In March I decided to start experimenting with a plant-based diet.
I wrote about why I switched to a plant-based diet here.
After several months of eating a plant-based diet, it’s time to give you an update.
First I’ll answer some of the common questions I get asked, and then I’ll tell you how I’m going to eat going forward.
How do I get my protein?
The most surprising part about all of this is how little protein I’ve realized I actually need. At first, I was concerned about getting enough protein, but it’s turned out to be a non-issue for me.
However, I do still aim to get about 140 grams of protein per day.
My favorite meal for vegan protein is rice, beans, and peas.
Every day for lunch I alternate between some combination of brown rice or white rice, red kidney beans or black beans, and peas.
To spice it up, I add Siracha sauce or Green Dragon Sauce from Trader Joe’s and then I usually add some garlic powder.
For protein on the go, I enjoy Clif bars — they’ve always been my favorite protein bar, although I used to think they didn’t have very much protein. Now that’s not a concern for me anymore.
In my opinion, they all taste good, but here are my favorite flavors:
I’ve tried some vegan protein powders, but I’m not going to recommend any because they have all sucked.
I’ll let you know when I find one worthy of the Stout Seal of Approval™.
How has being vegan/vegetarian affected my social life?
I’ve heard others complain about how it’s difficult to have a social life as a vegan. This hasn’t been my experience.
Most restaurants have a few vegan options nowadays — and I live in Oklahoma right now, where “vegan restaurants” aren’t a thing, at all.
There’s absolutely no shortage of vegetarian options if you aren’t full vegan, and finding a delicious vegetarian meal is easy.
If you’re going to eat vegan, I recommend the following types of restaurants:
- Chinese — rice/noodles and veggies
- Thai — same as Chinese food, but spicier
- Mediterranean — pita, hummus, dolmas (grape leaves), rice, veggies, salad
- Mexican — rice, beans, fajita peppers, chips, and salsa
- Sushi — there are a ton of vegan rolls that taste incredible
If I’m flying or on the road and I can’t get anything decent, I just stop at a gas station and stock up on Clif bars and bananas. These days, I’d rather eat those all day than eat most fast food options.
Fast food is low energy.
I’d say the hardest part about going vegan, in terms of your social life, is that you’re required to tell everyone you’re vegan and talk about it nonstop…
Have I lost all of my muscle or gotten fat?
My biggest concern with a vegan diet was not getting enough protein to build muscle and shriveling up to my 145 lbs high school self.
Fortunately, this hasn’t been the case.
In fact, my performance in the gym has steadily increased. Part of this is because I eat a higher carb diet than I did before.
My macros are different than they were on a meat diet.
Now I stick with lower fat, moderate protein, and high carbs.
A high carb diet is high energy. I have more energy, my energy is more consistent, and even coffee hits me harder than it used to.
Plus, all of those carbs keep my glycogen storage high, which keeps my muscles full all of the time.
What’s interesting is that on a plant-based diet I need to eat more calories to maintain the same weight.
Going into this experiment, my maintenance calories were around 2,800 — now they’re around 3,500+ calories.
The reason people get fat on a vegan/vegetarian diet is because they eat too much fat.
Nothing will make you gain fat quicker than the combination of fats and carbs.
What I’m going to do going forward
Although I could probably go the rest of my life without meat, I don’t have the desire to.
I also don’t have the desire to eat meat as much as I used to — not even daily.
I eat meat about once or twice a week now, usually on the weekend.
Since eating meat again, I haven’t had any negative digestive issues like many people do. (My girlfriend experienced some nausea.)
However, I have noticed that meat is way more filling than it ever used to be because it really is more dense than rice, beans, and veggies. I get very full when I eat meat now and I generally stick with smaller portions.
I’ve never felt healthier and had more energy than I do right now. Plus, I don’t have to miss out on some of my favorite meals because I still eat meat occassionally.
This is going to be my diet for the forseeable future.
All things considered, I highly recommend trying a vegan diet — or at least a vegetarian diet — especially if you’re already considering it.
The only challenge at first is that you won’t have go-to meals in mind because all of your go-to meals include meat. It took me a few weeks to find some great vegan meals I enjoyed, and I tried plenty of duds along the way.
After about two or three months I had no issues finding something to eat in any situation.
Sometimes you see a lot of people jump on a particular bandwagon because it’s the latest fad.
In other cases, a trend exists because it’s the real deal — I believe this is one of those cases.
I can’t speak for everyone else, but I just can’t see myself going back to eating meat as much as I used to.
If you’ve experimented with a plant-based diet, or you’re considering it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
Let me know in the comments!
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What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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