About a year ago my husband and I watched a couple of documentaries and made the decision to try eating only plant based food. After about 21 days I was feeling great and wrote this post here.
I figured it’s time to give an update on how we did, especially seeing that the post is getting quite a bit of attention right now.
Reasons We Went Plant Based
First, let’s be clear on the reasons why we decided to go Vegan. After a year of working from home both my husband and I noticed that our physical health had suffered.
I had gained 80 lbs of weight and all of my clothes no longer fit me. I was wearing leggings – if I was lucky – and pajama pants all the time. While normally this would just push me to exercise more I was also in a pretty deep depression.
When I watched the documentaries it seemed easier to change how I eat than it would be to change my activity levels. At the time we were living in the middle of Pennsylvania, in a small town, on a main road. Taking my then 3 year old out for walks on a main road didn’t really excite me.
I was also convinced that meat and dairy were real causes for obesity and other issues. Ever since I turned 25 I’ve struggled with my weight – it started to make sense that meat and dairy might be some of the cause to my weight issues.
Going vegan was an absolute eye opener for me in the beginning. I had more energy and I felt better. More than that, I realized it was actually somewhat easy to eat vegan.
Well, mostly. It was easy to eat vegan food. I didn’t crave meat or dairy products all that much. I actually really didn’t miss eating meat.
What wasn’t easy, and I knew this would be my downfall, was the constant food prep. This is especially true if you are seeking to eat whole foods and not prepackaged foods.
Every single meal would need to be prepared before eating and that got to be tiring. Because while prepping the food isn’t really an issue, it’s the cleaning up after food prep, just to do it all again in 2-3 hours.
That’s right, I was eating every 2-3 hours because I was always hungry. Which also explained why I was so energetic on the diet. I was constantly supplying my body with healthy nutrients because I was eating a lot.
It was tiring so we eventually started incorporating vegan junk food like chickpea nuggets, pre-made hummus and guacamole, vegan crackers and snacks, and fried potatoes. That’s when I stopped losing weight, but I was still hungry all the time.
Why We Stopped The Vegan Diet
Six months after starting the vegan diet we were getting ready to move 5 hours from our location. This meant we were eating all of our food in the two weeks before the move and buying very little in order to avoid food waste.
We were also busy in that last week packing and moving that we weren’t eating enough food. This left us feeling drained.
We pushed through until moving day. When we finally sat down after everything was in the house but there was no food and decided to order delivery. We went with vegetarian options allowing for cheese.
It was delicious and those eggplant sandwiches actually held us over instead of feeling like we needed a snack later in the night. That’s when my husband and I sat down and had a serious discussion about our diet.
It was in that discussion that we realized just how much food we were eating and what benefits we were seeing from eating a vegan diet.
I had lost 40 lbs in 6 months on the vegan diet, my husband only lost 20 lbs. While we both felt great when we were eating enough food, it actually became a chore to eat so much.
I was tired of the constant food prep and hated that we had resorted to eating processed food for snacks. On the other hand I really enjoyed eating the vegan meals I was preparing.
We decided it was time to give up on the vegan diet but we also decided we didn’t want to go back to the eating we were doing before.
My husband and I knew that it was a matter of making a lifestyle change in our diet to see results and most of the fad diets were far too restrictive. So whatever diet we decided to go on would need to be one that we could stick to.
How Our Diet Changed
Instead of being strictly vegan we decided to pull what we learned from a purely vegan diet and change how we used to eat.
We wanted to get back to only needing to eat 3 – maybe 4 – times in a day. We really preferred feeling full over needing to eat all day long.
So we decided to add eggs, dairy, and meat back to our diet but not in the extent that we used to eat it. Meat was no more than once a day – if at all – and it was now a small side dish instead of the main dish.
For instance, one chicken breast will feed all three of us instead of a chicken breast for each of us. We load up on veggies, grains, fruits, and legumes instead.
While we enjoy vegan meals from time to time – especially certain pasta dishes I learned to make – we have vegetarian dinners at least 3-4 times in the week.
My husband will eat more meat when he decides to get lunch meat for easy sandwiches. I typically only eat meat about 3-4 times a week. Though I do eat eggs and cheese more often and try to eat vegetarian or vegan for my lunches.
My typical breakfast is either oatmeal with fruit, eggs on avocado toast, or a smoothie with silken tofu instead of yogurt. My lunches are usually left overs from the night before, a salad packed with fruit, veggies, a hard boiled egg, and a sprinkle of cheese, or a smoothie if I didn’t have it for breakfast.
We don’t follow a super strict diet and we’ve still lost more weight. Now that we live in a walkable area we also get a lot more exercise than we used to. We feel a lot healthier now that we make veggies and legumes the main dish. We actually feel fuller longer by adding a small portion of meat or animal product to our meal.
I’m also not completely sick of chickpeas anymore and will use them often in a salad, wrap, or dinner dish again.
You Have To Do What’s Right For You
As much as I enjoyed the Vegan diet, the time commitment and constant eating was not for me. Even with eating loads of legumes and healthy fats like avocados I just felt like I was hungry all the time due to my body processing the food quickly.
Vegan foods will move through your system faster than a traditional diet. Adding meat, dairy, and eggs back into our diet helps us feel fuller longer. While there is always some prep work, it’s a lot easier to make a quick sandwich for lunch than creating a loaded salad every single day.
Over the last year I’ve come to realize that diets work individually. What works for one system doesn’t always work the same for another.
Be it a certain lifestyle, work schedule, or any other commitments you have, diets need to work for you.
I will say this. I have major respect for ethical vegans who choose to follow the vegan lifestyle and stick with it. I was never an ethical vegan, it was purely for selfish health reasons that we followed the diet so well for 6 months.
It was also for purely selfish reasons that we stopped following it. My time and desire to eat less times in the day was more important than continuing to follow the vegan diet.
If you eat enough and don’t mind eating a lot of food often, the vegan diet is probably a great choice for you. Likewise, vegan junk food is delicious but it’s not the healthiest choice for you either. Processed food be it vegan or not is just not healthy for you.
The biggest take away for me in this experience is whole unprocessed foods are the best for health. Veganism can be done and it can be a delicious experience, but it takes effort and a bit of extra time.
I still buy tofu and being vegan for 6 months taught me how to actually make a truly delicious salad. Being vegan also taught me how to properly season my food and introduced a lot more options to my regular meal plan.
One day I might gain the motivation to go back and stick with a vegan diet again but for now, I’m good. I will say this one final thing though, don’t knock veganism if you’ve never tried it.
Challenge yourself to go vegan and see how it feels. You might find a new appreciation for vegan meals and find something new to add to your regular rotation.
Have you ever tried a vegan or plant based diet? Did it work out well for you? Let me know in the comments below. I’d also love to know if you have any food prep hacks that make following a vegan diet easier. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite diet boards.
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