The 8 things I discovered after a week of vegan eating
All my life, I have eaten and enjoyed a varied diet which has included meat, fish, poultry and dairy.
Just lately life has been very hectic though and my diet hasn’t been as good as it should be! I’m human and just like many of you I fell into the trap of ‘grab and go’ foods without giving too much thought to nutrition. My diet wasn’t bad, but the bulk of it was animal protein and carbohydrates (lots of bread) and lacked fruit, vegetables and variety. I don’t supplement my diet and rely on food for getting those essential vitamins and minerals.
I’ve felt tired and lacking in energy and although my hectic life is a contributing factor, the lack of nutrients in my diet has definitely had an effect too.
I spent some time researching the vegan diet and decided I would trial it to see how my body responded. I have mixed feelings about the vegan diet but at the same time I have mixed feelings about an omnivorous diet. There are many arguments ‘for and against’ both diets and to be quite honest I find it very confusing! I don’t think anyone really knows which diet humans were designed to eat!
My 7 day Vegan Trial
For seven days I cut all meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs from my diet. I included more fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and grains.
Research suggests the Vegan/Vegetarian diet could lack essential vitamins and minerals. The main ones to keep an eye on are Vitamin B12, D and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, you can read more about Vitamins & Minerals here.
Taking on board some of the recommendations when switching to a vegan diet, I supplemented my diet with Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, Calcium and Magnesium just to ensure I had the basics covered, after all, the whole point was to ensure I was improving my diet. I have never supplemented my diet before but this is something everyone should consider if embarking on a diet with restrictions.
For seven days I stuck to a vegan way of eating and to be honest it was relatively easy to begin with. It really did make me think more about the foods on offer and how my meals were planned.
This is what my vegan diet for a typical day looked like:
Oats, coconut milk, flax seeds and berries
Mixed salad with potato wedges and hummus sprinkled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Kidney bean curry with rice and vegetables
Snacks – fruit and nuts.
So will I be going Vegan permanently?
The vegan diet for me was a trial. I have learned a lot from it and it has definitely made me think even more about the foods I eat on a day to day basis.
Whilst I believe the vegan diet is a healthy choice if you eat wholesome foods with lots of variety, for me it had some positives and negatives. Here’s what happened:
- My food was visually appealing. On the positive side my plates were filled with lots of colourful veg and salads which did add more interest to my meals and upped my vitamin and mineral content. I also included a variety of grains, nuts, beans and fruits which had definitely been lacking in my diet previously.
- My energy levels got a boost. I did notice a slight increase in energy and my gut felt more cleansed.
- I was less bloated because trips to the bathroom were more frequent – two or three times daily.
- But…I did struggle with more gas in my stomach which was uncomfortable at times.
- On the same subject (sorry!) I did worry a little that the food wasn’t staying in my system long enough for vital nutrients to be absorbed. My stool wasn’t very well formed which was obviously due to the change of diet, but this could quite well have settled over time
- There wasn’t enough variety for me. Although I was probably getting enough protein from the diet I did feel the source was limited for me. I don’t like tofu/soya and relied solely on nuts, grains and beans.
- I didn’t see a change on the scales. Weight loss wasn’t my goal, although I did weigh myself prior to starting the diet. At the end of the week I weighed again and the scales had stayed exactly the same, but I did feel leaner and I most definitely looked leaner too! Having competed in figure competitions for years I have a keen eye for changes in body fat and it was apparent my body fat had dropped visually.
- Family meal times were a problem – lots of scowling at the dinner table – there is no way I can convert my meat eating family!
So will I be going vegan permanently?
Well, after seven days of eating the vegan way I reached a point where I was getting bored of nuts and beans (particularly because I don’t really like the alternative protein sources).
Taking into account the positives and negatives, for now I will be staying clear of dairy products, especially milk. However, I truly believe life is about balance and enjoying the foods you like. Honestly, I can’t imagine life without fish, poultry or meat and I’m not totally convinced that humans were designed to have a plant based diet only.
I feel that the human diet has changed massively over time with more and more foods being processed and treated with chemicals and that has inevitably had a detrimental impact on our health.
The top and bottom of it for me – to think more about the variety in my diet, including more plant based produce and small amounts of meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Also, wherever possible, to consume organic produce to escape some of the contaminants found in modern day foods.
Why not give the vegan diet a try for a week and see if it gives your system a rest from being overloaded with foods that are harder to digest? It might be just the energy boost you need.
Let me know how you get on.
You should always check with your GP or a medical professional before embarking on a significant diet change.
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