The Great 30-Day Vegan Experiment of 2013

One of the primary areas in which one should work towards happiness is nutrition, so here is my nutritional journey. Doesn’t calling it a journey make sound all cool and spiritual? Thus begins the tale of our vegan experiment.

vegan experiment
cool image by PIRO4D at

Day 1

Stardate 09/09/2013

I figure the best way to jump into this is to jump into it. It would be nice to have set up the scene and previewed all the areas in which one could\should strive for happiness, but I have not. If I took the time to do that, then I would only delay the actual work towards feeling good.

I’ve been thinking a couple of years about trying out veganism. It just seemed so extreme, so out there. But Seth Godin and Brian Leunser are vegans, so I’ve thought about it.

My wife’s doctor recently told her that her body was full of inflammation. We had tried some juices with foods that were supposedly full of good anti-inflammatory nutrients but never had much luck. We were probably still consuming too much of something bad, so we decided to stop the madness.

We started stopping the madness yesterday. We had a very non-vegan breakfast, possibly the best pancakes, bacon and hash browns I can remember. Then we looked forward.

We don’t expect any significant improvements in the first 15 hours, other than that significant first step.

Let the Experiment Begin!

I don’t think it productive to tell you what all we are eating, but we did have a little fun getting some books, going shopping and cooking. And the food we made is quite delicious. And in 29 days, I get pancakes and bacon!

To keep from burying the lead, let’s get back to the start. We started our vegan experiment.

If you are thinking of doing or trying something, you have to at least start. Don’t give up until after you start. I think that is a vital key to happiness. Start the habit of starting. Procrastination leads to stress and wondering what you missed, what might have been.

Get started starting something good.

What happens next?

The Great Vegan Experiment: Day 2.5

Stardate 09/10/2013

We are starting the 2nd and a half day of The Great 30-Day Vegan Experiment of 2013. I’ve had a cold both days. I haven’t had a cold in about a year, so I’m not used to it. I completely forgot what if feels like to have a cold. I feel horrible. If I am having any discomfort or cravings of junk food yet, I don’t notice them. So maybe this is a great time to have a cold.

I hate colds, especially when it is 96 degrees outside and when I’m trying a new eating style. This is a horrible time to have a cold.

[Travel back in time, to yesterday, to see how it all started.]

Since we’ve got 30 days of this, there was no sense in me telling you everything on Day 1.5. So here is a little more about our plan. After 30 days, we’ll reintroduce items into our system one at a time. Maybe we’ll try cheese. Maybe we’ll try burgers. We’ll just see what we’re missing around Day 29 or Day 30. If we don’t suffer any ill effects from that item, we’ll leave it in. My guess is that either wheat (gluten) or red meat is causing my wife’s inflammation, but we’ll see.

In the next few days, I’ll reveal a little more about our plan. The things that occurred to me yesterday that I will have to give up. Etc.

Until then, wish us a happy and successful Day 2.5. I wish you a happy and successful whatever day you are on.

The Great Vegan Experiment: Day 5.5

Stardate 09/13/2013

Days 4 and 5 were mostly uneventful, just me wondering if my misery was caused by my lack of coffee with creamer and Chick-Fil-A sandwiches or by my cold.

I did learn a couple things. 1. I’m a poor excuse for a Vegan. 2. Honey? Really?

(If you’re new, start from the beginning. And Welcome!)

Why I Maybe Be the Most Horriblest Vegan Ever

First, Vegans have strong conviction towards animal welfare. I hope I don’t offend too many, but I don’t. I don’t want to see any creature treated cruelly, but I just don’t think we’re exploiting bees by eating honey. I’m sure there are some cruel ways of farming (or whatever it is called) honey, so we always stick to local bee-keepers. Remember what happened to Barry B. Benson? As I mentioned, we did stop buying Tysons when we saw how the chickens were treated in “Food Inc.”

Then there is the seafood thing. I hope we didn’t offend any true vegans with our plan to continue eating seafood. We haven’t eaten seafood yet, and we may not, but we have not ruled it out of our 30-day trial. Don’t hate. We just don’t know what to label ourselves. Don’t negate. I’ll sick Kierkegaard on you!

And back to honey. It turns out honey isn’t vegan. I had honey and peanut butter on a gluten-free vegan waffle Wednesday. It was so good and sticky after 2.5 days of lentils and black beans. Now I learn I can’t be vegan and eat honey.

We Think It’s Going to Work!

Things did get somewhat dramatic for us the evening of Day 4.5. My wife informed me that after 18 months of sore and achy knees (caused by osteoarthritis) that her knees had not ached all day. Wow! That makes everything worth while. I’ve noticed she has also woke up earlier that past couple days and has seemed less groggy fist thing in the morning.

I hurt a toe in Taekwondo in July. Today is the first day since that it has not been sore. I still don’t feel more alert or energetic like all new vegans say they did after a few days, but that is probably the last of the cold. Or the NyQuil.

So far our plan is still to introduce a few items, one at a time, back into our system and try to determine a cause or causes of our inflammation. That plan could change if my wife’s aches stay away.

She just texted me and thanked me for embarking on the journey with her and said she is feeling better because of it.

She called me “Honey” which made me hungry for a waffle!

What new thing are you trying today?

The Great Vegan Experiment: Day 6.5

Stardate 09/14/2013

I posted yesterday’s post a little after lunch. The day did get not get better. I ate a second lunch around 3:00pm By the time I got home from work at 6:00, I was starving. I was a little light-headed. I was craving everything. I wanted Chick-fil-A nuggets. I wanted a Smashburger. I wanted the Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican dinner. I wanted a Toblerone dipped in Nutella and marshmallow with a big glass of chocolate milk. I wanted a Rahr blonde and Marlboro Red. Okay, I did not want a cigarette, and I’m not giving a link to that site.

[New to this tale? Jump to the beginning.]

I wolfed down some of the lovely vegan dish my wife made the night before and some Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise with Almond milk. It didn’t stop any cravings, but it helped me feel a little better.

My wife was pretty hungry too, but wasn’t feeling bad like I was. She had a little dinner, and we got straight to painting. I’ll get to that tomorrow or Monday. Or Friday. There are so many topics I want to cover! I have so many great ideas of stolen. I mean come up with. This was not supposed to be an I-hate-being-vegan blog; that’s just the big thing we’ve jumped into the middle of.

A good friends texted my wife and asked us to meet them for dinner. I really wanted to go. This guy is so cool, and totally my entrepreneurial hero. We called the restaurant. The gentleman who answered said they had Vegan options, but we didn’t want to trainwreck their evening or ours with our food craziness. And we really, really needed to paint.

What Happened Day 6?

I was still feeling kinda cloudy and groggy from congestion, so we skipped Taekwondo this morning–I haven’t even talked about how Taekwondo fits into the grand scheme here–and went straight back to painting.

We got on a roll painting–KA-CHOW!–went a little too long, and skipped lunch, so we both started feeling badly. That was more our fault than our Vegan diet, but we chose to blame Vegan. We felt much better handling that way. The painting has been so good to our house.

We had vegan bowls at Chipotle. I was quite surprised at the employees. They were not rude at all, very nice. They just acted like we were the first people who ever got bowls without meat, cheese or a tortilla. Remember we’re also gluten free during for this vegan experiment. Gluten-free isn’t nearly as sexy as Vegan, so it doesn’t get much airplay on this station.

There is only one other restaurant near us that I know caters to special diets, and they are too expensive to dine there very often. Although, my kid LOVES their scallops and penne pasta. How many 7-year-olds have fits for scallops and lobster? Mine.

As I was running out to try and squeeze in the yard work before dark, my wife had an episode of really sharp pain in one of her knees this evening. It came and went in a few minutes. My Taekwondo toe is still better. My heel-which has been sore since around February–is feeling better. Because of my cold though, I haven’t really tested it with Taekwondo or running. It was weird in the shower. I prepared to wince as I washed that big toe, but it didn’t hurt.

How Did Day 6 End?

We’re not enjoying this vegan lifestyle much, but we are enjoying less pain. Neither of us feels the energy and clarity that everyone says they feel after a few days, but we’re thinking that is because of our colds. We’re sticking to our 30 days as almost vegans.

What are you sticking to? I think I phrased that question poorly. What new good habit are you trying and not giving up on?


The Great Vegan Experiment: Week 2

Stardate 09/19/2013

To free up days to write about other happiness areas, I’ll only post about The Great 30-Day Vegan Experiment of 2013 every few days. That will free up more days for exercise, family, friends, business, etc.

We last left our heroes at the end of Day 6. I just noticed I haven’t included the days. Day 6 was Saturday.

[Just joining us on this adventure? See how it’s gone from the beginning.]

On the Seventh Day of Vegan My Tue Love Gave to Me!

Sunday was a little better. I didn’t have the cravings of the past two days. Shopping took forever. My wife’s knees stiffened up after we finished a couple days’ painting, so I volunteered to attempt shopping on my own. I went back and forth between aisles of Sprouts trying to decide on new foods to try. Sprouts was crowded! By the way, Sprouts is a great place for anyone looking for healthy food. Lots of healthy, natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, all that jazz.

We took my Mom to dinner for her birthday, so we had our first dining out experience. Houlihan’s caters to various dietary needs. I got to watch my daughter eat friend calamari that I couldn’t enjoy because of its buttermilk batter. We have had this calamari before, and it is delicious! My wife got a spinach salad with salmon, and I got salmon and vegetables. I know salmon isn’t vegan, but in our quasi-vegan experiment we are allowing ourselves seafood for now. Then I got to watch my Mom and daughter split an apple pie with ice cream. Both dishes I was able to eat were excellent, but I left wanting more. I guess that is better than leaving stuffed, bloated and miserable. Or is it?

Day 8 Monday

Monday was much easier. I really wanted a coffee all day. I guess I have this dependency on coffee, and it helps me get through work days somehow. I think my coffee craving led to a slight headache that I enjoyed all day. I know I could have black coffee, that it doesn’t have to have half ‘n half, but it’s just not the same. It’s not what I want. Our car, which had been in the shop several days, was finished. We had to pick it up, so one more night skipping Taekwondo.

Day 9 Tuesday

I should mention my sleeping. My sleeping is getting progressively better. That usually only happens when I’m working out so hard that I’m physically drained. The improved sleep is nice. It’s not good enough that I’ve decided to make this change permanent. I still have every intention of enjoying a coffee with cream on October 8. I couldn’t have my usual recovery drink after my run, because it has milk-based whey protein. I didn’t run that far or hard, so that was okay. My run did start off well though. My first Taekwondo class with this eating plan was rough. I didn’t have much energy, and I was not very alert. I was a little sloppy with my kicks, kicked a kicking pad incorrectly and re-injured the toe that had only just gotten better. I thought that was kinda funny. On the way to school, my kid had new healthy bar she was trying out. She didn’t like it and handed it to me. After dropping her off, on my way to work, I absentmindedly took a bite of the bar. When I realized what I was doing, I checked the ingredients. The bar had milk and wheat. Oops. Just one bite, but I now I wonder how much of my usual eating is absent-minded and how much I actually need. Great lesson!

Day 10 Wednesday

I woke up easily around 5:30 without an alarm and felt good at first. Around 8am, I started getting really tired and light-headed. I sat for a while, and that wore off. The rest of the day was okay. I didn’t feel too bad, but still wasn’t feeling good.

I realize I am spending most of this time complaining about how bad this experiment is making me feel. My soul is still good. I feel mentally stronger in that I’m sticking this out so far. I am glad I am trying it. I’ve learned a lot about my eating habits. And when it’s all over with, either way, I’ll feel good that I was willing and able to try something new and stick with it.

[The tale of Week 2 continues in our next exciting episode: “Raining: Day 1 OR The Counter-Intuitiveness of Happiness“]

Getting My Groove Back

Stardate 09/23/2013

Other than my slightly bloated belly [How’s that for a first sentence?] either from the soy or the accidental dairy in my latte, I felt better Friday (Day 12) than I had the previous two weeks. Although I did sorta crash around 7pm while working on the house, I felt really good most of Friday.

[Just joining us on this wild ride? See how it’s gone from the beginning.]

I slept well enough to get up early and work on the house a couple hours before Taekwondo Saturday morning (Day 13). Taekwondo felt pretty good. I was still slightly lethargic and stiff–at least more than I usually am, but still had fun. Or maybe class was just harder than usual.

Some Aches and Pains Return

My wife’s knees were pretty achy the day before, but it may have been caused by the cold front and rain that came through north Texas. We really have no way of knowing for sure. We just have to keep on experimenting with the foods. I wish we had started this experiment earlier, so the results wouldn’t be confused by the effects of food and the effects of weather. That reminds me. We need to discuss procrastination and how it can kill happiness. Coming soon!

So a Little Cheating

After much deliberation and soul-searching, my wife and I agreed it was time to introduce the first new food back into our systems. We decided the chicken at Chipotle would be safe. Chipotle uses pretty clean ingredients, so it will probably be our go-to food introduction venue. By “clean,” I mean smaller amounts of additives, preservatives, steroids, GMOs, pesticides, etc. All that yucky stuff while normally try to avoid anyway.

That my have been the most delicious chicken ever! It didn’t completely agree with my wife’s digestion, but it was love at first site for my digestion and metabolism. A match made in Gastro Heaven.

Yes we “cheated” on our initial plan. Yes we felt a little guilty about that, but we will not let that distract us from the Big Picture.” Coming soon, a discussion about getting back up!

I reckon many of your are wandering how this might affect our weight. Well, I’m glad I asked you to ask. I’m going to tell you.

We both typically avoid scales. We are both in really good shape, and the numbers that scales provide are pretty meaningless for someone in good shape. I did want to make sure I don’t “waste away,” so I’ve been weighing myself on Fridays. As of Friday (Day 12), I had lost two pounds since the Friday before we started our experiment, about a pound per week. That number doesn’t really mean anything to me one way or the other My wife hasn’t weighed, but she has slimmed quite a bit. That made her happy–for now–to slim down without being able to exercise much. Her friends at work are telling her she is losing too much weight and needs to stop this crazy vegan experiment. I believe a discussion on support and encouragement my be needed soon.

Day 14 Sunday

Sunday (Day 14) was glorious! I had a nice run Saturday morning, about 40 minutes. Only 49 days until my 15-miles trail run. That is starting to scare me. Our plan does allow sea food, so we enjoyed us some shrimp and lobster with lots of baked vegetables for dinner. My stomach did ache slightly that night. Warning sign? That night, I did the P90X2 Recovery + Mobility DVD. That loosened me up and relaxed me well for quite a good sleep.

I’ve still got lots to discuss, so I hope you stay with me. I hope I’m inspiring you to try something new!

The Great Vegan Experiment: Week 3

Stardate 09/27/2013

Almost finished with week three of the vegan experiment. Nothing much to report this week. I feel a lot better than I did last week, but I still don’t have enough energy to fuel running, P90X2 DVDs and Taekwondo. I have learned that I can and should eat better then I have been, but I don’t have to be vegan. I currently don’t want to be vegan.

[Just joining us on this adventure? See how it’s gone from the beginning.]

My wife and I split a Chipotle bowl with chicken, but not cheese, Wednesday night. Thursday night, we tried tempeh. It’s not bad. We mixed it in with some veggie stir fry. It added something–not sure what–and gave us some protein. It did help with my biggest complaint about stir fry, which is it doesn’t have meat in it. The tempeh made the stir fry very enjoyable. We’re planning to have it at least once per week from now on. We are going to only have red meat once or twice per month. We haven’t decided for sure.

We are both struggling with wanting to finish this last week of our Great Vegan Experiment. We’re pretty sure we’ve seen all the results we’re going to see. Neither of us realized the alertness and energy most vegans say they felt after the first few days. Maybe it is just not for us.

We are both glad we tried this though. We will definitely eat less meat, especially red meat. We also both intend to educate ourselves a little better and prepare a little better and perhaps give this experiment another try in the not-to-distant future. I’m pretty sure our lack of success was due more to lack of education and planning than to mal-nutrition caused by the lifestyle.

One issue I have is the supplements. I’ve read in many places that vegans need to take supplements, especially B12. I have a problem with that. Not that I typically–or ever–eat well enough to not need supplements, but if a diet requires supplements, then it is not perfect. It is not suitable. I may change my mind about that as I learn more about it.

I’ve also unintentionally buried the gluten-free story. I think my wife is probably benefiting cutting back on bread. She has slimmed significantly over the past three weeks. The aching in her knees has returned though. We will probably continue to minimize our gluten intake for now, but lay off avoiding it on our next vegan experiment.

Now. What to try next? Or am I busy enough?

What are you trying? Are you busy enough?

The Great Vegan Experiment: Week 4

Stardate 10/01/2013

The vegan Experiment is over. We stopped it early, because we decided we’re sticking to most of it. We probably could have done thing differently and made it work. I don’t want to offend Vegans —at least not any more than I offend anybody else— by calling ourselves Vegans.

[Just joining us on this adventure? See how it’s gone from the beginning.]

First I must confess that we cheated in a very big way. We had Chick-fil-A Saturday night and–drum roll, please–Smashburger Sunday night.

My wife’s stomach didn’t take well to either. I ordered the Cobb salad at Chick-fil-A, knowing I would get the chicken, but forgetting it has cheese, bacon and egg. I felt great after Saturday evening and and the next day. I really need protein. If I’m going to go without meat or chicken, I really need to learn how to get complete amino acid chains with plant-based proteins. Okay, okay, chicken is meat. I get it.

I couldn’t finish my whole burger Sunday evening. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious. We enjoyed the burgers. I just couldn’t finish it. I felt bloated and heavy Sunday evening and Sunday night. I had planned on running Sunday night–something I could have done with a meatless meal–but ended up not being able to. And my wife’s enjoyment of her burger was short-lived. The bloating was not in our heads. You could see our stomachs were visibly bloated. :)

I just totally added a smiley face on my blog post.

So we’ve decided to end the vegan experiment and get on with our new lifestyle. We’re going to start having tempeh at least once per week. We will only have chicken once or twice per week. We’ll only have red meat once or twice per month. We’ll have seafood whenever we can afford it. About 90% of our meals prepared at home will be gluten-free and vegetarian, if not vegan. We’ll just do what we feel like doing for any particular dining out experience. That means we get to socialize with other people again!

I’m not going to try to convince anyone else to become vegan or vegetarian or anything else. What you can or can’t tolerate will be different than what I can or can’t tolerate. I do encourage you to try 30 days (or 20 in our case) without something you think you need. See if you really need it. See if you might be better off without it. If you’re not better off, then go right back to it. Incidentally, I haven’t had any chocolate since we started this Experiment. If you find out you’re better off without whatever it is you thought you needed, then you’re better off.

The point is you have to try. You have to experience it for yourself.

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