My First Substantial Vegan Dinner on the Farm in Ujire, India

I cooked my first substantial vegan dinner on the farm in Ujire, India using rice, channa dhal, and onion's that I purchased from town and some local veggies that were growing on the farm.

I have since gotten more creative (standby for future videos!) but there's something beautiful about the simplicity of a meal like this: It never leaves me feeling like crap and it always fills me up (thank you fiber)!

Vegan Discipline

It's difficult being vegan. Being vegan means you need to be willing to sacrifice. It means accepting the single vegan choice on a restaurant menu of fifty items and skipping a latte if they don't offer a soy option. It means making it known to the world that you don't eat meat when ordering an item you're unsure about. It means always packing alternatives (ProBar, almonds, trail mix). It means having respect and care for what you put into the one and only machine you are truly responsible for maintaining.

Zinc and Magnesium

I started taking supplements of Zinc and Magnesium today (100mg and 400mg respectively) after reading that vegans (especially body-building vegans) generally have Zinc and Magnesium deficiencies. It's easy for me to notice the effect of slight changes to my diet (since I control my diet so well) and I'm really curious how the extra Zinc and Magnesium will affect my overall health.

Struggling to Maintain a Vegan Diet

Ever since I started working out regularly, I have been trying to eat more protein while maintaining a vegan diet. I've tried making soy, hemp, and rice protein shakes, eating more tempeh and tofu, and even eating more beans (though I must admit that the time required to cook beans and grains definitely prevents me from eating them as regularly as I would like). I don't know if I have a protein sensitivity or if I'm just not combining foods properly, but every time I increase my protein intake my body seems to reject it and digestion becomes very difficult.

I have thought about how much easier things would be if I could have EAS Myoplex shakes, cottage cheese, yogurt, non-fat chocolate milk, and other foods that I learned how to use to help with keeping protein high and carbohydrates low. Now that I have been maintaining a vegan diet, I feel like I'm starting back at square one; I feel like I don't know anything about diet and fitness because everything changes when you remove all dairy from your diet.

Earlier today I was actually contemplating switching back to a lacto-vegetarian diet, but then I remembered the promise I made to myself several months ago:

I was born a Vegetarian, but I will die a Vegan.

So to push these dangerous thoughts out of my head, that has become my new mantra. If maintaining a vegan diet means I need to spend more time preparing food and learning how to cook complete meals, then so be it. I was thinking, I should probably tattoo the word VEGAN on my body somewhere so I can simply look at it whenever I'm doubting my commitment to a vegan lifestyle.

Red Lentil Dhal

I made some red lentil dhal yesterday, following this recipe from the Vegan Recipe Database. I only had about half the ingredients, so I had to run to the store before cooking it. The spices are expensive (!) but I justified buying them since they're something you buy once and use for many months.

Amazingly, the 1 cup (dry) of red lentil dhal I used contained a whooping 48g of protein! The dhal was so good I ended up finishing half of it last night and the other half for dinner this evening. For those wondering what exactly "dhal" means, the best way I can describe it is by saying it's an Indian soup. You can read more about dhal here.

It took me over an hour to cook, but it was well worth the wait! Theres something enjoyable about sitting down to eat what you put time and effort into preparing. Perhaps I'll start cooking more often.

Tired, Pullups, and Scrambled Tofu

I don't know if its a problem with my diet, not getting enough sleep, too much caffeine, not enough carbohydrates, or a combination of all of the above! Every day I seem to be tired, especially around 8pm or 9pm. But, I can't seem to get myself to sleep that early.

Since I moved to the new apartment, I haven't gotten back into my regular workout program. However, I have been doing lots of chinups and leg raises on the pullup bar with ab loops in my kitchen doorway. I also took my DoorGym out of storage in Lowell and installed it in my bathroom doorway. I have the extension for it that allows for wide grip pullups and it works the shoulders and upper back like nothing else.

I was looking for breakfast ideas earlier today -- something different than my oatmeal with toast -- and came across this post on The recipes blew my mind! My breakfast has never felt so dull! I went food shopping today and thought I bought everything I needed to make scrambled tofu, but I forgot the onions. 🙁

Vegan's get Plenty of Calories!

These are pictures from my FitDay account. I decided to start keeping track of everything I eat to see how I'm doing with calories and to see if my fat/carbs/protein ratios are good. I didn't realize I was eating so many calories!

As you can see by the Calories Burned picture, I'm consuming about the same number of calories as I burn on a daily basis, excluding any calories I burn from workouts. This explains a lot about why I haven't been burning as much fat as I thought I was -- I've been eating too much! The strange thing is that I've been feeling hungry non-stop, especially at night.

Those pictures are from yesterday. Today I've changed my diet to adjust the ratios and I'm aiming for around 2500 calories.

I also spent 20 minutes today, climbing a total of 948 steps (56 stories (14 stories x 4)) in my office building. It was an amazing workout! Anyone who uses work as an excuse for not being able to workout simply isn't creative and motivated enough! When I worked 3rd shift as a help desk analyst at Getronics a few years ago, I ran laps around the parking lot at 2:00am!

EDIT: I ended up eating more calories today than I did yesterday, however that is because in addition to spending 20 minutes doing the stair climbing I did 30 minutes of interval training at my parents house this evening, which burned 500 calories. So technically, I only consumed 2350 calories.

A Healthy Week

Well this week has seen a couple of interesting changes. On Sunday, I went food shopping for this week and bought lots of fruits and veggies. And then on Monday, after discovering the Vegan Fitness Forums, I made the decision to go vegan -- which means no dairy, including whey protein. I already have a couple of tubs of soy, hemp, and rice protein so I've started using that to make protein shakes. Probably the easiest, and most tasty shake, that I make is done like this:

1 cup unsweetened soymilk
1 scoop of soy protein
1 banana
1 tbsp peanut butter
ice to taste

It's incredible! You don't taste the soy protein at all, but the whole thing contains over 35g of protein! And meat eaters wonder where we get our protein...

This week I was also given the additional task of being the QA Engineer for Aerva. It will be an excellent learning experience and it will help me gain a better understanding of the whole software development process.

I finished almost all of the fruits and veggies you saw in my fridge on Sunday, but I still have enough for this weekend. Usually I don't have easy access to a stove during the weekends and I end up eating at LifeAlive or snacking on nuts, but this weekend I'm going to make it a goal to finish everything left over from Sunday. I definitely bought too much food this week, but now that I have a good idea how much I'll need, I'm going to buy less for next week.

I also need to increase my protein intake, which I plan to do by consuming more soy protein shakes. I'm also going to buy wheat gluten, something I've never bought before, however I've learned it has the most amount of protein of all vegan foods.

My workouts have been going well, however I haven't been doing enough cardio. Starting next week, I'm going to get back on my HIIT workouts, two days a week. HIIT is extremely intense and I have had excellent results in the past using it. I actually wrote a post about it back in 2003. I'll probably start doing that same HIIT workout and then increase the intensity in two months.

Vegan Fitness Forum

I've been reading stuff on the Vegan Fitness forum lately. I found it somewhere in a post on the forums, which I also frequent. I'm learning a ton of stuff from the Vegan Fitness forums -- many of my questions related to bodybuilding on a vegan diet have been answered.

I bought two bags of raw seeds yesterday -- pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Both are inexpensive and have a high protein content. However they're both high in fat, which means even though they're good fats, they still contain a ton of calories. If I eat enough pumpkin seeds to consume 20g of protein, I would have also consumed 40g of fat -- 448 calories! That's almost 1/4 of my daily caloric intake!

I also listed a new item on eBay yesterday; a broken Toshiba laptop I bought from someone for $35. Similar broken Toshiba laptops have sold for $90+, so hopefully I can make a little money off it.

Bodybuilding on a Vegan Diet

It's been about six weeks since I last worked out regularly. I have no excuses. For the past two months I have been vegan (no meat, fish, poultry or dairy) with the exception of occasional dairy (cheese/whey). I feel a lot healthier without any dairy in my system, however the vegan diet has dramatically decreased my protein intake. I feel as though I've lost a ton of muscle mass in the past six weeks -- but after checking the scale, I believe it's mostly a psychological effect. I'm still 164.2lbs and 13.5% BF -- not at all much different than six weeks ago. Still, I feel physically weaker (again, could be psychological!).

I haven't done any research on vegan bodybuilding, but I know there are successful vegan bodybuilders out there, so it can be done. My brother has done considerable research on the topic and he says there isn't much scientific information available. I'm going to spend at least the next two months concentrating on my workouts and seeing what results I can obtain while on a vegan diet.

The workout routine I'm doing is the same routine I started back in June. It's designed to build muscle, while keeping your metabolism fired up by varying the exercises and hitting many different muscle groups in each workout. There are four parts to the routine which are completed in a single week, with the first half completed back to back (A and B), then a days rest, and then the second half back to back (C and D). I'm using the same weights as I was in June, however I will probably increase the weight over the next two months. To save you from having to view the old posts, I'll copy the workouts here:

    Workout A (Monday)
    Bench Press, 3 sets, 5 reps, 170 LBS
    Dumbbell Row, 3 sets, 6 reps, 45 LBS
    Dumbbell Bench Press, 4 sets, 8 reps, 50 LBS
    Snatch-Grip Barbell Row, 4 sets, 8 reps, 90 LBS
    Incline Dumbbell Press, 3 sets, 12 reps, 40 LBS
    Dumbbell External Rotation, 3 sets, 10 reps, 8 LBS

    Workout B (Tuesday)
    Squat, 3 sets, 6 reps, 100 LBS
    Rear-delt Raise, 3 sets, 10 reps, 20 LBS
    Romanian Deadlift, 4 sets, 8 reps, 100 LBS
    Dumbbell Split Squat, 4 sets, 8 reps 35 LBS
    Swiss Ball Jackknife, 3 sets, 10 reps
    Bicycle Crunches, 3 sets, 50 reps
    Swiss Ball Rollout, 3 sets, 10 reps

    Workout C (Thursday)
    Pullup, 4 sets, 8 reps
    Neutral Grip Dumbbell Press, 4 sets, 8 reps, 45 LBS
    Weighted Chinup, 3 sets, 5 reps, 16 LBS
    Lateral Raise, 3 sets, 8 reps, 25 LBS
    Bench Press, 3 sets, 6 reps, 160 LBS
    Barbell Curl, 3 sets, 8 reps, 50 LBS
    Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extention, 3 sets, 8. reps, 30 LBS 30 LBS
    Incline Dumbbell Curl, 3 sets, 12 reps, 20 LBS

    Workout D (Friday)
    Deadlift, 3 sets, 6 reps, 140 LBS
    Side Plank, 3 sets, 20 second hold
    Front Squat, 4 sets, 8 reps, 60 LBS
    Good Morning, 4 sets, 8 reps, 60 LBS
    Overhead Squat, 3 sets, 5 reps, 30 LBS
    Calf Raise, 3 sets, 10 reps, 35 LBS
    Swiss Ball Curl Up, 3 sets, 15 reps

I'm reading a really good book right now called Pain Free, by Pete Egoscue. It contains exercises designed to get your body back into it's correct alignment and function. I'm starting to incorporate the exercises into my morning yoga routine. I'll write a review of the book once I've given the exercises some time.