Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to express yourself and your feelings about Michelle Obama’s Shake Shack visit. I was reading and replying to your comments as we made our way up to the Berkshires for the weekend. We went to see my boys who are at sleep away camp there. Saturday after visiting the boys, we went to friends in the area for dinner. My friend S. and her friends who were there all leaned a little (or a lot) in the healthy direction and it wasn’t long before food and nutrition came up.
One of the women mentioned that she had experimented with veganism for a few months after reading The China Study. I have to say that this book and Earthlings have a fairly high conversion rate for people considering going vegan. I don’t eat a lot of animal protein and the bulk of my intake is fruits and vegetables. I’ve even done vegan cleanses and feel fantastic when I do. However, for me there are some foods I couldn’t part with or am not willing to give up.
Eggs are one of my favorite foods. I get my eggs from a company called New York Milk. This morning I had poached omega 3 eggs over artichoke hearts at a lovely restaurant called Haven. I love making frittatas and often make them in mini muffin trays to for a few days. A weird dinner I often make is scrambled eggs with peas and pesto.
I love sushi. I love hand rolls, maki rolls and sashimi. I love uni and tobiko and octopus. I don’t want cucumber rolls or veggie hand rolls. I often seek out brown rice sushi but I’m hearing more about quinoa sushi too, have you tried them?
When I think of food indulgences I think of cheese. If I have a choice between a cheese course and dessert, cheese wins. I have a few friends who feel as strongly (no pun intended) about cheese as I do and wonder if this is the basis of our friendship. I don’t keep a lot of cheese around but usually have a crumbled feta or this outstanding lavender goat’s cheese I get at the Union Square Farmer’s market.
I don’t crave steak, I used to love a good burger and use Hardwick’s grass-fed beef for meatloaf and burgers at home but my burger cravings aren’t that intense. If I had to pick one meat meal to have here and there it would be lamb chops. I make lamb chops for my kids as my mother did for me growing up. I use rosemary, garlic and olive oil grill them and then finish them in the oven. My mom used to call the crunchy part on the bone the “candy” and I’d have to agree with her. I realize I just repulsed any vegan reading this post.
Another favorite dinner is poached wild salmon. If you’re not a salmon lover there’s something about chilling the salmon that makes it much more mild. I poach in lemon, white wine, water and bay leaves and chill it a few hours before eating. It’s fantastic summer meal and great for lunch the next day too.
Ronnybrook and Siggis
Many mornings I have a splash of almond breeze in my coffee. Here and there I use Ronnybrook half and half and it’s so delicious. Siggi’s makes delicious dairy too. I love their skyr and also the probiotic shots.
I have written about Zoe so many times, I now see it in all my friend’s pantries. It also makes a great hostess gift for friends who will not think you’ve lost it giving them tuna, maybe throw in your favorite olive oil just in case. Zoe is a staple item in my lunch routine. Half a jar with avocado and your favorite greens and life is good (unless you’re vegan).
In addition to foods I can’t live without there are foods I’m not wild about. I am not a huge soy fan. I don’t like to eat anything with TVP. While not all vegetarians and vegans and soyholics, without soy, a vegan diet is a little more difficult.
As we talked about veganism and our personal pros and cons, the woman I was talking to admitted she felt she ate more while vegan. “It was so hard to satiate myself, I ended up gaining weight.” I can’t lie; I find eggs and fish very satisfying. While there are more important factors when deciding whether or not to be vegan, I fear I too would overeat and “pork up” on a vegan diet. This was not the first I’ve heard about the weight gain and veganism.
After Friday’s post, many commenters felt strongly that any food plan should include treats. In writing this I see each of these foods treats in their own way. You’ll let me know if you agree.
Have you ever considered going vegan? Any animal foods you couldn’t give up? If you are vegan, any foods you miss? Any books or movies that changed the way you eat?
I was vegan for a very short period of my adolescence (for the wrong reasons), and I would never go back. I too agree that all my indulgence foods – ice cream, pizza, fancy cheeses – wouldn't be allowed and that I simply couldn't handle 🙂 I used to watch a lot of those scary PETA videos and those did it for me, but now I read more about simply enjoying local, whole foods, less about mass-produced meat and dairy. I do my best to buy organic milk but sometimes skimp on the meat for financial reasons. I need to watch a good documentary to knock some sense into me about the organic vs. non organic poultry/ meat. any ideas?
Thanks for comment Sofia (and for Friday's comment). I think Food Inc changed many people's poultry purchasing. It's so easy to get disconnected from our food. I agree with what you mentioned, less meet (for $ and environmental reasons), better produced food and less animal products though for me (and you) still eating some.
There are many ways to eat healthy, and I don't believe the science can support a call to become totally vegan or vegetarian (although it does support a call to eat a mostly plant based diet).
People become vegan/vegetarian for combinations of reasons. For me, it's really the issue of killing animals and the suffering of animals…yet I can't say I really check if the goat that gave the milk for my cheese has a good life, so I know I live with no small amount of hypocrisy, too.
Thanks for this post!
Dr Ayala, I agree and always love your return to the science. I think my decisions are based on science, taste, weight, ethics etc. I think a livable place is less meat, more veg. I really don't eat meat if I don't know the source but as you said with the goat cheese you can't always know.
I personally don't eat meat or any flesh of an animal… it just turns my stomach. My other family members do eat meat. Food Inc definitely had an impact on the way I eat. How could it not 🙂 On occasion I still eat cheese and yogurt though… preferably organic. I do not miss meat at all.
You hit three out of four for me: eggs, cheese, and vanity. I think I might carb-out until I learned to incorporate the right amount of veggies. My 4th reason is I'd be scared to annoy everyone around me, especially my hubby. I don't want to be in-your-face about my personal eating habits.
Scrambled eggs, pesto and peas? Yes, please! Of all the foods, you mentioned, eggs would definitely be the hardest to give up, with cheese being a close second. I think I eat like you do, including lots of fruits and veggies in my diet, but I agree that some of these other foods, such as eggs help fill me up. I do like some soy including tofu (I find it very filling) and sometimes soy milk, but I stay away from TVP products too. Oh, and I still want to try that lavender goat cheese!
Tiff, ha I'm glad someone else is vain here. Ooh #4 is a good reason, my family is certainly not going vegan and I'm already enough "trouble" with my preferences. EA- I think we have a big food overlap. I don't suggest soy well but would imagine it filling without animal protein. I have to figure out a way to get you the lavender cheese.
I have never considered being vegan. I have thought about vegetarian but there are times I actually want chicken. There are also times where I want a bite of my bf's steak (very rare but happens). Vegan would be so challenging I love cheese as well!!
I'm vegetarian, and I feel that I'm on a path to veganism. The thing is…I also love meat. I do. I love the taste and the texture. I even think that limited lean animal protein is good for our health. But not all veg*nism is about health or taste preferences…for many of us, it's about the animals. The way that I read this post is almost like someone saying "I couldn't eat healthy food, because I love cheesecake and chocolate and deep-fried pepperoni bacon pizza". It's not always about preferences…sometimes it's about something bigger. I'm not here to say that you should be veg*n, because it is ABSOLUTELY a personal decision and I respect all people's right to choose. But I do think that it's important to recognize that most people don't become veg*n because they don't like the taste of meat.
Was hoping someone would bring this up Stephanie. I think if I had the "bigger" reasoning working and felt that strong pull my favorite foods would be secondary. I fully endorse less meat, better treatment of animals but I'm a total omnivore. I see the vegan mindset and really respect it as I love passion when it comes to food. I guess to the person who says you can't eat healthfully and still like treats I would say let's eat mostly healthy. In many ways I have drawn my line in the sand and I'm "mostly vegan" though I don't label myself as such. Does that make sense?
Lauren, other than your cheese comment (I'm not a huge cheese fan), I could have written this myself. I'm extremely interested in eating healthfully, but I also want to enjoy my life, and for me that means leaving some room for organic meat and fish as well as some dairy, too. (I could never give up eggs, period :).
I agree with all of your reasons, particularly the last one about feeling satisfied. Sometimes I feel like a little non-vegan protein be it Siggis, string cheese, or a slice of lox makes the difference of whether I feel like I ate enough or not. I could never part with fish or cheese, and don't think I could go a summer without a lobster roll.
I went raw & vegan for about 6 months when I was training for the 2009 Philadelphia Half and felt the best I'd ever felt. I was light on my feet, had crazy amounts of energy and my body was lean & strong. But I fell off the wagon because I really missed cheese and sushi.
Now, I don't eat meat or chicken, but I do eat fish, eggs and some dairy like cheese & goat milk yogurt. I wish I had the willpower to go back tot he vegan lifestyle but right now, I'm just enjoying my food too much 🙂
Camille, great seeing you here. I sense from your blog a similar sensibility. I like how you say "leave room for" as that's how I feel. There's probably a lot of vegan foods (or just healthy plant-based foods) we eat but a small percentage that aren't. Lisa- for you a lobster roll for me calamari, a 1/summer must. Erica, I am with you on the energy thing. That's where my conflict comes in. I know I would feel great or even better than I do now I'm just not there and as someone mentioned I wouldn't make family eating restrictive. The only reason I eat chicken at all is because it's a good weeknight meal item.
I am like you, Lauren, "mostly vegan" but feel like I need the fish, eggs and [occasional for me] chicken/meat to feel sated. My metabolism runs best on a high protein/veggie, low everything else diet. I am metabolically challenged. Good think I love eating healthy! I think I would be a vegan if I were single. For me, just a little bit, it comes down to not wanting to annoy family/friends. I avoid gluten and dairy, so as far as they are concerned I am annoying enough as is! Oh, and I also fear I'd end up gaining weight from a combo of overeating fruit and under-eating proteins.
I have not really considered going vegan but I did do it as a 3-day experiment just to see how I would feel. Honestly, I did feel like I had a lot of energy. So there is some truth in that. But at the end, it's a personal choice. I love eggs, cheese and sushi and even my occasional burger too much to significantly change my dietary habits. Currently I try to eat a lot more veggies and fish and have significantly reduced meat and dairy, but I can't eliminate them.
Interesting point about people gaining weight while being vegan.
i am hungry after reading that list of foods 🙂 I couldn;t be vegan either each to their own
Rebecca, I think I'd be "hungry" vegan. Yes, to each their own but interesting many "almost vegans" which I'm sure vegans would think of as non-vegans.
Someone mentioned that being a vegan is often about something bigger. My question to that is when does your own health come into play and which is more important? Often vegetarians and vegans fail to get the amount of proper nutrients which could have long term damage. With my clientele being mostly special populations and seniors, I strongly recommend they NOT be vegan of vegetarian. These populations have enough problems without adding in loss of muscle. It's difficult for the body to repair and replace tissues without the proper protein intake and as we age, we lose muscle mass and fiber (starting about about age 30, but it kicks into high gear at about 55-60). This muscle loss leads to a slippery slope of loss of ability to perform daily activities, loss of functionality, loss of independence, loss of quality of life, isolation, depression..etc. Sure some people may think that's an extreme, but it's actually much more common than people think.
Thanks for commenting Micah. I think health is at the top of my list when it comes to food choices. While vegans/veg can fall short in nutrients so can the rest of us. I feel it's a little outdated to say harder with one diet or another. I think sarcopenia is an issue with older people but I think that you can be a healthy/unhealthy vegan, healthy/unhealthy omnivore etc.
I could never be vegan. I read the china study and have given up milk but cheese and yogurt? No way. I DO only buy quality brands though that are also organic. AND I limit my consumption. I also agree with most of what you could not give up. I don't feel it is necesary to be completely vegan to be healthy. I choose a plant based diet but there is still room for a few animal products in there. I believe we were meant to eat animal products on occasion!
Oh my Erin, we agree 100%. I knew Friday was an exception.
Cheese. I love cheese, especially the ones made with raw milk. But I noticed recently that some days, I had a "vegan" day without even planning it. Probably because it is summer, I love salads and light meals. I don't like to categorize myself. I eat what I feel like eating. Even if I am not pregnant, I trust my body to let me know what it needs. Some meals, I'll be gluten-free, others, vegetarian, others – although rarely, I can eat organic grass fed beef. The only thing I would never eat is GMO and processed food because just the thought of it makes me sick.
I think it is important to be educated about food. I think that is one good thing about books and documentaries. I watched (or tried to watch) Earthlings. It really opened up my eyes to how animals are treated, etc. Since then, I have cut back my consumption of animal proteins. But like you, I could never cut out cheese. I love it too much. 🙂
Good point Kristin, keep our eyes open, watch the Earthlings and the Farmageddon's that come out and then adjust accordingly.
I have had so many people talk to me about Skinny Bitch in addition to the China Study. For me it was more Diet For A New America and "Eating Animals" — I started reading those and went vegan for over a year, and even gave up leather… I felt (& still feel) like there's no way around being a hypocritical vegan, there's always something you're using that's animal derived. Re healthy eating: I remember reading ingredient labels and putting them back on the shelf if they contained milk products, but was totally unaware of artificial stuff. Not healthy at all. One positive of trying the vegan thing, though, was this heightened awareness of where food is coming from and the quality of it — I think that's so important for everyone to have, but there are other ways to become mindful than to cut out 1/4+ of your food possibilities.
Wow, talk about a lot of incredibly selfish responses. I like the taste of certain things, so to hell with animal cruelty and suffering. Not impressed.
I don't really think anyone is saying "to hell with animal cruelty and suffering" for a minute. I think the question I was looking at was whether you can eat certain things you love to eat and still remain mindful. I don't know if vegan is the only option. Perhaps, you see it that way. For me and my family what works is knowing where we get our dairy, eggs and fish. Though "not impressed" I would love to learn, as I said, about your path to veganism. Was it gradual? After learning some information or fact? Do you miss the taste of certain foods? Thanks for sharing the other point of view.
Lauren, I think that your response to my comment made a lot of sense. I like what you said about people being passionate about their food.
I actually just experimented lst week by going vegan. Just for 1 week, to see how my body felt, how much of a change it would mean. It wasn't THAT difficult. But there are a lot of reasons it just isn't the right lifestyle for me, right now. I eat mainly a plant based diet already, and I think vegetarian (such thing as a sushi vegetarian? 🙂 ) may be more realistic. Like you, there are a certain things: eggs, butter, sushi, cheese, that's I just can't give up. However, If I never eat a piece of chicken or steak again, I'd be fine.
I think the term vegan is used too freely. I fully embrace the decision to follow a plant-based diet and agree that is the way of the future for a healthy population and planet. I applaud those who do and do my best to be part of that crowd. But veganism isn't a diet. It's a belief system that demands the complete elimination of animal products from your life. It's quite simple to follow a vegan lifestyle to the detriment of the environment. A soy product from Brazil's deforested soy fields vs. a locally raised, free-range chicken? A synthetically manufactured, petroleum-based vinyl product instead of leather? No honey despite the benefits of the thousands of backyard apiaries? And ironically, all non-animal choices involve killing at some point in the production cycle. Here's my label: I follow a locally-sourced, plant-based diet to the best of my ability and call myself Karen since that's the label on my birth certificate.
The china Study was an amazing book! I think there is a good medium somewhere. I actually grew up vegan although I am not anymore for personal choices. But I respect both sides. I do feel in the US we eat waaaaay too many animal products and too little fruits and veggies. Im really just such an advocate for moderation. I have friends that eat 0 veggies and all meats and cheeses. Is that healthy? nope…but then again you dont have to be vegan to be healthy either. I think that its somewhere in the middle. Eat balanced.
I personally love love love eggs. Could not give them up. But I also love tons of other foods as well.
It is interesting though that when you give something up..(like cheese and meat) you really stop missing them because you start concentration on other foods and enjoying them. I noticed this when I was vegan. Im back to eating it now but I just dont really eat it alot anymore.
Its an interesting topic for sure! Thanks!
I like what you wrote Karen.
I did not realize honey was not a vegan food. I could not live without it. I don't eat sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
After reading the China Study in January, I decided to go vegan. I was successful about two weeks but after that it fell through and like usual when I am on a special diet, once I make a mistake I just throw in the towel. Just have to be grateful I am not actually overweight, just would like to lose some "vanity lbs."
Anyway in retrospect I should not have tried this in the month I was having my wisdom teeth removed, because after 4 days of eating nothing but soy ice cream, my stomach was telling me I needed REAL FOOD RIGHT NOW. However… before the surgery, I felt absolutely amazing. I never got to the point after eating where your stomach is just hating you and your pants are feeling tight.
Recently, because I missed how amazing it made me feel, I decided to give it another go. However I am not doing veganism this time. I am doing around 90% ovo-lacto vegetarianism. I am eating meat about 2-3 times a week and the rest of the time I am eating vegetarian meals that may or may not include dairy and eggs.
This has been so much easier to maintain, I have not even been tempted to revert back to having meat every day. I have never been one to crave meat, but as you said, cheese is something I just couldn't see giving up forever. While vegan, I tried soy cheese and while I genuinely like the taste of tofu, almond milk (which I have switched to exclusively since January), soy milk, and other substitute products, the soy cheese just didn't work out for me.
Interesting, it was a good review.