Vegan Day Experiment Went Great!

Day 1 of the experiment is over and I can’t say that I’m glad that the first day is completed.  This isn’t my first hand eating a vegan diet.  For several months a few years ago I used to do a “Vegan Tuesday” with some other people.  I generally stuck to health bars, big salads and soups.  This was different however.  This was me trying to emulate how I was going to eat vegan for every day for a three month period of time.  That made it more challenging and daunting in many ways.  The end result however was a quite enjoyable food experience, and one that I can see going on for some time.

None of the food I made today was an old or familiar recipe to me.  I’ve been cooking for many years and love the challenge of trying new things.  Today flexed that a lot.  Unlike most of the recipes I’ve tried I don’t know what the end result is supposed to be like.  The steps laid out in each recipe were simple enough but there was enough nuance for me to have to take my time and pay attention to what I was doing.  Just to throw an additional dynamic into it I decided to use my new cast iron skillet/dutch oven for the first time ever.

Because I had to cook each of the three major meals from scratch and in unfamiliar territory, I ended up spending several hours in the kitchen.  I love big cooking weekends, but that usually is an assortment of cakes, breads, ice creams, big meat dishes and so on.  Applying that to a full vegan menu was certainly a different experience.  All the recipes came from one book, The Engine 2 Diet book.  Fortunately they have their recipes up on the website so I hyperlinked to them for anyone who may run across my blog and actually read it.  Difficulty wise I didn’t find the recipes challenging.  If a person hasn’t done a lot of cooking they may have some confusion, but it’s the typical unfamiliarity with cooking that will throw them.  What exactly does it mean to dice food, how big?  How do you cook mashed potatoes?  Those sorts of nuances are important but missing from the directions, as they are in most cookbooks.

While it took me several hours to cook all of that food I actually have enough food to eat vegan with these menu items for an entire week.  I’m not sure I’d eat the same thing day after day.  Instead I’d probably do this one day every weekend for a few weekends and then start working through the leftovers from the freezer.  I did this trick when I was single and it worked out great.  By doing that you get a great variety of food, just like you would from an assortment of processed food options in the grocery store, but you can still get the time savings from cooking in bulk.  Hopefully none of these recipes turn into disasters upon reheating, time will tell.

While eating them fresh out of the oven they tasted great.  I didn’t “miss meat” as in I was yearning for it all day.  The same is true for the dairy.  I did have to get creative with my burger bun, since all my homemade rolls have buttermilk in them.  I also had to forgo a tasty dessert browning my partner bought at Wegman’s since it had animal products in it.  However the meals themselves were tasty and filling.  While I enjoyed them, I couldn’t get my partner to even get within a foot of them much less taste a bite.  I wasn’t expecting him to be a big convert, even subbing spaghetti squash for pasta was a bit too much for him.  That just means those months are going to be more like eating single again, which I’m sure we can both live with.

From a nutrient profile perspective things are pretty positive, see the below images..  Looking first at the micronutrients, I was able to easily nail most of them.  Vitamin B-12 is one of the classic vitamins vegans are told to supplement since they often don’t get enough from their food.  B-12 is squarely from animal products unless you are eating your fruits and vegetables with a little dirt on them, which I don’t do.  So supplementation is important.  However because of the fortified foods in some of these meals I actually hit my B-12 RDA number.  The two that fell short were Vitamin D, which is a chronic problem on almost any diet, and Calcium.  While I didn’t supplement my Calcium, I did supplement my Vitamin D.  Salt levels were slightly above RDA levels, but FitDay has added assumed salt seasoning to meals that I didn’t add salt to.  That means this is probably the first day in years that my salt intake levels were at or below RDA values.  So, from a micro-nutrient point of view things are looking great.

From a macro-nutrient perspective things are also quite interesting.  Calories-wise I was pretty much right on what my daily burn is. Today was a rest day so I had no workouts to bump up my calorie usage.  I think even if I had done more I wouldn’t have wanted to eat more. Originally I had planned to eat a nice big salad with my lasagna.  However I was quite full just from the lasagna itself, so I instead ended the night with a little extra almonds and watermelon.  Truth be told, I could have gone to bed without either of them and been perfectly content.  Two thirds of the calories were from carbs, while less than a quarter were from fat and only an eighth were from protein.  This created a lot less protein intake than I would normally shoot for.  It also is very heavy on the carbs for my usual diet.  I knew this was going to happen and I was concerned that this imbalance was going to cause me to have a ravenous appetite all day.  In fact the opposite was true.  I was quite stuffed throughout the day and didn’t feel the need to go on a massive binge or go back for seconds ever.  I think that is a really good sign.

I don’t want to draw too many conclusions from just one day of doing any diet, including veganism.  I intentionally chose to do vegan on this day because I figured it was going to be the hardest.  I also wanted to try these pretty detailed recipes that I knew were going to take some time to whip up as well.  Overall I didn’t find the diet hard to do, with the exception of having to hold off from diving into that quite delicious brownie and avoid my homemade rolls.  How that extrapolates to doing that for three months, or perhaps for the rest of my life, time will tell.  As a one off day though it was a fun day of cooking with a lot of tasty nutritious food to show for it.