After watching the documentary The Game Changers I got inspired to go plant-based/meatless for a week and see what happened. The documentary is about the effect of a plant-based diet on health but in particular in athletes. I would say it is overall well researched and accurate even though they oversee a couple of concepts, the first one what is a plant-based diet… A plant-based diet is a diet that is comprised mostly, but not necessarily exclusively, of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, oils, whole grains, beans and legumes. Some people on a plant-based diet consume low amounts of fish, poultry and red meat. The Mediterranean, flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan diets are all considered plant-based diets. There are many studies that have shown that plant-based diets improve health and reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast and prostate cancer), high blood pressure, and increased longevity; and every day there are more and more expert voices advising the population to move towards a plant-based diet. You can read a bit more about plant-based diets in this post I wrote.

So, I decided to do my little experiment. My husband and I stayed vegetarian for lunch and vegan for dinner. The kids had meat a couple of days for lunch and a beef burger on Friday evening. I was not hoping to see any meaningful physiological change in myself (or my family), I just wondered how easy or difficult would be to go meatless for a week. I did some research to find filling dinner recipes and I came across a few that seemed yummy so I gave them a try. And these are my thoughts after a one-week plant-based meals:

1- We ended up eating far more carbs than we usually do. I found that in order to get some filling meals we ate more rice and pasta that we would normally eat.

2- Vegan recipes require a lot of seasoning/spices/sauces otherwise you end up with pretty boring recipes. Which is not necessary a bad thing, because it gives you the opportunity to try new flavors that otherwise one might not try.

3- I did not missed meat, neither red meat nor poultry, at all. But I would have a hard time going totally vegan specially for the cheese, eggs and fish.

4- The kids did not ask for meat at dinner during the week but did not particularly liked a couple of the recipes. Maybe they were not the right choice for them…

5- As predicted, I did not see any physiological effects on myself due to the new diet. Probably a week was not long enough to see any changes. At the same time, I’m a firm believer that there is a lot of placebo effect in the reported changes in one’s bodies due to a change of diet.

6- It was interesting as an experiment but I will go back to our already plant-based diet with some occasional meat. Having said that, I will incorporate more vegan dinners in my repertoire to make our meals more varied and exciting, just for fun!

This is what I cooked:

Lentil meatballs with coconut curry sauce from Feasting at home. I accompanied them with brown rice, shredded sautéed brussels sprouts and a garden salad. My husband and I loved them, my son said they were OK and my daughter didn’t even try them.

Pasta with mushrooms and artichoke sauce from Feasting at home as well. I did not add the sunchokes as the recipe calls for and I used canned artichokes for the sauce which in retrospect was not a good idea as the citric acid they have to preserve gave the sauce an acidic punch that was a bit too much. My kids did not like it at all and they both love artichokes. Next time I will try with fresh or frozen artichokes.

Zucchini cashew thyme soup. A personal creation. Recipe coming soon.

Vegan burrito with roasted cauliflower, black beans, brown rice, avocado, tomato, cilantro. Everyone loved them!

Veggie burgers. I had only tried making veggie burgers once before with a recipe a friend gave me and they never turned out well. This time I did these sweet potato and black bean veggie burgers from Cookie+Kate and they were actually pretty good!  

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Breakfast Cereals w/milk Power bowl Yogurt w/ granola PBJ sandwich Oatmeal
Lunch box White bean salad Chicken with rice Avocado & black bean taco Ground beef with brown rice and corn Quinoa w black beans & tomato
Dinner Lentil meatballs + brown rice + brussels sprouts Pasta w/ mushrooms and artichoke sauce + salad Zucchini cashew thyme soup + pasta and lentil meatballs leftovers Vegan burrito Beef burgers & veggie burgers

Breakfast is accompanied by either a piece of fruit or a smoothie.

Lunch boxes always have a serving of raw vegetables (carrots, peppers, cucumber or cherry tomatoes and I alternate between them) and fruit that varies depending on what they had for breakfast.

For dinner we have a salad almost every day and it is usually a green salad with a combination of whatever there is in the fridge: lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, shredded carrots, corn, avocado, sunflower seeds. And dessert is always a fruit.

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