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Considering Going Vegetarian or Vegan

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Old 04-01-2012, 08:58 AM   #1
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Hi folks. I have had success in the past by cutting out the animal products from my diet. Honestly, my body liked that. I felt so much healthier. I didn't have any icky side effects, had more energy, and it cost less for me to cut out that expensive cheese, eggs, milk, and meat.

However, I've got a little issue that is making me wonder if I can do this. About 6 months ago I had some peanut butter and had a severe asthma attack. This was so weird for me because I've eaten peanut butter all my life and never had a problem. So I went to the doctor, got tested, and sure enough have an allergy to peanuts. So sad! I also am allergic to caffeine so I don't drink sodas or eat chocolate.

What options are out there for protein for people who can't eat peanut butter? I know there's tofu, which I had in a Chinese stir fry last night with veggies and garlic over rice. (It was heavenly and I'll be eating the leftovers for lunch today! My 4 year old liked it too!) Advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I do have a blender and a food processor but I don't have a dehydrator.

Also, do you have any kid-friendly recipes that I can make for my daughter to try? When she was a baby she refused to eat meat and cheese, but as she's gotten older she's fallen into the chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese trap that her friends have. I'd like to come up with something new to try that she will like that's healthier.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:50 AM   #2
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There are many meat substitutes out there. It depends on how far you want to go "meatless", because some of them have eggs in them. However, there is the good old standby of beans, as well as quinoa, which many people here like. There are also a variety of vegetarian and vegan protein shakes for days when you can't get enough protein in (if planned well, veg diets should be ok with protein). The problem mentioned when going veg is b12 deficiency.There are many online resources for people wishing to eat less meat, as far as balanced nutrition goes. But your best bet would probably be to visit a dietician that can advise you as to what you need to know, especially to make sure your kids get what they need. But if you're considering it, why not? That has to be a healthier way of eating for them than the stupid macaroni and chicken nuggets. My niece and nephew practically don't eat much else, and they are overweight and regular food adverse. They won't even try "new" foods, stuff which was rountinely on my plate as a child. It makes me sad, knowing they don't get the benefits of fruit and vegetables, and they are set up for a lifetime of bad eating habits. I am not a vegetarian, but I love fruits and veggies and used to work with a vegan girl. She had creative lunches and a variety of meat free dinner ideas. I admired her perseverance, as that way of eating is very difficult. Good luck!
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:57 AM   #3
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I'm not a vegetarian, but if you want a substitute for peanut butter, you might try sunbutter.
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Old 04-01-2012, 12:25 PM   #4
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are you allergic to just peanuts or all nuts? there a lot of of various nut butters you can try which taste better than peanut butter (or at least to me! haha) you could also make your own. also, there's cookie butter at trader joe's (don't think there's peanuts in there)
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Old 04-01-2012, 07:21 PM   #5
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Any sort of bean or lentil is a good source of protein and iron. I love lentil soups, bean burritos, vegetarian chili, dal, black bean soup, etc. I do eat dairy and eggs still, but not at every meal.

Oh, and I love almond butter.

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Old 04-01-2012, 08:11 PM   #6
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Hi there!

Sorry to hear about your peanut allergy! If you are not allergic to other nuts, I am going to second the vote for almond butter - SO good! I just bought some more today. Great in smoothies, on apples, just out of the container... (ahem!)

For protein, there is not only tofu, but seitan (wheat gluten), tempeh (fermented soybean cakes), edamame (young soy beans in their whole state)... and all kinds of other choices!

While not everyone is a PETA fan, they do have a very good Vegetarian/Vegan Starter Kit, which you can look at online, or order a print version of.

For kid-friendly veg recipes, VegKitchen has a lot of great ideas! And this vegan mom has an inspiring photo blog too of tasty lunches she makes for her kids...

Good luck, and happy discovering!

p.s. One more great link I just found on going vegetarian is at Zen Habits, with more links at the very bottom after you finish reading.
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:24 PM   #7
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I love the Vegan Lunchbox blog, and I don't even have kids! Dreena Burton's blog is another good one to check out for finding vegan foods kids and adults will like: http://vivelevegan.blogspot.com/ Oh, and I see she just launched a new site: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:36 AM   #8
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I hate peanut butter and I've never tried tofu. I get my protein mostly from beans. I love using refried beans! I also eat eggs, which are a good protein source. I'm a vegetarian though, not a vegan.

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Old 05-23-2012, 12:56 PM   #9
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Peanuts aren't actually nuts -- they're legumes, in the same family as beans, lentils, and peas. The good news is that if you've been eating tofu without any adverse reaction to it, you probably aren't allergic to all legumes. The other good news is that since peanuts aren't actually related to other nuts, you don't have to worry about whether or not to keep eating them, and you can easily replace peanut butter with any other nut butter you find tasty. So you should be pretty okay on the protein front!

This might be a little too hippie-dippie for most people, but when I was a kid, my parents used to make us something called "green soup" -- miso soup base mixed with spirulina powder, an algae (they bought it at Whole Foods) that turned it bright green. We poured it over millet. It sounds weird but it's SO good -- one of the few things my siblings and I all loved.
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:19 AM   #10
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You might want to check out that Peas and Thank You blog too, she posts loads of kid-friendly vegan meals.
Honestly, peanut butter is not essential to a vegan diet. It can be useful for binding things and providing flavour for satay style dishes but any nut butter is fine as a substitute. Almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter, brazil nut butter - and you probably don't have allergies to those.
For protein, try the legume family (beans, peas & lentils), other nuts, the soy meat family (tofu, tempeh, TVP, milks), wheat meat (seitan and many commercial faux meat products), mushrooms and balanced grains like quinoa and millet. I can't stress enough how much it will open your entire world of cookign once you learn to cook with tofu, tempeh and seitan!
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:04 AM   #11
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You can make your own nut milks for some extra protein. Buy nuts in bulk (almonds have the most protein) and blend them with 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of milk. Then strain the milk in cheesecloth, or I like to use a Melitta coffee filter. You can use the solids in baking. It's much cheaper than store-bought milk substitutes, and you don't have to worry about weird chemicals.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:42 AM   #12
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The Vegetarian Way by Virginia and Mark Messina has more or less the same type info as their professional version for dietitian but MUCH more reader/user friendly.

I strongly suggest copy. Avoid common newbie mistakes like becoming cheese-atarian or grain-atarian or going too light in calories and similar.

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Old 09-09-2012, 02:08 AM   #13
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I would try beans and lentils. I have a great lentil soup recipe which is really easy to make and healthy and delicious. I'll post it as a new thread.
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