Going Veggie: A 30 Day Experiment

Captain’s Log, Stardate 111215: I’m in the 12th day of my veggie experiment and thus far, things are going well.

If anyone gets my reference, you’ll make my inner nerd a happy person!

I’m always reticent to talk about diet preferences on my site because they are so damn polarizing. Paleo people mock vegans and vegans will claim that the Atkins diet kills you. In the end, we’re all trying to decide what is best for our own bodies, right?

Trying vegetarianism has been swirling around in my head for awhile for multiple reasons, but it really solidified a few weeks back when I had the flu. I’d been reading some research papers and books on the topic, but Netflix became my best friend while I was laid up on the couch. During my hours of mindless viewing, I stumbled across the documentary Forks Over Knives. When combined with some stuff that I’d already read, it was a clincher: I wanted to give vegetarianism a shot.

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Photos By The Husband

For me, it has nothing to do with animal rights or weight loss. Last month, I mentioned that we had been doing Meatless Mondays in our house, and this is an offshoot of that. More than anything, I question the sustainability of our country’s massive amount of meat consumption. But in addition to that, I am really starting to wonder if a meatless diet is better for longterm health. There is a lot more detail on this in The China Study {the book I linked to earlier} and the documentary, but needless to say, the research was enough to make me consider it. Specifically, I’ve been reading a lot about the correlation to animal consumption and cardiac diseases and cancer. {And no, this has absolutely nothing to do with the bacon-cancer study released by the World Health Organization.}

Am I convinced that one leads to the other? Absolutely not. But I seem to find enough information on that topic that I’d like to at least consider it as a possibility.

Lastly, I acknowledged I had a personal stigma in my head regarding vegetarianism. If you look at that Meatless Monday post, I used the phrase, “Let me be clear: I am not a vegetarian. I have never been a vegetarian and truthfully, I doubt that I will ever go down that road.” When I re-read that a month later, I realized that was shunning plant-based eating from my life without even trying it. So, it was time to give it a shot with an open mind!

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Thus far, I’m 12 days into my little experiment. I haven’t eaten any animals since Halloween {which was shrimp scampi, if I remember correctly!} And while it’s too early to determine whether I feel any different, I can say that it hasn’t been as difficult as I expected. I’ve explained this before, but I’m not a *huge* meat eater. We don’t touch pig or cow in our house, and while I like chicken, I can do without it. On the other hand, seafood is my kryptonite and sushi is like heroin as far as I’m concerned!

So: what am I eating?

I wanted to keep it easy for this 30 day trial by simply eliminating meat. No pig, cow, chicken, turkey, lamb, seafood, deer, elk, etc. Dairy products are still in my diet, although I minimally eat those anyway. {Really, I occasionally eat cheese and ice cream.} I switched to almond milk years ago and the only yogurt I consume nowadays is the dairy-free kind, thanks to my crappy asthmatic lungs. I’m also eating eggs. We typically use whey protein in our house, so I’m still consuming one scoop/day of that as well.

Like most people who consider vegetarianism, I had concerns over my protein intake, so I’ve occasionally tracked my food with MyFitnessPal to see where I stand. Surprisingly, my protein consumption hasn’t dropped much lower than before. Prior to this experiment, I aimed for 100 grams per day, especially when I’m lifting heavy at CrossFit. I tracked my meals yesterday, and while lower, I still ate 85 grams of protein. I think that’s respectable?

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Thus far, the trickiest part has been reintroducing foods to my diet that I don’t typically keep in the house. Longtime readers might remember that we’ve cut out the majority of processed stuff out of our house, specifically bread and pasta. But, not eating any bread at all was really limiting meal options, so I’ve reintroduced sprouted bread by Ezekiel {after reading that it’s good for you? Any thoughts on that?} I also found a fancy pasta at Sprouts that is completely made of black beans and quinoa, so it’s loaded in protein. In fact, I think it has 16 grams per serving!

Needless to say, I haven’t formed a solid opinion on any of this. Will has been out of town the past two weeks–on a media trip to country of Turkey!– but I am curious to see if this lifestyle is tougher to maintain once he is home. I have another couple weeks before I’ll seriously evaluate my thoughts on a veggie diet; stay tuned!

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23 Comments

  • Reply Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine at

    I have been studying the science of the exercise portion of health for a while now. Everybody assumes my diet knowledge is through the roof, and to be honest I am more like a lost child! I really like doing meatless Mondays, actually. And sometimes we’ll go a week and I’ll realize we had no meat for dinners! So I can see how it would be easier than most people make it out to be. But what have you been making? Any favorite dishes so far?

    Oh! Let me know how Will likes Turkey. I keep trying to convince my boyfriend to go but he thinks I’m silly.

    • Reply heather at

      Thus far, I’ve tried some stuffed peppers, cauliflower-crust pizza (which is shockingly good!), lots of quinoa, that protein pasta I mentioned, some veggie chili, some soups, veggie burgers, etc. It’s been fairly easy!

    • Reply heather at

      I forgot! I haven’t seen his pictures yet but he said it was absolutely beautiful, safe and so friendly!

  • Reply Natalie Ford at

    This is really interesting, and I’ve toyed with the idea of at least experimenting with it for years. Unfortunately, the husband is a huge meat eater, and, while he’s gotten better over the years, there are still a ton of veggies that he just won’t eat. I’m afraid I’d fall into having to cook two meals every night, and that’s just not sustainable!

    • Reply heather at

      I’m lucky in that Will is always willing to try anything. I started this while he was gone but he is more than happy to give it a whirl with me. He also did the Whole 30 and Paleo experiments just because he knew it would be tough on my own 🙂

  • Reply Heather @ShoesRun50 at

    About 10 years ago I decided try vegetarianism for 30 days. I think I might have even started in November too. I haven’t eaten meat since then, which is kind of crazy because I had really only planned on seeing how the 30 days went.

    What non-dairy yogurts do you like? I’ve tried a couple of soy ones that were awful and kind of gave up after that.

    • Reply heather at

      I can’t say that I LIKE it as much as Greek yogurt, but I’ve been eating the Silk non-dairy yogurt and it’s pretty good. (It’s the same stuff linked in that Meatless Monday post.) It’s a bit thinner than greek yogurt but it tastes good! I also like the SO Delicious coconut yogurt, but it’s super expensive, so I mainly stick to the Silk stuff.

  • Reply Maureen at

    Welcome to the veggie world! I’ve been primarily plant based for several years (I still eat eggs, the occasional fish, and rarely cheese), my hubby has been 100% plant based for a year or so longer. We changed to a plant based diet primarily due to health reasons, however, the more we learned, as you’ve found out, the more we began to question the impact on the planet of the mainstream American diet.
    I was a picky vegetable eater but have introduced more and more variety into my diet by starting small and really working with flavor – whether that be with herbs and spices or with home made sauces. I have found that eating plant based has opened up so many flavors that I don’t think I would have noticed before. On top of that – our doctor is practically giddy with pleasure every year when he reports our blood work and lab results back to us. And my husband has a chronic immune disorder. So the proof of the health benefits of our way of plant based eating is right there on paper.
    As for protein intake – as long as you’re consuming enough whole plant foods; leafy greens, legumes, lentils – you’re protein intake will be just fine. Worst case – if you need a boost for working out – the Vega line of protein powders, etc. is quite good and is run by ulta marathoner and vegan, Brendan Brazier. The vega website is quite informative. Actually there is a ton of info out there – if you need any additional suggestions for recipe sites that have been tried and tested – let me know. I’m happy to help those that wish to give plant based eating a try. I applaud your effort.
    Live long and prosper. 🙂

  • Reply Heidi @bananabuzzbomb at

    You know I’m all for it and experimenting what works for you. I LOVED Forks over Knives and there are so many other good ones. And I’m going to have to check out that pasta!!

  • Reply Christian @Desolation_Hiker at

    Awesome write up! Yeah done veggie a good 6 months before and it’s tough going cold turkey all of a sudden but with the holidays coming up it’s impossible. Although of eating factory beef from big agra I’ve actually been eating beef from organic grass fed cows and full organic milk. Not the Nature Valley ones but the farms coming from Point Reyes from small private farms (Not bought out by Big Agra). It’s expensive as hell but worth it. You can still have your beef, just make sure it’s local. I don’t know if Colorado has that but Northern California is pretty spoiled, we just gotta vote with our dollars and skip the Starbucks lattes. 🙂

  • Reply Holly at

    Love reading about this experiment and looking forward to your next post on how’s it’s going! I don’t live anywhere near a Sprouts so wondering if you could provide specifics on the pasta made of black beans and quinoa in hopes that maybe I can find it locally?

  • Reply Beth at

    I don’t have a lot of experience with sprouted grains but I’ve been reading a lot about fermentation and transforming our food in alternative ways and it *sounds* like there’s something to it. Sprouting grains releases enzymes that start to transform the starches in seeds into sugars that the plant can use. The upshot of that for sprouted foods is that OUR bodies can better use those transformed sugars than they can the starches.

  • Reply Heather @ FITaspire at

    I was vegan for 18 months and loved the way I felt. My marathon PR was done while I was eating a vegan diet (as well as my first ultra). Protein to me wasn’t an issue – when I measured I was around 100g per day (and that was without dairy & eggs). Just think about a protein source just as you would with meat – what’s the protein in each meal. I think when people get into trouble is they sub steak for pasta. 🙂

    I’m happy to help with any questions – although I’m not plant-based anymore, it’s a lifestyle I enjoyed and can work very well!

  • Reply Alexandra at

    Great post! I’ve considered doing a similar “food trail” to help with clearer skin. Also, I love Ezekiel bread and def think it is way better for you.

  • Reply Sarah P at

    Your inner nerd my my inner nerd very happy just now. 🙂 I hope you get good results off your experiment! I’ve never gone vegetarian before, but I loved how I felt getting off diary.

  • Reply RFC at

    Welcome to the green side 😉 I’ve been a veggie since August of 2012, and I can’t imagine ever going back. I do eat eggs and occasional dairy, but no meat of any type (not even seafood). There is an adjustment period, no doubt, but I feel a thousand times better without meat. Stomach issues I’ve had my entire life have disappeared!

  • Reply Marissa @Barefoot Colorado at

    I eat a plant-based diet about 90% of the time —I just don’t really like the taste of meat to be honest! We eat chicken/ground turkey about 1x/week mainly because Ian eats enough for 5 people and it tends to fill him up more than just veggies/grains. I have a bunch of yummy recipes that I make on a regular basis, if you’d like them!

    • Reply heather at

      Please! Email ’em to me?

  • Reply Andrea L at

    I’ve noticed you mention not eating pork or beef in previous posts, but I’m curious as to what the reasoning is. Mind shedding some light into that? Thanks! 🙂

    • Reply heather at

      Will’s has never eaten either in his life. He grew up in a household that didn’t eat either, so at this point, he really doesn’t have the enzymes to break down either of those foods in his stomach. As for me– I truly just don’t enjoy either one. I’ll occasionally eat a hamburger or whatnot, but it’s simply not my thing. And as popular as bacon is, I can’t look at it without thinking about my arteries constricting 🙂

      • Reply Ryan at

        Hi Heather. I’m all for not eating meat, but you should know that studies show that dietary fat is not the cause of heart disease. That long-held myth has been busted. That being said, a diet heavy on bacon consumption is probably not the healthiest option.

  • Reply Alyssa Lindsey at

    I know I’m way too easily amused but I love that Will is in Turkey during your vegetarian experiment. I had honey dijon pork roast last night and beef stroganoff tonight and wondered how I made it 16 years as a vegetarian lol. I definitely feel more satisfied without being overly full eating meat, if that makes sense. I feel like I had to stuff myself on veggies to get really full sometimes. BUT, I also had a quinoa/broccoli/veggie/coconut milk recipe for lunch, and I’m pretty sure things like that wouldn’t be in my life if my veggie years hadn’t forced my to think outside the box food-wise and be open to new things. I definitely have plenty of meals that just happen to be meatless since the recipes are already in my repertoire, and living with a vegetarian for years has made my husband MUCH more open minded (and since we eat everything now – meat and “weird” veggie stuff I’m hoping our children will be open minded when it comes to eating as well). That was a lot of rambling. I guess I have a lot to say. I think this experiment is a great idea if for no other reason than you will probably find some new recipes you might not have otherwise!

  • Reply The Great Vegetarian Experiment - Just a Colorado GalJust a Colorado Gal at

    […] some shrimp scampi at our Halloween party {we do it right,  y’all!}, put down my fork, and declared my 30-day trial to be in effect. Regardless of your beliefs on meat consumption, I think we can all agree that eating less meat is […]

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