30-Day Plant-Based Diet Experiment

By February 25, 2013Life Experiments

As many of you know by now, I had to undergo emergency surgery for acute appendicitis while traveling in Panama earlier this month. I am incredibly grateful for numerous reasons, and I will be writing all about Panama and my experiences while traveling soon.

Back in the States after Surgery

Back in the States after Surgery

This post, however, is about a new life experiment I’m taking on for the next 30 days. The appendectomy has given me a lot of time–to heal, to reflect, and to catch up on my Netflix queue. The other night I watched Forks Over Knives. It’s a documentary about the healing effects of eating a whole-food plant-based diet.

I’ve always been a very healthy person, and it was a strange and eye-opening experience to be unable to walk after surgery and have to receive a bed bath at the age of 29. My healing is coming along quite nicely, and if there’s something I can do to give my body extra support in healing so I can get back on my round-the-world adventure, I’m there!

What is a plant-based diet?

  • “The experts in Forks Over Knives advocate a whole-food, plant-based diet. The program is based on whole or minimally processed plants, primarily fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tubers, and legumes. It excludes or minimizes animal-based foods such as meat (including poultry and fish), dairy, and eggs, as well as refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.”

I’ve always loved food. My roots are southern, and I love BBQ, fried chicken, and 4-cheese mac & cheese to name a few. One of the best parts of living in San Francisco for 3 years were the food trucks–Coca-Cola braised pork, Asian fusion dishes, fish & chips at my local micro brewery, etc.  I am also a sucker for sweets–Pecan Pie, chocolate anything, and shortbread cookies at my favorite bakery.  Putting delicious food aside, I’ve considered becoming vegetarian for some time now for health, environmental, and animal honoring reasons.

Stocked up and ready to go!

Stocked up and ready to go!

Why am I doing this now? 

  • Helping my body to heal after the appendectomy 
  • I have the time and resources to invest in cooking
  • I’m very curious to see what happens when I take on this lifestyle for 30-days

How you can help:

  • Do you have any great recipes? Due to an allergy, I can’t eat peanuts, soy, or legumes, but anything else I’m eager to try!
  • Do you have any book, blog, or movie recommendations related to whole-food plant-based eating?
  • Follow my journey, encourage me and others making changes, and spread the word! 🙂

This morning I weighed myself, took my resting heart rate, and blood pressure–all healthy. This experiment may not always be easy, but I am dedicated and passionately curious to see what happens come March 26th!







Join the discussion 24 Comments

  • RTWgirl.com says:

    I love the site 101 cookbooks, a friend’s madeleine recipe is on here. Here’s a link for all the vegan recipes on the site. Good luck with your 30 days. I am sure I have more recipes as well.


  • Amanda says:

    Brenden Brazier’s original “Thrive” book has some of the best recipes I’ve tried, even if you’re not an endurance athlete like he is :). He provides some all around great knowledge about what’s available and what’s best for your body.

    Be kind to yourself, and in those moments when it seems impossible and make every excuse to not stick to your original plan, ask yourself, “If I didn’t believe this was impossible, what would I do?”

    Much love your way.

    With love,

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks Amanda! I will definitely look into that book, and that’s great advice about being kind to oneself and not giving up! In fact, maybe I’ll put up a post it note on my bathroom mirror as a reminder–thanks again!

  • I love that you’re doing this! I was a vegetarian for ten years and found it pretty easy to maintain, then I totally fell off the wagon and now eat everything. I feel selfish, in light of what the production of animals for food does to the planet, but haven’t mustered enough discipline to stop.

    And as you know, I’m about to head to Tennessee, the BBQ capital of the world, so now probably isn’t the best time for me to join in your experiment (ha). But I’ll follow along and cheer from the sidelines, and maybe when I get home I’ll start my own 30-day experiment. Thanks for leading the way!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks Deonne! Wow–10 years–that’s amazing! There are a LOT of wonderful foods out there, and I’ve often wondered how vegetarians/vegans deal when traveling because so many places in the world have meat as a large part of their diet. Having tasted the wonder of Memphis BBQ, I would recommend that if you join in the experiment, you do so afterwards! 😉 Thanks for the encouragement and for commenting!

      • You know, I wonder if one way to get back into it is to be vegetarian *most* of the time. Maybe six days a week vegetarian at home, and then when I’m traveling if there’s some regional food that involves meat, I’m allowed to have it in the name of “research” (ha). I’m going to think about that approach.

        And I didn’t say that I really do hate the idea of how the animals are treated. Makes me so sad, and that should be enough to stop me right there.

        • Jacqueline says:

          Sounds like a great idea, Deonne! I may end up doing that as well. I don’t know if I can permanently say goodbye to BBQ, lobster, & fried chicken. I had a good friend of mine who was vegetarian that visited the rural town I had taught in during Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is an especially meat-centric event, and we were often visiting my students’ families in small villages where foreigners had never been seen. She ate meat during that time because she knew that these people had worked hard to provide and share a meal with us, and I greatly respected her for doing that. I also definitely agree with you about the treatment of animals. Everything must die for something else to live (even plants), but the way we treat and honor our food is of the upmost importance and unfortunately in Western countries, we’re so far removed from our food that we forget or are ignorant of the process. I feel that all that is changing though–more so everyday as people educate one another!

  • Lizzy says:

    Hi Jacqueline! Good luck in your culinary adventure. I’ve been vegan/plant-based diet for >16 years and have a lot of fun with it. 🙂 “Will Travel for Vegan Food” has a list of vegan travel blogs which you might find helpful: http://wtfveganfood.com/support/resources/

  • Vitaly says:

    Personally, I have absolutely zero interest in becoming vegan or vegetarian, but I do love to cook, so here are some general tips:
    1. Unless meat is central to the dish (i.e., a steak or roasted chicken), you can make most meals without it. Just use root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.) to give the dish more body.
    2. I sautee veggies all the time. Some of my favorite combos are: Zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, onion/shallots, toss a splash of balsamic in there and whatever spices you desire.
    3. Try eggplant lasagna (Google it), tho you might have to find some substitutes for eggs and get some vegan bread crumbs. I’d sub almond milk for the eggs, but I can’t guarantee success :-).
    4. This may be an opportunity for you to learn an ethnic cuisine that’s mostly vegan – Indian/Hindu comes to mind.

    Good luck!

  • CeCe says:

    Glad you are recovering well from your surgery!

    There is a local gal that makes green drinks and delivers it to my front door weekly (I am too lazy to make it myself). I just started 3 weeks ago, and so far my hair and skin looks healthier. I am the worst veggie eater ever, so I’m sure my body is like “WTF NUTRIENTS? I can’t believe this!”

  • Desiree East says:

    I have dreams of eating plant-based meals, all day, every day, especially because heart disease runs in my family. But, like you, I LOVE food and eating out at restaurants, and growing up in Hawaii and California, we are surrounded by food from every culture you can imagine…so, it’s hard to turn delicious food down. And I come from a family who looooves to cook! I was an ‘accidental’ vegan/vegetarian when I was in college. All of my housemates were either vegan or vegetarian, and I worked at the Farmer’s Market, so it was a lot more easier to have that lifestyle. For now, I am a ‘part-timer’, and I always try to at least buy organic…as far as books go, I really like ‘The Joy of Vegan Baking’ and Kris Carr is a good go-to. For those of you looking to switch over, ‘Food Revolution’ by John Robbins and the book, ‘Skinny Bitch’ are good reads!

    • Jacqueline says:

      These are great recommendations, Desiree–thank you! We’ll see how I feel in a month–may go towards a part-timer lifestyle at the end of it, or who knows, maybe I’ll end up a convert! 😉

  • Luca says:

    Great to hear you’re trying this! One great book I recommend is The China Study, it’s a thorough study on how an animal based diet is the origin of most common diseases the western world suffers from, and it explains this by comparing health situation of eastern populations (especially Chinese) that is (was I got to say!) mostly plan based. It’s going to be hard for you cause soy is a great source of protein for vegetarians but you’re allergic to it…eat any other nut anyway, and also try seitan (it’s basically grains’s protein, gluten, also called wheat’s muscle), I tried to make it at home, a long process but it’s fun and the result is great! Good luck!!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks Luca! I heard about The China Study through Forks Over Knives–sounds like an incredible read! I’ll also definitely look into seitan. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  • Karla says:

    Hola Jackie, que bueno que ya estes mejor, y muchas felicidades por este nuevo experimento, seguro tendrás éxito!. Yo comencé a ser vegetariana hace dos meses y me siento súper bien! , ha sido muy interesante y divertido. También ví un par de documentales en Netflix: Food Matters y Vegucated, te los recomiendo. Tambien puedes revisar este sitio http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk/vegetarian-starter-kit tienen un pequeño folleto “Vegetarian Starter kit” práctico y fácil de entender.

    Un abrazo!

  • Jaci says:

    Hey Jackie, I was interested to see you trying this. I’ve been a vegan for almost 5 years and have never felt better – physically, emotionally and mentally. The reality of our food system is horrific in both abuse and the end product we’re putting into our bodies (have you seen meetyourmeat.org?). Hopefully you feel good as you go through the month – I’ve heard it takes about 3 weeks to get rid of all the meat and dairy in your system. If you need any advice just let me know, I’ll be intrigued to see what you think!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks for the support, Jaci! I had no idea you’d been vegan for 5 years–that’s amazing! It’s definitely been an adjustment, but I am adjusting and reading blogs and some books. The hardest part about it is that I’m not that into cooking, so finding vegan friendly, plant-based, whole-food options has been a challenge. Would love any suggestions you have for recipes or other reading material! Will definitely check out meetyourmeet! Thanks again for commenting and for reaching out–hope all is well with you! 🙂

  • Aubrey says:

    Hi Jacqueline,

    I stumbled upon your blog today and went through your video series and have been going through all of your posts and I just want to say thank you for what you do. The topic that you cover of living life to the fullest is one that is very dear to me and I truly enjoy how you spread that message.

    When I came across this post I got super excited and I’m wondering how the 30 days went for you? I have been vegan since 2007 but it wasn’t until I read, “The China Study” by Dr. Campbell and then read “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Dr. Esselstyn, that I really learned and changed (both of whom are the two main men in “Forks Over Knives,” a film I love and was so excited for its release after reading those books). So, for me, it was right around reading “The China Study” and watching “Forks Over Knives” that I took my vegan diet and made the transition to a whole foods plant-based one. My life, my health and my happiness have been so much better for it. And it’s been like a snowball rolling down the hill gathering more snow. Once I read one book, that is so well put together like the other two, or watch one documentary, I want to see and read more and more. So I was just curious how it went for you?

    Thanks again for sharing with the world the importance of living life to the fullest and of taking the time to know and love one another.

    All the best,

    • Jacqueline says:

      Hi Aubrey! Wonderful to hear from you and thank you so much for your thoughtful, heartfelt comment! 🙂 Several people have been asking me to write a follow-up post on my 30 days, so I will definitely be doing that shortly. I learned a LOT, and it’s definitely affected how I eat and my thought process around food. I can’t wait to check out your project love good! Sounds fantastic! Thanks again for your kind words and for connecting–look forward to keeping in touch! 🙂

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