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.
In hospital bed Easter 2018
3/18 Size 24
Me November 2018
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)
“Oh Cheese Burger, Pepperoni, Chicken and Eggs…
In my mouth you delight, but inflate my legs.”
” So Cheese is dairy, so is yogurt and Butter.
I loved you before, but now must love another.”
“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.
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.
Need a chance to wrap your brain around the notion of no animal products? Here are some suggestions.
My ultimate black bean burger here is topped with fresh mushrooms, red sauce, and a schmeer of some additional Miyoko’s garlic and herb cashew cheese. Fresh spinach below the burger and on the top bun.
I’ve been making different bean burgers for several years. This is by far the best tasting and satisfying of my bean black bean burger recipes ever. You want to impress your beloved? This will do it. Now you can make these without the cashew cheese, but sometimes you have to jazz things up to keep your family interested. Miyoko’s makes their cheese with pure ingredients, just like we would make it here. ( I say we because my husband assists or full out cooks most of our food).
It’s so easy, it’s so delicious and relatively inexpensive, If you don’t already have access to Miyoko’s delicious cashew cheese products, put in a request for your store to start carrying their line.
My Ultimate Black Bean Burger Recipe
1 bag of dried black beans (1 lb) cooked per directions and partially mashed
1/2 wheel of Miyoko’s Kitchen garlic and herb vegan cheese (they make it exactly as we do at home)
2 “eggs” worth Bob Red Mill’s Vegan Egg Substitute (follow directions on bag) (or flaxseed)
1 cup almond meal or oat flour
Tablespoon or more of lime juice
To taste as desired:
-crushed dried red pepper
-turmeric , cumin, whatever you like
-onion powder or finely chopped
Directions. Think of this as making a meatloaf but messier. All the ingredients or soft so wash up those hands and prepare to get messy! Once you have squished together all the ingredients, let it set for 5 minutes so that it gives the egg replacer a time to thicken it all up. If you need to add more dry ingredients to make it meatloaf consistency, then please do.
Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and without adding oil or “grease”, form and place on the cookie sheet the bean burgers.
Bake in preheated oven (375 degrees) for 30 minutes, my oven has a turbo setting that allows it to cook both sides at the same time, if you don’t have that, consider making your burgers an appropriate size to be easily by carefully flipped half way through.
Burgers will be soft but crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Allow 10 minutes before serving or 40 minutes or so to fully cool before placing in the freezer. Consider putting wax paper between burgers for easy removal.
My ultimate black bean burger here is topped with fresh mushrooms, red sauce, and a schmeer of some additional Miyoko’s garlic and herb cashew cheese. Fresh spinach below the burger and on the top bun.
Moist on the inside but holds together. Easy to reheat in microwave or oven for up to month.
Oh and this IS whole food plant based cooking. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If the products you use are like you would make it at home, then there you are.
Here we have one of the black bean burgers taken from the freezer and reheated, placed on a bed of beet noodles and baby kale. topped with carrot shavings and mushrooms.
In 4 months time between these photos. It took less than 3 months to lose the weight.
Life At The Speed Of Beans and Greens!
Wishing You Each a fantastic 4th of July ! Declare your own personal independence from food that is unhealthy. Make sure you eat vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes! You would be amazed!
Will you be in St. Louis, MIssouri July 14th, 2018? Register for this and learn how to change your life! (Note, neither I nor anyone in my family affiliated with this event or it’s organizers and speakers. Make sure you work with your doctor in determining what is best for your health. I spread the word because for me, it’s been wonderful)
I heard the can opener working and spotted him opening cans of black beans, peas and corn. I stayed quiet as I watched him combining the cans of vegetables with shredded ice berg lettuce. He put a large helping in a bowl and proceeded to eat it.
That was how I learned that my husband decided on his own, to begin eating a plant-based diet. I never told him he had to do this, I just kept him informed of what studies were showing that gave additional credibility to why I was doing a plant-based diet. He and I have always had two totally different opinions when it comes to many foods, so it’s always been a respectful situation between us on food choices.
He also agreed to have a Coronary Calcium Scan done this week. He has his appointment and it will fit around his work hours. For those who aren’t aware, this is the best way to have an idea of whether or not your body has coronary disease. They give you a score based on current heart disease risks and what they see on the scan.
My husband is what some would call a “typical man”. You remind him about his health and he’ll compare his body to his old Ford pickup truck that years ago was an old junker he could keep driving as it fell apart. He then would point out that the truck always kept running. So for him to out of the blue to take his health seriously through joining me in avoiding eating animal products and to be willing to get a Cardiac Calcium Scan done, is more than I could have hoped for.
I want to thank my husband right now, for sparing me from having to become a nagging wife about all this. I’m glad that I will be less likely to ever see him eating salami and peanutbutter together on Hostess bread again. Beef hotdogs wrapped in a flour tortilla are now also a thing of the past.
Don’t worry dear husband, we’ll get you appropriate bread and you can still dine from time to time on hot sauce sandwiches. ( just leave off the peanutbutter when you eat them).
And Tim, let’s retire the can opener, ok? And your salads will be kept in the fridge in the “His” storage container. My salad will be kept right next to it in the “Her” storage container since we like different types of greens in our salads.
Thank you for taste testing the black bean burgers as we made them. They are in the deep freeze, available for both of our use.
Proud of you Mr. Hot Stuff! We want you around for a long, long time.
To get continued insight beyond this article, and if you have lipedema, lymphedema or Dercum’s Disease, please join our Facebook Group
I wrote this last May and so I have reviewed this and updated it. I must have been so overmedicated and lethargic from my health that I never realized how poorly written it was. I have since whittled down my medications from 13 pills a day to one prescription plus a suppliment. I re-wrote it.
Here is the low down what I have learned in the last 11 months as someone who has been eating Whole Food Plant Based, Low Glycemic Index, LowFat, No Animal Products, added products and nothing overly processed.
Getting The Right Information On What To Eat And What Not To Eat
When anyone mentions a whole food plant based way of eating, people assume it’s a vegan diet as long as it’s not animal products that you can eat what you want as much as you want. You do have to tailor it to your health needs and goals. You need sound medical advice. You need to work with your own medical team as well when starting this. Nothing here or anywhere else on the internet should be considered medical advice. This is just based on my experience.
There are so very many people trying to make a fast buck off of the public’s quest for information and support as they try to heal their bodies using food. Go for quality information relevant to your health.
My bathroom scale, my lab results, my doctor’s glowing approval and how I feel are what tells me that I’ll gladly be eating like this the rest of my life. FOR ME this has been the best way FOR ME to eat. There are many variations.
Before starting your plant whole food plant based diet, the ideal is to talk to a plant based diet experienced doctor about that. In addition, if you take medications your doctor may change or discontinue your prescriptions. If your doctor doesn’t seem familiar with this way of eating, you may want to do some exploration of the topic and then bring that information with you when you talk to a doctor.
Visit your library, bookstore or online resources for any of these:
The biggest, most comprehensive nutritional study ever done was The China Study. The book on the subject by doctors T. Colin Campbell and Thomas Campbell, is pretty eye opening. It talks about government corruption as well that has kept the public unaware. I found it to be fascinating that a book about such government corruption over the past decades is now recommended on camera by ex-President Clinton as his own personal nutrition guide.
There are several Netflix and Amazon Documentaries that feature Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. He is from The Cleveland Clinic, he is a total joy to listen to. He raised farm animals with his family as a child. His research though changed his opinion on animal products. Dr. Esselstyn’s website
My suggestion to go to the website or on Netflix or YouTube, watch the documentary, Forks Over Knives . I’ve watched most of the different documentaries on different eating styles. This one has turned out to be the tried and true for me. There are credible experts with a half century of overwhelming research in that documentary that are also listed in the book of the same name. They each have written books. and conducted studies. When you see their level of expertise and decades and decades of studies, it’s hard to argue with them. What is fascinating is that they helped their families work the family farms as they grew up. Their studies though proved that animal products are directly linked to many health issues.
On Amazon watch What’s Eating You and Diet Fiction. Very informative.
Books written by one featured doctor, Dr. Neil Barnard , from The Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine out of Washington D.C. are wonderfully helpful,. He is also an adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at The George Washington University School Of Medicine. His material explains how to change your overall health plus books focused topics such as loss of weight, and different disorders and how diet can improve or reverse them.
It is without doubt, a big deal for a dairy and egg loving carnivore to cease being one. You are at an important cross roads and it requires you to be prepared.
Be the person you can depend on. You can do this.
Example: Use Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app you can download on your phone to keep track on what you should be eating. Even if you don’t start actually eating the way it says right away, it will get you thinking how to integrate what he says to eat into your day.
It’s going to take information, understanding what your barriers might be so you can be prepared. Be honest with yourself but never doubt yourself for a moment. Never consider anything but success as you problem solve one challenge at a time. If you have to watch Forks and Knives once in a while to keep your spirits up initially, do it.
That moment you realize that you can’t hide your feelings behind the foods you’ve been addicted to.
There is something emotional that goes on initially. You realize that you depend on food for comfort more than you realize. Not being able to swallow your feelings with a fast food cheeseburger, means you have to deal with feeling, sad, bored, perhaps angry, and so on. You find that you survive. You also start to see not only your own eating issues, but everyone’s eating issues in a much more understanding light. You gain mastery over it all, if you allow yourself to struggle with that a bit.
What if your spouse won’t eat a plant based diet?
This is very common and it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for you eating a plant based diet. Cooperation and mutual respect is key.
Be honest with your spouse as to why this new way of eating is important to you. Share the information you have gathered.
If you want him or her to respect your right to do as you must for your health, then you have to respect their right to eat the diet of their choosing. So your household may very well have to prepare more food options per meal. No worries, and who knows? You may over time inspire your family to eat more like you are wishing to eat. That is happening in mine.
What about if the children in your house don’t like eating only plant based foods?
It’s very controversial about children eating only plant based foods. Your health may depend on going to 100% plant based, but you will want to work it out with their pediatrician on what is best for your kids. I say this because as a writer, I’m not trained on child nutrition and will never pretend that I have been.
You can read opinions from doctors on both sides of the controversy. Here in the Midwest, meat dairy and eggs are king so not many doctors are going to tell parents to avoid giving those foods to kids. You may be able to do some research and find a doctor who is willing to supervise your attempt to get your kids to eat a primarily plant based diet. Make sure you and your spouse though are on the same page. You don’t need the stress of needless marital tension. Your spouse has the right to be part of that decision.
I can tell you from experience that it’s possible to serve flexible meals that offer enough variation that it’s not big deal. Also, you can batch cook so many foods so that freezing a number of servings and then pulling out what you need for this or that person at meal time, is not difficult.
Think too of plant based foods you and your family can already enjoy together! Chili with no meat but lots of healthy beans in a rich tomato juice seasoned with garlic, onion, crushed red pepper, pizzas that can be with or without cheese and meat depending on who is eating it. How about bowls of oatmeal in the morning or simple non sugared cereal, offering either milk and non dairy milk both in the mornings.
Regardless, you can plant some great attitudes in your family by being a great example.
Isn’t it expensive to have to accommodate more than one person’s eating preference?
Compare the price between a pound of ground beef and a pound of dried peas or black beans? In addition, aren’t all the prescription drugs required from not eating a plant based diet even more expensive? How expensive is a hospital stay from health issues that can be potentially avoided by eating a plant based diet?
I myself have whittled down my pills from taking 11 a day to now one prescription plus a suppliment. Huge savings on meds that now I can spend on smaller size clothing was the joke around here.
Accessibility to your foods is everything
If you can’t imagine living without meat or your spouse can’t, you can consider using the new Vegan convenience foods (Beyond Meat, Impossible Burgers, Just Eggs) once in a while, but I can NOT emphasize enough that those will not be the answer to health concerns. It’s what we call Vegan Junk Food. If you want to test out if you can feel ok without meat and animal products, then sure let it be a TEMPORARY as in you give yourself a definite date that you stop eating those foods. There is nothing to be gained by getting off meat and then depending on unhealthy vegan junk food.
I don’t have to tell you how busy your life is, or what happens when the food you need to eat isn’t easily accessible. If it is inconvenient, too expensive or doesn’t taste good to you, then it’s a no go from the get go. Whole Food Plant Based Eating is not drastic or difficult. You buy low glycemic index and low fat whole grains, legumes, greens, fruits, berries and vegetables plus if appropriate enough low sodium nuts to have 2Tbl worth daily. Buy them fresh, frozen, washed and in bags with good expiration dates. Even Aldi and Walmart carry such items. For beans and things like pineapple with no sugar added, it’s fine to buy canned.
If you wonder how you are going to juggle it all in the kitchen, look into what advantages there might be in kitchen appliances that make it less stressful to prepare your foods.
Quick and convenient, with easy clean up makes it all more doable. If it’s too inconvenient to eat this way, then it’s unlikely a person will be successful. We all have obligations or situations we have to juggle to make our lives work.
Even if it means picking up convenience appliances at garage sales, or getting them on installment payments on TV shopping channels, it’s worth it to get a good food processor or Vitamix style mixer that will puree some foods and help create tasty veggie burgers you can toss into the freezer, or fresh hummus perhaps.
Also a slow cooker, with adjustable settings and or a 4 in 1 or other multi cookers, or an InstantPot pressure will make it doable to have fresh beans and brown rice available. It’s great for roasting vegetables too. I’ve heard people sing the praises of rice cookers as well. Make sure whatever you decide to purchase is easy to clean so you don’t avoid using it.
If You Are Disabled…
I am disabled and have pain, weakness issues that make chopping vegetables, and preparing foods, or even bending over, very difficult. Such appliances mentioned above are the great equalizer that allows me to do more in the kitchen sometimes. The other times when my husband cooks, it allows him to be less burdened. It’s important to take care of our caregivers and loved ones any way we can.
Set doable goals.
Make a list of what has to be in place for you to take on this style of eating and your health goals. How are you going to measure your goals? Can you and your doctor agree on at what intervals he or she wants you to have your labs done? What do you both think “going the right direction” would look like?
Maybe you fear that cheese or getting burgers at your favorite burger joint will be difficult for you, so you set a goal for a month from now to wean yourself. Keep your goals in handling the barriers, reasonable. Weight loss, I lost weight fast, but each person is different. Low expectations means happy surprises when you do better than planned.
Set mini goals so you can feel accomplished and feel encouraged along the way.
Join support-social groups who eat as you do.
Some areas have monthly social gatherings for those who eat plant based foods. Facebook is filled with support groups for those who avoid eating meat products.
It’s important to have access to others experiencing what you so that you can ask questions, get and give encouragement on the bad days, and celebrate your successes together.
If extended family and friends are not supportive, then don’t include them in that part of your life.
Some people in this broad category equate being boundary challenged with showing love.
No one controls what you put in your mouth but you. Nobody has to put up with needless stress from others without allowing it. Take those responsibilities seriously.
Do you consult with them on what brand of toilet paper to buy? Do you only wear clothing they approve of? How about your shampoo, do you seek their approval for that?
If you don’t already have strong boundaries, then this is a good time to develop them.
When visiting, socializing in other people’s homes DON’T make your eating style change an issue.
The drama that can happen when others don’t understand your living on beans and greens, vegetables and fruit, is never worth it. When a guest in someone’s home, always best to be gracious guest. Don’t expect the host or hostess to gear the food they serve to be around your dietary needs. I see people on Facebook so ticked off that Aunt Mary or their co-worker made food for a get together that they couldn’t eat. People need to loosen up. The point is for everyone present to enjoy their time together. A great deal of drama will potentially be avoided if you consider the following options in dealing with such matters.
Options In Handling Social Situations
Bring Food Enough To Share: Talk to your hostess or host and explain that you want to be there and take part in the get together but for medical reasons must follow a different way of eating. Offer to make a dish to bring with you that is enough for everyone. Let her know what it is so you can coordinate. Find out how many people will be in attendance.
But Uncle Jack Can Be An A**. If you know that there is one or more people who will without a doubt pick you apart at the get together and can’t be reasoned with, then eat before you get there and arrive after the main meal. Let the host or hostess know you will be running late that day but will be there later and offer to bring something you can eat for a dessert or snack.
Eat The Food That Is Prepared, Enjoy Yourself And Call It A Cheat Day. Call it a cheat day and enjoy the company of others without complaint. Remember tomorrow is a new day.
Food is a strong player in any person’s ensemble of tools to survive. Think of what you need to keep you on the stage of life and make your list of the roles food and other parts of your life play. What are the needs they serve? Have you assigned the right life tools to the correct needs?
Think of it as a Playbill. You are the director so you can change all the “Players” whenever you like.
For me if there were to be a cartoon made of the transition in my life that food has gone through, it would be these two make-believe story lines:
1) One day my brain’s stage manager took to the mike, off in the wings, and made an announcement for my whole mind and body to hear:
“Due to reassignment, “Food” will not be playing the role of “Great Comforter”. Tonight the role of “Great Comforter” will be played by “Music”.”
2) Then a few days later he took to the mike again and let it be known:
“Tonight the roles of “Medication” and “Nutrition” will be played by “Food”, And the role of “Family Heritage” will not be played by “Food” It will instead be played by “Family Photos”.
Food has always earned its high level of respect in how it fits into our lives. As I’ve indicated, for me food can wear many hats, some of them appropriate and some of them, well let’s just say there are better players for some of the roles.
I can’t think of a time when something meaningful happened where there was no food. I remember that food was always central part of things. My grandmothers and mom prided themselves on providing only the best for family gatherings. It was an important role they played and they knew it. It was part of the love.
Besides the obvious meanings of the holidays and special days and events, it’s funny how we equate food with them. For my growing up family this is what the days meant in terms of food:
January 1st: ribs and sauerkraut
Easter: grandma’s Lemon Pie
Sundays at the other grandmother’s farm: fried chicken, roast beef, ham, green beans, dinner rolls, pineapple and marshmallow salad, muffins, mashed potatoes, noodles, cake and pie.
Forth of July: Waffles, candy apples, breaded tenderloin
Christmas: Same as Thanksgiving plus a ton of candy, summer sausage and cheese and crackers
Birthdays: A feast of whatever the person wanted.
Food was there as part of heart to heart talks. A bowl of ice cream was there whenever there was a reason to be sad or it was a bad day.
We had lots of body and brain activities including riding bikes, homework, friends to run around and play with outside. We did lots of camping trips, took dance lessons, piano lessons, swim team, volleyball, and for a few years we played in the school band. I was in 4-H and in a girls club. Our lives were full ones, we didn’t just sit around and eat. Yet food is what brought us together every day at the dinner table and when something significant happened, good or bad.
I took off for other parts of the country while in my 20’s. And food was always a reminder of home. Food was more than to feed me when I was hungry, it was a thread that kept fresh in my mind what I grew up with and with whom. It’s no different for many others Just like when I was a child and I’d be offered a bowl of ice cream when sad, food had played my comforter way too often. Those attachments are strong ones and the idea of no longer having them in my life seemed like parts of my life dying.
Just like people finding the right line of work, different parts of my life make more sense to fill a specific need I have. There is a difference between being hungry and having anxiety. I no longer handle them the same way. Food resolves hunger and if smart about what food I eat, it can treat my health problems. Food does not resolve anxiety. Meditation, good communication and a plan of action are my tools now for anxiety. No need to hand me a Hershey bar. No thanks.
Hunger And Anxiety…
…And never the twain shall meet.
So with less inflammation, and finding more clarity in my life, I am grateful that I finally broke the cycle of misusing food and starving my body of nutrients. My rediscovering music and writing for anxiety has been just what I’ve needed.
The role of the character in this story who finally figured this out at age 55 is being played by….”Me”.