Posted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 12:59 am Post subject: Requesting Vegan Mentorship
I have been a vegetarian for 35 years.
I recently made a decision to give up eggs and dairy.
I am allergic to soy.
Actually, my soy intolerance is due to low thyroid (people with thyroid problems usually have problems with soy.)
I do eat fish to compensate. Since giving up eggs and dairy I am turning mroe heavily towards fish, and I would prefer to have more a more plant based diet.
I was eating a lot of nuts for a while and developed a gall bladder problem. I'am trying to figure out how to have a healthy diet without meat, eggs, dairy or soy.
To make matters more difficult, I live alone and have minimal time and patience for cooking. I eat the fastest, easiest thing most of the time, but almost always organic and good quality. I eat a lot of Amy's (non-dairy) and will often grab something really simple like a big dill pickle or make popcorn. I am not getting enough nourishment. I have been on so many diets, supplements and food plans that I have a very low tolerance for taking pills and supplements. I have been taking sub-lingual B12 when I feel low energy.
Getting myself to make more effort to cook and prepare healthy meals is happening gradually. I really wish that I could give up food entirely and not have to bother at all!
What I need is help with setting minimal guidelines for what I need to eat on a daily basis. I know that there is protein in a lot more plant foods than beans and nuts but I need to learn more about that.
I would love to have someone to consult and ask questions who is knowledgable about vegan nutrition - and won't judge or demean me for eating fish (because I can't be healthy without it; I've tried!)
Not eating meat for 35 years has given me the easiest menopause that I have ever heard of! My doctor agrees that it is due to not eating meat for so long.
Thank you very much for any help or advise that you can offer me.
PS. Please be sure to send replies directly to my email address. I probably won't have time to come back and read messages from the list. Thanks!
It sounds like you are doing many things right - taking B12 is important for vegans; eating organic is definitely a plus for your health. And trying to move toward a more plant-based diet is definitely a good direction.
I would highly recommend your checking out Dr. John McDougall's writings and website, drmcdougall.com. He advocates a healthy low fat vegan diet and does not rely heavily on soy products, in fact discourages their over use. He addresses the issue of protein in plant foods, how much protein we really need, and suggests healthy meal plans. His wife, Mary McDougall, has written numerous cookbooks with recipes that follow his healthy lifestyle plan.
McDougall books are available in many bookstores, and on the website, as well. I'd recommend the McDougall Program for Women to start with, as well as the McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook - the recipes really are both quick and easy. Dr. McDougall also answers e-mails about specific dietary needs via his website.
And, as for early menopause, I hope you are not concerned about that. Early menopause is associated with reduced risk of many health problems, including breast cancer. You can read more about that in the McDougall Program for Women.
Congratulations on the direction you have taken. Please contact us again if you have more questions.
Also, there is a book called "Becoming Vegan" by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, which is written by two nutritionists and has a wealth of information about the nutrititional aspects of veganism.
In general, I would suggest aiming for a varied diet with whole grains, legumes (beans), vegetables, and fruits as the main components. You don't have to eat each of these at every meal, but make sure you are getting some balance. Also, try to eat more whole foods and less processed foods.
Finding ways to eat nutritiously and quickly can be challenging, but not impossible. Canned beans are a wonderful convenience! Potatoes and yams can be cooked in the microwave for a fast, filling and nutritious dish. Frozen vegetables can be added easily to many dishes. Also, you could get vegetables pre-cut and ready-to-eat at a supermarket salad bar (and sometimes in a produce section). Whole grains (such as brown rice) can be cooked ahead of time and frozen for a quick serving. I believe Trader Joe's even carries bags of frozen, cooked brown rice now. Quinoa is the most protein-rich grain, and it is so easy to cook - ready in 15 minutes. You can even buy many varieties of pre-made hummus in the store - dip in some fresh veggies and you have a very healthy, tasty, and easy snack.
These are just some suggestions, but please feel free to contact me with more specific questions.
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