Monday, February 17, 2014

Stay the Course.

This vegan / vegetarian thing is interesting.  I probably miss butter first, dairy products second and meat third.  And I can honestly say, 100%, if it weren't for Kabocha squash, mushrooms, eggplant, lentils, sushi (purchased so far), I'd be up a creek without a paddle.

In the beginning I actually felt pretty good.  But that was because I had a large reserve of pre made pumpkin chili!  As every day went by it became more of a game.  Should I use meat stocks for soups, stews and chilis?  Or would that be "cheating".  And would it matter all that much?  What was the point anyway?  Health?  Bodyweight / BF%?  Certainly not for any ethical reasons...or maybe so?  The biggest challenge with not having animal protein as an option is, as Mark joked, "bagels and bananas!"  And, I never ever thought about how vegan / vegetarianism is completely opposite of Paleo (or Atkins, or even Whole 30)....not to mention what if you are a vegetarian/vegan AND gluten free?  

I'm two or three weeks into it...not sure at this point, and I can offer up a couple of observations.  

#1  I have not lost weight!  Why not?  Because I know how to cook!  

If you do not prepare and cook most of your own meals then you are a vegetarian/vegan of convenience.  The only thing that really matters is that you can buy foods without any animal protein.  Chips/nachos, crackers, bagels, pizzas, BARS, nuts, desserts, etc....right now I can't think of more examples, but there are, for sure, many more high calorie, high carb options.  Not eating meat is really not that difficult, in my opinion, preparing and cooking all of your own meals is much more of a challenge.  But if you are the kind of person that doesn't like to eat much in the first place then you, most likely, aren't even thinking about your next meal anyway.

#2  Consistency.  Stay the course.  Like I said; it's been one or two weeks. Hardly enough time to gather any solid data at all!  I'm having many feelings of being stuck in the middle somewhere.  I have had days that I ate a few eggs, and then I've had days that I ate a small amount of meat, and of course I have heavy cream in my coffee every morning, so I'm not sure what to make of all of this just yet.

What I do know is that a couple of weeks is just not enough time to make a judgement.  And this is when "consistency" comes into play.

Like regular exercise, regular diet and eating must be given a chance to show itself.  We spend our entire lives creating what it is that we have, right now, at this exact moment.  What we have and what we are is the result of what we do and how we think.  Sure, we can change what we do, our "actions", and what we think in a split CAN happen.  But maybe, sometimes, we have residual thoughts that may produce a residual reality.

Okay, enough already.

As much as I want to sauté some mushrooms in butter and serve over polenta w/ parmesan cheese shavings, I wonder....  I wonder what, if any, changes will I feel or see in my health and my body.  It's just an experiment.  But it's an experiment that must be given a chance, some time, and consistent practice.  

It may prove to not be ideal for me, and the reasons why will eventually show themselves.  I'm open to all possibilities, but not after only a couple of weeks.

Sure, it's much easier to make a few soft boiled eggs as a snack than it is to stop at Noah's Bagels for a multi seed, or cinnamon raisin bagel.  Same calories (okay, not so quite), but I have to say that I feel better making my own eggs than I do purchasing someone else's bagel.

I'm going to stay this course for a little while longer.  I'm curious.  But I suspect that, at the end of the day, what I'm looking for is not fault or blame, but responsibility. 

photo above is some broccoli and Kabocha squash being prepared for roasting to add to a barley salad.


psychicchic said...

I became vegan over a year ago. There is definitely a learning curve, so give it a chance. There are many excellent recipes on the net. You might try Imagine's No Chicken Broth for your soups and stews. It's better than the vegetable broth. The only difference is the No chicken has no tomato which makes it seem more "chickeny" hehe. Have fun, ask questions, and most of all have patience. Coleen Patrick Goudeau has a site called The 30 day vegan challenge that I found very helpful when I was first starting out. Also Brendan Braziers book called Thrive covers athletes needs on a plant based diet. Best of luck to you, and thanks for writing about your experience.

Donna Rowe

Hanneke said...

Interesting. Why did you start eating less meat/cutting meat out? (Maybe I just missed that part)

I know a few years ago I decided to cut out meat (again). I did that because I really thought my diet consisted of way too much meat. It started out with doing crossfit for just a short while (a whole different story) and got into paleo and more body building style diets. I really ate a lot of meat. I was lean but very "heavy". I looked heavy but also was really heavy, about 170 pounds. Funny enough I was not fat, still wore a size 10 or so but I did not feel healthy.
It was frustrating because all I read was that women do not get bulky and carbs are the devil etc. But for me personally, lots of meat (protein, also eggs etc) made me heavy.

In those days I worked with seniors, I got to know quite some women in their nineties and even a few centenarians. And what struck me about them is that they were always tiny. Of course they kinda shrink a little when aging but even when I saw pictures of them at a younger age, they were just little. Little in length but also size in general.

I have kinda developed my own theory about that. I think that the heart just has to work harder with big people or heavy people and it just wears out sooner. Crazy? Yes maybe. But still I don't think being heavy is very healthy, even if the weight is muscle. No matter what, the heart still has to work harder. I understand there are many other factors but this was just how my thinking about being heavy even though muscular started to change.

I basically decided that I wanted to be lighter. And so I began to eat more carbs (oh my) and less meat. First I cut all meat out but I just like food that is based on meat too much. I really think that meat brings more depth to food. Think about a good stock made of bones etc, doesn't that make a soup or stew so much better?
Now I do eat meat but not that much. I can easily go days without it. If I make a nice steak for my husband I usually buy just a big one and eat about 1/4 of it. I definitely am not afraid of carbs anymore most of my carbs are veggies, (sweet) potatoes and rice. Very little grains although I do eat some of that as well. (I know rice is also a grain but I ignore that in my head).

My body has changed since then and I definitely got lighter. I weigh about 135-145 pounds now even though calorie wise I eat about the same amount. I guess everyone is different. I know some women really lean out nicely eating a high protein diet but for some reason I do not.
I am not leaner at the moment just lighter, less muscle mass.

That's my story on eating less meat the past few years.
Thanks for sharing yours! I always love your posts, they make me think about my own choices.

Tracy Mangold said...

I can go for a bit without meat. Especially in the summer when the garden is brimming with fresh vegetables. But inevitably, I start craving protein in the form of meat and go back to it. I love my elk meat too much. LOL! I do think it is good to try different forms of eating though. I find the vegan and vegetarian cookbooks have a lot of wonderful recipes using various vegetables you never see in the mainstream cookbooks. One of my favorites is from the Veganomicon Cookbook - Acorn Squash, Pear and Aduki Bean Soup. YUM!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I resist products meant to mimic meat in anyway. If I'm going to stand by the choice of no meat then, to me, that means no meat, no imitation meat....but that's just me.

You share great options for others that may be looking for alternatives, and I thank you for your suggestions!

Tracy Reifkind said...


170???? Good Lord! I think there is a hyper focus on protein, and I agree 100% with your experience on many levels.

First of all, I like to feel light. I'm only impressed with so much "muscle". I also agree about how hard your heart muscle has to work the bigger and heavier you are. Enlargement of the heart was the #1 motivator for me to lose the weight in the first place....have I told that story? I think maybe I did in The Swing.

Personally I'm enjoying going days without meat, but then every so often I enjoy it. I also agree about the depth bone stocks make, BUT I'm not 100% convinced that weaning myself away from the strong flavor of animal bone stocks will change how I feel about it.

Thank you so much for commenting. I am not alone.....whew!

Tracy Reifkind said...

Tracy M,

A LOVE vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, until...they start up with "faux" meat or meat flavored ingredients. I just ordered and received "The Inspired Vegan" (Bryant Terry), mostly because of his use of miso!

Thanks for your comment!

Hanneke said...

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Don't worry I do know you read the comments :)

One other thing I often do is use vegan/vegetarian recipes and give them my own twist. This week for instance I made a squash soup with apple which is very tasty, but instead of veggie broth I used my own chicken broth and I added a little bacon in the first stir frying process. Super yummie and whatever others say it's just better than the pure vegan recipe. But that's just me.

I've "souped" up many recipes like this. Other times I just make them the way they are, just depends on how I feel and also who's coming to visit.