20 days without meat.

Yes, this is the 20th days past.
It was unbelievable 1 month ago, bit now easy to write down.
Since I brought back dairy in my life, all of the previous problems are gone. My personal consequence: if you do any sport, yes you truly need adequate protein intake. In my case it is around 65 g protein/day (0.8g/bodyweight kg). And to emphasize it again; this is the adequate average, what your body needs anyway to maintain itself. To build up some muscles I already need 85-90g/day at least. To reach this amount cheeses helped me. In other hand you should always be careful with too high cheese consumption, due to its high fat content (regular 30g fat (18g saturated)/100g cheese). I eat low fat products, since different nuts already contain around 50% fat and everything together would be the way too much calories/day.
Currently I feel good, my performance  is going well again, I am not weak and tired anymore. Furthermore it became easier and more diverse to cook complete food quickly. I found a recipe what is easy, cheap, very delicious and impossible to mess up. In one word this is a perfect vegetarian food to impress your friends.
Microwaved eggplant parmesan lasagne. It worth to keep the steps, because it is ready in 30 min and I can tell you the result is fascinating. A meal again, what is perfect in this way. You will not look for meat, you don’t need it.
Some personal adaptation: to save time I bought tomato pasta sauce with basil (instead of home-made Marinara) and pesto. I mixed 2 Tbsp pest with 2 Tbsp pesto and used instead of fresh basil (it was out of stock). If you are vegan, you will need to substitute mozzarella. You can use tofu, or you can also make vegan cheese out of nuts (cashew or almonds are the best).  Or there is a vegan mozzarella recipe. As I wrote before; being vegan definitely forces you to get to know yourself in the kitchen!

I haven’t wrote a single world about one of the best (and most obvious) vegan/vegetarian meal. Guess what! Ta-damm! Yes, it is SUSHI! I spent almost 3 weeks without meat, when it came to my mind. At the same time I was beating my head to the wall and was glad for the idea. 😀 Fortunately I have a japanese friend who was nice and helped me. Probably you think making sushi is the way too difficult and time consuming. Well, the latter can be true, so if you are in a hurry I would not recommend it. But if you have all the ingredients ready, assembling the rolls is a cake-walk. There is a step-by-step guide for beginners. Probably the most complicated part is cooking the proper sushi rice. I can tell you that saving money on sushi rice or seaweed is not worth. Just a lot of extra work and stress, what turn your sushi experience to a nightmare. We used the combination of marinated tempeh, tofu, eggs, mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, green beans, celery and dried tomatoes. The variations are endless. For an unusual example; we made Mediterranean sushi out of dried tomatoes, eggs, mushrooms, ruccola and feta. You can really use everything what comes to your mind.

sushi

For other people there were some shrimps as well. It was a really big temptation, but I was stronger! 😉 As you can see, being VEGETARIAN is not a big sacrifice. Being VEGAN… yes it is. I didn’t/don’t miss meat, but I did miss cheese before. I don’t say I would not eat a nice cut of beef entrecote, but in general I don’t miss anything. After 20 day I can already say; in spite of every hardship in the begins, it was worth for the experience and I learned a lot.

Advertisements

Going on plants. More food.

There are so much hidden ingredients, I am afraid 30 days are not enough…

As I promised myself I am going to avoid soy products as much as possible. It already became hard in the first week when I discovered TEMPEH, made from fermented soy beans. The raw taste reminds for mushroom (it is always a good sign), but after roasting, frying has a nutty flavour (your best friend, Maillard-reaction again), seared surface, creamy inside. Something completely new, different from any of my previous experiences (meat), therefore don’t act like a meat replacer in any meal. Furthermore there are several ways for preparation, what makes it more addictive. My favorite fast meal is stir-fry. There are originally vegan version with tofu, but personally I don’t like the taste of tofu, so tempeh came into my life as a lifebelt. I found marinating the best in soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, garlic, chili, ginger, sugar…so a classic asian-style seasoning. For more variety you can change the marinade, vegetables, rice/noodles/pasta. I food again, what I could eat everyday and probably would have never tried before.

In spite of my thoughts beeing vegan is not cheap at all. I supposed after cutting of the meat from my diet (the most expensive ingredient) my budget is high enough to discover a new lifestyle. The main problem since my diet is based on vegetables, the assortiment in the local supermarkets is not satisfactory anymore. I also didn’t buy the cheapest meat before, due to eating is more like and experience for me than response to my needs. 2-3 for a piece of eggpant or buying mushrooms for 25 euro/kg is an unusual activity. I am working on adjusting the fact in my brain, that vegetables are the new meat for me. It is easier this way…
Secondly, grains are extremely expensive. Almonds, cashews are around 20-25 euro/kg. I knew the prices earlier as well, but that is different when you buy 100g as a snack or they are the part of your diet (50g/day). And I haven’t even talked about the ready made vegan product like different spreads, creams, dairy substitutes. If you have time definitely worth to prepare them at home. Rice milk, oat milk, or cream with less added water, cashew butter or spreads from other nuts…The varieties are endless!

Vegan or vegetarian?

After 10 days, despite of my obstinacy I had to admit I can not take in enough protein with vegan diet.

Observed (side)effects:

My workout performance decreased by 20%, I felt bad and I also looked bad. My coach and my friends (who didn’t even know about my challenge) started to worry and ask about whether I was sick or not.
Usually I sleep 6 hours in a day, now I was sleeping 8 hours long (because I needed) and I still didn’t have energy.
There was an unceasing numbing in my arms, furthermore my pale face frightened everyone.
My appetite drastically decreased, first in my life I was eating, because I had to, not because I was hungry. I also don’t feel like eating sweet things at all. There is no cookie for my coffee anymore.
My libido or sexual appetite also decreased a lot. There were periods in my life when I would have minded it, but not now.

A part of these objective, but other part can be subjective. What is a fact, my starting weight was 83 kg, today on the 15th day I measured 79 kg. My goal was not losing weight, especially not from my muscles. In spite of all my positive attitude, I am sure there is psychological reason as well. Even though I enjoyed the challenge and the new flavours, the restriction itself could have created a negative (slightly depressive) frame of mind what later may have caused physical loss.  As I wrote before I don’t want to suffer and when I don’t feel good I will give it up. AdmittedIy it  was that point and I was really thinking of giving up. In other hand I hate to lose so I made a compromise. I changed my diet to ovo-lacto vegetarian. So I gave a chance to cover my protein need without eating meet and without build my diet around dairy products. But I still felt I failed.

I can tell you, I am still very committed! Before I ate cheese only itself, I never ate cheese based sandwiches or other foods, so it is still a new adventure!

Last but not least I cooked (and found) something really nice again. Fried king oyster mushroom, mashed cauliflower, mushroom jus, grilled goat cheese. (Recipe) Enjoy! 😉

kingoyster

Some food.

I share a few meal what I ate in the first week.
Everything was good, some of them quiet delicious. The fact that all of them originally are made without meat helped a lot. Therefore I didn’t look for meat in my food, I didn’t miss anything.

The first meal what I cooked was a traditional turkish starter Mercimek Köftesi (red lentil kofte).

kofte

Balanced spicy flavour, light but gives satiety. I could eat it everyday….but if I was stucked with the first veggie food, then my whole “adventure” would not make sense.

The next big thing was to find my perfect breakfast (again). Probably most of us have a special one, what is the part of our daily routine. Until now mine was croque monsieur (and different derivates of it) with orange juice and spinach or ruccola. My untimate favorite is smoked salmon-cream cheese bagel with tons of ruccola and grapefruit juice. It is way too expensive to eat it everyday, so usually I keep it for special days, otherwise would be meaningless…
As I wrote at the start I allowed 2 egg/day. In the first 2 morning I took the chance and ate eggs sunny side up with whole grain bread, tomatoes, radish..etc. Other option eat eggs as an omelett and fill with spinach, mushroom….The result is a quiche-like nutritious, filling breakfast. Other day I ate it for lunch. Even though I didn’t eat eggs for a long time and it was a pleasant change, I was still looking for something similar to my “ritual” breakfast.
I tried different sandwiches, toasts, paninis with smoked tofu, soy cream cheese (click for recipe) and many vegetables, salads, but it didn’t work out. Accidentally my eyes got stucked on a title “WALNUT PATÉ”. Walnuts, beans, herbs and roasted bell peppers, pears, aragula (ruccola) in addition. OMG this sandwich is made for me. I complemented the recipe above some salt, otherwise it taste very neutral. Salt enhances the flavor both the walnut and supplements like roasted bell pepper.
To tell the truth first I made sunflower seeds paté, because I did’t have walnuts at home. Instead of soaking the seeds, I roasted them until browning and added a dash of soy sause (shoyu, tamari). Nevertheless soaking results creamier texture, but I preferred Maillard-reaction. It is a reaction between proteins and sugars and occurs nutty, caramel flavour. This is the reason why steak tastes different than cooked meat. You can describe it as roasted, grilled flavour as well, but the summary is the same. The result was a really meaty paté, probably better what most of the supermarkets sell in the Netherlands from real meat. This is an example, that you can make miracles with an average cooking knowledge/experience.

Getting started

For starting any diet, you should take some photos of you.
They will help you when you are halfway and struggling with the lack of motivation. And in the end it is going to be great to see how far you got…This is my starting pic:

vegan start

To make this sacrifice interesting, I am looking for traditionally vegan meals what are originated from different countries all over the world. Therefore I can widen my gastronomical knowledge and provide nice diversity for this diet.

Some basic guidelines:

Lipids, sugars, proteins. There is no barrier for the first two, but proper intake of the latter causes some problems in vegan diet. Proteins are built up from amino acids (20). Between amino acid we can distinguish essential amino acids (EAAs). Probably the most difficult part of a balanced vegan diet. But why are they so important for us?
They are 9 (phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, lysine, and histidine) and they are “essential” not because they are more important to life than the others, but because the body does not synthesize them. When they are present, we have complex proteins, when not incomplete proteins. The lack of EAAs leads to diseases like phenylketonuria (PKU) or due to the decreased bioavalibility  of proteins, certain activities functions can be reduced or inhibited. (Read more)
The roles of proteins in shorthand:
-building material (connective tissue, tendons, bones)
-enzymes
-hormones (growth hormone, insuline…etc)
-immunity (antibodies, antigens)
-transportation (mineral balance)
-source of energy

You can see quite important to consume adequate amount of complex proteins (0.8g/bodyweight kg).
Almost all animal origin protein are complex, all the meats, fish, dairy products (e.g. gelatine is an exception). While we know only a few complex plant origin proteins including soy beans, quinoa. Therefore in a vegan diet we have to play a puzzle game with EAAs. If one of them is missing, that EAA is limited in that food. For instance in rice Lysine is limited. To complete it we should eat rice with high Lysine food, like beans, corns.

Screen shot 2013-03-13 at 12.12.31 PM

In general legumes with grains give complete proteins, but there is no rule for eating them together in every meal.

For further information about vegetable composition and concerns of high soy intake: LINK

Also some guidelines about supplements for vegans.

Intro

30 days on plants…vegan diet…
Recently many people do a tryout for 30 days. I heard from my german housemate Josh, it is really going big in Germany. People are always extremely capable for any “magic trick” for loosing weight. Probably this is the main reason of this big hype around it.

My reason is more like the challenge itself, than loosing weight. I study food technology, therefore I am interested in gastronomy and cooking. It is going to be a great opportunity to discover the world of plants, learn how to prepare them and appreciate them more than a simple side dish for my steak in the future. Furthermore: getting ripped on a vegan diet! To define it better: build muscles, loose fat… get back my average shape after a tough study period.
For these goals I use a modified vegan diet, with eggs and whey protein shake. Yes, you are right, then I should call it vegetarian… But people who eat fish and loads of dairy products, they are also called vegetarian. From this point of view my diet is closer to vegan. In more detail 1 shake and 2 eggs are allowed every day. The rest has to be from plants. Inspite of it to make it a bigger challenge, I will decrease the soy consumption  as much as I can. First, 1 meal/day, later 4 meal/week. Due to I eat meat with meat (up to 0.5 kg easily) and cheese (better not to mention amounts…:-) ) this (what you probably call cheating diet) is going to be an incredible change in my life.
What is important to know: I don’t do it as an obligation. I do it because I want to do it, because I am curious for the consequences of this big change in my diet. Besides I want to enjoy it! If I feel bad I will quit immediately.

This is a personal tryout and just started on 8th of March, 2013.