Hi, my name is Stephanie. I am completing a Masters in Nutrition Communication from Ryerson, on my way to becoming a registered dietitian. I have the great fortune of completing one of my internship rotations with Pamela. I have learned so much about plant-based diets in the short time that I have been working with her, so I decided to give it a try. One week, no animal products or by-products. Nothing but wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

I’m here to share my experience with you all.

(For the sake of understanding some of what I will be talking about, it should be known that I’m fairly active. I run between 70-80km a week and lift weights about twice a week.)

I usually plan out my meals every week, so I know exactly what I need to buy from the grocery store and I don’t end up wasting food that I never get around to eating. It also keeps me from getting too ‘hangry’ (yes, it’s a thing) after running. I found some vegan recipes and included some recipes from Pamela’s Fresh Start cleanse.

The first thing that I noticed, was that my wallet felt a little heavier than usual. Groceries for the week cost about $5.00 less than usual,  a welcome bonus for someone on a student budget.

 

Stephanie’s 5 top tips on trying a plant-based diet:

  1. Start slowly with beans, but don’t be afraid of fibre. Keeping pulse portions small, drinking lots of water and staying active will help.
  2. Smoothies are a great breakfast idea, but if you are still hungry try oats or overnight oats or chia pudding.
  3. Meal planning will help! If plant-based recipes are new for you, then try food bloggers like the Minimalist Baker and Oh She Glows for great recipe suggestions.
  4. Let friends and family know you are trying out a plant-based diet, they might surprise you with how helpful and receptive they are.
  5. Be open to new flavours, textures and ideas. I never thought carrot pulled ‘pork’ would be tasty, but it was!

How I felt

At the beginning of the week, I was a little worried about how my digestive system would react to all the fibre coming from the beans and lentils. In the past, if I ate a primarily lentil-based dish, I would get some bloating and general discomfort. I tried to not to overdo it with the beans and lentils, but that also meant I probably wasn’t eating as much protein as I normally would at each meal. I found myself getting hungry a lot sooner after eating a meal than I usually do. I also woke up very hungry each day, which just meant I had to eat breakfast quite soon after waking.

I opted for smoothie bowls for breakfast. I know from past experience, that a primarily fruit/veggie and almond milk smoothie doesn’t cut it for me. To give them a little more umph and help sustain my activity, I added a scoop of vegan protein powder and a handful rolled oats. I also sprinkled on some nuts, seeds, coconut, and dried fruit.

I never really craved sweets before, but often, after getting home from a hard running workout and eating dinner, I would want something dessert-y. I got no such hankerings this week. Even going to my parents’ house over the weekend and having date squares and banana bread lying around, I was not tempted in the least.

Running and a plant-based diet

Running also went really well for me this week. I’m coming back from an injury that left me unable to run (or do much of anything) for 6 months. Since getting back to running, I’ve been having a hard time recovering from workouts and even struggle sometimes to keep up in workouts. This past week however, workouts (and recovery from workouts) was great! Now I can’t say that it’s only due to following a vegan diet. There are other factors at play: the cumulative effects of my last month of training and the different nature of the workouts themselves. I think part of it can be attributed to an increase in carbohydrate. Since beans and lentils were my main source of protein this week, and they also contain carbohydrate, I think I’m actually fueling myself better than I was before.

My take-aways

I thought it might be challenging going home for the weekend and eating with my friends and family who do not follow a plant-based diet, but they were very receptive and accommodating. Friends welcomed the opportunity to cook a vegan meal, and family prepared a bean salad for me, to replace the meat I would usually eat at the meal.

Overall, it’s kind of hard to explain, but I just felt better. The past week has been quite a positive experience. I don’t know that I am quite ready to make the transition to a completely plant-based diet, but one thing I am sure of is that I will be including more plant-based meals in my diet.

One of my absolute favourite recipes that I made this week were these BBQ Pulled Carrot from yup..it’s vegan! You can find the recipe here!

The recipe suggests topping them with purple cabbage or avocados, which I didn’t have, so I made this red bell pepper relish instead.

So if you are thinking of trying a plant-based diet, I suggest you just give it a go! It is not difficult or expensive and you might just love it.