My twin sister and I always looking for new ways to be healthy.
We were looking for a new challenge to take on and, I suggest as a crazy idea, “Hey, how about for the month of June we adopted a vegan diet?”
What is a vegan/Plant-based Diet?
A vegan diet means no animal by-products, fish, dairy, or eggs.
Surprisingly enough, my sister agreed.
Now back story, I was shocked by how willing my sister accepted to join me on this diet challenge since this isn’t my first time being vegan. A few years back, I challenge myself to be vegan for my college English paper in November. (I was the only one in my household who didn’t eat turkey that year). During that time, my sister said, “I admire what you’re doing but I could never give up cheese or meat.” I struggled to be vegan then but, the experience helped me cut out meat and I change my diet as a pescatarian. I have been a pescatarian for about six years now and, my mother and sister slowly adopted the diet change.
During the last two weeks of May, my sister and I googled, researched, and pin many recipes in our shared vegan recipe boards on Pinterest. My sister kept a record of her meals using a digital food tracker app called MyFitnessPal.
One of the many benefits of having a plant-based diet is weight loss. My sister lost 5 pounds and, I maintained my weight. My sister and I can agree that adopting a vegan diet help eliminate mindless snacking. There weren’t many options to snack on at home or on the go which, helped me cut out refined sugary foods. My sister felt much more satisfied after a meal which curved her appetite. Being on a plant-based diet help me incorporate more vegetables into my diet and try our new dishes (Chickpeas became my favorite). Here were some of my favorite recipes:
A plant-based diet also helped me maintain a clear complexion. I suffer through hormonal acne and, it appears frequently on my chin and sometimes on my forehead. After the first two weeks of the challenge, I notice my chin clearing up and no pimples formed on my forehead.
Another good outcome was our energy levels. For instance, I didn’t feel tired after lunch and, it gave me a boost towards my weekly HIIT workouts and body strength training. Before starting the challenge, we used organic plant-based protein powder which is already vegan-friendly.
I also discovered several delightful plant-based goods, such as Follow Your Heart cheese (which melts beautifully), Follow Your Heart vegenaise, Pretzilla Soft Pretzel Sausage Buns and, Ben and Jerry's dairy-free ice cream (which we did not consume all the time because it is still high in calories). We also tried Target’s new Plant-based meatless brand foods like the vegan Falafel with tahini sauce and meatless chick’n tenders.
The Not-so Good
My sister and I are not professional chefs. There were some foods that we could not recreate or at least try to get to taste just right. For instant, I began craving scramble eggs towards the third week and tackled a couple of recipes like scrambled tofu. Do not get me wrong, I liked scrambled tofu but, the texture was slightly different and, when I was craving sunny-side-up eggs, tofu could not replicate. Towards the final week of our challenge, my sister and I discovered Just Egg, a clean, sustainable protein that scrambles and claims to tastes like eggs. We liked it, although, it has hard to find in our local groceries store.
Another challenge was our unexpected trip to Miami, Florida. My sister regretted the fact that we were not able to sample classic Miami dishes like Pastelitos, a stuffed puff pastry filled with guava paste and cheese, or Cuban Croquettas, crispy, bite-size logs of smooth ground beef or cheese coated in breadcrumbs. But we both committed to continuing the challenge. We were limit when going out to eat restaurants. Luckily, we stayed at our dear friend’s home and, she gladly accommodated our diet change. On the brighter side, my mornings consisted of juicy mango slices (I have not had mango since I moved out of state) and almond milk. Yummy!
Being stranded in the kitchen was yet another hurdle. Cooking is something I enjoy doing, but I don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. We could have prevented this situation if we had meal-prepped our meals every week.
Overall, the diet shift taught me about the tangible and intangible advantages of eating a plant-based diet. My sister and I are learning how to be more in charge of what we eat and how it sustains us for the long run. My sister is switching to vegan mayo and, I love making my chickpea spread sandwiches. I also discovered that I cut back on some foods such as dairy because I can survive without it. Soon, I'd like to begin the long-term transition to a plant-based diet.
Author’s note: Going vegan is not just a matter of diet. Many decide to go vegan for ethical and environmental reasons. For this blog, I’ll be addressing my and sister's experience eating plant-based for 30 days. Although we are twins, we both experience different results so, you may not see the same benefits or cons. I am also not a medical professional. Since our goal is to lose weight, we also logged our meals, stayed at a caloric deficit, drank water, and workout 4-5 times a week. As for my skin clearing up, I also follow a skincare routine using a face cleanser, moisturizer, and wearing SPF.