Food, Health

30 Day Vegan + the I Quit Sugar Program: An Introduction

Cheese… dairy… I’m gonna miss you guys

 

A Jump Start…

So I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolution post that I wanted to give my 2013 a kick in the pants by going vegan for 30 days and cutting out refined sugars using the 8 wk long¬†I Quit Sugar program. I’m not trying to make some gigantic lifestyle change. I’m just really curious about the effect that this diet tweak will have on my energy levels and skin. If I can avoid my usual afternoon crash and burn I’ll be really happy. Also, diabetes and liver disease runs in my family, so cutting back on sugar is important in that regard. After these 8 weeks are said and done, I hope to just overall cut back on my meat consumption.

My history: Like most things, you don’t just go vegan in a vacuum. Back in college I was vegetarian for quite a few years, and then tried the vegan thing. Veganism was hard to sustain as a lifestyle for me, so I switched back to vegetarianism. Then when I came home from school and moved in with my mom, she gave me hell so I started eating meat again. Who turns away a home-cooked meal from their mom? Not me.

When I moved out to San Francisco, there was so much exciting food to eat that I couldn’t think of being vegetarian- I had to eat it all! Of course I wanted to make the choice to eat sustainable meat/farm raised/organic/blahblahblah… except I never did. I just used the fact that meat could be eaten in a conscious way as an excuse to never truly look at my diet head-on and take steps that meshed with my morals. I was always saving it for someday. These days I eat everything, but moving forward I do want to cut back on my animal consumption for environmental, health and moral reasons.

Anyways, enough about me. On to the obvious questions:

What is Veganism?

So for those who aren’t acquainted with veganism, here’s a quickie primer:

  • No meat, poultry or fish
  • No dairy
  • No eggs
  • No animal byproducts: honey, whey, gelatin, fish oil, casein, rennet, lanolin, bee pollen, collagen, fish paste, etc.
  • No wearing animals: leather, wool, fur, down, horse hair, etc.
  • No animal products in your toiletries: sea sponges, collagen, squalene, tallow, beeswax, etc.

Of course, animal byproducts are everywhere. My favorite knitting needles are made out of casein, which is a protein found in milk. My face cream has shark oil in it. It’s tricky. So, for the purposes of my resolution, I’m trying to eat vegan for 30 days.

What is I Quit Sugar?

IQS

According to the American Heart Association, women should get no more than 24 grams of sugar a day (about 6 teaspoons). The average American woman eats about 18 teaspoons per day. In the infographic below, another cited stat is about 12 teaspoons a day. Either way, it’s a friggin lot.

I Quit Sugar is a nifty little e-book that helps you cut back on sugar over the course of 8 weeks. The author is Australian blogger/journalist Sarah Wilson, and she asks you to approach the whole thing as an “experiment” and not a life sentence. I can get behind that. From what I’ve read of it the book so far it’s light and entertaining, but could have a bit more substance and recipes.

sugar

Love this illuminating illustration from a popular New York Times article called Is Sugar Toxic?

Progress

I started my resolution last Saturday, so I’m on day 6. This first week I’m working on transitioning smoothly by eating vegan where I can, finishing up the rest of my non-vegan groceries (cheese, eggs, yogurt) and being more conscious of the sugar that I do eat.

Being vegan has been so far easy peasy as long as I’m in the house. On Sunday I made a giant tofu lasagna and one of my favorite dishes of 2012- spinach and chickpeas. I had mad leftovers so I was pretty set. Yesterday I royally screwed up by eating ahi tuna rolls at happy hour with my friend Brittani, but so be it. It’s about reducing my intake, not perfection.

Honestly cutting back on my sugar has been much harder than going vegan. It’s like learning a new language. Everything has sugar. Pasta sauce, bread, canned beans, frozen Indian food, crackers. It’s wild. Do yourself a favor and check the sugar content of what you eat next. You might be surprised.

I’ll continue to post updates on this vegan/sugar experiment, but to be honest, I’m a bit nervous about it all. I hope I can keep it up.

 

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