Before a mandatory high school viewing of Food, Inc., I placed plant-based eating somewhere between meditation and acupuncture on the list of woo-woo practices that would never land a spot in my wellness rotation. But by the time the final credits rolled, I was a total convert. You know the evangelist type who preaches about the difference between organic and GMO kale to anyone who will listen? Yeah, that was me.
Nowadays, I’m a devotee of mostly vegetarian eating. (As well as mindfulness and acupuncture—never say never, right?) Meat has been nixed from my diet entirely, but I still tend to eat eggs and cheese at least a few times a week. When it comes to chatting about my diet, though, I now respond to the always-dreaded question of “Why?,” with a noncommittal “For the environment.” Because, really, who wants to listen to a long-winded recap of one of Netflix’s many anti-meat documentaries? (Which, admittedly, I consume in my free time like vegan “hot dogs”.)
Thus, when I was given the opportunity to try trendy meal-delivery service Sakara Life’s brand-spanking-new, 10-Day Reset—an essentials kit of their best pantry products and recipes for cooking your own organic, all-plant dishes—I hoped that the company’s newest offering would break me out of my routine and give me a fresh take on plant-based eating. Or, at least, equip me with a more thoughtful answer as to why I’ve ditched meat as a meal option that doesn’t start with, “Have you seen Cowspiracy?”
Luckily, Danielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle, cofounders of Sakara, say that taking a second look at your eating patterns is exactly what the reset is all about.
“I’m doing the 10-day reset right now and it’s helping me revisit some of my habits that I didn’t even realize I have,” says Tingle, who found plant-based eating at the tail end of her time at a trying Wall Street job. “It’s making me reset those habits into ones that are healthier for me—ones that help me get back to hydrating and remineralizing my body first thing, making sure I take my probiotic every day, and being mindful of what I’m putting into my body.” As if I weren’t already excited enough to hit the reset button.
Scroll down for all the details about Sakara Life’s new 10-Day Reset—and the three key changes I noticed when following the program.
Photo: Sakara Life
How does Sakara’s 10-Day Reset work?
Good news for those who cringe at the price of Sakara’s signature meal delivery service: At $195, the 10-Day Reset is about half the price of a week of prepared Sakara food. The kit comes with a small book of recipes and 10 to 12 days worth of the company’s cult-favorite water drops, supercharged protein bars, detox teas, daily probiotics, and its latest offering—plant-based protein powder. So once you’ve planned out your recipes and purchased the ingredients, you’re all set. “This way, we’re still your nutritionist—we’re just not your personal chef,” says Duboise.
If you’re buying every single item on the ingredient list, your grocery store haul will probably come to around $200, including pantry staples like extra-virgin olive oil, speciality items like rice vinegar, and all the fresh fruit and veggies you can fit in your fridge. (And if you already have some of these things in your pantry, it’ll be considerably less.) While every morning begins with the same super-tasty green smoothie, the rest of the plan is far from uniform. Each veggie-adorned dish is more creative than the last—from rainbow summer rolls with sweet chili sauce to pulled butternut squash tacos.
When I woke up each morning, I sipped my normal cup of coffee with the brand’s Life Source smoothie. I made an original Sakara recipe once a day for either lunch or dinner, then free-styled according to Sakara’s 9 Pillars of Nutrition—which include integrating good fats, eating your water, and listening to your body—for the other meal of the day.
And the best part? The recipes are simple. Aside from a few more involved choices like caulicrust pizza (which took me about an hour-and-a-half to make), most of my meals were on the table in 30 minutes or less. As I’d soon find out, that time in the kitchen would be well worth it.
Photo: Unsplash/Brooke Cagle
I felt more focused and creative than I had in weeks.
Raise your hand if, come 3pm, you’re sluggish, yawning, and already reaching into the office snack drawer. While normally I would say, “Yeah, same,” my week on Sakara’s menu gave me a nootropic-like burst of energy and focus.
Maybe it was because of the influx of nutrients or Sakara’s Daily Probiotic Blend—which packs prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and a diverse array of probiotic strains—but my brain felt nourished. While I’m sure I could attribute my newfound concentration to a plethora of factors, a deep dive into the Well+Good archive pointed me in the direction of lutein: A nutrient known for keeping your brain in tip-top shape. Foods rich in lutein include spinach and avocado—both of which I consumed in large quantities throughout the 10 days.
Plus, since our brains and guts are directly connected by the nerves that line the intestines, it stands to reason that my brain was just really digging my newly renovated microbiome.
Photo: Stocksy/Javier Díez
My workouts were extra challenging
While I felt on point when I was plugging away at my computer, my morning runs were a different story. Normally, I head out the door sans fuel and can eke out four or five miles without issue. But that wasn’t the case while I was on the 10-Day Reset. On my second day, mile two felt like I’d run a legit marathon. I stopped for a second to regroup, then started my super slow jog back to my apartment. Ugh.
When I asked Duboise and Tingle if my loss of energy was normal after switching over to a 100 percent plant-based nutrition plan, they assured me that it’s to be expected. “This is a very, very clean way of eating, so sometimes it can give you detox symptoms like fatigue or breakouts for the first few days,” explains Duboise. “It can definitely be a part of why you felt more tired—your body’s going into a deep healing mode.”
Honestly, their advice made perfect sense to me. Even though I’m used to vegetable and fruit-forward meals, my snack choices are, er, less than clean. (Chocolate-covered pretzels, anyone?). So the idea that my body was adapting to a processed food-free reality rang true. As I continued on with my all veggies, all the time style of eating, I made a pact with myself to be patient—and to take this as an opportunity to dive deeper into my yoga practice.
Photo: Stocksy/Kate Mary
My skin did the unthinkable… and decided to glow
Anyone suffering from adult acne knows that when you find a solution that actually works for you, you run with it. Which is why, when my acne began to dissipate on day three of the reset, I almost broke out into a one-woman chorus of Hallelujahs! Not only was my skin clear of pimples, it actually began to glow.
For this serendipitous benefit, I decided to thank Sakara’s Beauty Water—a refreshing combination of 72 trace minerals, silica, and rose. (Which, BTW, tastes just as ethereal as rose water smells.) “Silica is extra-beautifying, and rose helps to calm the adrenals and reduce stress,” explains Tingle, who also battled acne before landing on the Sakara way of eating.
Tingle suspects my clear skin was also linked with—you guessed it!—my gut. “A living, breathing ecosystem lives inside of your body,” she says. “The good bacteria thrive on plant fiber.”
Not only was I eating extra servings of the veggies I normally eat, like spinach, onions, and brussels sprouts, but I was also beginning to integrate undiscovered foods into each meal. On day five, for example, I cooked with with tahini for the very first time, whipping up a trio of mouth-watering kale fritters that took me less than 20 minutes from prep to plate. Another night, I made zucchini linguine with walnut vinaigrette for a friend and myself—and we literally fought over who would get seconds.
As I tried one new recipe after the other, my skin just kept looking better and better. And I couldn’t help but wonder if my newfound confidence in my outward appearance was actually playing into my productivity and happiness at work as well.
Photo: Sakara Life
What my plant-based life looks like now
Shortly after the 10-Day Reset drew to a close, I headed to my hometown of Charleston, SC, for a weekend with my family. Though I did my best to avoid dairy—a food group that notoriously sparks breakouts for me—I did indulge in my fair share of vegan cookies. And okay, okay—I also had a couple slices of pizza with real cheese.
The response in my body was immediate. I felt fatigued and a new crop of pimples made themselves at home on my chin. To add insult to injury, my hormones felt totally out of whack. (Not ideal when you’re spending time with your ‘rents).
So, as soon as I landed back in New York, I made my weekly trek to Trader Joe’s with a vegetable, fruit, and nut-centric shopping list. And as I moved from aisle to aisle, I realized that my intentions for skipping the meat, dairy, and processed food section no longer solely revolved around the environmental and ethical impact of stocking up on each of those foods.
Now, my own health and well-being fit into the larger picture as well. And that’s pretty freaking cool.
Read more: wellandgood.com