My husband Dave and I started this experiment on Sept. 17 after much thought. Our first step was to visit our family doctor for a full physical including detailed blood work. This way we hope to have an accurate base level to which we can compare our post-experiment results to.
During our doctor visit, we learned that Dave has dangerously high triglycerides and blood pressure. We now have added incentive to make this experiment work. Our hope is to prevent him from taking prescription drugs for things he may be able to cure with a change in his diet.
Here's what we've learned each week. There are some highlights and some realistic pitfalls.
Our hope is to inspire more people to examine their diets and consider some simple changes to live healthier lives.
Don't forget. Dave has been a ravenous carnivore for 38 years. And, while I've not eaten meat for many years, I've been addicted to dairy products, especially cheese!
Dave and I started the vegan challenge with high energy. We were excited to try new recipes and food items. Despite promises of more energy, I was a bit tired this week. Maybe my body was working extra hard to rid itself of a build up of bad foods?
I'll admit, it was quite challenging to attend a fundraiser event that involved food and beer. There were not many items for us to eat and we had to limit the beer tasting because of it.
One highlight was meeting a culinary student who recommended the most fabulous vegan cookbook. Try it. "Vegan with a Vengeance" by Isa Moskowitz.
Dave had an extra challenge this week. He was out of the country and had to occasionally eat the available foods. That means he ate some cheese and a few mussels.
I broke down and gave into my cheese addiction with a very small sample of organic cheddar. It was so good!
In the Denver metro area, there are some fun restaurants that cater to vegetarians and vegans. I'm trying many of them. So far, so good! We visit "City O' City" regularly and have plans to dine at "Watercourse" later this week. Many independent restaurants have been very willing to alter dishes to accommodate our vegan preferences.
Eating out at many chain restaurants is proving to be quite difficult. We've been cooking at home most evenings and trying new recipes for tofu and other soy products.
Another favorite cookbook is "The Complete Vegan Kitchen" by Jannequin Bennett.
We've noticed a significant increase in energy levels. Wow! It is fun to get through the work day without a constant coffee addiction!
Something must be working with this vegan lifestyle.
Dave's already lost 10 pounds and we believe his blood pressure has improved by more than 20 points! Amazing.
I've also lost a few extra pounds.
More than halfway through the experiment. We've already decided that we plan to continue with this lifestyle once the challenge is over. We feel too good to change anything!
That said, we do intend to re-introduce some dairy products into our diet. But, for the most part we intend to maintain this eating routine.
When you feel this good, why change anything?
The truth is that I do crave cheese almost every day.
The one area we need to work on is exercise. We've been walking many days and have become re-connected with our gym.
This is a critical part of our new lifestyle. So, expect to read more about it in the weeks ahead.
We've successfully hosted a dinner party for non-vegans! While we did provide cheese for them, most items were part of our diet.
All menu items received high reviews! So, you can host a party and please non-vegan guests. We served a homemade lentil soup, fresh spinach salad, hummus with garlic toasts and homemade blueberry coffeecake for dessert. All vegan, all yummy!
This was a breakthrough week. For the first time during this experiment, I did not crave cheese! I guess I'm actually changing my habits. Wow! We also prepared an early Thanksgiving Tofurkey feast for some non-vegan friends. Good news, they loved it and asked for seconds. Our menu included stuffing, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, spaghetti squash, fresh green beans and Tofurkey. All items were vegan and tasty!
We've discovered a new book to further define our vegan challenge. "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone contains recipes and a wealth of information about the benefits of a plant-based diet for ourselves and the environment.
Dining out was fun this week. We finally tried "Watercourse", twice! They offer fabulous faux buffalo wings and an extensive vegan/vegetarian menu. Can't wait to go back.
Dave has successfully incorporated exercise into his routine. We've made an effort to go to our gym a few times a week. The results are noticeable! Dave has lost a few more pounds (me, too). We've got to buy some new (smaller) pants for him!
Week 11 & 12:
Things are still going well in our vegan world. Our newest discovery is a vegan soy "cheeze" frozen pizza made by Amy's Kitchen products. It tastes like real pizza! Yum.
Drum roll please. This is the big week. We had our blood drawn again to make it official. We both feel that our numbers will be so much better.
And, we were correct!
Our doctor from Internal Medicine of Wheatridge, Joanne Ruch, confirmed our feelings during a follow up visit.
Here's the latest. Dave has lost more than 18 pounds. We both feel fantastic with increased energy and an overall feeling of good health.
The most surprising change may be his new triglyceride number. He's cut the number in half, from 314 in September to 152 now. Impressive!
His total cholesterol has also dropped from 184 to 128.
But, there is a unique twist for both of us. We've lowered our cholesterol and triglyceride numbers so much that our "good" cholesterol, or HDL, has also gone down too low. Dr. Ruch is working with us to increase the HDL number back to super healthy levels.
"I was a little dismayed that your good cholesterol went down, but not surprised because you are not eating anything to help produce the good cholesterol," said Ruch during our visit.
That said, Ruch was still very supportive and positive about our hard work.
"I think you should feel excited. I think you've seen a change and you feel good and it is really important that you are feeling good. You've made some really positive changes in your lifestyle and that's really important," said Ruch.
Because we feel so good, we're continuing to eat a plant-based diet but are now adding garlic and niacin supplements.
Along with continued exercise, we hope the supplements will help Dave reach a balance between even lower triglyceride numbers and increased "good" cholesterol.
Our challenge has become a true lifestyle change. One we are embracing.
Since this is the season of eating "treats". I decided to test my stomach. After three months of eating no animal products, I actually splurged and ate a small portion of cheddar cheese. While I loved it, a plant-based diet is still going to be my preference. I know now just how nice it is to feel healthy!
Copyright Report a typo or inaccuracyCopyright 2009 by TheDenverChannel.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.