Hi there! I was lacto-ovo vegetarian for fifteen years and I've been vegan for about a year. In the past few months I've been reading a lot about the 'paleo' diet and feeling curious... In short, I am tired of feeling tired all the time so I've started eating animal protein again this past week in the form of eggs. I feel better already. My question is this: is eating only eggs going to be sufficient to reap the benefits of animal protein in my diet? I really don't like meat - never did, even before I was vegetarian - and I'd rather not eat it. I still will not eat dairy for ethical and nutrition reasons, but I might be willing to eat fish. Perhaps someone here is familiar with transitioning from a vegan diet and can offer some advice?
I grew up vegetarian. Nearly vegan, but we had chickens and goats so I had our own goat milk and eggs. Went through periods when my mom bought organic butter too.
So my comfort food is veg. when I was a 19 year old newly married pregnant lady playing house for the first time, I went bad to vegetarian after a few years of "whole foods omnivore" (not that healthy after all, turns out), because it was comfort. it was what I knew.
Over the next 6 years I was kind of all over the board. I'd go veg, then vegan, then feel like crap and reintroduce meat. then would get pregnant and go veg. Or feel the guilt from the meat industry and go veg. and then gain weight and feel like crap or get depressed and reintroduce meat. it was a vicious cycle and my health meanwhile never improved for long.
about 4years or so ago, I watched another documentary on the CAFO animal industry and vowed of all animal products. Again. it's not hard as far as taste goes, I grew up that way. After 2 weeks I was tired, bloated, and depressed again. and hungry when I was full. I was so sad (and this was doing it all "right". I didn't eat processed veg food. I made my own everything from scratch)
Then I discovered Traditional Foods. Here on MDC actually. Started reading about historical food ways. Reading the actual logic of why eating animals can be a beautiful part of the cycle of nature, and not cruel. How to honor that cycle. It was the most spiritual awakening I've ever had.
I got out to the farms and met my farmers. I started with things that could get "hidden" easily and worked with the way I llike to cook anyway. a little ground beef is good to put in sauces, casseroles. I actually started with beef because the larger animal feeding more people made me feel better.
I started cooking even more. I felt a connection to my ancestors. (I know I'm being all poetic, but I think there is this idea that veg*nism is the more spiritually enlightened path, but for me it was the opposite)
I eventually gave up on grains, learned to adore bacon, and render my own lard. I'm full on acclimated and it didn't take long at all. I have friends that took a year or more to really reintegrate animal products and that's ok too.
I'd recommend meeting your meat farmers! for me, just adding eggs wasn't enough to have vibrant health. I know some people who eat a lot less meat than I do and that's cool. I'd recommend starting slow and seeing how you feel. Maybe start a journal. Not a "calorie counting dieting tool, because ick. But a "this is the lovely meal I ate, and oh, this is how I feel 1, 3, 6 hours later"
Shelley, mom to dd 5/19/01, ds 9/06/02, and ds 4/01/07. Lost babe 4/09
Thanks so much for the response! My story is so similar... I didn't grow up vegetarian, but went veg when I was 14. Once I became a lactating mama I really took a hard look at dairy products and realized I couldn't support the industry anymore, and so became vegan. As I said in the original post, I still won't eat dairy for this reason - and also because it doesn't make me feel healthy, but rather messes up my digestion and produces a lot of mucus.
But, like you, I think I am beginning to have the awakening about meat and being part of the life cycle. At first I was very sad as I wanted so desperately to believe that animal protein was not essential to health and yet I feel constantly fatigued on a vegan diet (and I, like you, cooked almost everything from scratch so I know the problem isn't processed vegan foods, and I took several different supplements). Another thing that's bothered me profoundly is this: if a vegan diet is indeed how humans are "meant" to eat, then shouldn't we be able to get every vitamin and mineral we need from it and not have to supplement? Although my toddler son and my husband have continued to eat dairy products and eggs, I've had this nagging feeling deep down that I'm not giving my son everything he needs to thrive. Time to listen to that feeling!
Well, this is a new adventure indeed. I don't even know how to cook meat! I don't think I'll ever be a *huge* meat eater but I'm excited to incorporate a bit and see how much better I feel.
Thanks so much for your response!!! It is very helpful.
Start with soup bones/joints and make bone broth. Hubby and son can eat the leftover meat bits in the soup if you don't want to. Then you can make soup with veggies and the broth. The broth will have many vitamins and mineral from the bones and gelatin from the connective tissue. Google overnight or crockpot bone broth and you'll get some good tips/instructions.
Chicken broth is a good transitional animal product, and has tons of great minerals and a bit of protein, good flavor, and you aren't exactly eating it. Simmering your own stock from bones, water, and a splash of vinegar for several hours gives the best stuff, you can add veggies like onion, carrot, celery, parsnips to simmer in too for flavor and sweetness. Add salt to taste near the end and strain everything solid out. Maybe you can get friends to give you what's left after they carve a chicken, just make sure it stays in the fridge and doesn't go too many days before you get around to simmering it, or that it gets frozen right away if it has to wait. Throw cooked veggies in and you have a soup, or use as a sauce base, or on a cool day/night sip it from a mug.
If you want small portions of meat, cook it up and freeze individual servings to throw into stuff later, like ground beef or bison browned while stirring in a pan, sliced grilled chicken breast or steak, etc. Throw just a bit in with pasta, or Mexican food, or stir-fry, on a pizza, or a shepherd's pie that's light on meat and heavy on potatoes and veggies. If all you can buy are packs of 1lb or more you'll prefer breaking that into 3-6 family meals most likely. Even us omnivores definitly don't need quarter pounder burgers every day.
I hear you on the dairy thing, something like 80% of people worldwide don't benefit from dairy at all I remember reading (many of those from parts of Asia where dairy never was big). Raw milk dairy from a small, clean farm is far better than conventional of course (for both health and ethics), and goat milk agrees with human systems easier than cow, but there are lots of people even those are no good for.
You might want to check with local farms, ours sells pastured chicken backs for $1.50 each, and also has chicken feet (they totally gross me out but are very healthful).
Also check into raw dairy, we don't support the big dairy farms but raw dairy from a responsible farm is completely different. I liked reading http://www.amazon.com/The-Untold-Story-Milk-Contented/dp/0967089743.
Married to the love of my life and SAH Mama to my little sweet pea (Sept 2011) and darling baby boy (Dec 2012)
For what it's worth, here are my own experiences....
I went veg when i got a dog and realized how awesome animals were. I had never really liked meat much so I didn't miss it very much. After about 5 yrs being veg and with a newborn baby I was SO RUN DOWN. When dd was about 2 I discovered traditional foods here on Mothering. Several people recommended the book Full Moon Feastt by Jessica Prentice to me. I can't recommend it enough as an amazing way of connecting with your food and the chapter on animal foods is really great.
Ditto getting to know your farmers. I only ever eat meat from people I know! My eggs are from pastured (not just cage free) hens (and will be from my own when they start laying in a few months). I get my dairy from a local farm that sells raw/grassfed.
In the last 5 years I too have gone back and forth, being vegetarian, trying to do it on just fish, raw dairy and good pastured eggs. I always end up craving meat eventually. I think there are more nutrients than B12 that are in meats/animal products. It seems there are some needed forms of fats there as well that can't be gotten elsewhere.
Personally, I can't stand bone broths!! I only like homemade chicken soup if it is simmered a very short while - a couple of hours as opposed to the many hours recommended. The smell of simmering beef bone broth is enough to make me sick! Uck!
I like to put my cut of meat (breast, steak etc) in the crockpot and cover it with bbq sauce and a bit of tomato sauce or water and simmer til it falls apart and can be shredded with a fork. Or I will roast a steak in foil with several garlic cloves and chunks of onion and smear the meat with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook about 3 hrs and it too shreds with a fork. I also like chicken marinated and cooked in the broiler. In other words it is all very, very flavorful with flavors other than just the meat.
FWIW I just found Bison at a local farmer's mkt and much to my delight found out that it is considered an "exoctic" animal and not covered under conventional USDA laws. For that reason, the farmers can "field drop" them. So it goes instantly from happy bison to dead bison without that whole stressful herding into a truck, long noisy smelly ride to a slaughterhouse and the horrrors of the smells awaiting the animal there. That made me soooooo happy!! I will be buying this grassfed bison exclusively now instead of beef! I was always conscientious about eating beef that was not shipped far, knew I was doing the best I could but still so upset/angry at the unjust law that prohibited the animals being killed on the farm. What a relief to have found this bison!
Good luck on your journey!
Thanks so much! All your stories are so helpful. I've been eating eggs and fish - just can't do the beef or chicken yet. It's difficult - the meat definitely makes me feel better energy-wise, but I've never liked it either, even when I was a child, as my mother frequently attests. (I remember liking hot dogs and chicken nuggets but those don't really count - as meat or actual food!) As far as taste goes I'd prefer to eat a vegan diet, but obviously my lactating body was begging for animal protein. I'm gonna look up that book, thank you!
While I've never been a vegan or vegetarian, I was a raw foodist for 3 years, and never could stomach industrial chicken. I really morally cannot deal with CAFO's and the industrial meat industry. I will second the local, humane, grass-fed animal products and dairy. I work with my farm, and their animals are very well treated, they stop milking them when they're about 2 months out from birth, and don't practice standard dairy farming at all. They also provide pastured chicken, grass-fed beef, and pastured pork. The taste, quality, and nutrition of these foods are a world apart from what is sold as 'meat' in the grocery store.
While I personally avoid dairy much of the time, I've found times when lactating and pregnant that the raw dairy and cream is a delicious treat that I crave. I also second the bone stocks, as they help with digestion, and offer so many amazing alkalizing nutrients and minerals that are often lacking in the diet. They actually balance the acidifying effect of meat, and help digest it better.
While I focus a lot of energy and attention on getting quality meats for my family, the majority of our diet is not meat. My kids eat vegan/vegetarian and raw foods dishes enthusiastically all the time, and meat is just another part of the puzzle for our health. I realized that we eat far less meat than most families of our size, which also allows us to spend more on our quality dairy and meat, while definitely NOT adding to the burden of the environment by eating grain-fed CAFO foods. Our farm is biodynamic, and self-sustaining and does an amazing job w/ their animals/veggies/grains/dairy being not wasteful and kept in the farm to actually improve the health of the land and the foods.
That said, they do have organic/biodynamic hot dogs at some farms, it's part of the not wasting cycle, and my kids love them too. I figure there must be something in those ugly odds and ends that people crave and so figuring out good ways to not waste and enjoy all parts of the animal leads to tasty things that are not necessarily bad if they're made right.
Adding in what you can and are comfortable with step by step is a great way to figure out what is sustainable for you and your family. Blessings and peace to you and yours!
I don't think you have to eat chicken or beef to have a healthy diet. But I think they can be part of a healthy diet if used properly (properly sourced and in small(er than most American diets) quantities).
My husband (who used to eat way too much meat, in my opinion) and I recently cut out animal products for several months, and then started reintroducing them gradually. We do some eggs, but not daily. We do some cheese, butter, and other dairy, but not daily. I've started getting goat milk from a friend for yogurt, 2 quarts every other week. We've been eating fish every week or so, and venison or chicken once every week or so. We sometimes make a soup with bone broth (which we have a stockpile of in our freezer). We soak our grains and legumes, but do baking with unsprouted flours. I sprout when I can get around to it, and have been doing quite a bit of fermenting; kimchee, kombucha, water kefir, pickles.
We feel so much better being mostly vegetarian! For us, I think the big thing was cutting back on "easy" calories (meat, dairy products, bread, etc.) and making vegetables the core of our diet. I feel strongly that reducing the percentage of our diet coming from animal sources has been the best choice for our health and for the planet. We do eat a lot of food, but we feel healthier. I am thinking about reducing grains, because we are heavy on the grains sometimes, especially for breakfast.
I am hesitant to ever say there is one "right" way to eat as even with TF there was wide variety amongst cultures. Yet every culture evolved with some animal foods. In fact it is believed this is what led to the larger human brain. One scientific journal article found that lack of quality protein is resulting in increasingly smaller brain size in the last century.
However, I have observed several things: 1.) Many people who switch to a vegetarian diet are cutting out a lot of processed and junk food and eating more vegetables. Do they feel better b/c of this or b/c they don't eat meat at all? What if they had switched to healthier foods with healthier grassfed meats? I would venture to guess they would still have seen health improvements.
2.) Not everyone can feel healthy w/o meat. I can't. Not even when I eat fish and pastured eggs and raw dairy\ and loads of healthy veggies. I wish I could, but my body needs meat.
3.) I have seen a number of healthy vegetarians whose children have had a plethora of health problems. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. According to Weston A Price and the Pottenger's cats experiments it makes perfect sense.
No judgment..... just thoughts/observations/wonderings...
So how's it been going?
Personally, my transition out of veganisim was easy, but that was largely because veganism caused me to lose my period, so I wasn't on it for very long. XD My transition from low-carb paleo back to a balanced diet was much much more difficult. I had been avoiding carbohydrates almost entirely for an entire year...
The person who helped me the most through this transition was Matt Stone of 180 Degree Health. He specializes in "diet recovery," meaning he helps people who have all sorts of dysfunctional relationships with food learn to trust their bodies. Highly recommend his work, if ever you need a bit of professional guidance. :)
Hey there! Thanks for checking in with me. It's been going well - I feel so much better and have a lot more energy. It's nice not to have to worry about / remember to take several different supplements, too! So far I've only been doing fish and eggs... I still have some misgivings about other meats. It's just difficult for me to shed my sentimental attachments to animals. Not to say I don't think you can still have those attachments and be an omnivore - I adore my dogs! I've been thinking lately about how childhood cartoons do us a real disservice by personifying animals and characterizing them almost as babies. Not that I don't think animals think and feel and deserve our kindest treatment and can be wonderful companions and are beautiful to observe besides - it's just... they're not akin to human children. I just have that really strong sentimental attachment and even though intellectually I can understand that we and they are part of the cycle of life and death and that eating them is not cruel, emotionally it's been hard for me to grasp that. But my body won't lie. I obviously needed some animal protein. So I know it's just my own hang-up with which I hope I'll eventually come to terms and understand. I've stumbled across this Albert Einstein quote a few different times in the last couple weeks: "Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better." Maybe that's the key... anyway thanks again for checking in!
That is great you are feeling better!
I don't have anything against veg* diets but I think for some people it is very difficult, if not impossible, to meet all of their dietary needs that way. I have tried it a few different times, but only for a few weeks at a time because it always left me exhausted. I am guessing it was because I was never getting enough iron. Yeah lots of veggies are "high" in iron but that doesn't make any difference if your body won't absorb it. In red meat, the iron is in a different form (haem) than the iron in cereals and produce, and our bodies absorb a lot more of it -about 35%, vs 10% of non-haem iron.
That doesn't necessarily mean you need red meat by any means, but just to know that it does have some benefits if you still want to add more to your diet. I like to buy bison instead of beef when possible, or grass-fed pastuered beef when I can afford it but that is enough to break the bank.
I am in a similar place regarding my family's diet. We are vegetarian, but eat a lot of eggs and milk. Occasionally fish. I read the China Study, and it sort of made me reevaluate. We get raw milk, cheese, and eggs from a local farm. I cook everything from scratch, make our own yogurt and bread, ferment, the whole thing. We all are healthy, but it does seem there are two camps of thought and I am not sure what to do. Am I doing a disservice to my children? Will they have smaller brains? These are the questions that plague me late at night. I work hard to nourish them, but maybe I am going about it the wrong way. I personally really dislike the taste of meat. Do I cut out dairy, eat eggs and give the kids small amounts of local pastured meat?
I hear you! I started worrying about whether I was doing my children a disservice, too. I really tried to pray and meditate about it and listen to my intuition and let go of any beliefs which had rigidified in my mind. From everything I read and what my body was telling me I decided yes, humans do need animal protein, but they do not need dairy products.
My son loves cheese so much I was afraid to cut it out. But truthfully, he doesn't seem to miss it. He does have it occasionally at Nana's house but it messes up his digestion... so for me, really, the proof is in the pudding. Eating dairy makes me feel awful. It clogs up my digestive tract for days. This fact, coupled with the reality that cow's milk is meant only for calves and we need cow's milk no more than we need giraffe's milk or zebra's milk, led me to cut it out completely. Plus the lactivist in me is horrified by the idea of calves being separated from their mothers 24 hours after birth (granted, this may not be the practice at small farms - I'm not sure). It breaks my heart. So it's just local eggs, fish (obviously not local for us in the midwest... I'm trying to work up to other meats but like you don't like the taste) and otherwise all veg, fruit, beans, nuts etc. We're on a tight budget so we only eat fish once a week and get one carton of eggs a week, but I find that's enough to keep us in good health and I don't feel run down anymore like I did when I was completely vegan.
Read as much as you can (and have time to!) and listen to your intuition. If these questions are plaguing you, then they probably have merit.
i feel like each mother can make the best choices for their family, and should just trust their instincts and do their best knowing that there is a lot of grace in nature and in the human body for growing and staying healthy. being flexible is key, and listening to your body more than any books or studies (granted, this does not apply to chef boyardee or twinkie lovin' bad habits, those don't work well) as no study has yet been done on your body at this very instant and you're the only one who can make those decisions right now!
ashleybess - That's great to hear! Having the freedom to listen to my body enough to eat whatever I felt I needed, transformed my health so much. I'm so glad you are listening to your body. :) I never really considered how tv programs might change our perception of animals. Interesting thoughts.
beckaboo95 - You might find Denise Minger's thoughts really helpful in your struggle: http://rawfoodsos.com/the-china-study/
I listened to an interview with the woman who wrote a book called "The Vegetarian Myth". She was very knowledgeable & well-spoken. It's a book I've been meaning to read. I've never been a vegetarian myself but I found her fascinating to listen to.
Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).
Lifeguard, I listened to an interview from the author. Very interesting!
Lierre Keith, former vegan for 20 years, tells her story :
"This is the sickest species the world has ever known."
Dr.John Bergman, speaking about the human species.
Lifeguard, I listened to an interview from the author. Very interesting!
Lierre Keith, former vegan for 20 years, tells her story :
Yeah, her story about her experience with veganism is really interesting. But she kind of goes overboard in the OPPOSITE direction afterwards. There's nothing wrong with farming grain, so long as you do it properly. And there's nothing wrong with eating grains either. I fear her relationship with food is almost as unhealthy as it was before.
Hmm I should share one of my most favorite health articles ever. It's one I'd like to see pasted into the front of every single diet book on the planet. I encourage you all to read it. :)
Puts all of this stuff into perspective, especially if one has ever suffered from an eating disorder, or been damaged through an unhealthy relationship with food.