The Great Vegan Experiment

Things have been really crazy for me lately.  Work has basically taken over my life to the point that by the time Friday rolls around, I am a complete zombie, basically useless to family and friends.

First – I don’t hate my job, I just have way too much to do.

It isn’t like I don’t try to let it go, but after spending the day frantically snowshoeing in rotten snow to get layout* done for a machine that is harvesting on the block I am working in, I arrive back into cell service to get 3 text messages from my boss if I got something done in 2 different places 2 hours from where I am, 5 messages from various landowners and contractors needing me where they are, and a message or two from the office wondering where some paperwork is that I was supposed to get in.

*layout is basically using flagging tape to communicate the harvest plan to the guys cutting the wood.  I talk with them, make them maps, and the maps match what I have layed out in the woods.

This all has me considering getting a pilot’s license and a plane to get around the state (except I really HATE to fly).  

I have traded trying to fit training in around my 5am-6-7pm work day for eating and sleeping. 

And quite frankly, the thought of anything regimented on the weekend after the weeks I have been having sounds just horrible to me at this point. 

I am lucky – I have an active job that lets me work outside and see all kinds of wildlife.

maine, forestry, dog, bernese mountain dog, wildlife

Peeking around the tree

I can take my friend Porter to work with me.

maine, forestry, dog, bernese mountain dog

Porter on the job

But still, I miss training. 

I miss the long runs and rides and swims that seem to set my head straight. 

But that just isn’t happening.  Not with this schedule, this level of burn-out that I am feeling. 

And to top it off, my diet was becoming way cheese and meat focused.  Mostly cheese.  Because that is fast and easy and you can pound that stuff down on the go.

This lack of control over my time, the stress, the lack of training, had (ok has) me feeling very much like I was spiraling into hell.  

I thought about what I could control. 

I decided to do a little mix-up to my diet. 

For the past 2 weeks, I have eaten vegan, and keeping up with the no sugar, no grains (NSNG).

Ok wait, I did have cheese the other night in a veggie quesadilla.  But except for that, I have eaten vegan and NSNG.

The funny thing is, eating NSNG actually made me eat way more veggie-focused, I ate many of my meals vegetarian or even vegan unintentionally.  This is kind of just another step. 

What got me was that immediately, just like after I posted on Facebook about Ironman training, after posting about eating vegan for 2 weeks, I immediately got some negative responses, people concerned for my health –  as if I am some bumbling idiot wandering off the edge of a cliff.  

People brag about tons of unhealthy crap that they do, and I get crap for eating plant-based for 2 weeks? Really?


Anyway, I was lucky enough to find the Oh She Glows blog (thanks to my friend Tam).   It didn’t take me too long looking around the blog to realize I could make this work for me even better than I thought.

Also, my Vitamix has completely been getting a workout since I have been eating this way.

So what do I eat?  LOTS!

But here is an example from a day last week:


Green smoothie.  I like this one as a basic smoothie, but I have mixed it up quite a lot based on what I have.  The basics for me are the almond butter, spinach, chia, and almond milk.  The rest I add what I feel like or have.  I made a yummy blueberry ginger one the other day. 


After 2 days of this, I just didn’t want coffee anymore.   I am drinking caffine-free tea or green tea in the mornings now.

This is kind of a big deal.


Veggies (pre-cut on Sunday) and humus (sometimes homemade)



Homemade NSNG crackers & Almond Tuna Salad – this makes enough for 3 lunches and is freaking incredible. 


Sloppy Lentils over Sweet Potato – I made the lentils on Sunday (see below), took them out in the morning so they would defrost, and microwaved the sweet potato, then heated up the lentils.  Pour heated lentils over the sweet potato.  I sprinkled some Nutritional Yeast on it.  It was freaking awesome.

The best thing I did I learned from Elisa – I make a large soup or chili on the weekend and freeze them in ball jars (covers off, once frozen, I put the covers on).  This way when I get home late during the week, I just pick out what I want, throw it in the microwave and chow down. 

It is pretty sweet.  I now have quite a few different options too.

The thing is – I feel great.   Better than I did before this experiment, so I am extending it indefinitely.

I have tons of energy.  Yes work still mentally drains me.  But like I said, I feel better than I did before this I started eating vegan – and while I am not training, I AM very active at work, walking on snowshoes all day, walking trails all day.  I put on a lot of miles, just not on the pavement and my energy for that sort of thing is better than it has been in a while. 

I feel so great I just don’t want to go back.  For now anyway, I am sticking with the vegan focused eating,  moving back and forth between vegetarian and vegan as situations arise.

Thanks for reading!


About caratunkgirl

Short spunky girl from the tiny town of Caratunk, Maine. Active outdoor girl. I am a forester, whitewater raft guide, Ironman and 5x marathoner with Ultra dreams. Always ready for the next adventure with my dog Kineo by my side.
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4 Responses to The Great Vegan Experiment

  1. Karen says:

    Those are some long days! I am guessing it does make the food part of life challenging – trying to get food on the go and all. I say do whatever works for you. If vegan makes you feel your best then go for it 🙂 I used to read Oh She Glows a while back but trimmed back my blog list (no time…) Love her recipes!
    Karen recently posted..Up in the gym working on my fitness… (or not)My Profile

  2. Jay Fonseca says:

    Yet again I get to point at Mandy and say, “I know her!!” WTG with the vegan-ness. I’ve been on and off with that, but keep falling back to plain old vegetarian due to lack of prep. I like your plan though and will try it myself – I’ll check out that blog too. As always, thanks for writing!

  3. Adena says:

    You’re off coffee?!?! I am going to give this friendship of ours some serious reconsideration. I mean You said you aren’t crazy and then go off coffee?!?
    I kid! But now I REALLY think you are nuts. xoxoxoxo

  4. Black Knight says:

    When did Porter get that job? He looks like a manager.
    Black Knight recently posted..2014: a year of sh….My Profile

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