What I Learned My Month of Eating Vegan
by Stephanie Daniels
This blog post is part of a series written by Mightybytes people on “What Being Green Means to Me”, both at work and outside of work. In this post, Stephanie shares lessons she learned during a month-long experiment eating a raw vegan diet.
Here at Mightybytes I’m surrounded by co-workers who actually “eat their peas.” I have co-workers who, for example, know how to whip up a sandwich with eggplant as a substitute for bread. Thus, I often forget that some people outside of our little microcosm are legitimately afraid of vegetables; there’s actually a word for this: lachanophobia.
Recently, a guest and his grade-school aged daughter joined us at Mightybytes for lunch. After watching us gleefully chow down on beet salad and kale-wrapped burritos he looked at us with sad puppy-dog eyes and said “Why do you hate America?” Even his young daughter scrunched up her nose at our veggies and stuck out her tongue. I’ve found this reaction to be pretty common here in America.
So, Why are We Afraid of Vegetables?
I have a few theories about this:
- Sugar tastes really, REALLY good. And it gives us a quick energy boost. It’s in practically EVERY processed food item. This makes vegetables seem like less bang for your buck.
- Our culture is not vegetable-friendly. Many restaurants cater to vegetarians only as an afterthought.
- We believe that we need to have some sort of wizard-like cooking skills to make vegetables taste good.
- Labels like “fat-free”, ”low fat”, “all natural” and “low calorie” aren’t necessarily regulated, and they make it more difficult to choose products that are best for our health.
- We’ve lost touch with where our food comes from. Don’t believe me? Here’s a photo of a beautiful asparagus plant:
Why I Decided to Try a Plant-Based Diet
I admit that I was once a vegetable-fearing lachanophobic too. But I challenged myself to face my fear by eating a raw vegan diet for 30 days. All of my food had to come from the earth, and nothing could be heated or cooked.
I found that eating raw vegan for a month was pretty time consuming since I had to eat about every 2-4 hours. It was also virtually impossible for me to eat out at a restaurant or to have a restaurant-based social life. Nevertheless, I discovered that I had a lot more energy, needed much less sleep (I felt rested after as little as four hours of sleep), and I felt more focused. Because many fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and chickpeas have a low glycemic index, they also helped me avoid the sensation of “crashing” after eating food, and helped stop the cravings I used to have for sugary foods.
After my 30 days were up, I decided to eat a more moderate diet. I still base most of my meals around fruits and vegetables, but I cook my food, and I do eat meat from time to time. But because of my experiment I’m no longer afraid to fill my plate up with fruits and veggies, I feel more healthy, and I now know how to cook a lot of delicious and easy-to-prepare vegetable dishes.
Delicious and Easy to Prepare Plant Based Recipes
Two observations that I made during my month-long experiment are that eating a plant-based diet is not as difficult as I thought it would be, and that the food is not as bland as I thought that it would be. I’ve been working on two Pinterest boards that full of plant-based recipes that are easy to cook and delicious. My Clean Eating Pinerest board includes everyday recipes that are easy for busy professionals and my Healthy Lunches Pinterest board includes recipes that are easy to make at work and that require minimal/no cooking.
Books on Plant-Based Diets
Here are some books that I would recommend if you want to learn more about food systems and eating a low glycemic indexor plant-based diet:
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover
- This book follows the authors’ year long experiment of eating only home-grown foods with her family. This is a good place to start because Kingslover explains her transition from a supermarket junkie to a vegetable enthusiast with the precision and detail of an anthropologist.
- The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins
- This is a well-researched book the environmental and health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. It’s a fascinating read, in part because of its unlikely author: John Robins. His family started Baskin-Robbins.
- The Omnivore’s Dilema: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
- An eye-opening look at the American agricultural system that reads like a well-paced mystery novel.
- Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
- An easy guide on what to eat (a bit of everything, mostly vegetables)
- The Low GI Diet Revolution: The Definitive Science-Based Weight Loss Plan by Jennie Brand-Miller
- This is the book that opened my eyes to the effects that processed food have on the body.
- Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
- A crass and funny book about how to eat vegan. Take it with a grain of salt, but the best part about this book is the grocery store shopping guide, which takes the guesswork out of which brands are misleading in terms of health benefits.
- Vegetarian Times Magazine
- A great magazine to help you figure out how to cook more vegetable-based meals
- The Best of Clean Eating
- A great cookbook with plenty of beautiful pictures. I’ve found most of the recipes are heavy on the plant side and also have a low glycemic index. A great cookbook for those who don’t want to give up meat but want to eat healthier in general.