I can already feel that I’m about to stir up the pot with this post. As a former vegan, I know why. I was a hard-core vegan advocate, like hard hard. I preached veganism as the only source of true health and demonized anything that had to do with animals (in the food sense). Before we get into the post I want to make it clear that I’m only referring to health in this post. Regarding animal cruelty – yes, being vegan is the better option. So what changed? What made this vegan babe crave the meat again? That’s what she said…
Baby steps. It all started with eggs.
After about 5 years into being completely vegan (being vegetarian about 4 years before that) and consuming whole foods such as beans, lentils, vegetables, rice, and potatoes I started to feel like “something” was missing. I couldn’t really pinpoint exactly what this something was but I found myself thinking about omelets and scrambled eggs in a way I’ve never thought about eggs before…So after a mental battle between myself, I went to the store and got myself some eggs. What happened when I ate that bad boy? Nothing. It was good. Like actually good, and as I continued to incorporate eggs into my diet again I could feel this “something” started to go away.
Eggs are the healthiest food on the planet.
Or at least one of the healthiest foods. Eggs are a natures protein bar packed with vitamin A, B, omega 3, and cholesterol which isn’t a bad thing! It’s 2021, can we please stop demonizing cholesterol as the root of all evil?! Sure if you’re blood is made with only cholesterol, maybe not optimal, but cholesterol itself is extremely important for our body to make vitamin D and A. Eggs are also very versatile food that we can find in the sneakiest of things. Pasta, bread, vegetarian meat alternatives, sauces, fried stuff, the list goes on. Without eggs, in your diet, you have to remove even more things than “just the eggs”.
Omega 3 from fish.
The natural second step was to get fishy. Not that I had to, more that I started to crave it. A nice salmon was literally screaming my name. Fish and seafood, in general, are healthy sources of protein and essential fatty acids such as omega 3 which can be hard to get on a vegan diet. Even though walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds contain a fair amount of omega 3 you will need to eat a lot more of it to hit your targets. Omega 3 is essential for your brain, skin, and reproductive health. Looking at other types of fish such as cod and tuna, we are getting a lot of good quality protein for a little to no fat.
The fishy thing about fish though is that we want to be kind to our oceans and not promote overfishing. There’s also a discussion about our fish containing mercury and other toxins. It’s all about quality. And maybe not eating fish all day every day. It should be an addition to your meal, not your staple.
Let’s get real about protein.
Okay guys, let’s talk about protein. We can’t shut up about it. No matter if you’re a gym rat or someone just trying to be healthy, we always come back to get in enough protein. But why is protein so important? Protein is the building block of literally everything in our body. Muscles? Protein. Hair, skin, and nails? Protein. Our DNA? Protein. Quick protein lesson. Our body is capable of making 11 out of the 20 amino acids by itself. The remaining 9 amino acids we have to get through our diet. Foods that contain all these 9 amino acids are called complete proteins.
Everything we eat has protein from spinach to chicken breast, even though they contain different amounts and especially different qualities of protein. Animal protein such as chicken, meat, eggs, dairy, and fish all make up a complete protein by themselves. Plant proteins such as beans and lentils are incomplete proteins meaning they don’t contain these 9 amino acids by themselves. To make a vegan protein complete they need to be combined with another incomplete protein such as rice, bread, or potatoes. Of course, you can still get enough protein from a vegan diet but it needs more planning and could potentially also lead to a higher calorie and carb consumption just to hit your targets. I still eat my beans, trust me! But I don’t make them my source of protein anymore.
Get cheesy for your gut.
Dairy was the hardest thing to start eating and I didn’t for the longest time just because it grossed me out. I’m also still a bit conflicted if I believe it’s that healthy for us, but after doing research I do believe that good quality dairy is very much beneficial to us. Natural sources such as greek yogurt and aged cheeses are extremely good for our gut. The fermentation process of these dairy sources packs with so many healthy gut bacteria and protein. The French do know something about finishing the meals with bread and cheese. Butter from grass-fed beef also contains a bunch of retinol (vitamin a) which is a vitamin the body can’t make by itself.
Don’t get me wrong, I still preach whole foods with all my heart. Fruit, vegetables, and legumes are still the biggest staple of my diet but I’ve also started to incorporate more animal products with my meals. We need to eat vegan food way more than we do today, especially in the western world where we are deficient in so much fiber that it’s scary.
Change the way we eat meat.
The most important thing in this the animal perspective, and here we can’t argue that being vegan is much more animal friendly. Mass production of meet is wrong on all levels and nothing I support. When I do eat meat, it’s usually when I’m out at dinners and I make sure it’s good quality and locally sourced. At home I eat meat with my vegetables and not vegetables with my meat. I also make sure to get plenty of meat that isn’t from an animal source. What? Nothing.