I’m just coming off 30 days of amazing, delicious, healthy, raw, plant-based cuisine and I’m feeling extremely happy and quite light and lean! In fact, I’m about 10 lbs lighter! And I’m feeling so fabulous that I will likely continue to maintain a raw vegan diet for a majority of my daily life moving forward at least for now <insert Scott cringing here>. It does take effort and planning, but for those of you who are interested or want to consider taking on this challenge and experiencing all of its positive effects, I’m sharing my raw vegan journey in this post.
So just a little bit of background…I’ve been eating vegan for the last two and a half years or so, and initially chose this lifestyle because of how great the food made me feel. It was like putting premium fuel in your car – my body ran smoothly, efficiently, and with a ton of energy. However, since then, I’ve learned all of the vegan junk food cheats. Did you know that Oreos, Skittles, and potato chips are all vegan? And the list of unhealthy vegan food doesn’t stop there. Even Taco Bell has vegan (non-salad) menu items! So, as you can see, just because something is vegan, doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. Now, when I first began eating vegan, and I hadn’t discovered all of the cheats yet, I was eating mostly a whole foods diet (with some of the more healthy packaged/processed vegan foods), and I felt fabulous. By going raw vegan, I feel that I was able to return to that state, and kick that up a notch.
I seriously don’t know where to start, there’s so much to say!
First and foremost, like I said, I feel light and lean. I feel amazing. I feel energized. I feel refreshed. I feel transformed. I never had a stomach ache or felt sluggish, bloated, or tired (unless I was at fault for not getting enough sleep). The biggest thing I’m asked since becoming vegan two and a half years ago is the cliché, “Where do you get your protein?” And there are plenty of articles addressing this on the web, so I won’t get into it, but in short, 1) I do not believe we need nearly as much protein as the beef/dairy/poultry industries lead us to believe, and 2) clearly, I am thriving eating only 35-45 grams of protein per day. During my 30 days raw, according to my running app, I ran ~145 miles with a total elevation climb of ~13,000 feet, and burned ~16,000 calories. I’ve also been attending almost daily Hot Vinyasa (yoga) the second half of the month once Ty turned 3 months. And then there’s the obvious – chasing two little kids around while caring for a 3 month old baby, running our household mostly alone (laundry, groceries, errands, baths, meals, etc) while my husband works a very demanding job. See! I do a LOT and somehow I’m not only surviving with less protein than what I’ve always been told to eat, but I’m thriving! I realize that not everyone feels this way, and that is totally okay! But for me, eating a plant-based diet, including less protein, has been life changing.
Besides feeling fabulous, I swear to you that my senses have come alive! The biggest change is to my taste buds. I am attributing this to not eating anything packaged/processed…so absolutely no weird chemicals/additives that I cannot pronounce – for 30 days. This includes refined sugars of all kinds – including maple syrup and agave. My only sweetener was dates. Anyhow, the flavors that I can detect and taste in my meals are incredible. It’s as if my taste buds have been unlocked and I’m finally able to fully enjoy all of these beautiful plants, bursting with vibrant flavors. Tomatoes, carrots, almonds, whatever…simple foods that I never really noticed before really have wonderful tastes! And I suddenly I love the crunch of raw veggies! I found myself eating whole cucumbers and bell peppers as snacks! Even my nose seems to be working on overdrive! I can smell all kinds of things more than normal (good and bad, lol) – it is kind of like being pregnant (don’t worry, Scott won’t read this post anyways so he won’t panic)! And I know this sounds a bit looney, and I totally don’t mean to get all hippie-dippie, but over the last 30 days, I slowly began to notice more beauty in nature than I have in the past. I pull into a parking lot and see the grasses growing in the median and their texture, watching them sway gently in the breeze… I notice flowers, their bright colors, and the intricacies of their petals… the stars seem to twinkle brighter…It really is crazy, but I love noticing these details throughout my day! So in a way, I feel more reflective this last month and I’m really digging that!
Similarly, I have to say there were a few moments of just true euphoria – complete unexplainable happiness, following an enchanting, satisfying, raw plant-based meal. I know, this where most people will roll their eyes if they haven’t already, but I swear, there were a few moments where I just felt totally high on life! I will have to research it – but I’m guessing that it’s partially mental (my personal satisfaction at eating a peaceful and healthy meal full of magnificent nutrients) but also partially biological (something having to do with the food and what it does to our bodies??).
On this adventure, I also got to do something that I really enjoy doing – trying new things – especially in the culinary world! In the last 30 days, I realized that I LOVE the peppery flavor of arugula. It’s my new favorite green! I also discovered how much I love fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, chives, oregano, whatever) – they are fabulous added to salads, veggie wraps and all sorts of things! I’m totally into nuts and seeds – great little snacks – although you have to watch the portions, because they are high in calories and fat. Dates make wonderful sweeteners – I use them in place of sugar for everything, including salad dressings! And a friend turned me onto those paper thin jicama “tortillas” – they are an amazing wrap alternative to collard greens and romaine leaves! But probably the most interesting thing I got to try was a bag of kelp noodles and boy was I glad to try them! Even Scott seemed to like them! “I’m glad it wasn’t zucchini,” he said, since I spiralized a lot of zucchini. Seriously though, he said they were good (I did a tasty Mac N Chz sauce).
So the million dollar question: what did I eat? Plants! Things from the earth! Fruits! Vegetables! Nuts! Seeds! I call it “My Rainbow Food” because it is so beautiful! See for yourself in the photos below! You can’t help but admire Mother Nature’s beauty there. And just imagine the variety of essential nutrients that I was able to consume through this food adventure!
How did I do it? Well, I am an extremist as many of you know (example, this past Monday morning I ran a half marathon on some good hills, completing it at 6:15am). Again, extremist. But really, you don’t need to be an extremist. You just need some good old fashioned will power and some recipes. And most importantly, you HAVE to plan. You will have a really tough time eating raw vegan for any extended amount of time if you do not plan your meals regularly. Each week I sat down and planned all of my lunches and dinners and made my corresponding grocery list (breakfast was always fruit). And then I stuck to it. I mainly used these cookbooks, recommended by Kris Carr, but I did also use some raw vegan websites as well.
Yes, there are desserts! I mostly made “ice cream” by blending up frozen bananas in my Vitamix and experimenting by adding different fruits, cinnamon, dates, and cacao. I also made some “Fudge Bites” with dates stuffed with raw almond butter, dipped in raw chocolate and topped with chopped nuts and coconut flakes (see pic). Speaking of raw almond butter… I need to try adding that to my ice cream!
As you can see, I learned a lot, and truly enjoyed this food journey! I also have to give a HUGE shout out to my fellow yogi David Lauber who bravely embarked on this adventure with me! I think it’s pretty safe to say that he’s the only one who was up for the challenge and together we rocked it, sharing our finds along the way and supporting one another. Thank you, David! And for the rest of you, as always, feel free to contact me if you are interested in trying this or have any questions! I love chatting about this stuff!!