rule is an approach I take with most aspects of my health journey... and my life to be honest. So it made sense to apply it to this lifestyle. I won't go all in for a few reasons. Whenever I commit to anything, I always think: Can I do this for the next 5, 10, or 15 years? If I don't see it as something I can do forever at this point, I apply my 80/20 rule. Another reason is because I don't do extremes. I like to find balance in everything I do. So with that, I'll find the balance and enjoy a meal from time to time, but be plant-based primarily. I try to eat 5 meals a day, so 4 will be 100% vegan, and 1 will have some flexibility. I may not always exercise that flexibility (i.e. I've been 100% vegan for the past few days), however I'll give myself the option.
So there you have it! You'll begin to notice this lifestyle more and more as the months go on, and I'm really excited for it. I've based myself in Bali intentionally to help me with this journey. It's been 2 weeks already and I feel just as amazing as I did back in June. I'm looking forward to the results!