28 Day Vegetarian Challenge

No, we haven’t lost our minds. Give yourself the gift of experimenting for 28 days with vegetarianism. You never really know if it can work for you unless you give it a fair chance. Will you do it with us?

Lupe & Brian:     Welcome to another episode of Sjogren’s Strong.

Lupe:     My name is Lupe.

Brian:    And this is Brian.

Lupe:     And today we are going to talk about a 28 day challenge.

Brian:    Now, this episode might not be for everybody. But let’s go back a year and we’re going to share a story with you.

Lupe:     About a year ago, we decided that we were going to go vegetarian for, I don’t know, what was it, like 30 days?


Brian:    We challenged ourselves to be vegetarian for 30 days .

Lupe:     And after 93 days?

Brian:    That fish taco was calling.

Lupe:     And it was all downhill from there.

Brian:    But let’s go back to this 30 day challenge that we tried. Those 30 days; the first couple of weeks was pretty rough. Especially for me. I love red meat. I enjoy a good piece of chicken. I enjoy a piece of pork from time to time. And it was hard, but within that two weeks I started feeling better.

Lupe:     I’m not much of a red meat eater, so I’m pretty close to being vegetarian, but not quite. Because I do enjoy an In and Out burger, once in a while or I’ll fish taco. But um, we did cut out all meat. And I felt really good. And more energy. More focused.

Brian:    And feeling better and having more energy and being more focused. That 30 days came to an end and I think we didn’t even realize it until like day 37. And we’re like, oh, we gave ourselves another week here. Well, let’s keep it going. Let’s go another week. Let’s go another week. And the changes we felt in our own bodies and the weight loss that we have occurred over that 93 days, it was really cool.

Lupe:     And not only did we cut out red meat, we also cut out most processed foods. Am I correct?

Brian:    All processed foods. We cut out dairy.

Lupe:     Junk food.

Brian:    Yeah. If it came in a box, we weren’t buying it, with the exception of like a vegetable paddy.

Lupe:     Yeah. Correct.

Brian:    So, that was a process food, but it was all vegetables. There was no meats. So we’re not doing this because we’re hardcore vegetarians by no means. But we’ve done this in the past and we felt better. We lost some excess weight that we didn’t need. And I mean, the benefits were full circle.

Lupe:     A vegetarian diet started off as a fad most diets do.

Brian:    However, it’s been scientifically proven, over the years, to be a healthy lifestyle. And to dispel that first thing that most people claim, is that you won’t get enough protein.

Brian:    However, there’s tons of protein in vegetables. To the point, now you can vegetable proteins to have a protein shake, instead of whey or instead of soy. And if you choose good, fresh, dark green veggies, that’s where you’re going to get most of your nutrients.

Lupe:     Just decided to become a vegetarian, maybe challenging, but we want you to try it with us for 28 days. Just 28 days starting February 1st. And we chose the shortest month.

Brian:    February, having just four weeks, 28 days. We thought this would be a good challenge for us and we want to share with you. We are going to go on this journey, again.

Brian:    And see where it leads and see if – A. we can do it for the 28 days, which I’m sure we can. B. Can we push past that 28 days And we want to push past our 93 day record, we had about a year ago.

Brian:    So we outlined a few things to help ensure our success and your success, if you decide to do this challenge with us.

Brian:    Step number one is cleaning out your cupboards and your fridge. And we’re not saying throw this stuff away. If you’re listening to this on drop day, you’ve got a couple of days, before the first.

Brian:    So, go ahead and consume what you have in the house. We’re not here to waste money or just throw perfectly good food away. We don’t like doing that. And that’s what we’re going to do over the next couple of days, is get rid of the foods that we don’t need in the house and replaced them with fresh veg.

Lupe:     And we actually started doing that this weekend. We cut out buying too much processed foods and just getting rid of it. We mean consuming it, not throwing it away.

Brian:    One other thing that helped us before and we’re going to implement again; instead of doing our grocery shopping one day for the entire week, we set out to do two trips. And this helped us because we didn’t have to buy a lot of vegetable in bulk, run the risk of any of it going to waste. So we did our shopping on Sunday and we did another trip on Wednesday evening after work, to replace some of the veg we consumed. And buy anything else that we might’ve missed or that might help us along this journey.

Lupe:     And we decided that we’re going to shop at either Trader Joe’s or Sprouts. And we’re going to stay away from Target. We’re going to stay away from Walmart because we have Walmart’s over here that are Super Walmart’s and they have groceries there. But we’re going to stay away from those stores because if we go there, we tend to buy processed foods… cereal, chips, Doritos. You name it.

Brian:    One other good, cool tip is you need toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, there’s really no reason to walk every aisle in a grocery store. All your fresh vegetables and fruits are typically in one area, up front. And then some of your cheeses that don’t use any animal enzyme in them, are typically along the edge, as well.

Brian:    So, if you think about how your grocery stores are laid out, you can get all this fresh, good stuff without even walking down the aisles. The other exception for us would be beans and grains. They are on a single aisle. So, we will make a run down that aisle for black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and then the grains. Rice’s, brown rice, quinoa, couscous, they’re on an aisle.

Lupe:     But we’re going to be wearing those, uh, horse blinders. Don’t look anywhere else. Just mission – tunnel vision,

Brian:    You know and the funny thing is, when you go Google, vegetarian foods or vegan foods, Oreos are Vegan. However…

Lupe:     No, no.

Brian:    It’s processed. It’s not a healthy thing to be consuming. Just because you might want to follow along on this vegetarian journey with us. There’s a lot of processed foods that meet a vegetarian requirement, however, they’re not healthy. So, our diet is going to consist of salads, vegetable dishes, grain dishes, vegetable soups, things of that nature. There will be no chips, there will be no crackers, there will be no Oreos.

Lupe:     No Oreos. I veto that.

Brian:    Oreos are a weakness.

Lupe:     For those of you that have been listening from the beginning, you know that I love my ice cream. And I found a soy based vanilla, it’s not called ice cream. They call it dessert or something. They don’t want to call it ice cream, but it tastes just like Dryer’s ice cream and I can have ice cream again. So I’m excited.

Brian:    And it’s actually non-dairy.

Lupe:     Yes, it’s delicious. But anyways, we’ll talk more about that later.

Brian:    One other thing that you can do to help you along with this journey, because the hardest part about being vegetarian is when I’m out and about running the roads and I get hungry.

Brian:    Most fast food restaurants, you can get a salad. They’re not awesome salads, but it’s a salad. So you can make a choice. It’s a tough one, especially when you’re surrounded by, you know, quarter pounders. And all the goodness you can get at a Mc Donald’s. But you can get a salad.

Brian:    Another cool trick is, we have Trader Joe’s out here. We have Whole Foods out here.

Lupe:     We do.

Brian:    They have individual salads and at the register they have forks. So if we are out and about we can, you know, hit the APP and find the nearest Trader Joe’s. And run in and get a healthy salad with no meat. We can grab a bottle of water, make some healthy choices and we can just tailgate it and enjoy this great salad and not eat fast food or not eat out.

Lupe:     And if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, you know ,where you live, grocery – supermarkets, they also have salad bars and you could make that choice.

Brian:    Yeah. So try to think about and identify some of these options you have locally, to you. So if you are faced with, oh, I forgot to eat, or oh, I’m out longer than I thought I would be and I’m hungry. You can, you don’t have to find the answer. You’ve already found the answer. And you can make the healthy choice.

Lupe:     I always carry, ah, snacks in my purse, not always, but when I’m trying to eat healthy like this. And if I get hungry and you know I can’t go to a Trader Joe’s or there is no healthy options. I have a protein bar.

Speaker 1:           So, when it comes to vegetarian recipes, we’re going to list some of the recipes that we tried and felt worked out. I get very experimental when I’m cooking with only vegetable. So, some of those you’ll find in the recipe section. And the recipe section wasn’t meant to be a homemade, from scratch option.

Brian:    Having Sjogren’s and dealing with chronic fatigue, grabbing that jar of green curry is a healthy option and gives you a great meal, without making curry from scratch. For example, the day we recorded this, I made a little salad with hummus in tzatziki and spinach and Kale and microgreens.

Brian:    And I didn’t make anything from scratch. It’s kind of the way I assembled it. We’re going to go ahead and list that in the recipe section, here within the next few days. But utilizing some of these pre-made options of Hummus, for example, it’s an easy way to get a good healthy meal in, without making hummus from scratch.

Lupe:     And I think at first, it might feel a little bit hard or that you’re still hungry, after you eat. Because obviously you’re going to eat smaller portions, no meat. But I find that, me for example, if I eat healthy, with greens, I’m consuming the nutrients that my body needs. So I can go without food a little bit longer. Does that make sense? Am I explaining that correctly?

Brian:    Yeah. Yeah. And one other thing that people tend to forget, is that it’s okay to be hungry. If you get hungry and you’re two hours from mealtime, grab a handful of peanuts, just to help get you through. Or say, you know, it’s okay to be hungry in an hour. I’ll go ahead and prepare something, just an hour early. It’s okay to be hungry for that hour. You’re not. Nothing bad is going to happen in that hour of hunger.

Lupe:     And you don’t need to stop yourself when you’re eating. You could eat until you feel satisfied, you know, and it’s still okay also.

Brian:    So, we kind of got off topic a little bit, but getting back to recipes, if you hit Google and search for vegetarian recipes, you’re going to find tons of vegetarian recipes. Now, let me caution you on this. You’re going to see something that looks phenomenal and you’re going to print out the list or bookmark the recipe and then you’re going to realize that it calls for bacon or it’s going to call for a meet.

Brian:    So, review the ingredients before you sell yourself on that dish. It just saves some time. It seems like you search for a vegetarian recipe, they give you one, but the third one on the list looks so much better. And they’re kind of like sneaking some meat into it. I’ve found that. But hit up google or Edge or whatever it is you use to search the Internet and find a few vegetarian recipes. I mean, stuffed bell peppers is a great option that we typically have once a week when we’re being vegetarian.

Lupe:     What do you stuff them with?

Brian:    It’s called meatless beef and it’s a product we get at Trader Joe’s and it’s a soy based meat substitute.

Lupe:     I’m not one to have soy meat substitutes, like chicken. It just doesn’t look good to me, but that meatless beef, it’s really good. It taste like beef.

Brian:    Yeah. And I typically throw a little taco seasoning into it and it just adds a little flavor. Um, something we love is so soyrizo, instead of chorizo and we can mix it with eggs. We’ll put a little bit of the soyrizo in with the meatless beef and it just adds a flavor profile.

Brian:    And one other thing I tried recently and it really worked. Soyrizo is really dry. It doesn’t seem it, but it cooks really dry. So adding a little bit of avocado oil in to the pan, as you’re heating it up before you add egg or before you add in something else, really brings out the flavor in it. So avocado is a better oil than olive oil. if you’re cooking. It’s a high heat oil, so give it a shot. It’s a little more expensive than olive oil, but if you cook with oils, it’s a good oil to cook with.

Lupe:     Another thing that’s very important is to consider your support group, your circle of friends. Who are you going to that you’re on this diet? Because a lot of people, they’re not going to be supportive. A lot of people are going to talk smack. So your circle of friends might get smaller while you’re doing this challenge.

Brian:    And it’s okay. You know who’s going to not be supportive and you know who’s going to be supportive. So for this four week challenge, if you come along with us, include those people. Go out to eat with those people and they’re going to help hold you accountable, as well. But that individual that’s going to be completely negative about this, you know, take a break from them during this challenge. I think it’s worth it for your health and it’s going to make the mental mind game of doing this challenge a lot easier on you.

Lupe:     Yeah, I’m sure in your mind you already know who they are.

Lupe & Brian:     One other thing when times get hard during this challenge, because they will, you know, driving by in the In and Out Burger for me was always just like, oh my gosh, why am I being a vegetarian right now? It smells so good. Remind yourself of the benefits. You’re going to digest your food easily. Your body’s getting the nutrients from fresh, unprocessed vegetables. You know, it’s hard to explain of how you feel, but I would wake up a little more refreshed. I would sleep better. I didn’t have all this heavy nasty grease on my stomach before bed. I just felt better.

Lupe:     I felt really good. Like I said, I felt sharper, more energetic, not as sluggish. It really helps me a 100% with my Sjogren’s,

Brian:    And I think one of the biggest benefits I saw in Lupe was, brain fog reduction. After a few days she was sharper, on point. She wasn’t searching for words, as much. And you know, I pointed that out to her and she kind of realized the same thing. And I think that was one of the biggest motivations for us to keep going.

Lupe:     It’s really weird for me because I lost my words gradually, right? So when I start using them, I even surprised myself because I started using big words that I haven’t used in a long time. So yeah, it got me really excited and I was going to say something, but I lost it too.

Brian:    See she needs to be on that vegetarian diet .

Lupe:     And it helps me poop., too.

Brian:    Alright, so for those of you that are going to walk down this path with us, don’t think of 10 days ahead. Two weeks ahead. Oh my gosh. I have three weeks left. Obviously when we’re meal planning and shopping, we need to look three to four days ahead and that’s okay. But in the day, if you’re not planning to go to the grocery store and buy food for the next few days, think of one day at a time.

Lupe:     For example, if I’m on the treadmill, if I’m trying to exercise for half an hour, I do the same thing. Just five more minutes, just five more minutes. I don’t focus on. Oh my God, I have half an hour left. Thirty minutes, 45 minutes lap. Just five more minutes, five more minutes. And that actually gets me through it. So yeah.

Brian:    So you can certainly be successful today. And if we string enough today’s together. Now you’ve been successful for a week. Now let’s start stringing days together, so we can hit week two, three and then four.

Lupe:     And at the end of 28 days, evaluate your results.

Brian:    How do you feel? Do you feel better now than you did 29 days ago?

Lupe:     Did you spend more or less money on the food that you bought?

Brian:    One thing that really amazed me was how much less waste we produced going out to the trash. So make that a measurement. Are you producing less waste for the landfill?

Lupe:     Because you are not buying those boxes of cereal, you know the bag of chips, the Oreos, that we’re not getting by the way. So yeah.

Brian:    How convenient was it? Obviously in the beginning it’s not going to be as convenient, as it will be week two. Week three is going to be more convenient because we’re going to learn what we like, what we don’t like, how to meal plan and prep.

Brian:    So there’s a learning curve in the beginning. You know, one of the biggest things I remember Googling is “ill in the blank” vegetarian? And then it’s not, okay. What are alternatives to blank? Once you kind of learned some of these staples, for example, I’d never eaten Quiana or couscous until we did our initial challenge about a year ago. Now we eat more quinoa then we do rice.

Lupe:     It’s actually, I believe it’s healthier for you and it’s really good.

Brian:    It is. And it’s easy to cook. You cook it just like rice. It takes about the same amount of time. It’s simple and we eat it cold in salads. We eat it hot. It’s a great food to have.

Lupe:     And it’s filling.

Brian:    And it’s filling.

Lupe:     Is it something that would be worthwhile adopting long term?

Brian:    And again, we’re not trying to convert anybody to vegetarianism, but I think if you give it a try and you feel healthier and the end result is, well, instead of eating meat two or three times a day, what if I have one meat dish a day? That way you’re going to get a lot of the benefits of vegetarianism. However you’re still going to be able to satisfy your crave for that meat.

Lupe:     Try it for three days. Try it for a week. You know, if it works out for you, go longer and longer until you hit the 28 days with us

Brian:    And then one of the biggest things I noticed was weight loss. I believe in those 93 days. I lost about 20 pounds. And one thing we haven’t mentioned yet, the first few days of this plan, large salads. Plan getting a lot of food into you and it’ll kind of tailor off.

Brian:    But one of the challenges for me was my increased activity level. While I was changing my diet over. So I would supplement that with some protein shakes and protein bars and things of that nature, but that was hard for me to work out. Increasing my hydration, those first few days helped with that. But you know, keep that in mind too. If you’re on a pretty extreme exercise regiment, um, and you change your diet like this, I shouldn’t say you’re going to, you may feel funky for a days.

Lupe:     Also Googling recipes is an option. Also, you can go to Barnes and Noble, if you had a Barnes and Noble close to you. And you could go to the clearance section or marked down, Bargain section, that’s what they call it, the bargain section. And you could find recipe books for, I’m going to say $5. Because we have about, I’m going to say maybe 10, 15 books on vegetarian and they were under $5. So we recommend that.

Brian:    And one other cool thing I just found, if you have a Nook by Amazon, there are a ton of free cookbooks and vegetarian cookbooks for the Nook. If you’re an owner, we are not. So we don’t have them, but.

Lupe:     I have a Kindle and it’s black and white, so that doesn’t help.

Brian:    None of the food looks good on the kindle.

Lupe:     Correct. And on that note about color, be sure that when you, well for me, I’m a visual person, so the recipe books that I buy, I like them to have pictures because I want to know what it’s going to look like, you know, not just a list of 20 ingredients.

Brian:    You know and on that same note, when you’re putting your foods together, add color, it’s visually stimulating. And they say, the experts say ,Americans eat with their eyes. So if you have a bed of greens, spinach with green kale and maybe some green microgreens, throw some red bell pepper that. No green bell pepper, you’ve got enough green on your plate, throw some red bell pepper on that, maybe a little radish. So you have, you know that pinkish red edge with the white center, but color, throw some color on your plate.

Lupe:     It’s visually stimulating.

Brian:    Visually pleasing.

Lupe:     Changing any habit tends to be challenging, but a vegetarian diet may be worth considering for many people, especially for those with an autoimmune such as Sjogren’s.

Lupe:     Give yourself the gift of experimenting for 28 days with vegetarianism. You will never know if it’ll work for you unless you give it a fair chance. If you decide to take this journey with us, take it one day at a time and you will succeed. Good luck.

Brian:    And as always, we’re going to be discussing the goods, the bad in the Facebook group, Living Sjogren’s Strong. So if you’re not a member of the group, just go over and click join and within, I don’t know, a day or so Lupe and I, we go through a new members and we will welcome you to the group.

Brian:    And we can share images and what’s working, what’s not working with each other, and encourage each other there.

Lupe:     And be sure to like us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And if you would be so kind as to give us a review on your favorite podcast player.

Brian:    We definitely appreciate that. Until next time –

Lupe:     Sip constantly and stay hydrated.

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