Week One: No dairy, no processed foods (I take this to mean white flour/sugar)
Week Two: Same + No meat, fish, eggs
Weeks Three & Four: Same + No oils
I love cheese and milk with my cereal but it doesn't really love me so the idea of limiting my dairy intake had already been floating in my head. I also liked the idea of limiting white flour and sugar. Pork is increasingly distasteful to me so that wasn't much of a problem. The point where they COMPLETELY lost me was giving up oils. The reasoning? They're empty calories. I run 10+ miles every week. I'm pretty sure I can withstand a few extra calories. Especially if I'm eating all/mostly plants and whole grains.
One of the things my mom did all the way right was teach me to avoid diets. Her advice: Change your lifestyle rather than doing something extreme for a few weeks or months. I decided to give this plan a try anyway because I'd already said I was going to and for the other aforementioned reasons. I'm 12 days in so let's start with the positive things I've discovered:
- I love almond milk! I am all in for substituting it in baking (where possible), oatmeal, my rare coffee, cereal. This is one of the great joys of this process for me! It would've taken a lot for me to buy an entire carton of almond milk in case I didn't like it. Now I had an excuse. I also found I like the Harris Teeter store brand but not the Whole Foods store brand. I re-tried soy milk. Still don't like that. Sweetened oat milk? AWESOME! But has a crazy amount of sugar which kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Hemp milk tastes like cardboard. It's almost grainy. BIZARRE. The WF almond, oat & hemp I tasted for free in store.
- Eggs are just as delicious with olive oil as with butter. I've ALWAYS cooked my eggs in butter because the times I had it cooked in oil, it seemed to be lacking in flavor. In retrospect, I think it was usually cooked in canola oil. Why? Just wrong. A dash (and really the scantest amount is enough) of olive oil in a non-stick skillet is enough to make my eggs a delight. Butter, you're out!
- Grilled veggie burritos are DELICIOUS! I really didn't miss the meat! (But the fact that it's only 60 cents cheaper than the meat burrito? That's a fail.)
- Eating fruit is so much easier when you are eating eliminating all that other stuff. In the last two weeks, I know I've had more fruit than in a shamefully long time.
- I'm starving. Not literally but I'm really, REALLY hungry, really, REALLY often. I don't stay full enough long enough. And yes, I've incorporated more fiber (oatmeal, whole grains, quinoa, barley, etc.) and still my hunger is OFF THE CHARTS!!
- I have NO desire to eat fake meat. You know "bacon" and "chix" which are made of soy/tofu or seitan or tempeh. If you call it what it is, maybe I'll eat it. But when you give it a name like an actual meat product? Automatic turn off. If I need to taste meat that badly, there's a simple solution: I'll just eat meat.
- It is woefully difficult to find appealing vegan recipes. I know they exist. I have found some but there is so much WADING through things that are too basic, not filling or that look like a collection of side dishes, soups, stews, curries and salads. The plan's own list of recipes was a huge letdown. I'm looking for things that expand my cooking repertoire, not just remove the meat and/or add tofu.
- Vegetarian recipes are almost no help since so many (way too many, really) of them rely heavily on cheese. In most cases, if recipes use feta, blue or goat cheese, a lot of the dish's flavor resides in the cheese. I love cheese but it seems lazy to add it to things just to say you ate a vegetarian meal. I'm talking to you, food site that had MAC & CHEESE as a meatless monday meal. Again, if you want meat, just eat it. Come on, people. Mac & cheese as meatless monday is a cop out. And a side dish. I know that's a cultural thing but mac and cheese is a side dish.
- There are too few easy fast food/restaurant meal options, particularly in this city. When I don't feel like cooking, it is VERY difficult to find even varied vegetarian options. Remove cheese from the equation (+ my disdain for raw onions and winter tomatoes) and I'm so straight on buying a salad with lettuce, carrots and dressing. Let me just go get a piece of fruit. And then another one an hour later...
- Speaking of which, this isn't the plan's fault but I still hate apples as a snack. With most fruit, I eat it and I'm good for a while. I eat an apple and I'm not satiated, not hungry but RAVENOUS within an hour of eating apples. Like I might as well start cooking while I'm eating the apple if that's my snack. Because I'm going to be ready to eat a (meatless) horse in 5, 4, 3, 2...
- Shopping is incredibly time-consuming what with all the label-reading. Milk is in the weirdest places. Why is there milk in certain wheat breads? Only certain ones? It's bread. And a healthy bread. You don't need milk.
- There is only one vitamin you can only get from meat. B12... Which is essential for brain function. You can take a supplement, though. Pass. I like my brain functioning without having to supplement with a pill.
- It's making Rashan miserable. He doesn't want to tempt me by eating things I can't eat (no matter what I say) so he just mopes around the house when he's hungry.
- I'm probably not supposed to binge on the things I'm giving up the following week. You should've seen my meat and dairy binge preceding week one. I ate more milk and dairy than I ordinarily would. I also rarely eat dessert & suddenly became obsessed with it when thinking about all the dairy and eggs in my favorites. I never save bacon grease but I cooked Rashan some bacon last night (and actually didn't even want any!!) then wanted to fry something up in the bacon grease just because it was there. Ma'am...