"Have you seen 'What the Health?'"
Like many of you, I watched "What The Health" on Netflix because someone you know told you to watch after they had watched it and immediately felt like they were now smoking 12,000 cigarettes every morning when they ate eggs and bacon at breakfast.
Needless to say, I also watched with intrigue and semi-weird curiosity. Could I go vegan?
I peruse health blogs quite often and I hear about the vegan lifestyle constantly. Whether these omnivores are talking about increased energy, better sleep, or improved mental clarity. But giving up meat, bro? Seems a little extreme. Got to get that protein!
But I considered it a challenge. As someone who is trying to squeeze the most out of everyday, it was time I gave it a try. If for nothing else, it was a testament to how strong my discipline could be to the meat-less game(plus avoiding diabetes, right?!).
Other things that I was going to have to forfeit were dairy(love my greek yogurt), whey protein, and my beloved incredible edible eggs.
To have a partner in crime, I did it with my wife.
We went full throttle and mashed the pedal to the floor. Zero to sixty, full vegan. I wanted to see how I would feel. Note: I also gave up coffee. No real reason, I just felt like compounding the challenge.
Here’s my day-by-day journaling from my experience going for full blown carnivore to reinvented coffee-less omnivore
Thursday, July 27th – Day 1
Morning: Up at 5:15am, a little later than usual.
Strenuous workout from 6:15am-7:15am.
Okay, this is easy. No meat, I got this. Let me fry up some eggs like I have done almost every single day since I entered the Navy in 2006. Ha! Yeah, right.
So, what’s for breakfast? Full disclosure: I’ve been a semi-avid juicer since 2012, so I went to trusty ole juice. Potent combinations of apple, lemon, carrot, beet, celery, turmeric, ginger were pressed and liquefied for breakfast. I also had a mug of matcha tea(my coffee substitute).
Rest of the day: The rest of my day went normally, no real adverse reactions to not having meat. Worked a 14 hour day, 7:00am-9:00pm.
Notes: Nothing to report. Normal day.
Friday, July 28th – Day 2
Morning: Feelings great! Up at 4:30am no real problem with 6 hours of sleep. Lift at 6am. Got nice in the gym and no ill effects or slowdown entering the day.
Okay, getting the hang of this. Snacks like beef jerky, greek yogurt, and whey protein are replaced with nut mixes, boundless fruit(strawberries and watermelon especially), and guacamole.
Rest of the day: Great energy. Very productive 10 hour day. Also, not missing coffee at all. First time I tried to give up coffee 2 years ago, I went through some serious withdraw. Not this time. Went to a vegan restaurant with my wife, Christie. We loved it! It was great to stay true to our 2-week commitment and the food was spectacular. We got buffalo cauliflower, zucchini noodle ramen, and some great red wine.
Notes: So far, so good. This is easier than I expected!
Monday, July 31st – Day 5
Morning: Up at 4:30am. Energy levels are HIGH. Feeling light – down 2 pounds since I started (down to 175 from 177). Great lift 6:15am-7am.
Rest of the day: Very Productive 13 hour day.
Notes: The momentum just keeps on ticking higher. I swore that I needed AT LEAST 8 hours of sleep every night before I started this. Now, I am MORE than okay going off ~6 hours of sleep. This is 2 additional hours that I can put forth to something else besides staring at the back of my eyelids.
Thursday, August 3rd – Day 8
Morning: Up at 5:00am. Rare day that I snoozed, but I gave in. Lift 6:15am-7:10am with my workout partner.
Rest of the day: Sluggish. Don’t know if the week is catching up to me, but I was sluggish today. Mentally slower and the second of two straight days of pervasive tiredness.
Notes: Noticed that my skin appears brighter. Also on the bright side, I have discovered tons more foods that I was not exposed to prior to this. My wife, Christie, who is an aspiring cook book author has cooked up black bean pasta with homemade marinara, sweet potato wrapped collared greens, and BBQ jackfruit sandwiches(tasted exactly like pulled pork!)
Sunday August 6th – Day 11
Morning: Went to bed at midnight. Up at 9am. It's Sunday, so I slept in like a boss! Juice for breakfast and got super nice on my workout. 50min of strenuous body weight work at high intensity intervals with a 35lb weighted vest. Completed outside. Smoked it.
Rest of the day: Began work to sort my upcoming week at 12:30pm and finished up at 9:00pm. Mental clarity was good. Energy remained high the entire day.
Notes: Feeling great and don’t miss meat at all, really. No cravings whatsoever. Food budget has been positively affected by not spending ~$120/week on meat and dairy per week. Went out to eat with my wife on Saturday. It was damn near impossible to eat vegan at a “normal” restaurant. 95% of the menu had meat, fish, or dairy on it. It was a challenge, but we made it work.
Thursday August 11th – Day 14
Morning: Like most mornings where I lift in the morning, woke up at 4:45am(typically wake up between 4:30 - 5:15am before 6:15am lifts).
Rest of the day: Energy levels are constant. Keyword here is "constant". Aside from two rough days last week(Day 7 and 8), I haven't experienced many energy level swings as I stay alert and motivated throughout the day and into the evening.
Notes: Business as usual. Working my standard weekdays that range from 10 hours to 15 hours. All done the two week challenge!
2 Big Lessons Learned
1. This experience pushed me outside my comfort zone in a good way. I realized I consume a metric shit ton of meat on a daily basis. Like the typical sandwich, meat is convenient and is a staple in modern day society. Fruit and vegetables are just as convenient -- whether blended, sautéed, or prepared raw, these foods are just as convenient, just more often forgot about. It was good to be reminded of that and it was fun to test my willpower.
2. My gorging decreased. The Navy taught me to eat fast. We were given small windows of time to eat during periods of indoctrination and I have since kept that habit. Well, it's much more difficult to binge strawberries and spinach at a rapid pace than it is wings and cheese. Going vegan kept me MINDFUL of what I was eating and made me consider my choices much more carefully.
5 pounds lost. No decrease in muscle mass.
Able to function BETTER on 6 hours of sleep vice 8. Kicked my coffee addiction, no problem.
Lower weekly grocery budget by ~$100.
Will I stay Vegan? I don't know. Maybe I'll loosen the reigns -- but what I know for sure is that I was crazy productive and happy during these two weeks. Something I thought I could never be without animal products.
*Note: Yes I know some of the "research" conducted in this film was flimsy at best. That did not deter me from trying to accomplish this two-week challenge.