It happened last Friday.
” I am ready to be Vegan”, said my “life depends on eating meat and cheese” 22 year old son.
One would say given that his dad and I are plant-based eaters, that it was only natural that while done with classes until fall, that he would just eat like we do. Mind you though, it seems like just yesterday that we were lucky he ate anything.
“There is lots of good nutrition in meatloaf”, years ago his doctor assured me with those words.
I had brought his eating to her attention because while he was a well behaved kid but he was vomiting and gagging when trying to eat foods he had asked for. At that time he was living on ground meat including meatloaf. I took comfort in her words.
Those words echoed in my memory every time I saw him devour more and more meat. The guy lived on a small group of food and all vegetables had to be snuck into those foods. We had to hide textures, smells and different categories of tastes because we learned that he had sensory integration issues. He experienced food differently than most people.
As a teenager he even learned to cook for himself, hiding vegetables in the foods he could handle. Pizza with no sauce and just mozzarella cheese was one staple. Meatloaf and burgers were among others
I remember what a big victory it was at the time to get him to eat less beef and he began to eat chicken burgers. It’s a fond memory when we got him to chop up kale and throw it into anything and eat it.
I still remember when he was 16, his “kale waffles” creation that only a mother’s pride in her son’s problem solving abilities, could get her to enjoy.
Fast forward a few years to now.He’s a college student who has taken the summer off. He watched Forks Over Knives and checked one of their books out from the library. That was a month ago.
During his research, the internet was both helpful and confusing. He struggled with all the takes on nutrition out there with the Paleo/Keto movement going neck and neck with plant-based in popularity.
What helped him make up his mind to remove the primary source of his nutrition and make a change to plant-based/vegan living has been:
- He noticed what meat had started to do to his body each time he ate it (he would swell up).
- He had put on 20 pounds by eating way too many burgers while attending classes on campus.
- He got reminded by me that he likely inherited a predisposition to lymphatic irregularities, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- He learned what really happens in the meat industry as far as the cruelty to animals.
- He has experimented enough with veggie burgers, vegan cheeses and smoothies that he could hide an abundance of nutrient dense plant-based food. He found confidence he could happily live without animal protein.
#5 is a huge factor for everyone when making dietary changes, but especially for those with sensory integration issues or those who have always based their diet on meat, cheese and so on. Without confidence that food will still taste good and fill you up and satisfy basic needs, it’s impossible to fully commit. Without commitment, transitioning won’t happen.
So how did this miraculous change of diet happen for him?
- He put in the effort to see if transitioning was possible during a low stress phase, summer break from college. No stress eating. This will allow him an additional two months to solidify his new eating habits and choices in his mind. When school starts again, it will be second nature to him.
- He combined mashed black beans with ground beef and over time used less ground beef and more mashed beans, vegetables and oat flour.
- When I would make my food and knew it would be similar to the textures and tastes he can handle, I would make a bite size portion for him to try over and over. They say it can take up to 15 tastes before a new food is acceptable).
- When making pizza, he started to use a sprouted grain crust, and he added crushed fresh kale or spinach. For cheese he combines 1 part dairy cheese with 2 parts vegan cheeses. He weaned himself off of dairy cheese.
- He found a good unsweetened high protein and high calcium nut milk recently for smoothies.
- He learned that baby greens are less taste prohibitive than their full grown versions. He piles huge mounds of them into his smoothies.
- He finds he likes stevia which is a natural sweetener.
- He has been educated on the need for B-12, maintain good protein, calcium and iron.
He has lost 10 pounds in a month. He is eating low on the glycemic index healthy foods and he’s learning at his age what I wish I had known to do. Well done!