Just some updates on what vegan life is looking like for me right now

So for about a week now, I have been having protein shakes as a part of my lunch and for my afternoon snack. I am seriously considering a bariatric procedure called endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG). Technically it is not a surgery because they go through your mouth to stitch a stomach sleeve from the inside. But anyway, as with most bariatric procedures, surgical or not, you have to really focus on protein since only a small amount of food will fit in your stomach initially. From what I’ve read, it seems like the average recommendation is 100 grams a day but in very few calories, like less than a 1000 usually. The first two weeks, likely, will be all liquid, so mostly protein shakes. Also it looks like most places want you on a mostly protein shake diet before you go, like for two weeks pre-op. Of course, I have no idea what will be told to me. Some people get to eat beforehand. Sometimes, the diet, especially for the surgical variety, is to shrink the liver to make the surgery safer to perform. But some I believe want you to do the diet regardless of what shape your liver is in to show commitment to the new life you’ll have going forward. I have decided to do a pre-pre-op diet by getting accustomed to protein shakes. For me, the protein really keeps me full, and although I have been eating 1500 or less calories, I have not been ravenous, which is usually the case for me. At this stage in my life, I find having to cook three meals a day high in protein and low in calories too daunting. But I can do a morning high protein smoothie (my usual anyway), a protein shake plus steamed veggies for lunch, and then plan an actual meal for dinner. I’m not doing all protein shakes yet. I’ll save that for when it’s necessary.

However, since it’s the weekend, I find I like to have a non-smoothie breakfast so yesterday I had 2 servings of Just Egg, 2 Beyond sausage patties and a couple slices of light bread with a small amount of Miyoko’s oatmilk butter. That had something like 400 calories and 25 grams of protein so still fit in my plan! Today, I had a new product by Morningstar, the Incogmeato breakfast sandwich (Plant-Based Chik’n and Eggo® Liège Style Waffle Sandwich). It has 400 calories and 21 grams of protein. I’m pretty okay with that and felt it easily fit in my current plan. They are a little pricey though, at $8 for 2 sandwiches at my Kroger in Knoxville, TN. It was pretty good. I do wish I’d added some hot sauce to the chik’n patty but didn’t think to until I had a bite left. For lunch, I’ve been sticking to a protein shake made with a cup of Westsoy unsweetened soymilk and a serving of Orgain protein powder. I had been using the chocolate peanut butter flavor but I ran out on Friday so have been using the chocolate flavor I got from Sam’s Club. I prefer the chocolate PB kind, but it’s not sold in bulk. The bulk tub is a big savings too. It’s $32 for 27 servings vs. $21 for 10 servings. So I’ll just put up with the slightly less good flavor for the savings! However, I did add a tablespoon of PBFit peanut powder to my lunch shake today and it was almost the same as the Orgain chocolate PB flavor so I can do that sometimes for a bit of a change. I plan on also buying a tub of the Orgain vanilla, but I haven’t tried it yet. I’m sure it’s fine and I can always add cocoa powder, spices like cinnamon or pumpkin spice, or a flavoring extract to get some variety. I’ve been having steamed sweet potato or baby white potatoes and cabbage after I have my protein shake. Today, I decided to have an ounce of pasta instead of sweet potato. I add some spices (garlic, onion, paprika, black pepper) to the pasta and cabbage and sauteed it with half a teaspoon of Miyoko’s butter. Personally, as long as I have a little something to chew for lunch, I am good and feel satisfied. I also find that I do better not going “low carb,” at least not what a lot of people consider low carb. I eat 100 to 150 carbs a day and that keeps me from feeling bad. I have tried low carb in the past, and after the initial water weight, I always stopped losing because without carbs, I always feel hungry and I never felt good. A lot of people find the opposite but not me!

I’m not always going to do cabbage and potatoes, by the way. That’s just what happened to be in my produce box. So the veggies will change a bit. Sometimes it might be salad for example. But I do plan on adding a bit of carb, whether bread, potato, pasta or rice, and a non-starchy veggie for lunch for the time being. The lack of variety for breakfast and lunch doesn’t bother me because dinner changes every day and isn’t protein shakes plus I usually do something different for breakfast on the weekends. For dinner this week, I’ve had Incogmeato spicy chik’n filet sandwich with roasted yellow squash, beef stew with Gardein beefless tips, a half a Gardein Ultimate spicy chicken filet sliced up over some roasted sweet potato and black beans sauteed with peppers, jalapeno, and onion, a spinach artichoke pasta dish with Morningstar meatballs, and a Just Egg bake with Beyond sausage and veggies and roasted baby potatoes. Everything has been delicious! I find spices — garlic, onion, paprika, chili powder, cumin, Lawry’s seasoning salt, sazon seasoning — are your friend when you are cutting back on oil and vegan cheeses (it’s hard to fit a lot of them in since they are all fat and no protein although I like vegan cheese). For me, using oil sparingly and being sure to measure it out is key to keeping calories down without having super tiny portions.

Assuming I still decide to go for the ESG a few months down the road, I’ll keep you up to date on what my diet looks like. I hope to be able to adhere to a mostly vegan diet, but you never know what could happen.

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