The Vegetarian Chronicles: A 30 Day Challenge, Part 1

by KaitlynDeMetro

After watching "Forks Over Knives," I've decided to challenge myself to transition into a healthier lifestyle; no meat, few processed foods, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

The incredible, eye opening documentary "Forks Over Knives," taught me that my so called "healthy diet" is not so healthy after all. I don't eat the best foods but I don't eat the worst either; I choose the lesser of two evils, which I convinced myself was healthy enough. I learned that the Western diet (a diet of primarily processed and artificial foods) is the root of so many chronic health problems that we've been conditioned to look away from. I wanted to change my lifestyle in the hopes of getting healthier and here is my starting point- my fears, hopes, and journey toward transitioning to a healthier lifestyle in 30 days. (P.S. I lost 8 lbs in 7 days)

Prelude

This is what I know about my relationship with food:

  • I don't have time for breakfast.
  • Lunches are whatever can be delivered to my office- Chinese, pizza, fast food, etc, or a microwave dinner I bring from home.
  • Dinners are always microwave dinners.
  • Snacks are diet brand fruit bars or diet brand sweets
  • 90% of the time, I only drink water

I'm lactose intolerant, I'm overweight, and I've suffered from chronic stomach aches since I was a baby. What's even weirder? The majority of snacks and dinners I eat are from brands like Special K, Lean Cuisine, and Fiber One.

I don't consider myself to be terribly unhealthy but my weight won't move, I'm always fatigued, and I often have stomach aches. Could my "generally healthy" diet be the reason why I'm so unhealthy?

The Gory Details

As much as I don't want to disclose it, it's a necessary detail of this experiment. I'm talking about that dreaded W word: WEIGHT. My start date for this little project was Friday, September 26th. At that time, I tipped the scales at 205 lbs. My height is 5'5 so according so according to the Height to Weight ratio, I should be 6'5. Since I can't force myself to grow, I'll do the opposite and try to shrink (my weight that is.) Also according to the H-W scale, I'm technically considered to be obese, although I don't think I feel nor look "obese," but I won't argue with medical facts for the sake of my pride.

My main goal was not to lose weight but from my experience, aiming to get healthy automatically results in weight loss while aiming to lose weight doesn't always result in getting healthy nor keeping your sanity. But lets get real; a 30 day change is not going to result in drastic weight loss. Hopefully, what it will result in is a transition to healthier lifestyle.

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Forks Over Knives

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The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet

The trailblazing film Forks Over Knives helped spark a medical and nutritional revolution. Backed by scientific research, the film’s doctors and expert researchers made a radica...

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Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

A whole-foods, plant-based diet has never been easier or tastier—300 brand-new recipes for cooking the Forks Over Knives way, every day!Forks Over Knives—the book, the film, the...

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Preperation

Hopes and Fears

Going into this I have two main fears: A) I will fail, or even if I succeed in changing my dietary habits, I won't be the slightest bit healthier. B) My biggest fear is that I will end up feeling worse to start out- that drastically changing my diet will be too much of a shock to my body and I'll feel sick. I'm worried that I've been too unhealthy for so long that an attempt to get healthy will epically fail.

Fears aside, I'm doing this anyway.

My hopes are that I will be healthier and I can show my friends and family how to be healthy as well. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want to lose weight but that's not the main goal. However, it seems that weight loss is the most obvious and noticeable sign of becoming healthier.

I can't guarantee I'll be a perfect vegetarian, or that it will last beyond the 30 days. I'm looking at this as transitional period but so far, it's been pretty easy to avoid meat. It's almost more of an identity issue than a food issue; it feels more natural to me and kind of empowering to declare myself a vegetarian, even though I'm only at the beginning steps. From carnivore to herbivore, here we go!

Why Vegetarian? Why Not Vegan?

Forks Over Knives advocates more of a vegan diet than simply vegetarian. First things first, lets know the difference.

Vegan is actually a type of Vegetarian- 1 of 5 main subcategories:

  1. Semi-Vegetarian consumes dairy products, eggs, chicken, and fish.
    - a pesco-vegetarian only consumes fish and seafood, no other meat. This is a subcategory of Semi-Vegetarian.
  2. Ovo-lacto vegetarians do not consume meat, poultry, fish, and seafood, but do consume eggs and milk.
  3. Ovo-vegetarians would be vegan if they did not consume eggs.
  4. Lacto-Vegetarians would be vegan if they did not consume milk.
  5. Vegan is the strictest sub-category. They do not consume any animal products or by-products. Some go as far as not even consuming honey and yeast.

I feel I'm closer to ovo-lacto but I guess I'm technically a pesco-vegetarian because I will occasionally have seafood. I just can't give up shrimp lo mien. Plus, fish have much more benefits than red meats and you're still getting protein- although despite common belief, you can get as much protein through a plant based diet as you can by eating meat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to be a vegan because...well, how modern and cool would I sound? I'd be like Ellen Degeneres. Plus I love animals so I'd be eating guilt free forever. Anyway, the main reason why I'm not taking on a vegan diet isn't because I'm not willing to cut out so many foods, it's simply because it's so difficult to know exactly what's vegan and what's not- and going out to dinner would be impossible unless you only go to vegan restaurants. You practically have to home-cook every meal you ever eat. Cake for example. You can't enjoy a typical birthday party because cake is made with milk and eggs. It's much easier for me to cut out meat and cut down on dairy and other animal by-products. Honestly, it's been pretty effortless.

Feel free to join me on my 30 day transition to a healthier lifestyle!

1 Week Update

It's been over a week since I began this little project and so far I have cut out all meat, except for a little seafood. I've cut out most dairy, and 90% of my diet has been plant based. The result?
I lost 8 lbs in the first week.

Look out for my next article for more details on my first week as a vegetarian.

"Forks Over Knives" Trailer

Are you a vegetarian?

Updated: 11/19/2014, KaitlynDeMetro
 
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KaitlynDeMetro on 10/07/2014

The soy milk brand Silk has more calcium than dairy milk, or at least that's what the container says. Even though I'm lactose intolerant, I can take some dairy products. There's a cafe we order from a lot at work and they have the most delicious milkshakes ever and I can usually handle those without a lactaid pill. However I cannot at all handle any type of iced coffees from anywhere and I would think that's even less dairy than a milkshake. Here you've got milk and ice cream- all dairy, and here you've got coffee and milk but I just can't take it. It causes me great pain every time- even with lactaid.

I'm not sure whats wrong with my blender. I only used it that one time. Maybe I didn't have it snapped together tight enough.

WordChazer on 10/07/2014

You need to make sure the washer on your blender hasn't perished/snapped. It's only a little rubber ring on the bottom of the mixer part, usually between the blade unit and the base where the motor is. I took mine apart (new and all) earlier to learn how to wash and reassemble it properly.

I don't make my own yogurt, just buy cheap natural yogurt in 500g pots and frozen or fresh fruit, then toss the fruit into a plastic container each morning and put 6 dessertspoons of yogurt over it. By the time lunchtime comes around the fruit has defrosted (if I'm using frozen fruit) and all the juices are inflused with the yogurt too. Our local supermarket even has a frozen smoothie mix but as it contains bananas that's a no-no for me. (We don't get on...)

I have an awesome lemon meringue ice cream recipe from my ex-landlady. I won't torture you right now by sharing it with you as it involves double cream and alcohol. But it sounds similar to how you describe making your banana ice cream.

Sounds like you might have worked out what causes you problems, especially as you had such a good start to your new diet. Dairy would be a real problem for me to cut out, as my digestion and joints need the calcium or they start getting really upset.

KaitlynDeMetro on 10/07/2014

I want to try to make smoothies but I'm very intimidated by my blender. I used it once to make mix drinks and it leaked all over. I was cleaning sticky vodka off my counter for days. I looove hard boiled eggs. They are delicious with a pinch of salt. Do you make your own yoghurt? I would love to make my own frozen yoghurt but I don't know how. I am going to try to make banana ice cream later. You freeze bananas then smooth it in a blender and eat it like ice cream. I'm going to add a cup of soy milk and some cinnamon because I've seen that recipe and it's probably more like ice cream than just bananas.

I can't really say for sure how my stomach is handling the new foods. I'm okay to eat the fruits and veggies but because I changed my diet so drastically, just in the first week when I had a sub for lunch instead my usual chopped up tomato, it made my stomach really hurt. Same for when I had some pumpkin roll over the weekend, but that could be chalked up to the cream cheese filling in my lactose intolerant body.

WordChazer on 10/07/2014

I have decided to try more green smoothies in my diet instead of cheese and biscuits for lunch. So the cheap blender has been purchased and the fresh raw veg (cauli, broccoli, corn and green beans) went into it this afternoon with a spoonful of Quark cheese and some water. The results are chilling in the thermos in the fridge for taking to work tomorrow. My main problems are too much alcohol and not enough exercise, so I've been trying a bit more of the exercise thing the last few days. I've also started eating hard boiled eggs as a snack instead of always going for the sweet stuff, because I realised that I was almost craving savory food. Hence why I decided to have a look at green smoothies. I already enjoy natural yoghurt with fruit instead of the processed yoghurts so I don't see why I can't make a further change to smoothies now. I might even add in some boiled egg to that mix at some point too.

I used to be vege when I was at Uni, for cost reasons, but started eating meat again when I moved up here because my husband does. But we do have meat-free days even now. I need alcohol-free days too, I think. I'm already cutting down on bread, preferring sandwich thins and wraps instead of rolls.

How are your stomach aches doing on your new diet? Your weight is already liking the change, it seems.

KaitlynDeMetro on 10/07/2014

I've never watched that show but I've heard of it. I have to avoid food shows because they just make me hungry. I've never had authentic Indian food but I think I would like it. I love foods with lots of flavors and variety. I was worried going vegetarian would mean all the foods I'd eat would be really bland but I've been mixing stuff up and adding flavors and spices when I cook and it's been delicious.

WriterArtist on 10/06/2014

I love vegetarian food and it features everyday in my cooking. Although my dishes are mostly Indian, I love to experiment and cook in different ways. My inspiration comes from the TV serial "MasterChef Australia" which I do not miss.

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