Vegan Virgin: My Conclusions on a Vegan Diet

It’s now been 2 weeks from the beginning of my Vegan Diet experiment…one week on…one week off

Rather than write one _long_ post here, I’m planning to add in more details in separate posts over the next few days as I continue to organize my notes and thinking.

…here’s what I found about a Vegan Diet…and essentially summarized by my latest Food Pyramid:

PRO’s: A Vegan Diet:

  • makes you much more aware of what you eat
    • you read all labels closely
  • encourages a higher level of knowledge about diet and it’s components
  • encourages eating a diversity of foods outside of meat and fish
  • encourages a balanced meal, every time, to get enough and the right kinds of protein and other nutrients
  • is naturally very low in saturated fats
  • is naturally high in ‘good’ fats and carbohydrates
  • is naturally low in cholesterol…although there is some controversy about whether this is ‘really’ a good or bad thing…I’ll put it in the Pro column since that’s the more traditional view…more on this in the next few days
  • naturally eliminates the empty calories in desserts
  • is ‘animal friendly’…another topic unto itself

CON’s: A Vegan Diet:

  • takes a lot of deliberate work to make sure that nutrients and fats/carbs/protein are at optimal levels
    • protein is particularly difficult…both total amount and the correct balance of all essential amino acids
  • requires a constant quest for protein balance that leads to:
    • you need to deliberately plan every meal every day to make sure that you get enough protein
      • if you don’t you’re likely to be short on protein, or have the amino acids out of balance
    • soy based products like tofu, tempeh, edamame
      • I don’t like the bad things that I read about soy…at all
        • and I also don’t like that raw soybeans are toxic to humans and need to be fermented just to make it fit for human consumption…and particularly bad is processed soy…like in soy junk foods like soy ice cream and soy burgers
    • other heavily processed food like seitan
  • high in calories if you don’t really watch it…just too easy to eat foods that have a low nutritional value for the calorie count
    • just one example is rice or rice noodles…a common vegan staple…very high in calories (carbs), very low in protein and fats…a very imbalanced food
  • low on total fats if you don’t watch it
  • sodium can be high
  • eating in restaurants can be both limiting and easily lead to unhealthy choices from the limited options

MY GENERAL CONCLUSIONS & DIET ADJUSTMENTS

The first thing that the Vegan Diet week did is require me to meticulously, once again, track everything that I ate, and check both the macro and micro levels and balance of nutrition…always a worthwhile exercise.

In the week after the Vegan Diet, here’s what I found myself eating:

  • I’ve added in legumes like chickpeas and white beans that I never really ate before
    • this has been a good ‘natural’ addition for nutrients, and as a bonus also adds in some protein
      • this has replaced the low-fat ham that I would often add during the day
  • abandoned the soy based and wheat gluten (seitan) protein ‘substitutes’ for the ‘real thing’
    • back to fish and lean meats for my main protein source…egg whites and eggs also back in the mix
    • my reading did make me more aware of the benefits of more ‘natural’ meat and fish sources…and vegetables for that matter…so I’ll be adjusting where we buy many of these things
  • even though I ‘often’ had a spinach salad at dinner, I now ‘always’ have one…with chickpeas, nuts, mushrooms…in tracking my food it just jumped out as a very healthy addition to dinner with a big nutritional bang for the calorie level
  • almost no cheese…big jump in saturated fats with cheese…didn’t eat a lot of cheese before, but even less now…there are better nutritional choices for the calories
  • lot less bread (actually Ezekiel bread only) than on the vegan diet…there are better nutritional choices for the calories
  • desserts have just about dropped out of my diet…sort of a good habit continued…at least in meals at home

More to follow in the quest to fine tune what I’m putting into my body…a worthy exercise, since as my training levels rise, the demands that I’ll be putting on my ‘body works’ increases dramatically…want to make sure that I’m fueled for success.

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