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Old 03-21-2011, 12:22 AM   #1  
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Default How to make the change?

Hi all

So here's the deal. The idea of eating animals, fish included, freaks me out. BUT, my Mediterranean family relies heavily on meats in their cooking. I'm not going to lie, meat CAN taste good, but I can't mentally bring myself to okaying myself to eat it. It's been a few months since I've made this change, but it's getting harder to eat at family meals. I don't eat any land meat anymore, but occasionally i do eat fish (i know, it's still an animal). Also, I don't drink milk or eat any other dairy product, mainly because i'm lactose intolerant. Yogurt and cheese don't make my stomach hurt as much, but why eat them if I don't like them? I'd rather spare the animal :/. I'm very careful about getting foods with no animal products in them. I guess you can say I'm working my way into veganism but still struggling with the fish and eggs. Eggs are my problem. I need a way to get in my nutrients, and eggs are a superfood. If i don't have one egg a week, I feel sick and weak. What are some foods I can incorporate into my diet that will keep my energy up and keep me well balanced?

ps: UGH my mom made a dinner for all of us and made couscous the other day. she normally just boils it like pasta with olive oil and seasons it with spices. BUT she failed to tell me that this time she made it with chicken broth. I asked her why it tasted different, and she told me. I felt so sick to my stomach after. How do I avoid accidents like these at family dinners?

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Old 03-21-2011, 12:56 AM   #2  
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I'll preface this by saying that I'm not implying you are "demanding" of your family, just that having strict dietary preferences is often seen as demanding by the main food preparer of the household. For my family it was seen as almost threatening- we are quite traditional so my going veg was seen as a rebellion. Advice below is given to suggest ways to make this seem like less of a threat and less of a demand on them.

If you live with your family and rely on their cooking decisions for most of your meals, it will be hard. I went vegetarian at 14 and never asked my parents to cook based on my preferences- to use vegetable broth instead of chicken, etc. My mom is very resistant to change, so even making a simple request like that would annoy her.

I started cooking a lot on my own and sharing with the family. This means offering to cook dinner and always preparing my own b'fast and lunches. I tried to stay as integrated into the family as possible by cooking dinner that we all could enjoy- this made it a lot easier for everyone to accept my choice, and it drew less attention my vegetarian eating (i.e. this way everyone was eating the same thing at dinner, instead of everyone except me eating my mom's food and me eating a sandwich I made). From my experience, and maybe your family is different, people don't like it when one person is obviously removing themselves from family activities (including eating a meal my mom would prepare). Offering to cook the sides, or even the main at times was a useful way of ensuring food was vegetarian and not imposing too much on my family. Plus, the more my mom saw me cook vegetarian food, the more she began to offer to prepare it herself. She started making veg pasta sauce instead of meat sauce, using vegetable broth, etc. It's about slowly introducing the change without demanding anything from others. Slowly they will likely start to accommodate you because they want to, not because you ask.

Regarding your protein, I also struggle with protein. Beans are definitely the best way to get protein into your diet. Especially with mediterranean food, dishes like hummus are great for vegetarians. I'm going to venture to suggest that you can go without an egg a week without feeling sick- it's only about 110 calories and 6 grams of protein in one egg. You can easily make this up with nuts, peanut butter, fortified cereals (Kashi GoLean, etc), soy products (tofu, tempeh), or beans/lentils.

Good luck!
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:07 AM   #3  
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Why don't you cook your own food? I went vegan cold tofurky almost 2 years ago and that, right then and there, meant the cooking of my own meals all the time from then on. I prepared most of my meals before then anyway, but went to a new level when I went vegan. Anyway, that's really the only way to know 100% that what you're eating is "safe".

If you're worried about inclusion with the family dinner or something like that, you can always cook alongside the regular chef in the house and make something similar.. for instance, when my mother would make meat chili, I'd make tempeh and bean chili at the same time and then we could have similar meals together. I've also let my family try a lot of the food I cook and it ends up that I make food for everyone here and there because, well, the food I cook is delicious!

As for eggs, you really should have no nutritional gap left by the omission of eggs as long as you're eating a balanced diet full of beans / legumes, whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. If you also just enjoy eggy-type recipes, tofu makes a fantastic substitute for a lot of things.. I eat tofu scramble, tofu breakfast sammiches, and tofu omelets regularly. Also, the flavor of chickpeas really reminds me of eggs and chickpea flour(besan) is the key ingredient in the best vegan French toast recipe ever, so that's another possible substitute and all the more reason to eat lots of beans.

Anyway, good luck!
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Old 03-27-2011, 03:27 PM   #4  
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Has anyone REALLY ever met anyone with a REAL protein deficiency? I certainly have not. If they say they have, or do, I honestly think they are just in denial and scared about "giving" up their favorite foods. Trust yourself, and go vegan... or just do your best. There are millions of strong, healthy vegans. As far as your family dinners go, just tell them your well informed (read up, so you have many hard facts when asked) and soon they will take you seriously, and hopefully respect your choice. Maybe help cook some exciting vegan dishes for them to try and enjoy. Wishing you much success.
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