Monday, October 31, 2011

Home Vegan: the first 100 days

It has been 100 days since I began my home vegan diet as discussed in my July blog Time for Drastic Measures 釜底抽薪.  Here is a quick update of my experience so far.  By the way, Home Vegan simply means one eats only non-animal products at home - no natural or processed foods derived from animals including meat, seafood, eggs, or dairy products. 

My motivation was simple –to reduce long term health risks such as heart diseases, stroke (perhaps certain types of cancer too?) without changing my social life.  While it will take some time to get indirect measurements of any sustained improvement (such as cholesterol level, blood pressure, etc.), some immediate trivial benefits are evident. 

First off, I have lost about 5 pounds of weight without any change to my other daily routines.  This should not come as a surprise to anyone.  Simple arithmetic would suggest a significant reduction in calorie intakes is possible when one swaps out animal-based food with natural high fiber vegan food in one’s diet.  The fact is that pound for pound, most vegetables and fruits bring you only a fraction of what the leanest meat would.  And the common rule of thumbs tells us a cumulative reduction of approximately 3,000 calories may bring your weight down by one pound. 

The good news is that switching to a home vegan diet wasn’t as difficult or dramatic as I had feared initially: we simply stopped buying any food that contains animal products and here we went.  Perhaps we are lucky that we have been used to a diet with a lot of vegetables, fruits and high fiber foods (such as brown rice) to begin with.  Further, there are a lot more variety of vegetables in Chinese markets and grocery stores than in average American supermarkets.  It includes a large selection of soybean based food with different textures and flavors.  By the way, if you had previously prepared and eat vegetables in the more limiting western styles, a simple and fail-safe way to prepare these unfamiliar vegetables (especially the green leafy ones) is to sauté them with a little cooking oil, salt (and garlic); something even a kitchen dummy like me can do. 

Side benefits that I did not expect or have thought of:

  • Saving time in grocery and supermarket shopping: I now skip the majority of the sections/departments in the market.
  • Saving time in cooking: how many different ways and advanced preparations can you do with fresh vegetables?
  • Saving money with grocery shopping: while you may spend more per unit for some healthy and fresh food, changes in quantity and ratios will offset it and more.
  • Much less often in having food caught in between your teeth
  • Helping with environments: it is well-known that excessive animal agriculture has had negative impact on our planet from water, deforestation, to greenhouse emission.

One big surprise is that I seem to eat less without feeling hungry soon after I started the diet.  There are many theories about why that is the case.  My doctor’s simplified explanation is that one’s body adapts quickly to the new condition and naturally expects less.  The bad news is that I seem to have hit the plateau in about 2 months after losing 5 pounds, not unlike the experience of those who do fitness routines to lose weight.  While determined to continue with my home vegan diet, I guess I need to pull out the exercise DVD my friend sent me and start doing them too!

Last but not the least, do make sure your friends know the distinction between a HOME vegan and a vegan if you choose to be one.  Some of them may get a little concerned if they should go out to eat with you.  On the other hand, it may be a positive if some of them no longer want to come to your house for party?!   Happy Home Vegans!

No comments: