As some of you may know I did a 30 Day Vegan Challenge during the month of December. A crazy enough time to do it, but that was part of the challenge.
I documented my progress through my Facebook page ‘Gary Wallace 30 Day Challenge’. On this page you can see videos blogs and photos of some of the delicious foods I ate along the way.
The idea came about from all the hype surrounding veganism and after watching the popular Netflix documentary ‘Game Changers’. The documentary made some strong claims why we should be vegans. My first initial thought was that veganism is the way forward, but then I quickly came back to reality.
I wasn’t 100 per-cent convinced by the scientific studies and wanted to do my own research.
I must confess at this stage, before the challenge even started, my diet was 60-70 per-cent plant based, but more vegetarian than vegan. I still did eat and enjoy eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products so it was going to be a challenge cutting those food types out of my diet.
Also, morally it goes against what I preach. I personally don’t believe we should totally cut out any food group from our diet, but was happy to do so for the sake of this mini experiment.
The trio of information
Commencing the challenge I wanted to keep an open mind as best I could. I didn’t want to claim a case for either side during the 30 days, but I was willing to find out more, form both side of the argument. The first step was the Netflix documentary and other articles I read.
The next two steps came in the form of Joe Rogan Podcasts. The first podcast titled ‘Chris Kesser Debunks ‘Game Changers’ documentary’. In this three-hour long podcast Chris, a leader in his field of ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine, practically ripped every bit of research and comments made in the documentary to shreds.
The final step in this trilogy was a counter podcast where Joe invited Chris back to debate with James Wilks, the producer of ‘Game Changers’. Another three hour long podcast where both men made valid points. For me the conclusion was that plant based food has its place and if you are going to eat meat or other animal products, make sure they are organic and come from high quality grass-fed animals, or as close as you can.
So back to my own challenge, which overall I enjoyed. Firstly, it kept me away from all the extra delights in the lead up to Christmas. No Heroes, Celebrations or Roses not even a tea cake. It keeps you disciplined in that regards.
I had to experiment a bit with my food choices which meant trying new fresh homemade meals. Some of the spices and flavours in my vegan meals where delicious. Another advantage was that I didn’t pass wind as much and when I did, it didn’t smell. A massive win for those around me.
Energy-wise I felt no real difference. I felt good and slept well. I did lose a lot of weight, which for some may be a good thing, but my weight loss was more muscle than fat. This was a combination of the diet and cutting back on the gym. Eating out was indifferent.
At times it was a torture for me, waiting staff and the people I was eating out with. But most of the time it was enjoyable and I got into some really good conversations. Eating out in town was hit or miss but when I was in the city the food was really good.
When shopping for vegan food you can keep it simple and help reduce the cost, but when you start looking for vegan substitutes they can be costly.
Then there was my Christmas dinner. To go vegan on Christmas day wasn’t that bad. The hardest part was when the turkey and ham had just been cut and you always sneak a cheeky wee bit before dinner. I enjoy cooking and loved making the nut roast, which was really tasty and I found out that baking powder is the secret ingredient to making your roasties nice and crispy. What didn’t turn out so well was the red wine gravy, which took me ages to make and not the result I was hoping for. I did get a bit of slagging for going vegan on Christmas day, but some people did enjoy my vegan options.
Others said it looked good, but wouldn’t try it in case they liked it and couldn’t slag me anymore.
Then the real results came in the form of my blood tests. Pre and post my 30 Day Challenge I got my bloods taken, not really expecting much to change, but I was wrong. My platelet, white blood cells and lymphocyte count all dropped.
To begin with my platelet count was just below average but it dropped from 141 to 122, where my white cell count dropped from 4.01 to 3.37 and lymphocyte from 1.19 to 0.92. I can’t be 100 per-cent sure that these drops were solely down to the 30-day vegan diet, but it was the only major change I made to my lifestyle. The only other minor change was that I didn’t hit the gym as much, but I was still very active.
These results may prove a vegan diet just isn’t for me. If I continued down this path, it would most certainly have an effect on my health. I am going back this week to get my bloods tested again to see if the results are any better since I’ve been off the vegan diet.
You may have guessed I won’t be continuing with the vegan diet, but it has taught me a lot about my nutritional choices. I still will remain heavily plant based because I really enjoy cooking that type of food and the taste is magnificent.
When I do buy any form of meat I’m going to make sure it’s high quality organic and from grass fed animals or as close as possible.
There is a lot of research out there claiming meat is bad for you, but once you delve into the studies it doesn’t say which type of meat. We would all agree that there is too much processed foods out there which are convenient, cheap, and not the best for your health.
My advice is to stay away from them as much as you can. Go to your local market and butcher, buy clean healthy and locally produced products and you’ll soon feel and look healthier and happier. As a bonus you will be helping to support local.
Finally, in the midst of a new year please don’t be extreme with anything you are doing. Small consistent changes over time will lead you towards a happy, healthy and more fulfilling life.