I have always wanted to limit my amount of animal products for not only political reasons but for the claimed medical benefits as well, but was always afraid to start as I thought not eating certain foods would negatively affect my health somehow. (the 'your body needs x amount of protein' statements and I cannot eat soy)
Now after much reading, I'd like to start 'something' but not sure if what I want to do has a name ... or would benefit me as I hope it would ...
I'd like to stop eating red meat completely. I'm not sure though stopping red meat will make a big change to my body since we only eat it maybe 2 days per week ... thoughts?
I'd like to stop eating all dairy products BUT what about the concerns of needing x amounts of calcium?
Ideally I'd like to stop eating poultry completely and eat whole wheat pasta, veggies, fruits, etc. but afraid that will get very old very fast.
Does anyone have any tips on how to begin this lifestyle and your thoughts on perhaps my keeping a little chicken (maybe 2-3 days per week) in a diet and it's effect on health?
My main goal is to get healthy - lower cholesterol, lose weight and just feel better.
This is an interesting topic to explore -- I've been exploring this for a few decades now.
Rather than trying to confine yourself to a particular ideological foody-label, I would suggest that you think about how you would answer several questions, and, over time, find an approach to eating that suits you.
Yes, humans need protein, but there are several ways to get enough. One can get animal protein from meats, of course, and here one can choose from red meats (beef, lamb, pork) and white meats (usually poultry like chicken or turkey). Both are fine. Nowadays I use small quantities of meat mixed in with lots of veggies.
Eggs provide excellent protein, as does milk and cheese. Lacto-ovo vegetarians dont eat meat, but do eat eggs and/or milk products.
Folks who would rather not eat any animal products can get plenty of good quality protein from vegetable sources. Since vegetables are usually incomplete proteins, there are ways to combine foods so that all the necessary amino acids are available for the body to use. This usually means combining beans with complex grains, or beans with seeds or nuts. Examples might be: refried beans with corn tortillas, lentil soup with toasted seeds on a salad, peanut butter on whole grain toast. Nowadays the nutritional "wisdom" is that you don't actually have to consume these combinations in the same meal in order for the amino acids to complement each other, you just need to consume a variety over the course of a day.
I am not fond of soy beans either. There are lots of other legumes (beans) that are tastier and just as nutritious.
As for calcium, there are lots of veggies that have calcium, and if you are concerned that you aren't getting enough, you can use calcium-fortified orange juice or take a supplement. I have heard from some sources that people who don't eat any animal products need less calcium than those who do eat animal products. I don't know if this is true or not.
So, questions for you as you explore some changes to your diet:
Would you miss meat if you gave it up entirely? Would you be ok with only white meat? Would you be ok with using only small quantities of meat in dishes with lots of veggies and a tasty sauce? Would you like to experiment with learning to cook more vegetarian dishes? Would you miss eggs and/or milk and/or cheese if you gave them up entirely, or would you be willing to try eating less of them?
As for vegetarian dishes being boring, you only need to look at the cooking of other cultures to know that there are lots of ways to perk up plain foods. There are tasty veggies to mix in with the grains and beans and lentils. There are lots of spices and herbs and sauces that liven things up.
Would you be interested in taking a cooking class or two to learn more about cooking vegetarian? If you decide to look for a cookbook or two, I would recommend getting ethnic cookbooks, so that you can learn what other cultures do to perk up their dishes.
So -- what is important to you? Some people make their decisions entirely on ideology, and some make decisions for health reasons, and some for a mixture of reasons. Regardless of what you decide, you can make this culinary exploration a fun journey!
Last edited by rheanna; 09-30-2008 at 06:51 AM.
Thanks for your great reply. I did do some reading after my post and realized that what I want to do is really up to me and doesn't have to be as strict as I thought it had to be.
I did order some books which should help with much of what you suggested but I think I need to do a lot more reading before I start anything.
I know I can live without red meat but not sure how I'll do without poultry so I may stick with your idea of a little poultry with a lot of veggies to start and perhaps reduce the poultry as time goes on.
Thanks for your thoughts. I am glad I am not alone in this struggle
Just thought I'd put in my two cents. Where should I start? I've always been a big reader of health & nutrition books, trying to figure out how to avoid getting cancer because it runs in my family. Then (on another message board) someone recommended the following book: "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell. I was amazed at how scientific it is and the conclusion: Animal protein PROMOTES cancer (it doesn't cause cancer/you'd have to read the book to understand the distinction).
That's when I decided to eliminate animal products from my diet. It wasn't easy at first because the author doesn't give recipes. I just more or less figured it out for myself as I went along. The author uses the phrase "plant based diet" to describe his regimen. But after about 2 1/2 years of this, I call myself a "Pescaterian" because I include a little fish (about 1 oz. as I start my breakfast).
Lucky for me, I enjoy natural whole foods anyway. I usually have steel-cut oats for breakfast, with fruit, nuts, soymilk and cinnamon. For lunch, I usually have a big leafy green salad with beans, and fruit for dessert. For the evening meal I make soups of various kinds: For example: Lentil soup with whole grain rice, tomato sauce, and lots of vegetables mixed in. Again, fruit for dessert.
I'm 68 years old and got great results on my blood profile when I went for my annual check up. Everything was within a healthy range and I have no need for any drugs. So I'm very happy with my new regimen.
I do take one supplement: B-Complex. That's because B 12 comes mainly from animal protein. You could just take B12 if you like.
Protein: People usually overestimate the amount of protein they need in their diet and worry too much. (Even tomato paste and brussels sprouts has some protein.)
Calcium: I don't worry about it as long as I eat plenty of leafy greens etc.. Soymilk is fortified with calcium so I get some there. In The China Study the author explains that eating a lot of animal protein causes one to excrete calcium the the urin. Also, he explains that our bodies have a mechanism to control calcium (assuming that it's still working....too many years of high supplementation can cause it to stop working).
I highly recommend reading The China Study. The author doesn't just talk about cancer; he covers all the major diseases and then some.
Thanks for the suggestion on the book. I'll place the order after I finish this message.
I've always wanted to pursue this but over the weekend I was watching a documentary on nutrition and it really hit home what animal proteins can do to us, how long they stay in our body to digest, etc. and then they showed people who completely changed their diets and how not only their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight, energy levels, etc. improved but overall just how good they felt. Many women even said their 'skin glowed.'
I am recovering from my second knee/ankle surgery and haven't been able to walk without crutches for close to a year now. I realized that I have not only taken walking for granted for 40 years but once I am able to walk normally (and painfree!) in a few months, I want a 'new start' so timing to do this is great. (Plus, I have a lot of time now while out of work to do the reading.) Needless to say, my husband will be doing this with me as well since I am the one that cooks, but he could use it as well since heart disease runs in his family.
I have a rather embarassing question though to ask. With this change in diet, do things become rather ... well ... gassy? And if so, how long does it take the body to adjust?
Gas: I started my "plant based diet" around may of 2006. That was a while back so I don't recall "gas" being a problem. Maybe it's because I switched over gradually.
You might want to do the same: Start with your breakfast being plant based until you get used to it. Then include lunch. And, eventually, include your evening meal. This will give you a chance to adjust mentally and physically. In the beginning, I couldn't help but feel that I was taking a risk: "What if I don't get it right?....How will I get by without some of my old favorites like cheese and eggs?" But as time goes by those concerns gradually fade.
Just keep remembering how great it is (or will be) to enjoy good health. That makes it all worthwhile. Then a time will come when you're so adjusted to it, you will never consider going back to eating animal products. And reading "The China Study" will serve reinforce that because you'll have good scientific reasons.
One thing to watch for: I got my first physical, which included a blood test, about 6 months after I started the regimen. The results of the blood test were good but not as good as I thought they would be. A year later I had another blood test and I saw lots of improvements in various readings like cholesterol. So don't get discouraged if you don't see quick results. Give it plenty of time.