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Blog: 9NEWS bacon lover goes vegan for a week

10:53 AM, Feb 8, 2013   |    comments
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Day 6:

Today is the last work day of the ongoing vegan experiment and we concluded the on-air portion of the challenge with vegan recipes that contain a lot of nutrients and protein.

The first dish we showed was a sprouted grain tortilla, Light Life Smart Ground, chopped red and yellow peppers, avocado, black beans and cilantro. This simple dish had an amazing amount of protein, with nearly half the recommended amount of protein for one day in just one meal! Gary and Belen tasted the dish and they both agreed that it was tasty and fresh.

The second vegan meal we displayed was a meal that we have all eaten at some point or another and you may not have even realized that it was a vegan option. We grabbed some whole grain vegan pasta, vegetable marinara sauce and some garbonzo beans, which could be added for texture. This meal wouldn't be a high protein option, but would provide some good energy from the carbohydrates in the pasta.

Overall, the idea of going vegan seemed a lot more managable that it actually was for me, especially for someone who keeps an odd scheudle with not that much time avaiable for meal planning. I understand there is a process where your body needs to regualte and get used to new ways of eating, but for me, it was a little too hard to handle. I did, however, pick up some great tricks for adding veggies and plant based protein into my typical diet.

If you are interested in starting a vegan lifestyle, PETA has a great website resource that can help you get started in a safe and healthy way! http://features.peta.org/VegetarianStarterKit/ 

Thank you for following along this week and let me know if you have any questions!

Day 4/5

Let's just say I have been on a bit of a roller coaster over the past few days. If you read the Day 3 blog, you know that wasn't feeling well because of the changes in my diet, switching from eating meat, eggs, milk, etc. to a plant based, vegan diet. I was experiencing severe headaches, low energy and changes in my mood. I tried to pinpoint other changes that could be affecting these parts of my life and the only change that I had made was my eating habits. 

When I left work on Tuesday, I grabbed lunch then went home and immediately took a nap. I was having a hard time concentrating. Lunch was a vegan option at Tokyo Joes, brown rice, veggies and tofu. I was full, and my headache subsided slightly. When I woke up, I made a meal that I found on Pinterest, a veggie sandwich with vegan bread, hummus and black beans. My headache had come back and I just felt sick to my stomach so I rested, working on meteorology homework. 

When I took a break to research vegan lifestyle changes, I found that most people who adopt this kind of lifestyle usually do so gradually, beginning with vegetarian changes and slowly eliminating animal products from their diet. My mistake may have been going from consuming normal amounts of red meat, chicken, cheese, milk, etc. to none, in one single day. Nearly 5 days had gone by and I knew it was time to say "uncle" and start to transition back to my usual diet. I knew I had several flight lessons later in the week, tests at school and segments to produce at 9News, so it was time to take the way I was feeling seriously. I decided to eat some meat, grilled chicken, and that did not go over well. My body seemed to be upset that I was going back and forth and I made the call to stay home from work on Wednesday. 

I felt bad letting the team down by taking a day for myself, but I knew I would feel worse getting up at 2:30am and trying to perform on tv. I called in and took a day for myself, gradually working animal protein back into my meals. 

Today is Thursday and my body is feeling a little better. I still have a dull headache and am much lighter than when I started. Like I posted in my Youtube video, I started out at 140lbs at 5'10 and I currently weigh 137 lbs. The point was not weight loss, but it was a by product of eating less fat, sugar and animal protein. 

We checked in with Dr. John about why I was feeling this way and he said it was not unnatual to have these types of changes lead to headache, stomach discomfort, etc. but that a gradual change wasn't necisarily a bad choice to just jump right in.

The bottom line is that the true vegan lifestyle just isn't for me. The prep work, the social implications of very specific meal planning, the focus on planning ahead for all meals is something I never imagined would cause such a change in my life. I am sure that over time, my body would regulate itself, find an equilibrium, and the vegan lifestyle could be great. 

Coming up on Friday, I am going to do a vegan cooking segment that incorporates aspects of a plant based diet into meals that anyone could enjoy, creating a balance of what works for me. Isn't that what it is really all about, creating a healthy balance that is sustainable and healthy? 

Thanks for all the support! 

Day 3: I have hit a wall.

As promised, this blog is getting real. Yesterday I hit a low point on this 7 day vegan experiment. I started out strong on Monday morning, with a breakfast of vegan yogurt, cashews, and a banana. Lunch was a vegan Evol Burrito that was absolutely awesome. I have been following recommended amounts of calories, protein, carbs, etc. while also taking my multi vitamins each day. I thought this would help to equalize the changes I was about to see when I started this trip on Saturday. 

Most of the morning show was great, I had plenty of energy through about 8am, then something changed. As we wrapped up the show, I started noticing that I was having a hard time concentrating while building my traffic maps, gathering information and planning the rest of my day. During the morning meeting, I realized that something was absolutely off kilter. 

My disposition during the meeting is usually chatty, excited and idea filled but yesterday I sat quietly, kind of staring into space. I realized that I had a serious lack of energy and was kind of cranky. Earlier in the day, we had interviewed a vegan about what my first week would be like and he did in fact say, I could get cranky. I did in fact, get cranky. I wouldn't say that I took it out on others, but there was a serious lack of motivation, noticeable by my coworkers. 

It was clearly time to eat some lunch and attempt to recharge. I heated up the Evol Burrito, which was around 350 calories. I can't say I felt much better an hour later, I was still pretty shaky and unfocussed during my 11 and 12 forecasts. 

When I left work after the noon show... that's when bad turned to worse. I had a big meeting yesterday afternoon, to talk flight planning and my goals to fly around the world. A little stress, a major diet change, and the pressure to keep this going for 7 days caused me to lose it! 

I cried in my car as I let it all out. Ha! Who would have thought I would get so emotional! The tears flowed for about a minute and I decided it was time to pull myself together. I clearly needed sugar. I got some juice, called a friend and drove to my house. I really needed to rock this meeting, and after about 30 minutes I felt a little better with the sugar filled juice in my system. 

The meeting turned out great and my mood was stabilized. 

Fast forward to dinner plans... Mark Koebrich, Steve Spangler, their wives and I have an annual dinner that we enjoy at Cool River and tonight was the night. I held strong and did not dine from the traditional menu. I asked if the chef could make a vegan option and they were happy to oblige. The chef, Lytisha Mullings created a beautiful plate of peppers, guacamole, artichoke, other veggies and a beautiful vegan salad. She even came to our table to say hello! While this meal was no steak, salmon or sea bass, it was filling and beautifully prepared. Thank you so much Lytisha! 

Bed time could not come soon enough and I am still on track as a 7 day vegan. Coming up on the 9News morning show we talk with a life coach about dealing with lifestyle changes. Thanks for following this journey! 

 

Day 2: Super Bowl Sunday

 

Did you know that Oreos are vegan? 

This is day 2 of the vegan adventure and so far, my will power is holding up very well. I have received SO many informative, helpful emails about vegan living! It really has made the process easier than I thought it would be. Day one was fairly simple... I ate dinner before 7pm (cheating? I don't think so!) so I didn't prepare a vegan meal after 7pm. Even thought I met my friends out later that night, I didn't see or feel a difference when out for cocktails with friends. Everything was business as usual, but I did intentionally avoid a drink that had honey as an ingredient. 

Day 2 has been filled with new flavors, textures and tastes, and even some familiar favorites that I found out are "accidentally" vegan. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I found myself craving my usual morning espresso. While I would normally make a latte with skim milk and creamer I substituted the milk for vanilla almond milk and used a coconut milk creamer. The result was great- I used my milk steamer with the almond milk and it foamed up and resembled the traditional milk latte in pretty much every way. I had a banana and it was time to start the day. 

Lots of water, vitamins and exercise were all a part of the day as the morning passed, and when it was time for lunch, we ventured to True Foods in Cherry Creek. This new hot spot has all sorts of vegan options and they even designate those options with a tiny little "v" next to the descriptions. I went with the tofu scramble wrap because it had the most protein of any of the options. Pinto beans, tofu, veggies, a vegan tortilla and it was truly one of the best lunches I have ever had. It was a perfectly sized proportion and I felt completely satisfied when I was done. If anyone out there is thinking of trying out a vegan meal, True Foods is a great choice. You will forget that you are even taking meat out of your meal, in my opinion. What I am seeing on day 2 is that vegan food is typically colorful, fresh, crunchy, brightly colored and tastes great. 

Right now it is (5:45pm on Sunday evening) and I am watching the Super Bowl. Since lunch was very filling, I haven't been all that tempted to go in for artichoke dip, wings, snacks or desserts. What I learned through my research about vegan eating is that Oreos are "accidentally vegan". I have had a few, while others snack on the rest of the fare. 

So far, cravings for meat have been few and far between. When I was at Target, picking up a few things for around the house, I walked past the meat section and didn't really feel a thing. Because I have kept myself fairly full through the first real 24 hours, I haven't quite craved anything in particular. 

When I get home, I plan on prepping a meal I found on Pinterest... it is a chickpea curry dish that can be seen here: 

http://theveganstoner.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2011-10-14T21:42:00-07:00&max-results=4

This will make a great dinner and an easy lunch to take to the station Monday and Tuesday. 

How do I feel? I feel light and full and overall very happy. I love that I made it through the first 24 hours without fail and I am headed into the work week strong. The real test will come on Monday when I meet Mark Koebrich, Steve Spangler and their lovely wives for dinner at a popular dinner spot for our annual dinner. It might be hard, but I will find some options that work and plan ahead. 

Enjoy the Super Bowl! This half time show is great! 

-Amelia 

-------------------------------

 

Day 1: Today is Saturday, February 2nd and I just completed my grocery shopping for my next 7 days of eating and consuming as a vegan. I decided to go to Whole Foods and attempt to stick to a budget of $100.00. When I walked in the crowded grocery store, I immediately stating seeing all sorts of groceries that could be worked into a vegan recipe, but what I quickly realized is that even if the ingredients qualified as vegan, it would take quite a bit of preparation to make them all work together into something that is nutritionally healthy and didn't take a lot of time to create. 

Since we posted this blog on Friday, I have received dozens of emails of support, questions and a whole lot of recipes! I was excited to see that there were lots of folks out there enjoying the vegan lifestyle and that they wanted to help in the process. I read every email and am in the process of responding to each one individually. If you want to share your thoughts, amelia.earhart@9news.com is my email address. 

I made a list of things that I would base my meals around and figured I would see more things at the store that would qualify. Staying away from a lot of processed, pre-made foods was a priority because I wanted to stick to my $100 budget. Things like almond milk, soy coconut milk yogurt, vegan bread, hummus, chickpeas, veggies, beans, grains, etc. all made the list and they were very easy to find. The whole trip took around an hour and I had a great conversation with the cashier about the time she went vegan for 14 days. We both agreed that this style of eating could be expensive and a bit time consuming. She wished me luck and I went back home.

I just unloaded everything and I have to admit, the fridge is looking pretty darn healthy... My first vegan meal will be tonight after 7pm and I will document the process here on the blog. 

Lots of water, vitamins, and here we go! Should be a fun adventure. All week long on the 9News morning show we will be speaking with vegan experts, nutritionists, vegan eaters and others about this lifestyle change. Thanks for reading! 

Oh and by the way... I didn't eat a big steak or a cheeseburger for lunch. I had an egg white omelette with lots of veggies. Something about the thought of pigging out on a lot of meat right before I head into this challenge seemed wrong. The end of the challenge, that may be another thing, we will just have to wait and see! 

Follow my twitter updates: @amelia__eahrart (two underscores)

KUSA- Around 9NEWS, we will pretty much try anything once. From the time that Gary Shapiro agreed to work in the city sewers for the day, to the time that I worked as a car mechanic, changing oil and rotating tires, we seem to find ourselves trying things that are our of our comfort zones. 

During a recent story brainstorming session, 9NEWS reporter Brooke Thacker came up with a story idea based on our adventurous spirits. She suggested that one of us incorporate yoga into our daily routine, one of us give up caffeine, among other ideas. Each one of these changes would be made for seven days.

My immediate thought was, "I wanna play!" I sarcastically suggested that I would be willing to get eight hours of sleep each night for seven days ... we quickly decided that was impossible.

The idea would be to show how a lifestyle change could be invigorating, eye opening and just plain fun to see what it was like. We would invite Facebook friends and Twitter followers to join in the fun and get the social conversation going.

One of Brooke's other ideas was that one of us become a vegan for the week. Yikes. Vegan? I really, really like meat. In fact, just last year, I competed in a hot-dog eating contest with Gregg Moss and Becky Ditchfield. In January, I went to a bar in Minneapolis because they served, "unlimited, free bacon" from 9 to 11. Yesterday, I sampled salami and fancy cheese at Whole Foods just because I could. I have accidentally eaten vegetarian meals along the way, but I have never gone out of my way to eliminate meat or other animal products.

For some reason, an excited, "I'll be a vegan" flew from my mouth and before I could retract my statement, Brooke was smiling and we were on to the next assignment. Long story short, I will be going without eating animal products for seven days ... blogging, posting photos and recipes and talking about how I feel throughout the week. If you have ever been curious about this kind of diet, and what it would be like to try it out, stay tuned. I will be honest, blunt, and if the emotion arises, I may even break down in tears from a difficult week of a new way of eating.

Vegans eat a plant-based diet, with nothing coming from animals - no meat, milk, eggs or honey, for example. Vegans also stay away from wearing leather, wool, silk and other animal products. Brooke would also like me to try and limit my leather shoe wearing, purse toting, silk donning tendencies during this seven days.

This adventure begins at 7 p.m, Saturday, Feb. 2. I'd love your feedback, ideas, thoughts and recipes along the way. Stay tuned for a daily update on the process as the week goes on. I will be talking with experts along the way, posting recipes here on 9NEWS.com and talking about the process on the air on both 9NEWS and Channel 20.

If you want to join me along the way, or you are already a vegan that has some suggestions, please send me an email at amelia.earhart@9news.com.

As we kick things off, here's a list of local restaurants that have vegan options on their menus: http://www.vegancoloradical.com/eat-denver/

 

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