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A Carnivore’s Guide to Going Vegan for 30 Days

4 Jan

Last year, in an effort to look awesome, I took on a personal challenge to go both Vegan and Gluten-Free for 30 days. It wasn’t an ethical or health related decision so much as a Wile E. Coyote strategy to look like Matthew McConaughey meets ripped Jesus.

And the plan was bulletproof.

After only 30 days, I had gone from 194 to about 175 pounds and felt like a freaking superhero. It wasn’t without some severe commitment and sacrifices, but overall it was a good practice in self-control and seeing just what my body needs to function at a high level. Although I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, it was a really awesome experience and I would totally suggest trying at least a modified version. If you’re interested, here’s how it’s done.

1. Make the decision.

If you’re anything like me, you avoid vegetables like reruns of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”

Because the answer is OH MY GOD YES.

So making the conscious decision to switch from a purely dead animal based diet to strictly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and gluten-free grains is pretty outside the realm of reason. But don’t worry. We lack reason.

2. Begin.

That wasn’t so bad right? It’s been 24 hours since you started and you haven’t felt any sort of desire to HOLY SHIT IS THAT CHEESE?!?!

I’d suggest throwing out or giving away every ounce of dairy, bread, and meat as this will only tempt you to stray from your convictions. If you’re living with a loved one, congratulate them on their new diet as they’ll now be joining you by proxy.

3. The first week.

If you didn’t feel like punching yourself in the face for the first 24 hours, you’ll definitely feel like it for the remaining 144 hours.

Yes, Fight Club was about Veganism.

That is, if you weren’t so damned weak from all the not eating.

The first week is spent mostly looking at ingredient labels to figure out what you can and can’t eat. The vegan part in this respect isn’t too difficult, but adding in the gluten-free aspect gets to be a huge pain in the ass. This is because most vegan alternatives contain gluten to PUNISH YOU FOR MAKING HORRIBLE DECISIONS.

Meanwhile, your body is getting fed up and has probably started dissolving muscle tissues for sustenance. Oh, and you’re trying to run and go to the gym during this mess, so good luck with that. If you haven’t broken your foot kicking a wall in frustration you can make plans to very soon.

He started it.

4. Detox.

Around the 7 day mark, all the sudden you won’t be hungry anymore. In fact, EVERYTHING food related suddenly looks like a twisted episode of Fear Factor and you’ll want to vomit at the sight of a glass of water. The upside is that the hunger pangs have subsided. The downside is that you will be actually starving for the next 72 hours.

I think this stage can be avoided if you perhaps do a little more pre-planning (like reading this blog), but pre-planning is for responsible folk, and we are not responsible folk.

5. Week 2.

This is your opportunity to start boasting to your friends how awesome you feel. This is more of an exaggeration than an outright lie, as you actually won’t feel those terrible hunger waves from before and your body most likely has adjusted. You’ve also learned what foods you’re allowed to eat and have probably started packing your own Hello Kitty lunchbox like a big boy.

I sign the notes, "Your #1 fan."

However, you will still miss meat, cheese, and bread severely. But it’s best not to talk about it.

This is also an awesome week if you’ve been weighing yourself, because you’ll have dropped quite a few pounds in just a few short days. It turns out when you’re not constantly snacking on Doritos and Mountain Dew your caloric intake drops pretty significantly.

Although it wouldn't surprise me to find Doritos contain no actual cheese.

If you’re still going to the gym and running, it’s probably important to find a good source of protein since you can’t steal it from animals anymore. I started making homemade vegan/gluten-free protein bars (general recipe included at the end of the article) so I wouldn’t waste away like a sand castle at high tide.

6. Going out to eat with friends.

Ready to feel like a huge D-Bag? Be the guy at the table that has the waiter run to the chef to ask about specific ingredients in the salad dressing. That is if you’re lucky enough to see salad on the menu.

And what will you be having tonight?

Well, I was actually wondering if you have any vegan options…

We have a wonderful eggplant parmesan that…

Oh, yeah… That’s great, but I’m actually vegan. Um, I can’t have any animal product whatsoever.

No animal product?

No animal product.

So eggs are okay?

Yeah… No.

Well, we have a delicious mixed salad with…

Does it have croutons?

Of course.

So… Actually none of those either. I’m also looking for gluten-free.

Gluten-free?

Gluten-free.

What the f*$% is gluten-free?

I’ll have a water.

Is waiter's spit considered vegan?

I went out to PF Chang’s with my cousin and some friends and they have a really extensive GF menu. The also have a few vegan options. But the only combination of both?

Steamed rice with steamed vegetables.

Guess what also contains gluten? Soy sauce. I added vinegar for flavor.

You are now exactly this fun to go out with.

If you’re living in some hippie town like San Francisco or Portland you’ll probably be fine. Anywhere else and you look like a foodie version of The Jersey Shore.

What you look like when you tell a waiter you're vegan gluten-free.

7. Week three.

This is the home stretch. You’re feeling pretty good, and you’ve made some awesome vegan dishes that make you question whether this isn’t actually an awesome way to live (one of these recipes is included below). You’re rarely hungry and you’re starting to feel catlike and agile. You have occasional cravings of meat and cheese but they’re easy to avoid. You look in the mirror and you like what you see.

Too bad the mirror's such a dick.

There’s nothing really bad to say about this week other than your stomach.

You know how cows are responsible for 1/5th of the world’s methane production? Yeah… That. But you.

8. Week four.

Congratulations, you’ve made it! You’re now in full swing. You feel awesome, you look awesome, and chances are you’ve got the diet down pat. You’ve got tons of energy and never feel tired after eating (not like before). You’re surprised to see how much people around you overeat, and just how unhealthy they’ve let themselves become.

And you look incredible.

9. Week five.

Delicious delicious barbecue.

10. Debrief.

This is actually a pretty solid account of my experience going vegan gluten-free. The first week was hell and the second week was spent learning. But the third and fourth week were awesome and I couldn’t believe the difference in how I felt before and after the switch. I think it was a bit unsustainable since I love meat too much and the all or none thing didn’t work too well for me, but I did a similar diet later and allowed cheat meals twice a week to allow for food with friends and occasional cravings. If you’re interested in testing your self-control and want to feel awesome while doing it, I’d suggest giving this a shot.

Of Tetanus.

This doesn’t mean you have to try and drop 20 pounds in 30 days, since that’s probably not all too healthy, but the vegan and/or gluten-free lifestyle is a good way to feel great and I’m pretty sure there’s some environmental and ethical benefits thrown in there as well (I haven’t done an ounce of research on the subject). I can’t promise that you’ll feel as incredible as I did, but at least you’ll get to talk down to your friends.

As promised here are some recipes to be used on your vegan gluten-free adventures…

Incredible Peanut and Root Stew (I live(d) on this and it’s AWESOME)

1 Onion Chopped
3 Carrots Chopped
3 Potatoes Chopped (Mix ‘em up: White, Red, Yellow, Purple, Whatever)
1 Sweet Potato Chopped
1 Yam Chopped
1 Parsnip Chopped
1 Turnip Chopped
1/4 Cup Uncooked White Rice
1/4 Cup Uncooked Quinoa (Assorted colors?)
1 Tablespoon Tamari Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (If you want to give it some extra kick. I also add Chipotle Pepper when possible for a little smoke.)
2 Tablespoons Creamy Peanut Butter
2 1/2 – 3 1/2 Cups Water (Depends on how thick or thin you want the stew)

You just put it all in a massive pot and boil it all together for about 25-35 minutes.

It’s a modified version of a modified version of a recipe I found online. And it can be modified further with no issues.

It makes a ton, and you can just throw the extra in tupperware and feed off it FOREVER. It’s super easy and super delicious. I also buy some avocados and eat a quarter to half of one as kind of a garnish alongside the stew.

Vegan Gluten-Free Protein Bars

Go to the bulk food section of your local grocery store and get all kinds of nuts, seeds, berries, and whatever else you want. Put it in a mixer with a bunch of peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter. Add honey. Mix.

BOOM. Protein bars. Shape it into little squares, wrap them in wax paper, and throw them into the freezer. Great for after workouts, running, or early day protein boosts.