(Closed) Going Vegan/Vegetarian…any bees have advice?

posted 8 years ago in Food
  • poll: Are you a meat eater?

    I am vegan

    I am vegetarian

    I do eat some meat, but cut out others

    I love meat and Ill never stop eating it!

  • Post # 18
    207 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: March 2014

    Almond milk is pretty nice, except in coffee. Soy is better hot (at least in my opinion). Make sure you are supplementing your protein intake, especially if you are active (most vegetarians get around 30-50g protein depending how much they eat, I need at least 160g every day, and over 200g on lifting days). There are some really nice vegan protein powders out there now (not pea though, pea protein is gross).

    Make sure you get a “behind the counter” iron tablet too. You’ll want one with upwards of 80mg iron. The ones you can buy at the grocery store only have about 15mg, and if you take a heap of them, it’s expensive and you won’t poop much, if at all.

    Is there a specific reason you are wanting to transition? I find a lot of people who transition because they think it’s healthier end up giving up because it’s hard to maintain. If you are making the switch because you feel that eating animals isn’t for you, then it’s more likely to be a long term/lifestyle change.

    Oh, and Oreos are vegan friendly I believe!

    Post # 19
    1466 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: March 1998

    Lacto-ovo vegetarian here.

    I no longer drink milk; I switched to unsweetened almond milk and I’ve never looked back. Has more calcium than dairy milk per serving, even (and significantly fewer calories).

    I live near a health food store, so as far as butter and the like, I have plenty of vegan-friendly options. My father-in-law is a fan of Earth Balance vegan butter; there are a few other brands at our health food store. Some vegan-friendly mayonnaises (I’m not sure what it’s made with, to be honest), puddings made with almond milk, and the same with things like ice cream, chip dip, etc.

    Eggs is the more difficult one for me to cut out, but among the most important. I don’t know if I will ever be up for veganism, but I am a good portion of the way there already.

    The big thing with veganism is going out to eat. We live in a suburban, not-progressive area and have still managed to find places to eat – it helps to have several Lebanese and Thai places around, though, which tend to offer more vegetarian-and-vegan-friendly fare.

    Post # 21
    3584 posts
    Sugar bee

    @Kelly_mac:  I’m not vegetarian but I only eat chicken and sometimes fish. I havn’t eaten any red meat in years and it is for a number of different reasons. I have such a limited diet to begin with because of a medical condition so I would never be able to go vegan even though I would like too. I take a number of vitamins to make up for the lack of nutrients I’m getting.

    Post # 22
    867 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    @Kelly_mac:  My diet is the way it is because I’m not crazy about meat either- and I never have been. In fact, the thing that made my mom the most nauseated when she was pregnant with me was meat!

    When I eat poultry and seafood, as well as eggs and milk, I do my best to buy products that are held to animal welfare and sustainability standards. I think that there has been a big increase in demand for transparency in the food industry, and there has been a response to that. Between going to farmer’s markets and talking to the farmers, and using the internet to get information about where my food comes from, I feel pretty comfortable that I am doing my best to buy responsible animal products. That said, I do eat vegetarian ~4 days a week.

    It seems to me that organic milk and eggs are comparatively cheaper than organic meat, for some reason. 

    Post # 23
    491 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    I’m not a vegan, but I spend about half the year eating a mainly vegan diet, due to religious fasts.

    I don’t do a lot of premade replacements, partly because it defeats the purpose of my fast, and partly because I just don’t like most of them. The exception being that I love plain almond milk, so much so that I use it year round instead of cow’s milk. And if you are looking for a cheese replacement Daiya is good. It tastes pretty good, melts like real cheese, and it’s soy free (which is important for me, I don’t eat soy).

    I eat a lot of beans, quiona and lentils. My go to meals are soups and stir frys. It’s easy to throw everything together in one pot and cook it. For me the biggest thing is not to try and make my vegan food taste like non-vegan food. It’s better to just make good tasting vegan food and forget about the stuff you used to eat. I find most of my recipies on vegan blogs, there are lots of interesting and tasty ones posted online. This is one of my favorites http://ohsheglows.com/ and also this one http://www.theppk.com/blog/, but there are lots of others out there too.

    Post # 24
    484 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2014

    @Kelly_mac:  I was a vegetarian for 11 years until this past summer – I was feeling really tired and awful so I went to the doctor. I was deficient in several things, as well as anemic. I was shocked because I ate fish (although not that much) eggs, and dairy. So if you are going vegan you have to really really really pay attention to what you are eating, what vitamins and minerals you are getting etc. It’s not something where you can just cut out those things and be fine. Everyone is different and I believe some people do better as vegetarians than others – unfortunately I was not one of those people. Talk with your doctor and make sure you have a nutrition plan. As far as milk substitutes I actually don’t use real milk anymore – there are so many delicious options like almond milk, oat milk, hazelnut (amazing). Also, daiya cheese is really good : ). You can use chia seeds in baked goods instead of eggs etc. Many many options!

    Post # 25
    2639 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry

    I’m a pescetarian (fish, eggs, dairy, no chicken/meat/pork). I made the change gradually- at one point I was a “true” vegetarian, but while training for a marathon, I wasn’t getting enough calories and added fish back in (plus, I’m from a state where seafood’s a big deal, and I missed it.)

    My advise would be to make the change gradually. Soy milk for example- I started using it in cereal, with coffee, etc. Now I rarely have regular milk, unless we’re making a recipe that calls for it. Since you want to go vegan, I think it would make sense to do a tiered-transition- phase one, cut out meat, phase two, eggs, phase three, dairy. That way you’re not overwhelmed by it.

    I also agree with the PPs that say listen to your body- that’s one of the reasons I’m eating fish again, and one of the reasons I gave up meat (got rid of the G/I issues I used to have.)

    Post # 26
    46 posts
    • Wedding: October 2013

    My advice is not to talk to people about it. You will be floored how many people care about what you eat. Daily I’m asked what is in my lunch and generally followed up with some kind of grimace and pronouncement about how they could never do it. It really drives me bonkers. But, maybe you’re a more patient person than me 🙂

    Post # 27
    46 posts
    • Wedding: October 2013

    Oh, and I would do a lot of meal planning too. That’s the best way to prevent yourself from ‘slipping’ or eating non-vegan out of convenience.

    Post # 28
    80 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: August 2013

    @Kelly_mac I went vegetarian as a “challenge” in college with my best friend. I cook all the time and one of the things I found most useful was to NOT try to eat like I did before – no mimicking recipes. I used vegetables as my main cooking muse. It wasn’t that I disliked veggies before, just that I didn’t cook them that often. I learned how to cook veggies in TONS of different ways. And there were times when I would crave a “normal” meal, but then there’s lots of things you can cook that are “normal” and are vegetarian. (Ex: taco salad with black beans instead of meat, eggplant lasagna/parmesean, etc.) I would highly recommend Betty Crocker’s vegetarian cookbook for vegetarian spins on traditional foods. The second piece of advice I have is to avoid pasta like the plague. Lots of mainstream food that is vegetarian is pasta… but if you aren’t eating meat, but instead eating pasta all the time, has your eating really improved? No. 

    A few things other bees have mentioned that I agree with: almond milk is the BOMB. Plan ahead when you’re eating out. Learn some new recipes.

    Another common theme whenever somebody brings up being a vegetarian/vegan is getting enough iron and/or protein. My own experience with anemia was that I struggled with it for many years, but once I became vegetarian, my anemia improved (and I’m no longer anemic!). Meat and/or pills are NOT your only source for iron. Meat is NOT your only source of protein. Everybody has different dietary requirements, but if you have a concern here, I would suggest talking to your doctor and making a plan. (I’m a PA student, so I’m big on working with your doctor for this kind of stuff, lol!)

    Finally, you mentioned being conscious of how animals are being treated. If down the road you consider eating meat again, there are CSA’s out there that ethically raise animals and sell their meat. DH and I belong to one that costs $100/month, and it’s more meat than we can eat ourselves (so then we just cook dinner for our parents/friends). I just want you to know that there are options out there if you ever go back to eating meat!

    Good luck & happy cooking!

    Post # 29
    881 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: May 2012

    I’m not vegan or vegetarian dinner, but my husband and I don’t buy meat to cook at home which cuts down on a lot of our meat consumption. We also don’t buy milk, but we do buy eggs, cheese and yogurt (all of which I love and don’t think I’ll be able to give up). Neither of us are milk people, so we just make rice milk in our Blendtec for cooking and cereal. Sometimes we eat vegetarian when we eat out as well, but it just depends. The thing that’s worked for us has been making changes gradually. First we ate less meat at home, then eventually stopped all together. After we got used to that we got rid of milk. Now we’re focusing on eating less meat when we go out, etc. etc. I don’t like denying myself things all together, so that’s worked really well for me. Good luck!

    Post # 30
    1019 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2015

    I’ve been vegan for about 4 years and vegetarian for about 12.  Giving up cheese was definitely the hardest for me.  Everything else has decent substitutes, but vegan cheese is sort of its own class of food.  It tastes good, but not really like dairy cheese.  My method was to cut out cheese completely for at least a few months, and then try the vegan cheeses again.  So, for any foods you REALLY love that aren’t vegan, I suggest not having it at all so you aren’t constantly comparing the vegan version to the real thing, then once you can’t really remember what it tastes like, get the vegan version.

    I saw in one of your replies that you’re in Portland, so I doubt you’ll have any problems at restaurants.  HappyCow is a great site for looking up restaurants in your area.

    For cookbooks, I recommend: Veganomicon, Appetite for Reduction, Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites, 30-Minute Vegan, all of Isa Moskowitz’s dessert cookbooks (my omnivorous family has loved everything I’ve made from them), and Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker.  There are also tons of blogs with great recipes, so search around online.

    You also mentioned your main reason is for the animals (mine is, too), so something that helped me whenever I had a craving was thinking, “It tastes good, but am I willing to kill for it?”  The answer was always no.

    PLEASE DO NOT TAKE IRON SUPPLEMENTS ON YOUR OWN! Iron can be deadly if you take too much, and iron supplements should NEVER be taken without first doing blood tests and working with a doctor/nutritionist to find the correct dosage.  I’ve never had iron levels below the normal range, and it’s actually better for you to be on the low end of normal than the high end of normal. Do take B12, though.  It’s water soluble, so you pee out any extra.

    If you do want medical expertise in making the switch, I really suggest a nutritionist over a doctor.  Most doctors receive only a few hours of training on nutrition and aren’t really equipped to properly assess your diet.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any questions?  I’m a total foodie and love talking about veganism.

    Post # 31
    623 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2014

    I am not vegan/vegetarian but many times I will order vegetarian dishes when eating out, so maybe that makes me a half ass vegetarian. Wink

    Seriously though, my cousin was a vegetarian and like other PP said, she wound up becoming anemic and was actually hospitalized for a few days because her labs were so out of whack.

    She also gained around 40 pounds because she replaced her meat protein with carbs.

    In her particular case, she has to have some meat for protein and she still sees a nutritionist and gets her levels routinely checked to make sure she’s on the right track.  I guess my point is to do your research before you start (it looks like you are) and if you feel like you’re not “right”, make sure you don’t blow it off.  In my cousin’s case, not only was she anemic, her potassium levels were dangerously low as well, which could have caused a heart arrythmia.

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