Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I just completed the my six weeks of vegan detox described in a previous post. It has been an enjoyable and enlightening experience. I've lost 11 kg or so, mostly in the first two weeks. My blood levels including a high uric acid level and y-GTP have gone back to "normal". Per my previous post, my cholesterol is a bit "too low" according to my physician and I am in the process of investigating my response to this.

I'm fairly convinced that this diet is really good for me and that it is much more feasible than I anticipated. I am going to continue being a fairly strict vegan, but allow myself to have meat or fish based flavors and possibly small pieces of meat or fish when it is unavoidably integral to an otherwise vegan meal. I am going to keep my oil intake to a minimum and avoid fried foods or dressings and other sauces with lots of oils. I will minimize salt intake, which is fairly difficult in Japan. I will avoid un-whole starches like white rice and pastas. I will stay away from sugars like sodas and sweets. I will avoid dairy and eggs. I will possibly drink a glass of wine during a meal or as a toast.

In other words, I am going to experiment with a slightly flexible diet to see if cravings start or if my body rejects certain foods. If it turns out that flexibility and moderation don't work, I will reconsider and possibly try a strict diet again.

I will continue to exercise and expand my activities beyond swimming.

I'm going to India tomorrow for a few days and look forward to lots of wonderful vegan meals. ;-)

Thanks again to everyone who supported me though this process.


Ok...sold. Just ordered the book from Amazon. You have any good cook book recommendations / recipes to share?


from someone who is a former vegan of a year or so, i want to say congratulations. i would like to return to it at some point and probably will next year, as well. good job.

Stay away from Pasta? You are a stronger man than I my friend. One thing I will warn you about is that your body has to "learn" how to digest meat. Once you stop eating it for a while (not really a set time - different for each person) your stomach stops producing the acids to digest meat and when you try to eat it after that, your digestive tract will let you know it's not so psyched about that idea. Meaning it's easier on you to either stop all together, or keep eating a little bit all the time - the off and on is harder to process.

Yeah... We'll see how long the "no pasta" thing works...

I guess off/on meats will provide the thrill of indigestion. ;-)

Thanks for the tip.

Scott, I'm thinking of making a collection of recipes. Not sure whether to use a wiki or a recipe service. Anyone have any suggestions? Maybe I'll make a post after I've gathered some recipes.

From a former Vegan / Vegetarian of 13+ years and who still is more pescatarian than anything else, i'm glad that you discovered what it is to go with eating meat 3 times a day 7 days a week.

I'll agree with Sean that if you ahve been off meat for a while, take it easy on the way back up. It took me nearly 2 ~ 3 months to be able to eat meat again without being sick or having an upset stomach. Even eating ramen was difficult due to the high level of animal fat in the soup.

White rice is so evil but genmae / wild rice is so eay to find here in Japan and so much better for you. For pasta, make your own or go for the quality brands that come from Italy. There is nothing wrong with pasta once a week.

One of the best books I ever started with was "The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook - Rachel Carter" but if you really want to know your food then get "What Food Is That? And How Healthy Is It - Jo Rogers" if you can still find it.

But good to see that you actually feel better eating a whole balanced diet.

Have you read a book called "The Okinawa Way" or heard of the Okinawan diet? Its not vegan (in fact, its got me eating more meat than I have done in years) but it does discuss low salt and low saturated fats in a diet that is native to Okinawa. Basically focuses on cooking with Canadian canola oil and without adding salt.

it would also be interesting to hear if/how your eating patterns have changed over the six weeks. do you eat more frequently, but less? do you eat more/less for breakfast/dinner?

Hey Joi ..

1. Where in India? If you're anywhere near Madras (aka Chennai) - anytime before the 27th afternoon or after Feb 3 at least - look me up :)

2. I hate to break this to you but you're not going to get "vegan" food in India

a. White rice

b. Lots of oil, butter (or "ghee" / melted and clarified butter) used in the cooking - its supposed to be healthy for you

c. Spices.

@Suresh: White rice, spices not vegan?

@Joi: For me personally, a strictly vegan diet works best. Remaining strict encourages those around me to respect my veganism, and it liberates me from concerns such as "have I eaten X non-vegan item too much recently?" Being strict -- again, for me -- feels clean and simple.

I'll be interested to hear more about your experiences with moderation and flexibility.

Hi Mark - white rice - joi said he didnt want it. Well if he orders a rice dish that's what he'll get. And vegan = no dairy, at least per Joi's diet. Just about every dish in India (meat or non meat) has some dairy product used during at least one stage of the cooking.

So if you're ok with dairy, and white rice - enjoy yourself. But you'll find that Indian food is actually quite fattening. I've lost more weight eating bread, lean meat etc than that I've gained on Indian vegetarian diets, funnily enough

I haven't read any of the books mentioned. Thanks. I'll check them out.

Vincent, my digestion and sleep have gotten much more regular and healthy so I find I'm eating three meals. Fruits for breakfast, big salad for lunch and big salad and soup for dinner. I eat the most during lunch. I find that with my current diet I don't get the tired feeling after the meal that I used to get so eating a big lunch doesn't make me sleepy anymore. I used to avoid big lunches in order to avoid the afternoon tired spells.

Suresh, I'm justing going to be in Mumbai for a few days...

I've asked the organizers of the conference to beware of my diet. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. Are there any whole wheat or whole rice dishes in India? I guess dairy is hard to avoid. Hmm...

whole wheat - rotis / chapatis / naan bread etc. lots of it. and the best thing you might take would be "dal" (lentils boiled with turmeric powder, salt, spices etc ..)

mumbai is like 2 hours by air from where I am.

excellent job. big congratulations. wish I could go all the way, but my body could never stand it.

I don't do vegan, but have given up softdrinks, salt, sugar, processed foods, and only have organic meat and veggies and pastas where possible. But Toronto's good for this compared to other cities I've heard. For pasta you can get organic brown rice pasta or kamut pasta. It is tough to cook, but still if the craving is there. Most of the stuff we get comes from california anyway. I'm a big fan of wine, but if you want to max the value go for Madrian wines with 100% Tannat grape, according to some report I blogged about a couple weeks back, it is a fantastic % more of Resveratrol [] than anything else on the planet.

The one weakness is black pepper and lime potato chips 1-2x a month. I guess it is the salt, but I'm trying to stop that. :(

Joi, check out this article on the vegan punk chef Isa Moskowitz. Kinda seems your style :)

Congrats! Reminds me of my 2 months of macrobiotic diet I did when I was a student. I never ever had more energy and ate smaller amounts of food, which, btw, took ages to prepare (2-3 hours!).
I stumbled accross a book 'Art of Just Cooking' by Lima Oshawa, wife of George Oshawa and then Michio Kushi - They are known as founders of macrobiotic cooking, but really for reviving macrobiotic secrets that were developed thousand years back in China.

Hey Joi - a quick note to say hi, very pleased to see your doing well!

All best,

Congratulations on your incredible accomplishment! Changing the way you eat/live is quite a feat. Keep going!

Congratulations Joi.

On the moderation thing - you've inspired us to try some modifications in our diet which are not as strict as yours. Because of the kids, certain things are more difficult, like cutting out carbs and sodium, but we've been trying a lot harder to make fruits and veggies more central to our diet and I've cut out alcohol.

So I've been eating meals that are low in carbs and high in veggie and fruit, and have cut down on sodium and oil but not eliminated then. We eat small amounts of fish and meat, like I'll make chicken vegetable soup, stir fries or curry with a little chicken, or a veggie centered nabe with some turkey meatballs in it. I find that as long as I am consuming a large volume of fruits and veggies, many of the benefits that you've described still hold - high energy throughout the day, good sleep, and few cravings.

Been following your vegan experiment lately with interest - and I was curious, if you or anyone else reading could answer for me: have you found eating an all whole foods or all vegan diet to be more expensive, and if so, by a large amount?

It sounds silly, but not having enough time and money (with two kids under 4 running about) has been a huge reason why I haven't attempted a diet like this myself.

I think that groceries can be slightly more expensive if you go all out on high quality organic stuff. But it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than I pampered myself to get into this diet.

Overall, I've been spending a lot less money because I don't go out to fancy dinners that involve expensive wines and feasts. I think vegetarian restaurants tend not to be as over-the-top as some of the carnivorous ones.

I do think that my overall cost will go done some more when I start growing my own veggies this year. Which reminds me... I need to start planning it.

Joi, I've been vegetarian for decades. When I lived in Japan, it was actually easier and pleasurable. Here in the Netherlands, they assume that vegetarian means egss and cheese, so you have to be very clear to define vegetarian in difficerent cultures. I eat no meat, no eggs, no dairy products...sort of macrobiotic.

Now I have added fresh fish to my diet. My body tells me what to eat - and it tells me what it definitely does not like to eat. The longer you stay pure, the better you'll feel, and the less likely you'll eat food that makes you feel bad because you will feel it immediately.

The most difficult part is when traveling and eating in fancy restaurants. I have found that if I ask the kitchen to pay attention to my "health requirements" then they are more likely to accommodate than if they just think you're vegetarian.

By the way, I also do Ashtanga yoga. The combination of yoga and eating this way keeps me feeling delicious.

Good to see that you came through India without a gastronomic mishap. I'm from a non-meat eating background, but had been the carnivore way for a good many years. I just gave up meat, and I feel just fine. Vegetarian food feels PURE and wonderful.

Another benefit for all your aging female readers: I've found a vegan diet competely stops menopausal symptoms! no more hot flashes, nightmares, headaches, mood swings. Good for you for doing the experiment, which I followed with some interest. I went vegan 4 years ago when life seemed unbearable. I had no energy, no sense of joy, could hardly funtion. It was a shock after being a high-energy, adventurous person! Eliminating all animal food meant I dropped all post-college pounds (20), got my energy and life back.

I'm a non-religious vegan: not choice, but this seems to have taken the place of drugs and hormones. It works for me!

I've seen a large connection to health and diet in the past. According to some research individuals who are incarcerated in jails wind up with better moods when kept on a strict diet then revert back to their old ways once allowed to continue eating junk food. I'm very impressed that you have been able to switch over to a strict vegan diet. I've found that a good source of protein is cashews, its always been one of my favorites. I'm sure both your mind and body are thanking you for taking this step toward a better healthier you.