In the summer of 2014 I tried out a vegetarian/vegan diet for six weeks. For the first four weeks, I went vegetarian, then for the final two weeks I tried restricting even more to a vegan diet. These are my conclusions after that experiment.
Disclaimer: In this article I discuss my own opinions and/or observations on health topics. I am not a doctor. The information here are only observations and opinions, not medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any changes that might affect your health.
So what’s the difference between vegetarian and vegan?
Vegetarians generally just avoid eating meat. They might still eat eggs and dairy products. That makes it pretty easy to go vegetarian. Just keep eating the way you have been, but don’t eat the meat.
Vegans take vegetarianism to another level. Vegans don’t eat any animal products. That means no eggs, no dairy, no gelatin, no honey. Basically, vegans eat nothing that was ever part of or inside of an animal.
My four weeks of vegetarianism went pretty well. It was easy. However, vegetarianism alone is not a good way to lose weight. There are so many unhealthy vegetarian foods out there, so many ways for vegetarians to cheat with an unhealthy diet. For vegetarians, fried foods, processed sugars, and artificial ingredients are all fair game. I was able to eat potato chips, fries, cookies, cake, soda, and pretty much any snack food I could lay my hands on with a clear conscience, under the guise of eating a healthy vegetarian diet. I didn’t gain or lose any weight, but I did lose a pound of muscle to fat.
For the final couple weeks, I went vegan. Then everything started falling apart. You see, most foods out there seem to have at least small amounts of dairy, eggs, honey, or gelatin. What many people don’t realize is that most baked goods have dairy and/or eggs. Many foods, especially those prepared at restaurants, make liberal use of butter. Many “healthy” snacks contain honey. And then there’s gelatin.
When you think gelatin, you probably think of desserts. So just avoid those unhealthy sugary desserts right? Well it’s not quite that simple. Some frozen vegetables, cereals, and fast food salads contain gelatin. Many cosmetic products contain gelatin. Many beverages including juices and beer were filtered using gelatin too!
I went through a lot of hassle to be vegan, but failed in the end. I think if you truly want to go vegan, you need to drink only water and eat only whole vegetables and fruits. It sounds simple enough, but when you have a big family with small children who are not vegans, it becomes almost an impossible task.
It is much more difficult to be on a special diet when you’re in a big family where you’re the only one on the special diet. This concludes a series of diet experiments I had been doing.
Where do I go from here? While I did lose a few pounds of fat during my diet experiments, I’m still far from my ideal body. From here, I’ll try to stick to the Slow-carb diet when possible, and try to make the healthy choices when I need to eat white carbohydrates. That means I’ll 1) have a predominately meat and veggie diet, 2) avoid all forms of sugar, 3) when slow-carb choices are unavailable, choose the whole foods/whole grain options, 4) hit the gym and do some regular fat-burning weight training.