I want to talk about what happened when I tried out sproutarianism for a three day weekend. It was a very interesting experience and I thought it might be useful to write it up for anyone who is considering sproutarianism or becoming a sprouter so they can see what it’s like when you first start it. I only did it for three days, and would like it if any sproutarians could come forward and share their experiences for comparison. I normally eat a vegan diet, and have bipolar disorder, so these may have affected the results. From meat eating, you might struggle with the transition straight to sprouting because it will be vastly different to what you normally eat.
Before the experiment – Preparation and Planning:
So I found some cool sprout products in Tesco, and I’d already bought a packet of alfalfa seeds to sprout a couple of months ago, so I thought, since I’ve got nothing better to do this weekend, I would eat like a Sproutarian for a couple of days and see how I felt afterwards.
I’ve had positive experiences with eating things that are still living – for example, cress, straight from the packet, where it’s still in its soil (I accidentally bought some from Waitrose this time and didn’t realise it didn’t have soil in the bottom because it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t). Morrissons does good soily cress.
Why would I do this? Because I wanted to find out whether eating something as close to the time that it had a life force inside it would make a difference to how good it was. Like killing and eating my own cow, only with plants. I do think there are ethical considerations.
Anyway, given that Tesco had pre-sprouted sprouts that they claimed were ready to eat, I bought a couple of packets as the thing that struck me the most while I was researching all those unusual vegan diets in December, was that I didn’t eat ANY sprouted seeds in my diet whatsoever. And there were people in the world who subsisted entirely on them. In the conclusion of my article on Sproutarianism, I remarked that there wasn’t enough information on it and that I might have to try it just to see what it was like.
On the Friday, I realised that this was going to be a very narrow view of Sproutarianism and not in keeping with the ideology of it, because it isn’t really something you can buy (although it’s great that Tesco does a Sproutarian option for when you’re out and about) and it’s all about detaching yourself from the System and living off the land. Or living off the jar of water and seeds. So I decided to extend the experiment over a three day weekend and started growing my alfalfa seeds (which came from a gardening store such as Homebase or B&Q) on Friday morning. I got some soily sprouted cress from Morrissons as well, for a bit of variety.
Here’s what I ate:
So I informed my husband, who let me get on with it, and I didn’t really plan my meals, but I had half a pack of the Tesco sprouts for lunch on all three days, and ate vast quantities of the alfalfa and cress for dinner on Saturday and Sunday. Friday evening, I ate more of the Tesco sprouts along with some sunflower seeds that I thought I had sprouted in water but it turned out they had just gone soggy. I had no snacks.
Here’s how I grew the alfalfa:
1. I made a cone funnel out of kitchen towel to wash them in. Then I rinsed them and tried to put them in the glass.
2. I had a lot of trouble getting the seeds off the paper towel, then I accidentally put it down on something I wouldn’t want to eat, so I washed some more seeds.
3. The next lot came out of the paper towel easier, but there was still a scattering of wasted seeds.
4. I used a glass instead of a jar to soak them in as I don’t have a jar.
5. I covered them with water and left them on the windowsill for eight hours. I was doing it at 9:30am so they would be ready to start sprouting by 5:30pm.
6. It said on the instructions that after they had been soaked to transfer them into “a sprouter” but I don’t know what that is so I googled it.
7. Having found out what a sprouter is, I decided I could achieve the same goal by lining a sieve with kitchen roll and suspending it over a saucepan, covering it all with the pan lid. Because I don’t want to spend money on this venture. Obviously that leaves one of my saucepans out of action for three days but never mind.
8. I need to water them with a cup of water once a day, and they should have sprouted by day 4 (the packet said 7 days but the internet said 4 days). I had decided that if they were not done by Sunday, they were sadly going in the bin because I was going to the Highlands on Monday very early in the morning. Luckily, as you can see in the picture above, they were sprouted by Saturday in time for dinner.
In the meantime, I started chowing down on my already sprouted seeds. I was able to continue the experiment for all three days.
The pre-packaged sprouts: They definitely taste different to anything I’ve eaten before. Even now, I can clearly remember how they tasted although I couldn’t possibly describe it. Not sweet, sour, salty, bitter OR umami. I guess the only way to convey it would be to say it DIDN’T taste like the non-sprouted version of the same things, and it tasted potent, like there was a definite quality to the flavour that rosemary (the herb) has.
The alfalfa: It tasted like grass. Or cress.
The cress: It tasted like cress.
I’m not convinced that these meals represented a balanced diet but I wasn’t hungry between meals and it didn’t make me feel at all sick, so I can see people eating it for a while before the nutritional deficiencies set in. I think you would have to plan this diet very carefully to get all your nutrients, because, while my table of dietary information (using stats from the FDA about individual food sources) does value sproutarianism as higher than fruitarianism, it’s not taken into account how much variety that would give or how long it takes to grow those plants, or whether specific varieties are needed for sprouting (such as sunflower seeds). Another thing to take into account with sproutarianism is that you have to constantly be on top of sprouting because otherwise you literally will not have anything to eat. It took 2 days for the alfalfa seeds to be sprouted and I ate them pretty quickly. The quantity of seeds needed to do this safely is pretty high and you’d probably need a greenhouse and to spend at least an hour every day growing your sprouts just to eat enough volume of food.
I don’t think my weight vastly went up or down over the three days I was doing this, but I don’t own a pair of scales, so observations are limited to visual differences, and I would expect it to take longer to effect a change even if I’d eaten nothing at all for three days.
I was sproinging around all over the place. For the fact that I did this a few weeks ago when I was still not in an elevated mood, I can see that sprouted seeds would definitely send me into mania pretty quickly if I ate them regularly. All that stuff about potency that sproutarians talk about is true.
I was noticeably happy, calmer, didn’t have my usual anxiety and after a couple of days, was enjoying the universal interconnectedness of everything, man. It wasn’t quite like the time I tried an unusual substance, but for the fact this was coming from the diet not anything else, it’s certainly an unusual and unexpected side effect. I’m not sure this diet would enable you to be productive if you are gainfully employed.
I continued drinking tea because I get very confused and upset if I don’t get my morning tea. I also drank hot water because that’s my other drink of choice and ensures I get enough water every day.
Conclusion and Evaluation:
While it was enjoyable to include sprouts in my diet for a weekend, I was glad to get back to normal food on Monday. I really noticed a change in energy levels, though, and given that it was the weekend before I went to Scotland, slap bang in the middle of a long depressive phase, the pick-me-up was definitely welcome. The feelings were also enjoyable for the three days, and makes me wonder about the cause and effect of whether Psychonauts become Sproutarians, or whether Sproutarians become Psychonauts through their diet.
I would advise caution against this diet to people with either bipolar or psychosis, however, because you could end up with unwanted mania or unwanted psychosis over a longer period of time. I discontinued this diet when I went on my long road trip, and the mild psychotic symptoms (universal interconnectedness etc) went away before I even got in the car, but the slight elevation lasted another three days, sitting somewhat awkwardly on top of the depressive phase I was in at the time (I am very sorry if I’m not explaining this very well, I experience daily moods as a complete disconnect from the underlying elevation or depression that’s due to my bipolar).
I don’t think I would want this to be my daily way of life, and I haven’t actually sprouted any seeds to eat since then, but I would not be opposed to having an occasional sprig of sprouts, although I don’t want to eat enough for it to affect my mood again because I am working very hard on stabilizing it. Additionally, it’s worth noting that sunflower seeds have to be a special type to sprout in water. Mine were packet seeds (from a garden centre) not wholefood ones, and they did not sprout like they were supposed to. Quinoa also didn’t sprout the way it was alleged to do.
Has anyone else tried Sproutarianism and would like to share their persepective? If so, I would love to hear from you in the comments, so other people can learn more about this way of eating.
Note: I did this experiment 6 weeks ago, it’s just taken me a while to get round to writing it up.