Curious about going plant-based but not sure if you're prepared to make the plunge? Splendid Ambassador Morgan, of The Clean Beauty Confidential, and her husband tried 2 weeks of our plant-based, gluten-free meals and are sharing what they loved and learned about their experience.
Welp, we took the plunge…
For 8 years, my husband Tyler and I have been living that paleo/bulletproof lifestyle. From butter coffee to bacon and all the grass-fed meats - this has been our go-to way of eating. We've adhered to the 80/20 rule, of course, because vacations and football Saturdays just wouldn’t be right without a plate full of nachos, pizza, and a cold beverage.
As an avid crossfitter, I’ve been exposed to so many nutrition plans over the years. From the zone diet, to macro counting, carb cycling, high fat - I’ve pretty much played with them all! Something I never thought I’d try was a plant-based diet. Not because I didn’t want to, but it seemed like such an extreme shift for someone who lived on lean meats and LOTS of eggs. I mean, what would I even eat?? ;-)
For months now, my husband and I have been fascinated by the athletes (think Tom Brady) who have shifted their eating to predominantly vegetables. Not FULL BLOWN vegans per se, but a heavy emphasis on plant-based eating. We wanted to dip our toes in with this, but something told us we needed to go “all in” for at least two weeks to see how we felt.
Now, before I go any further with this, I want to preface that I’m a firm believer that there’s no right or wrong here! I’m in the “you do you” camp. Whether that’s keto, paleo, vegan, mediterranean, high fat, high carb - you get me. YOU get to choose what foods make YOU feel at your best! When you break it down, eating real foods vs. processed foods is what it’s all about + you know your body better than anyone else. So you do you!
When we said the word “vegan” out loud it seemed crazy scary. Where would we get our protein? What do we buy? How do we cook?
There were a million questions, but we’re also two people who love to experiment with our health in trying new things to see what makes us feel at our very best! Over the years, I’ve scaled back on my red meat consumption because I knew it made me feel “sluggish” compared to how I felt after eating wild caught salmon or chicken. As we’ve gotten older we’ve really been able to hone in on what makes us feel great and what doesn’t. A few beverages on a Friday night and some grease means we’ll be feeling foggy for the next 2 days. We’re not in our 20’s anymore and our bodies are reminding us of that on the daily!
I said to Tyler as we were chatting about trying a vegan diet for 2 weeks, that the only way I would commit to doing this is if we used a meal delivery service. Number one - I knew we’d be less likely to “cheat” if we had all the meals we needed right in front of us that were prepped and ready to go. Then, we would just have to fill in the gaps of our day with some easy snacks like nuts, plant-based protein powder, bars, smoothies, etc. That seemed manageable for two newbies!
I also knew it would be important for us to make sure we were getting the right balance and key nutrients + complete protein sources. Plant and meat eaters alike both have nutritional requirements and each person has a set number or percentage of macro and micro nutrients to meet in order for our bodies to thrive! With a little research we landed on Splendid Spoon and agreed this was going to save us time, money and LOTS of food prep in the coming weeks. I have used Splendid Spoon in the past because I adore their soups and their new grain bowls - all are gluten free, vegan and non-GMO! Sometimes, I would eat them as they came and other times I would add a protein on top like grilled fish or a side of eggs.
When I showed Tyler the meals, he was like, “Okay...those look pretty damn good. I can get down with that.” We placed our order. 40 bowls were heading our way over the course of 2 weeks and, let me just say, I was pretty pumped about stepping out of the kitchen a little more than normal! We LOVE to cook, but we also LOVE not cleaning up a mess and getting that time back to do other things + have more time with our kiddos!
So now, it’s time to give you the skinny on what we learned from our 2 weeks as vegans. The real real!
What we loved:
1) Meal Delivery!
I mean as busy entrepreneurs who work from home and have two small kiddos this was the way to go! We were eating wayyyy more nutrient dense foods with Splendid Spoon than we would have thrown together ourselves. The meals are pre-portioned, calorie-controlled and arrive ready-to-eat. From Moroccan Spiced Buckwheat Bowls with butternut squash and broccoli (one of our favorite bowls) to Coconut Curry with kale and cashews - these meals had us eating all the lentils, fennel, turmeric, quinoa, cauliflower, beets and more! Lots of color, flavor AND well-balanced.
Neither of us could deny the extra energy we had - even after the first few days of transitioning to vegan. After doing a little research we came to understand that consuming more whole plant foods containing a powerhouse of nutrients (and more carbohydrates by nature) will keep you going! Less animal protein can lighten the workload on your entire system as your body doesn’t have to use as much energy to digest your food - meaning more energy for you!
This was most likely due to the increase in carbohydrates (coming off of a higher fat/lower carb diet) which come almost exclusively from plants and can provide our brains with more glucose.
Yep, I’m going there because this was something that’s been on my mind as someone who works in the clean living / sustainable space. Land use, water use, air quality, emissions - our food choices can play a significant role in our environment. Even doing “meatless Mondays” can go a long way!
What we learned:
1) Holy digestive track!
The first few days we were feeling SUPER bloated! Why, I thought? We learned that when you first change your diet you may not have the optimal bacterial community adapted to your new diet (aka your gut bacteria needs some time to adjust!). You’re also consuming a lot more fiber than before and your gut bacteria will continue to grow and crowd out other less helpful bacteria that may be causing sluggish digestion or bloat-inducing inflammation.
Knowing this was going to be a short term issue, we doubled down on our water intake and I incorporated a digestive enzyme to help!
2) You are what you eat!
Yep Yep! It may be tempting to reach for packaged or processed foods for more options - even more bread - so as with any diet or change in eating you must remember that just because something on the package says it’s “low fat”, “gluten free”, “vegan”, “low sugar” - doesn’t make it healthy! Did I purchase a few things like a pint of vegan ice cream to test it out? Sure! I’m human ;-) but we got really good at dissecting ingredient labels on vegan packaged foods to learn real quick that many of them are crap and loaded with chemicals. Again why we chose Splendid Spoon...fresh, minimal ingredients.
3) We can’t deny that we miss meat/eggs/dairy.
But here’s where we’re planning on making a few shifts due to this experiment….
- Less dairy or even dairy-free with the occasional “cheat” for date night or pizza night. We found quite a few amazing dairy alternatives - some we loved and of course some we just couldn’t get down with...we’re looking at you plant based cheese. ;-)
- While the quality of the meats we choose have always been important, we’re going to be scouting out more local options and doing our due diligence on responsible sourcing.
- Meatless Mondays! Yes! We are all about it now! We definitely want to do 1-2 days a week completely meatless to up our plant-based nutrients and just keep our bodies guessing.
- Rethinking how we view “side dishes” vs. “main course”. As we slowly start to incorporate animal protein again, we want to make a mental shift of our protein being more of a side dish and the grains/lentils/beans/veggies our primary.
So, there you have it. I’m so glad Tyler and I got this urge out of our systems and got to play around with this full on shift for the past 2 weeks. I’m excited to take a “mixed” approach in our household and continue to monitor how we’re feeling in the gym, what recovery looks like, inflammation and more! Thanks to Splendid Spoon for supplying us with these incredibly fresh, plant-based meals. It was such a treat hearing the doorbell ring on Wednesdays knowing we would be teed up for the next week with real, nutrient dense meals!
Interested in trying our pre-portioned, plant-based meals? Get started with a weekly delivery and try going vegan for 1-2 meals a day. It really can make a big difference in how you feel!
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org