No Meat, No Fish, No Dairy, nothing from an ANIMAL. Plant based nutrient dense wholefoods is what my diet has consisted for the last 21 days. As an animal lover I haven’t consumed beef or pork for the last 10 years that removing organic chicken, wild fish, organic eggs and whey wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The purpose of this diet was to consume nutrient dense, easily digestible food and see how my body responded with no animal sources in the diet. Micronutrients refer to all vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Basically Micronutrients create the magic in nutrition! For the last year I was primarily focused on fitness competitions that I felt it was time to reevaluated my goals and focus on internal health and healing.
September 1st I began a 3 day organic juice cleanse http://www.thejuicebox.ca/our-cleanses/ I generally due a juice cleanse 2 times a year to give my digestive system a well deserved break and to mentally recharge and challenge myself. After a juice cleanse it is important to eat easily digestible foods and to slowly introduce grains, fish, and animal proteins. I figured this would be an easy transition from no solid food (only cold pressed organic juice), to eating vegetables, fruits and then into a full vegan diet.
Society as a whole is over fed and undernourished. With people reaching for processed food, easy meals, and our food supply dwindling as our soils become more mineral deficient. I had clients and friends ask, “Isn’t that a bit extreme to do a juice cleanse and then eat no animal proteins for 21 days?” The truth of the matter is people abuse their health on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Smoking, binge drinking, binge eating, food addictions, stimulants, coffee addictions, fast food addictions, drug abuse and the list goes on! I find it funny how someone can party all weekend long, over abuse alcohol and no one bats an eye. But if someone decides to fast or do a certain cleanse they are crazy! Not to mention there are many vegan bodybuilders, celebrities, and everdayl people who only eat a vegan diet year round.
As a fitness competitor and someone who likes muscles on girls I didn’t want to lose my “gains” but at the same time I felt as if my toxic load and digestion wasn’t working as efficient as I would like. My health will always come first, over aesthetics, but if you are balanced and live a life of moderation you can have both. Listening to your body and intuitively making changes is the first step when it comes to being well. When symptoms arise that is your body communicating to you that it is out of balance. Just because a symptom is common or constant doesn’t mean it is normal.
Where do you get your protein from?
I continuously got asked the questions “where do you get all your protein from?” I started incorporating more nuts and seeds in my diet. For example 2 tbsp or hemp seeds (appox. 20g) = 7g of protein and 20g of chia seeds is around 5g of protein. Add those to together to make a pudding and you have 12g of protein and 15.5g of fat. Of course nuts and seeds contain higher amounts of fat, but these both consist of omega 3 fatty acids which must be obtained from the diet. I had to be creative in hitting my protein requirements of 105-110 grams a day. I added more fermented tofu, lentils, black beans, quinoa etc. But supplementation was key for me as I would have to eat 3 cups of quinoa to hit 16g of protein! . I https://myvega.com/products/categories/supplements/supplemented regularly with Vega one and Vega sport. With both supplements containing 20-25g of clean plant based protein per scoop I was able to hit my target numbers.
What I Noticed:
I heard that when individuals switched over to a vegan diet it can cause your skin to glow, digestion to improve and better overall energy. My digestion and elimination starting working more efficiently and my skin did look more dewy. That is contributed to a higher fat intake and of course increased micronutrients from plants. I was surprised how full I was getting by simply eating vegetables, fruits, superfoods, algy, yams, and grains. When you can’t reach for a chicken breast to keep you satiated your nutrition options become more inventive. The way I was eating reminded me of when I was studying to be an RHN. When I was learning about nutrition I wouldn’t eat anything that had a wrapper on it. Everything I ate was from mother nature in its natural state. The most processed thing I consumed was protein powder.
However I noticed my energy levels were higher at the beginning but slowly I started to feel a little run down. Heme sources (animal) of iron are more absorbable then non heme sources (vegetable). I felt the affects of not having meat in the my diet even though my multivitamin contained iron, I tried adding foods high in iron such as molasses, cooked spinach, lentils, almonds, wheat germ into my diet.
My Take Away:
Although I will slowly be adding fish and chicken back into my diet this has reinforced and reminded me the power of plants! My goal is that each meal contains something green, whether it is kale in a smoothie, fresh greens for lunch, stir fry or raw vegetable added to dinner, my main focus is maximize my micronutrients and improve overall digestion. I will definitely decrease my animals proteins and will try to pair them with greens and raw vegetables over grains and starches to maximize digestion. I have a new found respect for vegans as it take more time and imagination prepping your meals. Overall this was a great experience and I think this is something I will integrate into my wellness program annually.
ARE YOU UP FOR THE 21 days VEGAN CHALLENGE?
This was my tasty dessert for many nights. This consisted of one full organic banana, maple syrup, organic raw almond butter, organic dates, extra virgin organic coconut oil, cocoa, dark chocolate and coconut shreds. I thoroughly enjoyed this master piece and it gave me an awesome pump the next day at the gym!