Thoughts Halfway through the Vegetarian (Not-Quite) Whole30

It’s January 15th, which means I am now at the halfway point in my Vegetarian (not-quite) Whole30 experiment. I figure it must be time for an update on how it’s all going. As a quick reminder, here are some notes about how I’m approaching the vegetarian take on Whole30:

I am avoiding all:

  • alcohol
  • added sugar/sweetener
  • dairy
  • bread/flour/most grains

I am mostly eating:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • some nuts
  • organic tofu, tempeh, and edamame
  • some beans

My modifications that render this the “not-quite” Whole30:

  • I am not “properly preparing” my beans according to Whole30 standards, which would involve…fermenting, or something? Nope.
  • I am allowing myself certain whole grains if desired, though I haven’t had any yet. (Quinoa, brown rice, oats?)
  • I am adding store-bought almond milk to my coffee — Silk Organic doesn’t have any forbidden ingredients, but some folks say you still have to make your own almond milk if you want to use it. Add “making my own almond milk” and “fermenting beans” to the list of things I’m not willing to bother with!
  • They say not to step on a scale all month. I honestly don’t care about this rule. I will weigh in whenever I please, and I do so weekly. I have lost weight — I’ll report more on that at the end of the month, though, when we see how it all shakes out.


So, how is it going? Well, it’s fine, really. For the most part. Eating whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, avoiding dairy — these are all things I know very well how to do already (thank you, years of veganism!). In fact, with the exception of grains, this is how I normally would be eating, as far as meals go. (I mean “meals” as in “not dessert” and “not booze,” you know?) A lot of the meals I’ve been preparing are things that already had a pretty frequent presence in my rotation.

[135/366] Oeuf [Faux] Sous-Vide


  • Breakfasts: fruit smoothie with hemp protein powder, or some variety of eggs with vegetables (scrambled with tomato, spinach, and mushroom, fried over a pile of kale, etc.)
  • Lunches: big salad with tofu/tempeh or a poached egg on top, fruit/vegetables and nuts, smoothie, snack plate of all sorts of little fruit/veg/nut/pickle/edamame-type items
  • Dinners: endless combinations of roasted or grilled vegetables, greens, tofu/tempeh, salad, baked sweet potato, etc; lettuce wraps with homemade salsa, avocado, and tempeh; I’m going to try a stuffed acorn squash soon…

Sesame Ginger Tofu

Granted, this was NOT how I’d been eating during November and December, when pie, cookies, cheese, crackers, wine, beer, chips, nog, and all kinds of candy made their way into my diet. It feels really good to move away from the holiday junk food extravaganza and back toward something that feels more normal.

Fancy Spinach

All that being said, I am finding myself faced with some challenges. I’m really missing being able to wind down after a long day with a glass of wine, or being able to share a pitcher of beer (or a few!) with my friends when we go bowling. CW and I went out to Mellow Mushroom for dinner last weekend, which I chose because they have the awesome build-your-own salad option with almost any vegetable you can name, plus tofu or tempeh available as proteins. It’s a great choice for vegans and Whole30 participants, right? Well, sure. If you can stand being surrounded by the aroma of baking pizzas, all crusty and cheesy and yeasty and delicious. Not to mention the dozens of beers on tap — all your favorite brews! — and wines by the glass and the pretzels and bruscetta and garlic knots and all the other items you can’t partake in. My salad was excellent, to be sure, but it was also torture.

It’s nice to know I can get through situations like that without giving in to temptation, but it can be a little exhausting when one small part of your brain is whispering over and over, “What would it hurt to order just one glass of wine? Try just a bite of the crust; no worries!” and another small part of your brain is busy trying to squish those thoughts in their tracks. It only leaves a little bit of brain left to carry on witty dinner conversation, you know?

I am missing sweets a bit, too, but I am finding that I’m able to compensate for my after-dinner treat by having another serving of fruit or something. This is going a little easier than predicted, I think. I will admit, however, to eyeing the chocolate croissants here at this coffee shop with a longing glance that might have made the counter guy a little uncomfortable. That’s his problem, though, am I right?

As far as how I’m feeling physically, well…pretty unremarkably normal. The icky results of eating too much dairy and sweets over the holidays faded quickly. As far as my workouts go, though, I’ve been having some difficult runs lately. I’ve often felt that my effort wasn’t translating to pace appropriately — I’d feel as if I was really gunning it and working hard, but look down at my Garmin to see what should be an “easy” pace for me. I ran in a slightly hilly neighborhood on Saturday morning before yoga class and my legs have never felt so fatigued. The Quad Squad did NOT report for duty! Let’s not even talk about how painful it was to try to hold warrior 2 pose in class after that, sweet fancy Moses.

Is muscle fatigue like that normal? I don’t know, and I don’t like it. It may be that I was pretty lax about my PT (or any strength training at all) throughout December. Or it may be that I’m not eating grains. I’ll pay attention to this aspect of my workouts more closely for the rest of the month and see what, if anything, changes.

And this, readers, has been your Vegetarian (Not-Quite) Whole30 Midpoint Report. More than you ever wanted to know about what I’m (not) eating. Hit me up if you have any tips, advice, or questions!


  1. What I want to know is what all is in that pretty green smoothie? I’m back to the liquid diet (TMJ related, not for weight loss, although I suspect that will probably happen anyway), and am desperately trying to keep mixing it up so I don’t get bored with my same three (very good for me and delicious) smoothies over and over.


    1. Sorry to hear you are back on the liquid diet again! I hope your jaw starts acting right soon.

      Soo, that smoothie pic is actually an older one unearthed from flickr for the purpose of this post. It’s (probably, I think) my standard green smoothie: 1 frozen banana, 1 cup soy or almond milk, big handful of fresh spinach.

      My basic rules for smoothies always include those three things (banana, non-dairy milk, greens). The frozen banana makes it really thick and creamy and “frozen-ish” without ice. Freeze them, peeled, when they’re a little over-ripe for extra sweetness.

      To change it up, I add in any combination of the following optional add-ins: other frozen fruits (berries, mangoes, peaches…?), protein powder, nut butter.

      Good luck with the liquids!


  2. Oof, I would have had the same reaction at Magic Mushroom if I couldn’t have pizza. I could probably deal with not eating dairy by ordering a vegan pizza (I love vegan pizza!), but no pizza at all? Sad trombone!

    Also, I had the same experience with giving up grains when I did it for a week. It’s not as hard as you think it will be, which is a very odd thing for vegetarians to say! But you get used to filling in the grain space with other good food, and you are just fine. I found a grain-free diet to be very satiating but with less tummy stuffing (or bloating, I suppose you could say, but I feel like that’s too strong of a word).

    Thanks for the update, m’dear!


  3. As far as I remember from the Meat-&-Vodka diet, muscle fatigue IS normal. I remember the couple times I went full on Atkins, my arms ached for days, like my bicips and triceps. And I felt…weak, not in general, but like in my arms particularly. If I recall, that lasted maybe 2-3 weeks. I admire your discipline with alcohol especially. I couldn’t do that right now. But I’m thinking about a cleanse after my birthday, for which I am, of course, going to blow it out.
    Also, y’all come visit next month? Eh?


    1. Ah, the good old Steak-&-Vodka diet. Sigh. At least with that diet, WE COULD STILL HAVE VODKA.

      CW was just asking me today if I was planning on a 3-month bender for after the Whole30, and I was like, “well, probably not….”

      Anyway, thanks for your perspective on the muscle-weakness thing. It’s been bugging me!


  4. That’s so funny you suggested Mellow Mushroom. I had to go out to eat last week and the 2 appealing options were MM & Ruth Chris steakhouse. I did NOT go to MM because I didn’t want the torture! You’re so brave.

    As for the fatigue, during Whole30, some of that is normal while you’re switching to burning more fats. The glaring thing I see in your list of foods, is the absence of fats. Are you using good oils, sautéing in loads of coconut oil and/or ghee? Make avocados your friend. When you think you have ‘just enough’ oil in whatever you’re cooking, add more. I’ve found it helps tremendously.

    It DOES feel great to be eating normal, real food again and not holiday junk.


    1. Thanks for the advice, Haley! I have been cooking everything in either coconut or olive oil (I don’t use ghee because I’m trying to limit my animal products to just eggs). I’ve also been eating plenty of avocado and nuts. I think it couldn’t hurt to add a little more of that, though. I tend to try to cook with just the minimum amount of oil needed, which is probably a habit from my weight-loss and calorie-tracking years. I’ll be a little more liberal with my fats and see if it helps!.


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