A Meat, Eggs and Dairy Lover’s Guide To No More Animal Products

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How lucky for me that I puked my guts out. When I ended up in the hospital, deathly ill after over two days consuming a fish sandwich and I turkey sandwich Easter weekend 2018, I never thought of myself as lucky. Really though it gave me a good opportunity to walk away from meat, dairy and eggs and never look back.

Top row of picture were taken that weekend when I got so sick from meat. Bottom row taken several months later, still animal product free.

 

 

Had it not been for the taste and smell of those products repulsing me, I would have had a harder time giving it all up.  I’ve watched my husband long for an Arby’s Roast Beef and pepperoni pizza dripping with thick slabs of  cheese. He had a harder time, but he managed.  I could see it was a thought process for him.

So much about our lives have been wrapped up around animal products.

What holiday or family event doesn’t have animal products as the centerpiece of the associated feast? I can’t think of any.  Traditions, holidays, early childhood memories, all of that is very powerful.

 

 

So it’s a week before Christmas and you are trying to gain control of your health. With the guidance of your own doctor of course,  you have chosen to eat whole food plant based which means all  animal products, sugar and overly processed foods are banned.

Some people can go cold turkey in avoiding turkey and gravy over the holidays. They can even drive past a fast food drive thru and never get a burger, fish or chicken or even a taco with cheese. If they eat animal products it’s only because they didn’t know it was in the food they were served to eat (and yes that is going to happen  especially at family gatherings).

Then there are people who genuinely feel giving up animal products is like pushing away the love of their lives or an dear friend. It’s anxiety provoking.  The fear of living without animal products means for them that they break up with animal products in steps.  I call this the process of Burger and Human Uncoupling.

Would Shakespeare have written verses about the despair and feeling pulled between lusting for cheese burgers and possibly deflating backed up lymphatics and staying alive an extra 10-30 years? 

 

Ode To Animal Products: My Mind’s Tears I Weep For Thee

(spoken tenderly with great drama)

Verse I

“Oh Cheese Burger, Pepperoni, Chicken and Eggs…

In my mouth you delight, but  inflate my legs.”

Verse II

” So Cheese is dairy, so is yogurt and Butter.

I loved you before, but now must love another.”

Verse III

“Endothelium,  walls of arteries and veins you line.

So no animal products I eat or carbs refined. “

 

It’s only slightly an overstatement to say that for many  to give up that relationship with animal products is very imposing..

So let’s be reasonable. So much of this is mental. You have to have courage to turn away from all meat, dairy and eggs as well as processed foods. While it is for health sake better to just cut off all animal products, it may not be in the long run productive. You may be one of the people who may give up for good the first time you cave.  So if you must,  take steps to prepare yourself to gain that needed confidence that you can live without animal products.  Start introducing what others call “transition foods”. These are foods that can give you a sense of having some of the textures and tastes you are in the habit of eating, without them actually being animal products.

Vegan food has come a long way. Please note that I use the term Vegan food instead of Whole Food Plant Based. Processed vegan foods many times are not that healthy. I would never suggest eating processed vegan foods on a regular basis over time but there is no crime in using them initially on occasion. Will they make you blow up like a balloon if you have soy and or sodium sensitivities? Maybe.  before going 100% without meat dairy and eggs or not, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it not to eat soy filled and high sodium foods. Read the labels and weigh it all out.

Another way to approach it all is if  you cease eating one product at a time and adjusting to that before removing the next product that is ok too. And like I’ve pointed out throughout this piece, eating processed vegan food at times in the start, is fine too as long as you keep your eyes open to it temporarily making symptoms for things like lipedema, lymphedema and other disorders worse.

And even once you make the clean break from animal products, don’t be stunned if you still feel the need for a burger sometimes or cheese. It’s ok to ocassionally indulge in a Beyond Meat Burger (sold in many stores and some restaurants) or Impossible Burger (served at White Castle, and some restaurants  and coming to stores in 2019). There are also several other brands of non animal product burgers you can indulge in.

Just make sure that the majority of the time, you are eating actual fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh greens,  unprocessed grains,  fresh or dried beans, peas, lentils, and a few unsalted nuts here and there. Some flax or chia seed for good measure, and take a good B-12 suppliment.  Have some blood work done to see if you are lacking in anything else.

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Black Bean Chick Pea Salsa Burger w/ lemon spinach and Orange Sections

I am just going to drive this point home one last time… better to eat whole foods that are plant based, without added oils, sugar or processed ingredients. Try for example, bean burgers or use lentils in place of ground beef in sloppy joes. They are better for you than the mass produced, pre-prepared vegan burgers and so on. Let me tell you, it can be pretty tasty.

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Need a chance to wrap your brain around the notion of no animal products? Here are some suggestions.

Miyokos Cashew Based Cheeses

Beyond Meat Burgers, Sausage, Chicken and Crumbles

Impossible Burgers

Just Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Son The Vegan: I Remember When He Only Ate Meatloaf

Eric and mom summer 2018

 

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:

  1. He noticed what meat had started to do to his body each time he ate it (he would swell up).
  2. He had put on 20 pounds by eating way too many burgers while attending classes on campus.
  3. He got reminded by me that he likely inherited a predisposition to lymphatic irregularities, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  4. He learned what really happens in the meat industry as far as the cruelty to animals.
  5. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. He combined mashed black beans with ground beef and over time used less ground beef and more mashed beans, vegetables and oat flour.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. He found a good unsweetened high protein and high calcium nut milk recently for smoothies.
  6. He learned that baby greens are less taste prohibitive than their full grown versions. He piles huge mounds of them into his smoothies.
  7. He finds he likes stevia which is a natural sweetener.
  8. 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!