Informational Articles

What I Learned from Trying the Taco Cleanse—a.k.a. the Best Non-Diet Ever

Taco Cleanse

A cleanse that includes margaritas? Yes, please.

Let’s start by getting this out of the way: “Cleanses are the fucking worst. They’re socially acceptable starvation disguised as health and that is the fucking worst.”

Now that you’ve read the first two sentences from The Taco Cleanse, the cheeky new vegan taco cookbook taking the Internet by storm, let’s regroup.

The Taco Cleanse was developed by four Austin-based vegans and self-proclaimed “taco scientists.” While the authors did eat nothing but tacos, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert for a whole month, that’s not really what the taco cleanse is all about. They wanted to poke fun at today’s diet culture while also offering up 75 really delicious vegan taco recipes. “We can become so obsessed with cleansing and ‘perfect’ diets that we develop eating disorders or at least spend an unnecessary amount of our lives worrying about filling our diets with righteousness,” says Stephanie Bogdanich, one of the book’s authors.

Conveniently, studies have found a whole bunch of health benefits to eating a vegan diet, from weight loss to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and a lower risk of heart disease—so should you decide to partake in this faux “cleanse,” you might actually finish feeling better than ever.

When I heard about this non-cleanse cleanse that would let me drink beer and margaritas (!!!) and play around with some fun vegan recipes, I was sold. The rules: According to the book, If It Fills Your Taco (#IIFYT), it’s fair game, and if you’re hungry, then you’re not eating enough tacos. (But really, there are no rules, it’s all about encouraging people to enjoyvegan tacos!)

Here’s what I learned after five days, 20-something tacos, one really messy kitchen, and way too many sarcastic taco jokes.

The Taco Cleanse, Tested
The last time I tried a cleanse, it, predictably, didn’t change my life at all. Instead, after only two days I was really sick of juice, insanely hungry, and felt like I might shit my pants on the way to yoga. (Did I? Didn’t I?)

1. Eating large amounts of wheat can be good for you.
While stocking up on ingredients for “Tolerant Bulgur Chorizo” taco filling, I ventured deep into the health food section of my local grocery store. I found wheat bulgur conveniently located next to a package of straight-up gluten that would make the Whole30 crowd weep.

Bulgur is full of insoluble fiber, which is beneficial for digestion and is also high in manganese and magnesium, both essential for calcium absorption and overall health, Bogdanich says. If you hadn’t guessed, The Taco Cleanse eschews the gluten-free trend (unless you have an actual disease that prevents you from eating it).

“Food scares go in cycles,” says Bogdanich. “I’m sure in another 10 years everyone will have forgotten about the gluten-free era and we will all be worried about coffee or the color purple or something.”

2. High-fiber diets are good for catching ZZZs.
As a freelance writer, I’ve covered just about every imaginable sleep trickout there—and I’m still really bad at getting shut-eye. Normally, my Sleep Cycle graphs look like an epic roller coaster design, but after just one day of a vegan taco diet I noticed a slight improvement in my sleep quality. It might have been all the extra fiber I was eating: A recent study in theJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that diets low in fiber and high in saturated fats (such as meat, butter, and cheese) were associated with lighter, less restorative, and more disrupted sleep.

Or it could have just been the results of going to bed with a super-satisfied belly full o’ tacos…

3. Vegan meal prep takes forever (but that’s a good thing).
Between chopping tons of veggies, making cashew cheese sauce and salsa verde, and simmering taco fillings, most of these recipes are no joke. After spending so much time prepping my meals, gobbling them down in two seconds flat just seemed straight up wrong. Instead, I took time to appreciate the different flavor combos and slowed down (and OK, snapped some Instagram pics, too).

Yup, I’d stumbled upon the art of eating mindfully—a habit I hope to maintain in my post-taco life: Research shows that it can have positive impacts on weight and eating behaviors.

4. Tacos make you happy.
The taco cleanse probably won’t make you lose much weight, reach a new level of enlightenment, or detox your (ahem, already non-toxic) body. But eating nothing but tacos and trying to explain to people why you are eating nothing but tacos is a pretty good time.

“We are believers that eating tacos makes you happy, and mental health is just as important, if not more so, than physical health,” Bogdanich says. #Preach.

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