I'm so excited to be guest blogging for these Vixens of Vegan! It's Gomer Pyle showing up on Mayberry, R.F.D. to visit his smarter cousin, Goober. It's Arnold Ziffel running away from home and rooting through the clean underwear over in Hooterville. Although, Arnold was pretty smart. Maybe it's the other way around. I'm the clean underwear rooting around Arnold's bedroom.
Annie and I were long-time vegetarians, but we had lapsed into heavy dairy consumption with cheese and milkshakes (!). But, it's calcium! We had also packed away a few pounds of "calcium" on our thighs.We watched Forks Over Knives, which, along with our previous misgivings about animal-based food, pushed us over the edge to veganism. We didn't want to be "junk food vegans," so we were careful to eat real, whole foods. We were feeling pretty good. We each dropped a few pounds, and were more energetic than we had been for a long time. I read Dr. Campbell's The China Study (thanks to Sherry at In the Direction of Our Dreams) and Dr. Esselstyn's Reverse Heart Disease to back up my resolve, but we were already ready by the time we finished Forks Over Knives.
What I mean to say is, our diet was pretty good when I happened upon the Resources page here at Vegan Vagabonds, and talked Annie into watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead with me.
The hero, Joe, sets out to "reboot" his very bad health by drinking only fresh, raw juices. The story is a twofer, because he helps another very sick man along the way. We decided we had to try this, if only for a few days. Annie's numbers are good, but mine stay high. My glucose was pre-diabetic (99) last October, my LDL cholesterol was 179 and my HDL 51. My blood pressure was at the low end of "high." My weight is mumblemumble.
[I did not get my levels checked before starting the juice reboot. I only monitor my blood pressure at home.]
We went shopping, borrowed a juicer, and we were off! My first recipe: Double Beet Surprise. Turns out, a little beet goes a long way, but not far enough away for me. The rest were better.
If you're curious, poke around over here at Join the Reboot. We did a 10-day juicing routine with added vegetables for chewing. We had a big green juice twice a day, and then Annie cooked us some vegetables for dinner. She made things like roasted root vegetables and cabbage soup. In-between, we snacked freely on vegetables and fruits.
We dithered about giving up coffee. This is not trivial. This is GIVING UP COFFEE. Even for ten days that's no joke. We only decided at the last minute that we would go all the way with this. Why not? It's not like we're productive members of society. [Note for productive members of society: go ahead and try this. Just start on a weekend so your moaning and loud naps won't disturb your colleagues.]
The first two days we just sat around. This is no different from every other day. Still, we we feeling the effects of caffeine withdrawal. Annie thought she had a migraine. I was just tired, and enjoyed my naps. Because hot beverages feel like a necessary ritual, we had herbal teas whenever we wanted them. Whenever we wanted coffee, I mean.
By the third day, I felt light and strong. I was bird bone. I was structural steel, but the light, fluffy kind. I felt unencumbered by my food, as though it were finally something that supported me instead of something I had to compensate for.
Somewhere along this path, we both noticed that we were losing weight. It makes sense - we were only eating fruits and vegetables - but we were never hungry. There was no such thing as "meal time;" we ate when we wanted something to eat.
At the end of ten days we were sure we'd be crazy for "real" food again. We tried some of our old stand-bys (the first one was Facon and Tomato sandwiches), but we were disappointed. We missed juice.
The juice "reboot" idea is really an elimination diet and a detox. Almost everyone is going to feel better consuming only lots of plant-based food, because there's a lot of nourishment, and very little that could trigger your immune system or chronic sensitivities.
You're giving yourself a whole-body break from toxins. Even "toxins" that we assume are really good for us. That's different for different people. I noticed that adding much wheat, even whole wheat, made me feel tired. Brown rice is great. Spelt is just fine. We've had amaranth and oats, too, with happy results. Sprouted grain bread agrees with us.
Now we juice once a day, and eat plant-based (vegan).
We haven't gone back to coffee, but I'll drink green or white tea if I want it (does anyone really want it?). My jury of twelve (brain cells) is out on coffee and health. Some research suggests it's super for liver health. Some research says it's not such a bargain. Right now, it feels great to be as ready to get going at 7 AM as it does at noon, and that's my motivation.
Because I didn't get blood work before the reboot, I can't tell you that juicing has lowered my bad cholesterol or raised the good. I don't know about my A1C or my glucose level. I can tell you that my blood pressure is lower than it's been in years, and that includes the time I was on medication. So is my weight. In the five weeks since we started juicing, I've lost a pants size (we don't have a scale).
I've noticed that little things that used to bug me are gone. The early morning bend to get my slippers and thump scorpions out of them doesn't hurt. My hips, who used to keep me awake, now sleep through the night like I do. My lower back isn't so needy and feels free to do things without whining. Someone asked me if it was because I've lost weight. That can't hurt, but it was a VERY FAST change from pained to pain-free during the course of the juicing reboot; I have to credit the reboot with the difference.
Our favorite thing to juice is kale, because it wears a superhero cape. It's a mega-vegetable. We add a cucumber, celery, carrots, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes. Maybe a squash. Some lettuce. Anything you might put in a salad, and more. Then add some fruit of your choice, about 25% of the total. We use apples, oranges, strawberries, oranges, mangoes, grapes, or whatever looks good at the store that day.
Some sites suggest skipping bean sprouts in your juice because it might cause social missteps. If you're not a productive member of society, don't worry about it.
Objections, mine and others':
I was a little concerned that there wouldn't be enough protein or calcium in the reboot program, but after I researched the protein and mineral content of various veggies and fruits, I felt better.
There is a lot of pulp that may feel wasted in a juicing regimen. Annie made soup from it, and simmered it to make vegetable broth. A reader commented with a cracker recipe using the pulp and other tasty and nutritious things.
I worried that we would be hungry all the time. Not so. Even the juice is satisfying enough to carry you through to the next mini-meal. Maybe because it's so fundamentally nourishing. Even now, if we don't juice, we just eat and pick and nosh and snack without finding what it is we really want.
If you're even slightly curious about vegan eating or juicing, check out the movies and books on the Resources page here at Vegan Vagabonds. If you want a jump start, or some inspiration, I suggest watching Forks Over Knives and reading The China Study. And follow this blog for personal stories of vegan heroism and inspiration from this Trio of Try It, You'll Like It.
The Good Luck Duck