I was supposed to post this one earlier. It has been almost a month since I have started to eat “normal” food again. Eight weeks ago I started a 4 week raw vegan experiment. This was a suggestion of some friends who do the yoga teacher training session with me. So, I did it because I wanted to see how it was and also because some people told me it would be impossible. At first I thought it was a diet but it was more like a detox. Anyway, I like to think of it as “an experiment” because I don’t really believe everything that is not raw vegan is toxic. I believe in moderation and I think it works, at least for me.
They were pretty simple:
- only raw fruits and vegetables (with the exceptions of 30% of cooked or warm vegetables for supper if needed)
- no processed food
- no cereals
- no alcohol
- no coffee, no tea, no sugar, no milk, no honey…
It was a little more complicated than that and there was food proportions to respect for each meal but I did not respect it. I tried to make it “easy” and it was already good enough like that.
The cheats and the fails
Ok… I can’t really say I have succeeded since I have cheated a couple times. Nothing big but I just want to be honest.
- I ate one bowl of granola during the first week. I actually did not pay to much attention to the cereal part of the deal and ended up eating some.
- I drank 2-3 glasses of wine at the end of the third week with friends in a restaurant
- I ate two spoons of rice in a raw vegan restaurant… They are supposed to have no cereal on their menu but apparently they had some during winter because, well… because it’s winter.
I think that’s it. So it’s not too bad. I just feel bad about the wine. I could have controlled myself on this one.
If you don’t eat meat and cereals you get all weak
That’s how I have been raised. Actually, for along time I thought vegetables were just giving you more fibers to digest easily. I didn’t think they were actually giving you nutrients. Nobody really told me. So the big surprise was that I was not so hungry during the detox. I never had this sensation of having a full stomach either though. But my energy level was pretty much “normal”. The thing is I had to eat more often to keep my energy constant. After a while I was more satisfied to have energy than having a full stomach. This shift in my energy perception is the real goal of the diet according to me.
Also you spend less energy digesting when you just eat vegetables and fruits. This helps too: you don’t get as much energy but you don’t consume as much. I found myself being really “light”. This was particularly a good time for yoga practice.
I thought I would miss caffeine but it was actually easy to live without it. I was a big coffee drinker but I’m better at it now. Sometime I like to get caffeinated but most of the time I’m happy with tea. So it was not too bad to just drink decaffeinated herbal tea.
It’s funny how many people thought it was not technically possible to this detox. A couple people were even concerned for my health. So I think that what I believed before is still what most people believe. I don’t know why we are not more educated about food actually, but this is another debate.
Grocery shopping, cooking and going out
This was actually the part that took a lot of time and energy! First you think you can just eat salads, sprouts and fruits but it gets annoying pretty quick. So I’ve tried to add a little variety. My wife gave me a raw vegan recipe book which helped a lot. But it required to spend a lot of time shopping. The good thing is I discovered a lot of new ingredients I never heard of before. Also you can’t buy something and expect it to last more than a couple of days so you have to shop again.
My regimen had much more nuts than usual and these are quite expensive. Overall the whole thing is more expensive. I did a little calculation and it seems that I’ve spent around 25% more in groceries during the detox.
Preparing food took much more time too. Since I wanted it to be original, it was not unusual to spend more than one hour getting a meal together. Most of the time it was fun because I spent more time in the kitchen with my wife working on our little experiments.
Now the real pain was to go out. There is only one good raw vegan place that I know of in Montreal (Crudessence). Otherwise you can still order salads in other places but usually you have to remove things. It’s hard to find a salad in a “normal” restaurant without having them throwing chicken or bacon in it. And also you pay for the full salad even if you don’t have all the ingredients inside. I tried a couple vegetarian restaurants and I found them to be a complete rip-off (15$ for a lettuce-cucumber-avocado salad on a small plate for example). It’s probably because vegetarian also means hipster (at least in Montreal). So if you find a vegetarian place you also pay for the hype.
Back to “normal”
I think my body got accustomed to this diet pretty fast. But I honestly wanted a good glass of beer more than anything else. I’m not a big drinker but I like beer and wine with moderation. And when my diet was finished the first thingI had was a beer .
During the first days after the diet, cereals felt really heavy so eating just a little was enough. That’s where you realize how much energy you spend eating cereals.
The thing is I felt weaker after the diet than during the diet. Actually I lost this sensation of being “light”. I also hurt my back pretty bad one week after the end of the diet (and that’s why it took me so long to write this, simply because I couldn’t stay in front of computer for more than 15 minutes straight, I feel better now, thank you). My osteopath tells me it’s not just a back problem but that my digestive system was the origin of the problem. So I believe my body was in shock when I went back to “normal”.
If I had to do this experiment again (and I think I will one day), I would do it during the summer. Eating mostly cold food during winter is not that easy and I think it would be easier with warm weather. Also it’s easier if somebody does it with you. My wife played the game and ate the same food as I was for every meal we shared. She was a great help. I can’t really imagine myself eating salad if she had been eating pizza next to me…
But the whole thing didn’t make me want to turn vegan. I include much more fruits and vegetables in my meals but I like meat. I like cheese. And I like cereals. All with moderation.
If you have tried a similar diet/detox or if you have any question about this experiment, drop a line in the comment section. If you were/are vegan, I’m interested also in your opinion. Did you turn vegan for health reason, moral reason, hype…? I don’t know, I just need to understand it a little better…