Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Starting Over: Vegan Before 6

I want to thank everybody who has emailed me in recent days to share their own stories of weight loss, advice, or encouragement. I haven't had time to respond individually to everybody, but my plan is to do so.

One thing I've been spending this first week doing is trying to find a plan that makes sense to me, so that I can apply a bit of rigor to the process instead of "merely" documenting everything I eat and hoping that will magically deliver me. I'm going to start with Mark Bittman's new book, Vegan By 6. Bittman writes about food for the New York Times, has inspired me to get creative in the kitchen, and his approach seems flexible to me. I think I need flexible.

The title suggests the essential plan: Part-time veganism. Before 6, Bittman eats a "super-strict" vegan diet, also getting rid of processed foods and "white" starches in bread and pasta—no alcohol either—and after 6, he eats pretty much whatever he wants, usually but not always in moderation. The result? He lost weight and maintained that loss, dramatically improving his health in the process.

He describes the benefits of "part-time veganism" thusly:

Same here. Veganism isn't an "ethical" choice for me—I grew up among ranchers; I've worked around butcher shops—so this approach seems, well, welcoming. I want to take a positive attitude and approach into this effort. I can maintain that positivity by changing my habits while preserving my freedom of choice.

I worry that I'll offend some friends with this choice: Everybody has an opinion about how to lose weight. My promise to you: I'll try this for a month, maybe longer. But if it doesn't appear to be producing results within a short period of time, I'll stop and try another approach.

It'll be a few days before I officially declare myself a Vegan Before 6. I want to read more deeply into Bittman's book, and in particular get some handy ideas for how to eat at breakfast without, you know, using milk or eggs.

In the meantime, you may notice I've been attempting essentially a "Vegetarian Before 6" routine—not completely rigorously—in order to get a head start. Thus, my meals for today:

May 8

Snack: 2 apples

Breakfast: Veggies and egg whites on ciabatta
Large iced latte with 2 percent milk

Snack: Peanut butter and oats bar from Trader Joe's

Lunch: Salad with goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, onion, pecans, mushrooms, and vinagrette.

Dinner: Steak salad. (Includes peas, corn, cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese, hard boiled egg, lettuce, and steak. Italian dressing.)

Snack: PB&J  on extremely whole-grain bread.

I've been consciously altering my eating habits. I don't feel deprived. I sure hope this works.


Notorious Ph.D. said...

That lunch salad looks yummy!

And good for you for trying new things. Nothing has to be 100%, or a lifetime commitment.

Joy said...

When I was a nutrition editor, all I did most days was read the new studies, review the recent research, and talk to doctors, scientists, and other nutrition experts. I strongly believe, as a result of being immersed in all that, that a vegan diet is not best for weight loss and healthy weight management. Are you familiar with Gary Taubes? This guys is seriously on to something: I think you would find his books very interesting.

Grant said...

Taubes has his doubters due to his oversimplifying issues: and

One researcher calls Taubes out for logical fallacies and using anecdotes as data:

Olivia said...

Best of luck to you! While I am vegan, I don't necessarily believe veganism is for everyone. I encourage friends and family to eat meat free a couple of days of week, watch their dairy intake and of course cut out processed foods (though a lot of vegan food is processed too), when they ask me about 'going vegan.' The Vegan Before 6 mentality makes a lot of sense, in my opinion. There are so many great resources for creative (and easy) vegan dishes, in case you get bored with your usual fare. I've listed a few below if you're interested! Angela at Ohsheglows has really great homemade snack recipes (muffins, oat bars, protein "balls", etc) which I keep on hand. Really easy to make too. (vegetarian and vegan)