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Which do you truly believe is the healthiest "diet?" Lifestyle, not weight loss.


StaceyinLA
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Things are always changing regarding what's the best diet for overall health. Obviously the current craze is the grain-free/paleo or similar, but for years the vegetarian diet has been touted as the best for heart health.

 

How can the best diet for overall health be a grain-free one, when a vegetarian diet generally consists of a lot of grain?

 

Obviously kicking bad sugars and carbs out of your diet will improve health, but what about the rest? What's best for heart health? Cholesterol? Does cholesterol matter (I know paleo folks say no)? 

 

What do YOU believe to be the best lifetime eating habits/diet for overall health?

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- Low to moderate carb (30-60 net grams per day)

- No refined carbs, but strong cornerstone of vegetables and some fruit

- Seafood and nut heavy

- Dairy/chocolate/coffee as a treat rather than staple.

 

Whole foods low carb is what we colloquially call it. Some people can tolerate some starches added in and some can't, that's very individual.

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I think for many it is vegetarian or even vegan-ish with low simple carbs and high vegetables. Real food.

 

For some, though, it's paleo-ish. I believe people when they say they feel better and their heart healthy numbers are better with that sort of diet.

 

So, I think it depends on the person. Maybe there are even people out there who do best on a high simple carb diet, though I don't know of any!

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I don't believe in fad diets that either claim certain foods are evil or certain foods work miracles. Your diet should just be part of your lifestyle. 

 

-Everything in moderation.

 

-Eat mostly plants.

 

-Keep your proteins lean (fish, lean meats, beans).

 

-When you do eat fat, go for the good fats.

 

-Drink mostly water.

Edited by Lady Florida.
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I think it is tied to each persons genetic make up. What is healthy for one, may not be for another. I am a classic genetic mutt (Cherokee, Irish, English, Austrian, Russian, German, etc.) and I think this wide mix many people have now a days, thanks to migration, is making it harder to pinpoint what is healthy for YOU (generally speaking, some people luck out and hit the nail on the head). I wish more research was being done into this.

Plus I don't think the food we have now is quite the same as the food from the early 1900s or even the 1940s (depletion of minerals in soil, shipping of unripe produce, etc, etc.).

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I read some article this year that paleo/high protein wasn't best for longevity. I think the gist of the article was that the body aged more on that kind of diet--organs aged earlier etc. For longevity, look to the Mediterranean diet, Japanese diet, vegetarian, etc. 

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I'm an ethical vegan. 

I believe the evidence is overwhelming that the best eating plan is to eat food, not too much, mostly plants. 

I think this is not only the healthiest, it is the best for the environment (animal farming contributes hugely to soil erosion & climate change), and it is IMO the most ethical. 


 

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I'm an ethical vegan. 

 

I believe the evidence is overwhelming that the best eating plan is to eat food, not too much, mostly plants. 

 

I think this is not only the healthiest, it is the best for the environment (animal farming contributes hugely to soil erosion & climate change), and it is IMO the most ethical. 

 

 

 

 

we read the same book :)

 

eat food, not too much, mostly plants

 

for me, I feel much much better when I eat maybe 4 oz/ week (or every other week) of grass fed beef or bison and occasional wild fish, esp. salmon.

 

Dairy and eggs my body doesn't miss at all.

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I think it is tied to each persons genetic make up. What is healthy for one, may not be for another. I am a classic genetic mutt (Cherokee, Irish, English, Austrian, Russian, German, etc.) and I think this wide mix many people have now a days, thanks to migration, is making it harder to pinpoint what is healthy for YOU (generally speaking, some people luck out and hit the nail on the head). I wish more research was being done into this.

Plus I don't think the food we have now is quite the same as the food from the early 1900s or even the 1940s (depletion of minerals in soil, shipping of unripe produce, etc, etc.).

Ditto.

 

I do Err on the side of low (very low, super low, almost none) processed sugar though. And "traditional" food preps...soaking, fermenting, culturing, etc... whatever i can.

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I agree with eating food, not too much, mostly plants.

 

I'm not a vegetarian but I believe we have an ethical obligation to choose ethically, safely bred or caught meat. It's easier said than done.

 

Edit: I also agree that it depends on the person. What feels best for one person doesn't feel best for another. Some people can't eat dairy. Some people thrive with lots of dairy. 

Edited by Tsuga
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Depends on the person.  

 

A healthy diet can be vegetarian or not, gluten free or not, dairy free or not.  Aside from eating no vegetables or gorging, or overdoing the red meat, sugar or junk food, I think any diet can be healthy.  

 

And I am not a fan of restricting whole, healthy food groups for anything other than personal preference or medical need.  The case against gluten has, IMO, been WAY overblown for people who aren't dealing with a health condition that makes gluten a problem for them.  Same for the case against dairy except for people like me who don't tolerate it.  The case for raw foods very thin at best.  There are no magic superfoods that will cure cancer.  I really dislike the diet hysteria industry.  

 

Edited by LucyStoner
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I'm an ethical vegan. 

 

I believe the evidence is overwhelming that the best eating plan is to eat food, not too much, mostly plants. 

 

I think this is not only the healthiest, it is the best for the environment (animal farming contributes hugely to soil erosion & climate change), and it is IMO the most ethical. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm not vegan or vegetarian and I believe the bolded, too.

 

I'll qualify it further to say  "​REAL food. Not too much. Mostly plants."  I think processed foods are killing a lot of people, and making even more very sick.

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The healthiest IMO, whole/clean foods, lots of veggies, fruit, lean meats, fish, healthy fats, some whole grains, seeds, nuts, no refined carbs.  It's really hard to eat that way when you love sugar, bread, pasta, rib-eyes, french fries. etc...  I eat the good stuff, mostly, but I also eat the bad stuff. 

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Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure Twinkies aren't part of it.

 

I tend to go along with the real food folks - plenty of veggies, fruits, and meats (in that order amount-wise) that are processed as little as possible (meaning bacon is not on the list either).

 

My youngest who has been studying longevity and health recommends reading The Blue Zones.  It's not just diet that adds to health.  It's lifestyle.

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Depends on the person.  

 

A healthy diet can be vegetarian or not, gluten free or not, dairy free or not.  Aside from eating no vegetables or gorging, or overdoing the red meat, sugar or junk food, I think any diet can be healthy.  

 

And I am not a fan of restricting whole, healthy food groups for anything other than personal preference or medical need.  The case against gluten has, IMO, been WAY overblown for people who aren't dealing with a health condition that makes gluten a problem for them.  Same for the case against dairy except for people like me who don't tolerate it.  The case for raw foods very thin at best.  There are no magic superfoods that will cure cancer.  I really dislike the diet hysteria industry.  

 

Liking this wasn't enough. 

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Agree on real food, mostly plants, not too much. :)

 

I have no scientific backup for this, but I am beginning to think that even an emphasis on variety might be overblown. I think variety is really nice, but historically, it seems like there were whole cultures of healthy people that didn't have a bunch of variety in their diet. I've been wondering if our need for variety really has more to do with the lower nutritional values/spectrum in our modern foods. I do know that the way we've bred plants for quick, high volume productivity that ships well has had an impact on nutritional values/spectrum. Probably too our methods of raising meat. Also variety might help lessen our exposure to some things, like pollution in our seafood for example. 

 

But yeah, maybe a good food-based vitamin would be fine for a low variety diet. <shrug>

 

 

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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The healthiest IMO, whole/clean foods, lots of veggies, fruit, lean meats, fish, healthy fats, some whole grains, seeds, nuts, no refined carbs.  

 

Yes, this is what I think of as the healthiest diet.  I do add in coffee, wine, and a small handful of chocolates each day!

 

I do think there's something to anti-inflammation diets though.  There are some very specific foods that can add to inflammation, which scientists are finding is related to a lot of chronic health conditions.  

 

For me, the healthiest lifestyle doesn't include daily hard exercise (sometimes I wish it did, but I'm just not that person!).  But just a general attitude to walking often, walking to do my errands whenever I can instead of driving all the time, getting up out of my chair and doing things a lot, going on weekend picnics and hikes, things like that.  And getting enough sleep is huge for me!

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Oh, man, I have tried every healthy diet you can imagine:  vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, blood type, paleo, ketogenic, probably others that I'm forgetting.  I've done it all.  Eventually, I had health problems with all of them.  (Except Paleo - I didn't have any problems from it, but I didn't stay on it that long, because I didn't feel any benefits from it either.)  Ketogenic lasted the longest at 12 years before I had any trouble.  Blood Type Diet was the worst, causing me severe hormonal disruption after only six to eight weeks.

 

Now all of these diets are radically different, but they also all have two things in common.  The reason they work, even if only temporarily, is that they all emphasize REAL FOOD over processed junk, and compared to the standard American diet, that's a huge improvement.  The reason they all eventually fail is that they eliminate or severely restrict some category of real food.  It finally dawned on me that since humans are omnivores, we are not going to get healthier by eliminating real foods from our diet, we're going to get healthier by eating a bigger variety.

 

So now, no food that is "brought to you by mother nature" is off limits for me.  I try to eat a big variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, eggs, legumes, fish, poultry, even red meat and dairy, etc.  I try to buy from sources that are organic, humanely raised, sustainably produced, etc. because I believe that not only improves the quality of the food, it's better for the future of our planet.  

 

What I do try to avoid is white sugar, white flours, industrial oils (hydrogenated oils and oils that are extracted using weird modern methods like solvent extraction, etc.), MSG and other flavor "enhancers", and preservatives.  All of that stuff has been so recently added to the human diet that we just don't know yet what the full implications of eating it really are, but so far it doesn't look too promising if you ask me.  

 

This has been a very recent revelation and change for me.  I only gave up my ketogenic diet of 12 years at the end of January of this year.  What's interesting to me is not only did it improve the physical problem I was having, but it has also really changed my relationship with food.  I became a vegetarian when I was in my teens, and that started me down an emotionally unhealthy path of thinking of some foods as good and others as evil, of thinking that I have to be restricting my food in some way, be on some sort of "diet" in order to be validated, like I'm a lazy, immoral, gluttonous person if I'm not severely restricting in some way.  I most certainly am not saying that other people who restrict their diets have those problems.  I have no idea.  I just know that I did, and that I thought that way for more than 20 years!!!  It is so liberating to be able to eat from mother nature's bounty without guilt!  I'm an omnivore, and I don't have to apologize for it anymore!  :D

 

Oh, and even though I do try to avoid processed foods, on special occasions I will indulge and I will do it guilt free, because I am really trying to avoid the all-or-nothing, dieting, "some foods are EVIL" mindset that has plagued me for basically my whole adult life.  I just want to keep those foods as special occasion foods, not everyday foods.

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I tend to be in agreement with the eat (real) food, mostly plants. I have gone the vegetarian and vegan path. Vegan just didn't work for me because of too many "fake" foods (fake meat, fake butter, etc. - I feel like that stuff is over-processed just like other junk). I guess vegan without eating that garbage would work, but I do know that some animal products are necessary for Vitamin B12 and I watch that deficiency basically begin my mother's decline. I don't want to exclude all animal products, although vegetarianism IS what I lean toward for overall health, and I don't tolerate dairy well. I DO eat mostly grass-fed, local beef, try to eat free-range chicken, and get quality fish/seafood, but I definitely want to go back to it being more of a side than the focus as it is with paleo. I just don't buy into the "bacon is better than whole grain bread," mentality. (I know I'm simplifying that, but you get the gist).

 

Anyway, I just want a focus. I like plans and lists and "do not eats." I rarely eat processed sugars, but do cave on crappy breads every now and then. I seem to have a sensitivity to gluten though based on my experiences this last year with eating/not eating it, so I'm definitely trying to keep that out of the diet for the most part. A little is okay, but if I go overboard, my joints ache badly. I know it is causing inflammation. I seem to have some trouble with dairy also - makes me run to the bathroom IYKWIM (sorry - TMI).

 

I still think I can do MOST things in moderation, but I just really need to focus on veggies more. Why oh why can't I make them more exciting and not eat the same blasted ones all the time?

 

Sorry for rambling. I think I was "talking" myself through this thing while I was typing. ;-p

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ok, so help me out.

 

I was raw vegan for about 6 months once and LOVED it and felt great.  I didn't lose weight, but I am sure that was my own fault for having too many nuts, etc.....

 

However, I really cannot do that again.  Way too much work and I couldn't eat out at all, other than to order a $10 salad with none of their cooked or cheese toppings, so basically $10 for lettuce in a bowl.

 

I would really, really like to go mostly Vegetarian, but we eat meat every day right now.  I am not sure how to wean my family back to more of a vegetarian lifestyle.

 

What do you serve?

 

We eat a lot of salads, rice, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, but what do you have to substitute the meat or what do you have with the non-meat items.  The most I can come up with is pasta and tomato sauce, stir fries with veggies, and such.  Only one person likes anything like tofu.

 

 

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ok, so help me out.

 

...

 

I would really, really like to go mostly Vegetarian, but we eat meat every day right now.  I am not sure how to wean my family back to more of a vegetarian lifestyle.

 

What do you serve?

 

We eat a lot of salads, rice, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, but what do you have to substitute the meat or what do you have with the non-meat items.  The most I can come up with is pasta and tomato sauce, stir fries with veggies, and such.  Only one person likes anything like tofu.

If you can afford meat, you can probably afford some of the faux meats.  There's sort of a split among veg*ns with people who start eating completely differently, and people who use analogues to re-create meals & recipes they're familiar with. I've seen huge battles about this but I'm of the opinion that whatever gets a person eating less meat & dairy products is a good thing... 

 

Selection varies by location so some brands aren't everywhere.... Yves Cuisine is usually the cheapest and most readily available. 

 

The Yves ground beef crumbles are indistinguishable. I've served them to stubborn old carnivores. Prepare as you would any ground meat recipe except they're precooked so just need heating through. 

 

Gardein. Again, some of their products are TOO realistic.  Christmas guests were convinced they were getting turkey scallopini. Um, nope.  I can't eat their analogue chicken breasts because they're too realistic. 

 

Field Roast sausages.  They are kind of like large bratwurst type things? Serve with hearty starchy sides, mushroom gravies & veg & it looks like a British pub meal.  Field Roast is soy free. 

 

We're not huge tofurkey fans in this house but lots of people like their products. 

 

 

Once you get these into your meals, then you can start to try different things. 

 

Have you seen the Mercy for Animals Vegetarian Starter Guide? It has several pages in the back of convenience brands and ideas for easy meals. 

 

http://www.mercyforanimals.org/files/VSG.pdf

 

 

 

I've been in & out of the veg*n world since the 80s and there was a time when veg*n cooking was SO SO weird and dry and so much effort! I tried going vegan more than once. It's a process that's much easier now. 

 

 

& if you actually enjoy cooking & fiddling with stuff & culinary creations, the chemistry of all this has been just taking off. The Gentle Chef esp is doing amazing things. I know serious cooks are really into trying his procedures http://thegentlechef.com/  & there are a bunch of other people working with faux cheeses & seitan.  But if you're more of a quick get in & out of the kitchen person, then the ready  made products are great. 

Edited by hornblower
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I very much believe that whole foods plant based is healthiest. 

 

Fats from olives, avocados, nuts, etc. 

Veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains

 

minimize processed (breads, white rice, etc)

 

I'm probably about 80-90% there. I eat a big variety of foods and truly enjoy what I eat. I do still have a bit of dairy here and there and some of the meat alternatives. Field roast and gardein are my favorites, but I do try to limit them to maybe once a week. 

 

The movie Forks Over Knives really changed my perspective. DH had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, borderline diabetes and gout and eating like this has put all of these back to healthy levels. He had all of those while being at a healthy weight for his height and working out 4x a week too, so he thought he was doing everything right eating everything in moderation. We never were big processed food people, I made most everything from scratch even then, with some whole grain bread and buying local antibiotic free meat and getting eggs from my mom's chickens. 

 

Eating this way has done wonders for our health.

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I think it is tied to each persons genetic make up. What is healthy for one, may not be for another. I am a classic genetic mutt (Cherokee, Irish, English, Austrian, Russian, German, etc.) and I think this wide mix many people have now a days, thanks to migration, is making it harder to pinpoint what is healthy for YOU (generally speaking, some people luck out and hit the nail on the head). I wish more research was being done into this.

Plus I don't think the food we have now is quite the same as the food from the early 1900s or even the 1940s (depletion of minerals in soil, shipping of unripe produce, etc, etc.).

 

This.  Exactly this. :iagree:

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Humans are omnivores. There are a lot of different diets that we do well on. As far as what is optimum, I think that varies from one person to another because we all have different genetics, and until the modern era of unprecedented availability of a variety of foods, our diets are one of the things that has had some impact on natural selection. Look at what your great-great grandparents ate. If it was all about the same, as long as you get as much exercise as they did, you're likely to be healthy eating what they ate. If your ancestry is such that some ancestors ate drastically different things than others, or the food culture has been in flux even longer--and this is probably true of most people today, at least in North America, Europe, and the English-speaking world in general--it's going to be a mixed bag so looking to what your ancestors ate won't necessarily help.

 

I would disagree with Tanaqui--because there is such a thing as sustainable animal husbandry. The system of growing grain and feeding it to animals not meant to eat it then eating them is not sustainable--but controlled grazing on land not suitable for agriculture can feed people we otherwise couldn't feed, because humans can't eat grass. 

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My semi-serious answer is one that you grow/collect yourself, and prepare yourself. 

 

That's idealistic of course, but it means locally produced things, it will mean, one hopes, best practices for local food production, not to many weird things in your food.

 

The issue of gathering oneself IMO helps with balance.  My friend who lives in the North, if she eats locally, which also means traditionally, will be eating a lot of meat, very high fat, not much in the way of plants.  That is the only way to avoid very expensive foods imported long distances.  And - if you are out in the cold a lot, hunting and fishing, it isn't an unhealthy way to eat.  You even need things like pure fat mixed with berries to keep warm and active.

 

If you are buying the food from someone else, and doing no prep work, it's easy to get out of balance, no matter where you live.

 

Realistically of course that is difficult if not impossible for most of us, so I think we are usually doing well to eat mostly what grows where you are seasonally, and prepared at home.  That looks rather different depending on your climate.  Where I live there is good land for agriculture but not the kind of landscapes where you see a lot of things like grain - it's more closed landscapes, hilly, forested in many cases.  So - lots of veg and fruit variety in season.  But winter and early Spring is very limited for fresh plant foods - mostly root veg and hardy greens, and apples - now frozen are theoretically more available but not always practically, other than blueberries..  Animal husbandry is more suitable in many areas and most farms would be better served as limited mixed types because of the land issues and because surface water is plentiful.  Dairy is important particularly in winter.  Forest products like mushrooms are plentiful.  There has traditionally been a lot of access to fish and seafood.  Grain products are used but not hugely, more for personal use or to supplement dairy.  Chickens and eggs are avaialable now all year round of course but traditionally roasters in the spring and eggs but not in winter.

 

Generally a diet like this would be more plant heavy in summer/fall, and meat/dairy and root veg in winter/spring, with grain supplementing all the time, and lots of fish and shellfish as it comes in season.  I think that is a pretty healthy

 

 

ETA - if someone lives in a tropical area, or a desert, or on the savannah, their ideal diet will look rather different.

Edited by Bluegoat
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Now all of these diets are radically different, but they also all have two things in common.  The reason they work, even if only temporarily, is that they all emphasize REAL FOOD over processed junk, and compared to the standard American diet, that's a huge improvement. 

 

Yep.  I've done more radical forms of low carb (at this point I'm lower carb, but by no means extreme).  I've talked to a lot of low carb people.  Those who seem to have the best results are those who eat real foods.  Because with most of these extreme diets there is a market for weird products.  Fake mashed potatoes, low carb cookies, etc. etc.  So some people would mostly eat the prepackaged frankenfoods probably because they didn't want to take the time or couldn't take the time to prepare foods that fit into the diet.  It's flat out a lot more work. 

 

If you recall there was a time where the low carb diets caught the attention of the main stream.  Restaurants started offering low carb stuff.  There were low carb Oreo cookies.  At that point I had been a low carber for awhile (and didn't have access to all those magical low carb convenience items).  I thought...this stinks because people will buy these things and eat at these restaurants and probably assume low carb is BS and won't work.  I don't think it's the low carb per se.  It's those stupid fake foods.  

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Another real food, not too much, mostly plants household.

 

 

re upping the vegetarian meal % without taking the whole household the whole way:

 

ok, so help me out.

 

I was raw vegan for about 6 months once and LOVED it and felt great.  I didn't lose weight, but I am sure that was my own fault for having too many nuts, etc.....

 

However, I really cannot do that again.  Way too much work and I couldn't eat out at all, other than to order a $10 salad with none of their cooked or cheese toppings, so basically $10 for lettuce in a bowl.

 

I would really, really like to go mostly Vegetarian, but we eat meat every day right now.  I am not sure how to wean my family back to more of a vegetarian lifestyle.

 

What do you serve?

 

We eat a lot of salads, rice, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, but what do you have to substitute the meat or what do you have with the non-meat items.  The most I can come up with is pasta and tomato sauce, stir fries with veggies, and such.  Only one person likes anything like tofu.

 

We've have one vegetarian (not vegan) in a houseful of omnivores for 6+ years.  This, plus Pollan and my more general shift towards trying to live somewhat more earth-sustainably, has nudged us to a higher % of vegetarian without giving up meat entirely.

 

My vegetarian does eat dairy; it'd look different if she didn't.  

 

I try generally to avoid processed fake meats (along with other processed stuff generally) but I do keep a pack of Costco's black bean chipotle veggie burgers in the freezer and during the summer, a pack of SmartLiving sausages, so on nights when the rest of us are barbecuing I can throw something easy on for her as well.

 

We have 2-3 nights a week where we all eat vegetarian.  Standards that everyone can be happy with include: pizza with veggie-only toppings, eggplant parm, eggplant lasagna, various versions of pasta with cheese stuffing (ravioli/tortelinni/stuffed shells etc) with various sauces ranging from instant jarred marinara/commercial pesto to actual homemade, palak paneer, quiche wth veggie-only ingredients, spanakopita, bean & cheese burritos, cheese quesadillas, omelettes.

 

The vegetarian, my other daughter, and I have learned to cook and enjoy tofu, though it took a while; so we're happy with that if my husband and son aren't home.  

 

Everyone in the family likes haloumi / queso frito type recipes, though husband and son can't quite consider it psychologically to be a full dinner.  So I do those things on nights when I'm throwing a steak or something easy on the grill.

 

2 or 3 times a month I make chili, both a meat version and a veggie, in huge quantities particularly the veggie version.  The first night we have chili, a subsequent night we have baked potatoes with chili and other fixings (and then I continue to dole out the rest of the leftover veggie version to the vegetarian on meat nights).  Stuffed baked potatoes, even with meat chili on top, is IMO effectively treating meat as a garnish or side dish -- the meat quantities are less even though we're still having them.

 

2 or 3 times a month I make roast chicken.  The first night we eat it roasted; leftovers get rolled into a veggie-studded curry or pot pie -- again, effectively on those subsequent nights we're eating meat as a garnish or flavoring rather than the main event.

 

Maybe once a month I make a "big meat" like brisket or roast beef or leg of lamb... and again, the first night it's a main event and then leftovers get rolled into a stroganoff or veggie-studded tanginess or something.

 

I never do any kind of meat for lunch, other than occasionally tossing a bit of cold leftover steak or chicken onto a big dark green salad when I have no other particular leftover plans.  Lunch is 95% vegetarian.  Since I never did any kind of meat for breakfast (no big morning eaters here, and we don't eat any pork products anyway) breakfast is 100% vegetarian.

 

And those of us who eat meat at dinner, eat much more fish and chicken than anything red.  A little lower on the food chain, lighter on the land, quicker and easier to prepare. 

 

 

 

 

ETA: Felafel.  Whole family likes felafel.  Maybe not so healthy, lol, but sure is delicious.

Edited by Pam in CT
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ok, so help me out.

 

I was raw vegan for about 6 months once and LOVED it and felt great.  I didn't lose weight, but I am sure that was my own fault for having too many nuts, etc.....

 

However, I really cannot do that again.  Way too much work and I couldn't eat out at all, other than to order a $10 salad with none of their cooked or cheese toppings, so basically $10 for lettuce in a bowl.

 

I would really, really like to go mostly Vegetarian, but we eat meat every day right now.  I am not sure how to wean my family back to more of a vegetarian lifestyle.

 

What do you serve?

 

We eat a lot of salads, rice, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, but what do you have to substitute the meat or what do you have with the non-meat items.  The most I can come up with is pasta and tomato sauce, stir fries with veggies, and such.  Only one person likes anything like tofu.

 

My advice would be to not try and go whole hog.

 

Start with one day a week for a vegetarian meal, but go online for some recipes, get a cood cookbook, ask some friends for ideas.  Figure out what your family likes.  Then do two days a week.  (IDK if you are Christian, but if you are Wednesday and Friday are traditional fast days in many traditions, so those can be nice tie-ins.)  Then, if its practical where you live, add a fish day.

 

Say that gives you three non-meat days, and four meat.  So of the remaining meat days, make two "small" meat - where you use if more as a side or flavouring.  And two for whatever you want - it can work well economically if one provides the meat for your "small" meat dish or dishes.  (For example, I cooked a big ham on Sunday, last night we had fidget pie which has ham, potatoes, onions, and apples, in a white sauce, in a pastry casing.)

 

But if you go slowly, it never seems overwhelming to try and bring some balance.  You can add some seasonal variation in too once you get the hang of it.

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If you can afford meat, you can probably afford some of the faux meats.  There's sort of a split among veg*ns with people who start eating completely differently, and people who use analogues to re-create meals & recipes they're familiar with. I've seen huge battles about this but I'm of the opinion that whatever gets a person eating less meat & dairy products is a good thing... 

 

Selection varies by location so some brands aren't everywhere.... Yves Cuisine is usually the cheapest and most readily available. 

 

The Yves ground beef crumbles are indistinguishable. I've served them to stubborn old carnivores. Prepare as you would any ground meat recipe except they're precooked so just need heating through. 

 

Gardein. Again, some of their products are TOO realistic.  Christmas guests were convinced they were getting turkey scallopini. Um, nope.  I can't eat their analogue chicken breasts because they're too realistic. 

 

Field Roast sausages.  They are kind of like large bratwurst type things? Serve with hearty starchy sides, mushroom gravies & veg & it looks like a British pub meal.  Field Roast is soy free. 

 

We're not huge tofurkey fans in this house but lots of people like their products. 

 

 

Once you get these into your meals, then you can start to try different things. 

 

Have you seen the Mercy for Animals Vegetarian Starter Guide? It has several pages in the back of convenience brands and ideas for easy meals. 

 

http://www.mercyforanimals.org/files/VSG.pdf

 

 

 

I've been in & out of the veg*n world since the 80s and there was a time when veg*n cooking was SO SO weird and dry and so much effort! I tried going vegan more than once. It's a process that's much easier now. 

 

 

& if you actually enjoy cooking & fiddling with stuff & culinary creations, the chemistry of all this has been just taking off. The Gentle Chef esp is doing amazing things. I know serious cooks are really into trying his procedures http://thegentlechef.com/  & there are a bunch of other people working with faux cheeses & seitan.  But if you're more of a quick get in & out of the kitchen person, then the ready  made products are great. 

 

 

Are these all soy based?

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We are big meat eaters.  I like meat and vegetables so that is mostly what I make.  One kid wont eat vegetables.  Meat seems better to me than him living only on carbs because he won't eat vegetables (he does eat fruit).  I hate fruit. 

 

I don't think I'd feel good on a vegetarian diet.  I wouldn't know how to lower the carbs on it.  Eating only mostly vegetables would make me have stomach issues (BTDT).  I suppose there are things like eggs, but that would be boring.  And then I hear all the time about issues with eating too much fish.  So I'd worry about that. 

 

 

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Another real food, not too much, mostly plants household.

 

 

re upping the vegetarian meal % without taking the whole household the whole way:

 

 

We've have one vegetarian (not vegan) in a houseful of omnivores for 6+ years.  This, plus Pollan and my more general shift towards trying to live somewhat more earth-sustainably, has nudged us to a higher % of vegetarian without giving up meat entirely.

 

My vegetarian does eat dairy; it'd look different if she didn't.  

 

I try generally to avoid processed fake meats (along with other processed stuff generally) but I do keep a pack of Costco's black bean chipotle veggie burgers in the freezer and during the summer, a pack of SmartLiving sausages, so on nights when the rest of us are barbecuing I can throw something easy on for her as well.

 

We have 2-3 nights a week where we all eat vegetarian.  Standards that everyone can be happy with include: pizza with veggie-only toppings, eggplant parm, eggplant lasagna, various versions of pasta with cheese stuffing (ravioli/tortelinni/stuffed shells etc) with various sauces ranging from instant jarred marinara/commercial pesto to actual homemade, palak paneer, quiche wth veggie-only ingredients, spanakopita, bean & cheese burritos, cheese quesadillas, omelettes.

 

The vegetarian, my other daughter, and I have learned to cook and enjoy tofu, though it took a while; so we're happy with that if my husband and son aren't home.  

 

Everyone in the family likes haloumi / queso frito type recipes, though husband and son can't quite consider it psychologically to be a full dinner.  So I do those things on nights when I'm throwing a steak or something easy on the grill.

 

2 or 3 times a month I make chili, both a meat version and a veggie, in huge quantities particularly the veggie version.  The first night we have chili, a subsequent night we have baked potatoes with chili and other fixings (and then I continue to dole out the rest of the leftover veggie version to the vegetarian on meat nights).  Stuffed baked potatoes, even with meat chili on top, is IMO effectively treating meat as a garnish or side dish -- the meat quantities are less even though we're still having them.

 

2 or 3 times a month I make roast chicken.  The first night we eat it roasted; leftovers get rolled into a veggie-studded curry or pot pie -- again, effectively on those subsequent nights we're eating meat as a garnish or flavoring rather than the main event.

 

Maybe once a month I make a "big meat" like brisket or roast beef or leg of lamb... and again, the first night it's a main event and then leftovers get rolled into a stroganoff or veggie-studded tanginess or something.

 

I never do any kind of meat for lunch, other than occasionally tossing a bit of cold leftover steak or chicken onto a big dark green salad when I have no other particular leftover plans.  Lunch is 95% vegetarian.  Since I never did any kind of meat for breakfast (no big morning eaters here, and we don't eat any pork products anyway) breakfast is 100% vegetarian.

 

And those of us who eat meat at dinner, eat much more fish and chicken than anything red.  A little lower on the food chain, lighter on the land, quicker and easier to prepare. 

 

 

Only two of us will eat beans or lentils, so that adds a whole layer of things to the list.

 

I will eat them, but DH doesn't care for them, and if he won't eat them, he won't make the kids eat them.

 

And I will be honest, I don't like eggplant.  I have tried and tried.  Eggplant and okra are slimy to me, I didn't grow up with them, and I am good about most vegetables, but those two I won't eat.

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Are these all soy based?

 

Yes most of them are.  I know some substitutes are made with wheat gluten. 

 

I am intrigued by the statement that I wouldn't be able to taste the difference with the meat crumbles.  But when I looked at all these things they all seem to have onions which I can't eat.  So I guess I'm not trying them.  LOL

 

 

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re auberginaphobia :

 

Only two of us will eat beans or lentils, so that adds a whole layer of things to the list.

 

I will eat them, but DH doesn't care for them, and if he won't eat them, he won't make the kids eat them.

 

And I will be honest, I don't like eggplant.  I have tried and tried.  Eggplant and okra are slimy to me, I didn't grow up with them, and I am good about most vegetables, but those two I won't eat.

 

Well, okra really is slimy  :lol: ... but there are a lot of ways to cook eggplant; you can for example definitely deep fry the slimy out.

 

But in any event, there are lots of other ways to make a veggie-only lasagna without eggplant.

 

 

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Humans are omnivores. There are a lot of different diets that we do well on. As far as what is optimum, I think that varies from one person to another because we all have different genetics, and until the modern era of unprecedented availability of a variety of foods, our diets are one of the things that has had some impact on natural selection. Look at what your great-great grandparents ate. If it was all about the same, as long as you get as much exercise as they did, you're likely to be healthy eating what they ate. If your ancestry is such that some ancestors ate drastically different things than others, or the food culture has been in flux even longer--and this is probably true of most people today, at least in North America, Europe, and the English-speaking world in general--it's going to be a mixed bag so looking to what your ancestors ate won't necessarily help.

 

I would disagree with Tanaqui--because there is such a thing as sustainable animal husbandry. The system of growing grain and feeding it to animals not meant to eat it then eating them is not sustainable--but controlled grazing on land not suitable for agriculture can feed people we otherwise couldn't feed, because humans can't eat grass. 

 

Agreed!  With your entire post, but especially the part about sustainable animal husbandry.

 

Yep.  I've done more radical forms of low carb (at this point I'm lower carb, but by no means extreme).  I've talked to a lot of low carb people.  Those who seem to have the best results are those who eat real foods.  Because with most of these extreme diets there is a market for weird products.  Fake mashed potatoes, low carb cookies, etc. etc.  So some people would mostly eat the prepackaged frankenfoods probably because they didn't want to take the time or couldn't take the time to prepare foods that fit into the diet.  It's flat out a lot more work. 

 

If you recall there was a time where the low carb diets caught the attention of the main stream.  Restaurants started offering low carb stuff.  There were low carb Oreo cookies.  At that point I had been a low carber for awhile (and didn't have access to all those magical low carb convenience items).  I thought...this stinks because people will buy these things and eat at these restaurants and probably assume low carb is BS and won't work.  I don't think it's the low carb per se.  It's those stupid fake foods.  

 

 

 

Yeah, I started low-carb right before that big national low-carb craze hit, and there were few or no available low-carb junk foods at that time.  So that's how I learned to eat low-carb.  Also, at least in the small town in Oklahoma where I lived as a teen, there were no vegetarian frankenfoods like soy burgers back when I became a vegetarian either.  But there's no shortage of junk foods which just happen to be vegetarian (potato chips and nutter butters are vegetarian! :lol: ) so I can't claim I was always a healthy vegetarian dieter.  I did better sometimes than others.  

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For anyone interested in the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, check out Cowspiracy. http://www.cowspiracy.com/   I think it's still on netflix.


We cannot eat grass but we can eat many grains.  It's generally more efficient (in terms of preservation of energy) to eat the plant directly than to have an animal eat it & have someone else eat the animal.  

Globally, far more people eat plant based diets than not btw....

As far as greenhouse gas & water & energy inputs, various people have done the calculations. Here's one: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/660S.full
 

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Also, this may not need to be said, but just in case...   When I said we get healthier by eating a variety of real foods, and not by eliminating foods, that wasn't meant to apply to people who have food allergies, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or any other issue that makes a certain food or food group problematic!  Obviously anyone with those types of issues has got to do what they've got to do!  

 

I just think that our culture in general (and *I* in particular!) has (have) gotten a little carried away with the notion that eliminating meat, or dairy, or gluten, or whatever happens to be today's "evil food" from your diet is going to be the miracle cure for everything that ails you and the fountain of youth.  I've eliminated them all, and would have sworn at the time that it was wonderful.  But it isn't wonderful for very long.

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I am intrigued by the statement that I wouldn't be able to taste the difference with the meat crumbles.  But when I looked at all these things they all seem to have onions which I can't eat.  So I guess I'm not trying them.  LOL

 

The Yves ground chicken is onion free (at least the Cdn version. there apparently are differences across the border sometimes...) 

 

 

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A lot of those kinds of calculations about agriculture are very - well, they are based on industrial agriculture, typically.  Some of them have weird assumptions too, like a cow will drink all the water that falls on a field.  They don't tend to take into account what happens in reality, or synergies.

 

For example - the amount of water livestock drinks doesn't much matter if it is not a problem where the livestock lives.  Emptying an aqifer to give to a cow is stupid.  Then sending the cow away as a consumer product for people in another place, is even stupider - it is like exporting your limited water.  But if that sort of thing is not happening, it isn't a problem - it isn't like the water sudden;y pops out of existence, it is in the cow and it will come out again, one way or another.

 

Similarly, you can't simply make conversions of plant matter to meat (or whatever) and see what is more efficient.  What do animals do in a healthy farm system?  They eat waste products and sometimes surpluses; they provide fertilizer; they provide labour (plowing, cleaning up fields, insect control,) they are involved with healthy rotational patterns, and so on.  They provide animal products and by-products too (meat, gelatin, wool, cheese,) and also sometimes put those things into forms that have special uses, or are more concentrated.  They play an extremely important role in any farm that is trying to really reduce reliance on fossil fuels. (And, in places where those products are produced (fertilizer, oil for your tractor) the oil industry uses and actually pollutes huge amounts of water and destroys whole landscapes.)

 

It is far more complicated to make evaluations of these kinds of farming systems than almost any of the "grain to meat" type of conversions one commonly sees.  But I think a good clue about their efficiency is that even when food is very scarce and requires a lot of time and work, and they are living at a subsistence level, farmers have found it worthwhile and efficient to have mixed farms.

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