My 28 Day Plant Strong Challenge has been over for a week. I wanted to wait a week before writing a recap so I could see what my key takeaway points were after going back to more “normal” (i.e. not entirely vegan) eating. If you’re new to my blog, you can read about my foray into veganism for Whole Foods Market here, here, here, here, here and here.
I really see a lot of value in being purposeful with what I put in my body. Throughout this challenge, I planned my meals, ate a TON of vegetables and learned a lot of new cooking techniques. I did a lot less mindless eating because in order to eschew eating anything that has a mother, you’ve got to plan ahead. I felt very…fresh. And clean. The food I was eating wasn’t weighing down my body, I didn’t feel fatigued after eating the way I usually do after eating something processed or after eating meat.
That being said, I don’t think I will continue to subscribe to a vegan diet 100% of the time. I see a lot of value in eating that way 3-4 days a week, I think there could be some awesome long-term health benefits (lower cholesterol, blood pressure, weight loss, proper nutrients, etc). My biggest challenge in staying on the challenge was when eating out- Ryan and I love eating out and I’ve never realized how many sauces are cream based or how everything is cooked with some sort of oil. I only fell off the wagon once, at The Girl and The Goat. Okay, twice- we were at brunch and I needed chicken wings. Life is all about balance and while I will go forward with a primarily plant-based diet, I love me some cheese and the occasional turkey sandwich and I am going to enjoy them.
Here are my big ah-ha! moments:
-Almond Milk is AMAZING! I haven’t had cow’s milk in years and have been a soy milk devotee but no more- almond milk is where it’s at.
-Cooking Without Oil is so, so easy. Now that I know I can saute onions and garlic without EVOO, there’s really no need for the added calories that have no nutritional value. I’d rather get my fat from good things. Like cake. And wine.
-The more veggies, the better. I ate a ridiculous amount of veggies in every form available- raw, juiced, smoothied, steamed, you name it and always felt full, in the freshest, not weighed down way.
-Chicken is done-zo. I don’t eat pork or beef but have made some allowances for chicken, even though it makes me feel nauseous afterward. Why am I eating something that makes me feel nauseous?! Duh.
-Protein is key. Running the Soldier Field 10 Miler, all I could think was that if I hadn’t “cheated” the night before at dinner, there was no way I would have had enough energy to make it through that race. I was not eating enough protein during the challenge- I’m sure good vegans take care of that just fine but that was an area of opportunity for me.
A huge thanks to Whole Foods Market for this opportunity. I learned so much and being able to write about it…well, it’s just a match made in foodie heaven.