Going Vegan – What I Learned

I committed to the vegan plan of the #TIUloveyourbody series out of pure curiosity. 

A program for 8 weeks of nothing but tofu and lettuce. Kidding! But seriously, I was nervous to commit to something like this because of just that: commitment. How often do we start something and quit? Given I had already completed the Bikini Series and loved all of the recipes, I knew I was in safe hands with going vegan.

I wanted to push my body to another level. I wanted to learn more about nutrition and gain more energy than I knew possible!

I wanted to share what I’ve learned but most importantly, what I’ll be doing moving forward. This health and wellness journey is all about trial and error so experimenting with food until you find something that works for you is the best way, in my opinion.

What I learned –>

  1. The vegan options are endless! From the tofu scrambles to chickpea tray bakes, the Tone It Up Nutrition plan offered so many delicious recipes. I was shocked at how many options there were. There is often times that misconception of veganism being a bowl of lettuce. Oh, but there is so much more! Also, with all of your help, I was able to explore some fun vegan restaurants and discover restaurants that provide vegan friendly options.

Pictured Here: “Chickpea Tray Bake” from the TIU nutrition plan – kale, chickpeas, carrots, bell pepper, broccoli topped with hummus and tahini sauce.

Pictured Here: “Spirulina Bowl” from the TIU Nutrition Plan

Pictured Here: “Garden Goddess Wrap” from Goddess & The Baker – hummus, avocado, cucumber, carrot, tomato, beets, arugula & goddess dressing.

Pictured Here: “OC Raw Chopper” from Native Foods Cafe : Chopped mixed veggies, seasonal greens, salsa pomodoro, avocado, almonds, spiral cut beets and sprouts. Tossed with lemon garlic vinaigrette. & a watermelon fresca!

2. Everything was absolutely delicious! I never once felt dissatisfied after a meal. Packed with flavor by using a variety of seasoning: cumin, turmeric, himalayan pink salt, black pepper, curry powder and paprika to name a few. Sprinkle cayenne pepper for some spice! The flavor allows you to not miss the deep dish pizza or donuts because your taste buds are having a party (truly, that’s what they are doing) and besides, you have healthier substitutes to still get your pizza or donut fix.

Pictured Here: Matcha donuts from the TIU Nutrition Plan.

3. CHICKPEAS ARE LIFE. That’s all.

4. I never had a food coma. Every meal was a huge portion (not complaining one bit) and fueled me for the day. I never experienced an afternoon slump. If I did, it just meant I didn’t eat enough so I ate some more and felt better! I also love how they built their program with snacks in between each meal. It keeps your metabolism running and you get to look forward to eating more food within 2 – 3 hours. 🙂 Yes please!

What I will do moving forward –>

  1. I don’t like labels. Period. I feel like I’m put into a box and damned if I step out! I’m not going to call myself a Vegan – it’s too extreme for me. What if I have a slice of cheese pizza? What if I have eggs? Chicken? I also like to experience different cuisines when I travel and don’t want to ever feel guilty or “wrong”. Don’t get me wrong, I will definitely incorporate all my Vegan finds into my lifestyle, but just don’t want to limit myself too hardcore. I also need to learn/research more of what works best for MY body. I am a believer in bio-individuality which is a constant learning process!
Pictured Here: “Silky Smooth Sounds of Sonny Sanderson’s Saxophone” from Real Good Juice Co: Dates, Cacao, banana, maca, almond butter & almond milk.
  1. Food allergy tests. Stemming off of bio-individuality, it helps to learn what works with your body and what doesn’t. There are certain resources you can use such as Pinnertest an online program or the local Green Circle Wellness location here in Chicago. I will try these out and definitely report back my findings (perhaps in future blog post)!
  2. I need to pay better attention to nutrient deficiencies. It’s known that vegans miss out on certain nutrients when living on a plant-based lifestyle. Deficient in Vitamin B12, Vitamin D (but also because I don’t see the sun for 6 months of the year, thank you Chicago), Omega-3s, Iodine, Iron, Calcium and Zinc. There are supplements you can take for these so will see what my personal deficiencies are and go from there.

Pictured Here: from Raw Love in Tulum, Mexico – 2 “Q-coolers” (cucumber, mint, lime), the “Healthy Belly” bowl (papaya, ginger, turmeric, pineapple, banana) & the “Chocolate Dream” (cacao, vanilla, coconut milk, raw honey)
  1. Pay close attention to my protein intake. I did not pay attention to the amount of protein I was eating. I’m going to start using MyFitnessPal to track my intake to ensure I get enough. With all the research I did, seems like there isn’t one clear answer. The amount of protein you should consume varies on many factors: activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals & current health status. It all depends what outcome you’re looking for. Again, I don’t want to go back to eating a lot of animal protein to reach my goal amount, but be aware of how much I’m consuming on a primarily Vegan lifestyle. I found this great article that provides 17 protein options on a Vegan plan!

All in all, I’m beyond proud that I committed to this plan and saw it through. Sure, there were times where I slipped up and had something non-vegan but 80% of the time, I was Vegan. This is all about learning what works for you and how it makes your body feel. So happy with the knowledge I’ve gained and more excited than ever to apply this to the Bikini Series! Yes, ladies, it’s right around the corner. Eek! See you on the other side 🙂