Such a Little Salad, So Little Nutrition

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I am on day 46 (+/-) of eating vegan. As I've said before, I am not doing this to become a vegan. I am doing it to make more room in my diet for higher quality foods, namely vegetables, fruit and plant-based proteins.

I have tried many times in the past to improve the quality of my diet but have always focused on what meat/poultry/fish to start my meal with. I'd decrease the size of that protein and increase the vegetables. By eliminating animal-based proteins (and dairy) it has forced me to deal 100% with the things that I tend to avoid - vegetables.

So far so good. I have fewer cravings. I don't feel deprived. I haven't followed the vegan diet 100% (and probably never will) but it has been surprisingly easy.

Last night we ate at a typical restaurant where the fare included burgers, sandwiches, steak, chicken and a few salads for those who want something lighter. We were meeting friends, so I didn't have much control over where we ate. The closest thing I could get to vegan was a salad. There were fried mushrooms, fried green tomatoes and fried onion rings that were probably vegan but the nutrition of the vegetables was certainly lost in the frying process. Ha! So I had a salad with grilled chicken on top.

The salad arrived and it was such a disappointment. Iceberg lettuce, a few mealy chopped tomatoes, a little shredded cheese, a few olives and a dry grilled chicken breast. In the past, this salad would have delighted me because it's low- fat and includes vegetables. I would have felt like a diet champion. And truly, it is a good food choice given the array of fried, oil-based and fatty foods that were on the menu. I could have requested it without chicken or cheese to be vegan but I felt like I needed a protein for it to be more satisfying.

Since I've begun investigating vegan/vegetarian, I've been eating far fewer salads. Salads used to be a nightly "vegetable" for me. They were a way for me to choke down my vegetables after eating yummy chicken or beef or fish. But the reality is the kind of salads I was eating - Romaine lettuce, tomatoes and dressing and occasionally cucumbers - was devoid of nutrition. They were low-cal yes but they didn't have much fiber or any other nutrients. And they took a lot of work. In the last week alone I've had - broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, roasted red peppers, zucchini and more. And no salads.

Last night's salad-for-dinner was a disappointment. There was a time when last night's dinner would have been a victory. And for some diets, it is. But for the stage I'm in right now, it was a non-meal. It was a little salad with a small chicken breast on top. A little water with a little protein and fat. Since going mostly vegan, I eat A LOT of food now. Most of it is nutrient dense, so I can eat a lot more of it. I don't worry about portions (at least not yet. Maybe that will come.)

It's amazing how my go-to vegetable dish, the unassuming salad, has now become a non-food to me. And it's not a non-food because I am leaning more on meat, chicken or fish. It's a non-food because I have discovered other vegetables that taste better and are far more satisfying. THAT is a victory for me.

This isn't a perfect journey but for now I am glad I have given the vegan diet a chance. This is the first time when I've been able to eat mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes and not feel deprived.

And the journey continues...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    First of all, congratulations! You are really making a lifestyle change here, to eat more vegetables and to eat consciously, and it shows in your changed thinking. I applaud you!

    I was reading the comments others made as well as your own about your salads and it made me realize that my salads have evolved over the years. I no longer use iceberg lettuce (except in tacos or on sandwiches for a crunch) and I put all kinds of things into my salads - sure, I use tomato and cucumber, but I also use fruits (strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges), onions, peppers, avocado, broccoli, asparagus, kale, nuts, seeds- and sometimes sliced olives, hard boiled eggs, tuna or chicken. I rarely use cheese although I do love a crumble of feta, goat cheese or gorgonzola on occasion, and I don't add croutons anymore. I love my salads and wish I could buy them in a restaurant the way I make them.

    Doesn't that make you wish you were here for lunch emoticon
    1792 days ago
    Oh, how you were in my head! I've been forced to eat at restaurants alot lately. Its so disappointing and I know exactly what you mean! I paid $8 for a completely nutritionless salad last night and a side of overcooked mixed veges that I suspect came from a freezer bag. I felt disgusted and ripped off.

    Congrats on expanding your list of veges and I'm so GLAD you're finding that you really DO like them!
    1793 days ago
    I was wondering you mention the 21 day vegan program is free with online recipes. So you mean I don't have to buy the book? If you don't mind could you please give me the link where I could join for free? I would really appreciate it very much...thanks :)
    1795 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/19/2013 10:20:49 AM
    I'm trying out vegan as well I've never tried it before. I've been doing the vegan menu plan on here but it's very limited I would like more choices. You're right about the salads & since I started a few weeks ago with vegan foods I have made some delicous vegetable salads. Although I'm still a bit lost & overwhelmed in a sense but yet a bit more educated than before. How did you start? Did you start with or are you now following the 21 day Vegan kickstart program? Because you say here you're now on day 46. I was wondering if the program is effective or not emoticon
    1795 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/19/2013 8:30:05 AM
    I find I eat my salads with my meal, rather than as a meal. In the past I would have thrown a bunch of lceberg and romaine in a bowl, added cucumbers, tomatoes, some chopped meat and a non-fat dressing, and be proud of my "meal". Now I have the same amount of baby spring mix, sometimes with grape tomatoes, but I also have my entree, and starch. emoticon emoticon
    1797 days ago
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