US I’d like to go vegan except for health & social reasons

Walden

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I’ve been a pescatarian since I was 13 (I’m 19 now) and I’ve been wanting to go vegan for a few years. Now that I live on my own and I don’t have to eat family meals that’s finally possible. However, there are a few things that are in the way that I would like some advice on before I take this step.

1. I was anorexic when I was 11 and have struggled with various forms of eating disorders since then. I am healthy now but after putting my body through so much sustained weight loss whenever I lose weight (on purpose or accident) my hair starts falling out, I get cold all the time, it’s harder to think straight, blood pressure drops, I lose my period, etc. That happens even if the weight loss is very gradual and hardly noticeable. Currently I work a very physical job in sub freezing temperatures (I work at a ski resort) so I eat about 3,000 calories a day. Any less than that would mean weight loss. I’m worried about being able to sustain that calorie intake on a vegan diet. High calorie vegan food recommendations?

2. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis a year and a half ago. I’ve tried various medications but all those do is suppress the symptoms and don’t treat the root of the disease. After turning to holistic medicine, I started a new diet which really helps: I eat lots of produce, beans, lentils, eggs, and whole grains but I don’t eat dairy, refined carbs, added sugars, coffee/alcohol, and I try to limit saturated fats as much as possible. However I do eat plenty of eggs, which have a lot of iron and B vitamins and other nutrients I only get from eggs. I’m anemic from ulcerative colitis so the iron is important and I don’t really get those B vitamins anywhere else in my diet. Eggs are also very cheap and my main source of protein. I don’t know what I would replace eggs with if I cut them out. Suggestions?

3. My mom is one of 5 sisters. All of them, including my grandmother, have Hashimoto’s. Since I know I’m predisposed I’m worried that eating too much soy products, being chock full of estrogen, will mess with my thyroid. What are some non-soy vegan protein options?

4. The social side. Lots of people view vegans as self-righteous bigots, especially in Alabama where I’m from. (I have just moved to Colorado so that will be easier, but my family still lives in Alabama.) Social gatherings often revolve around food as well and I’m worried that always having to bring my own food will limit my socializing. Nothing bonds a group of people like sitting down and eating the same food. I don’t want people to think that I think I’m better than them and I don’t want to be separated by my eating habits. How do y’all handle this?
 

Lou

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1. Please take this with a grain of salt.
A lot of Doctors don't think a vegan diet is suitable for anorexic or former anorexics. Maybe their biggest reason is that some anorexics use vegans as a disguise or camouflage or their anorexia.
" oh, I can't eat that. I'm vegan. "
Also all the various restrictions can be triggering.

Although if you are eating 3000 calories a day - you may not to be concerned with anything I just said.
But keep in it the back of your mind anyway.

A lot of vegan food is high in calories. Back when I was trying to gain weight I would make these special high calorie - high protein smoothies. Here is one recipe.
8 oz of chocolate soymilk
one banana
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tbsp avocado oil.
500 calories 16 G protein.

Make some PB&Js and cut them in quarters. You can snack on them whenever

2. I did a lot of research on eggs way back when. Its hard really understand eggs because the egg industry has so polluted the knowledge base. We can talk about it some more if you want but simply stated, eggs are not necessary. Yes, they are a cheap and convenient source of protein. but if you eat a lot of them you are also consuming a lot of cholesterol. Just two eggs a day puts you over the USDA's recommended levels for cholesterol intake. And you can bet the USDA is being liberal. But we don't even need any cholesterol. There is no mRDA. if we don't consume any out bodies make what they need.

Two eggs have 10 g of protein.
oatmeal with soy milk and flax seed has more than 10 calories.

3. You might not need to limit soy to nothing. I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure that the phytoestrogens work differently in your body than regular estrogen. Oh and BTW, eggs contain a fair amount of estrogen. I think the recommended amount of soy per day is 15 - 40 g a day.
Check out this video for more good info. I think some of it pertains to you.

4. Well, I live in California, and my fellow VFers think I'm spoiled. but its been years since I had anyone comment negatively on my veganism. In fact, I'm frequently surprised by how positive some people are. I get a lot of, "oh, I'd be vegan but...."
Anyway, my friends and family have representatives along a spectum. From playfully teasing to fully supportive. For Thanksgiving there was a turkey but all the sides except for one were vegan*.

At a potluck or BYOM BBQ you just bring something you can eat and something to share. Sometimes you might find a lot of other vegan things to eat. **

When we go to a restaurant I just order something vegan. At the pizza place I'll get a veggie pizza without cheese. You can either get your own or ask your friends to make your half without cheese.

Anyway try being open about it but not in your face about it.



* It was a group effort. The family had to make a small effort to make vegan versions of mashed potatoes, gravy, and string beans. The side that wasn't vegan was the sweet potato casserole. Maybe my sister didn't know that marshmallow weren't vegan. I just didn't have any - and I didn't think it would have done any good to point out the marshmallow. So I didn't bring attention to it. Unfortunately, no one thought to bring a vegan dessert (store bought pies aren't vegan - even in California.


** At a BYOM BBQ I bought 4 Impossible Burgers (back when they were new). I had one and cut the rest into quarters so people could try it. It was all gone pretty quick.

One time at a party the only vegan thing was the veggie platter I brought and the nuts my sister brought. I had both vegan and non vegan dips. I spent a lot of time grazing and discovered two vegans when they asked me what the dips were made of.
 

silva

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A vegans diet only means nothing from animal products. It's been touted for so long as low fat, for weight loss, for heart health, for calorie density....people lose site of the reality of that simple idea of not eating animal things..period
Just searching 'vegan body builders diet' brings up lots of sites with high calorie menus, after all, look at all the athletes that are vegan!
This one features Robert Cheeke. Vegan BodyBuilder Shares What He Eats In a Day | The Beet

Soy is a phytoestrogen. It doesn't affect humans like mammal estrogen. I know it to be more of an interference with medications, but I'm not affected. I just know it's gotten a ton of bad press and much poorly done research that has been retracted

Dr Greger is a great asset for finding the best compilation of nutrition research
 
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bEt

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You mention iron and b vitamins. Do you take any supplements for these, or would you consider supplements?

How many eggs do you currently eat per week? More than 3? If so, maybe before going 100% vegan, you could introduce more vegan options in place of eggs on most days.

How much time/space/opportunity do you have to prepare your own food? One non-soy protein option is tempeh made at home from non-soy legumes. You can order tempeh starter online. I would suggest consulting several blogs and pages about tempeh making.

How adventurous are you about new foods?

How is your colitis doing? Do you find it helpful to avoid msg?

I wouldn't worry about occasional social events. To me, this is outside the main ethical impetuous of veganism, namely choosing not to support industries that rely on animal exploitation. It doesn't do much harm to have a small slice of Auntie Margie's non-vegan pumpkin pie once a year.

I could tell you more about making tempeh if you are interested. I love it because to me it tastes like mushrooms when it's homemade, and I love mushrooms!

If you are transitioning to veganism please make sure you are getting a dha (docosahexaenoic acid) supplement and a vitamin b12 supplement.
 

silva

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You mention iron and b vitamins. Do you take any supplements for these, or would you consider supplements?

How many eggs do you currently eat per week? More than 3? If so, maybe before going 100% vegan, you could introduce more vegan options in place of eggs on most days.

How much time/space/opportunity do you have to prepare your own food? One non-soy protein option is tempeh made at home from non-soy legumes. You can order tempeh starter online. I would suggest consulting several blogs and pages about tempeh making.

How adventurous are you about new foods?

How is your colitis doing? Do you find it helpful to avoid msg?

I wouldn't worry about occasional social events. To me, this is outside the main ethical impetuous of veganism, namely choosing not to support industries that rely on animal exploitation. It doesn't do much harm to have a small slice of Auntie Margie's non-vegan pumpkin pie once a year.

I could tell you more about making tempeh if you are interested. I love it because to me it tastes like mushrooms when it's homemade, and I love mushrooms!

If you are transitioning to veganism please make sure you are getting a dha (docosahexaenoic acid) supplement and a vitamin b12 supplement.
I love mushrooms, and I eat tempeh, but I've never heard anyone compare them! I don't think they taste alike, but maybe homemade?

For DHA you want algae sources. I have been taking them for years, and find they do make a difference. the only options for DHA are algae (primary source) or fish oil (secondary as they get it from eating algae). Many people formulate it from eating proper ratios of essential fatty acids, ala, but many don't, and it gets harder as we age. Anyway, i point this out as it's not a vegan thing. I never was a fish eater, so I probably got little before finding algae supplements.

I just noticed you make tempeh without soybeans. I've never tried that-nor have I seen it! 🤔.
What beans do you use? And do they use the same starter?
 
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bEt

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You use the same starter for any legume or grain. You can make tempeh from just about any grain or legume. I have made with lentils, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, and most recently with just plain brown rice. I have seen others online make tempeh out of oatmeal and someone else out of canned beans. I haven't tried those yet. I did however make tempeh out of some rice-and-lentil pasta I was gifted, and once from split peas. When you make tempeh at home the texture is spongier than store-bought because the store-bought has been vacuum packed.
 
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bEt

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I’ve been a pescatarian since I was 13 (I’m 19 now) and I’ve been wanting to go vegan for a few years. Now that I live on my own and I don’t have to eat family meals that’s finally possible. However, there are a few things that are in the way that I would like some advice on before I take this step.

1. I was anorexic when I was 11 and have struggled with various forms of eating disorders since then. I am healthy now but after putting my body through so much sustained weight loss whenever I lose weight (on purpose or accident) my hair starts falling out, I get cold all the time, it’s harder to think straight, blood pressure drops, I lose my period, etc. That happens even if the weight loss is very gradual and hardly noticeable. Currently I work a very physical job in sub freezing temperatures (I work at a ski resort) so I eat about 3,000 calories a day. Any less than that would mean weight loss. I’m worried about being able to sustain that calorie intake on a vegan diet. High calorie vegan food recommendations?

2. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis a year and a half ago. I’ve tried various medications but all those do is suppress the symptoms and don’t treat the root of the disease. After turning to holistic medicine, I started a new diet which really helps: I eat lots of produce, beans, lentils, eggs, and whole grains but I don’t eat dairy, refined carbs, added sugars, coffee/alcohol, and I try to limit saturated fats as much as possible. However I do eat plenty of eggs, which have a lot of iron and B vitamins and other nutrients I only get from eggs. I’m anemic from ulcerative colitis so the iron is important and I don’t really get those B vitamins anywhere else in my diet. Eggs are also very cheap and my main source of protein. I don’t know what I would replace eggs with if I cut them out. Suggestions?

3. My mom is one of 5 sisters. All of them, including my grandmother, have Hashimoto’s. Since I know I’m predisposed I’m worried that eating too much soy products, being chock full of estrogen, will mess with my thyroid. What are some non-soy vegan protein options?

4. The social side. Lots of people view vegans as self-righteous bigots, especially in Alabama where I’m from. (I have just moved to Colorado so that will be easier, but my family still lives in Alabama.) Social gatherings often revolve around food as well and I’m worried that always having to bring my own food will limit my socializing. Nothing bonds a group of people like sitting down and eating the same food. I don’t want people to think that I think I’m better than them and I don’t want to be separated by my eating habits. How do y’all handle this?
Am I remembering correctly that Hashimoto's and ulcerative colitis are both considered autoimmune conditions?
You said that a diet with plenty of fresh produce has been helpful. I imagine that a lot of the photonutrients like quercetin that vegetables contain can be helpful in keeping our immune systems balanced. Were your relatives who had Hashimoto's big vegetable eaters? Have you researched a lot about the condition? Sometimes other patients can offer insights that the medical 'establishment' hasn't caught on to yet.
 
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Susan W

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I’ve been a pescatarian since I was 13 (I’m 19 now) and I’ve been wanting to go vegan for a few years. Now that I live on my own and I don’t have to eat family meals that’s finally possible. However, there are a few things that are in the way that I would like some advice on before I take this step.

1. I was anorexic when I was 11 and have struggled with various forms of eating disorders since then. I am healthy now but after putting my body through so much sustained weight loss whenever I lose weight (on purpose or accident) my hair starts falling out, I get cold all the time, it’s harder to think straight, blood pressure drops, I lose my period, etc. That happens even if the weight loss is very gradual and hardly noticeable. Currently I work a very physical job in sub freezing temperatures (I work at a ski resort) so I eat about 3,000 calories a day. Any less than that would mean weight loss. I’m worried about being able to sustain that calorie intake on a vegan diet. High calorie vegan food recommendations?

2. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis a year and a half ago. I’ve tried various medications but all those do is suppress the symptoms and don’t treat the root of the disease. After turning to holistic medicine, I started a new diet which really helps: I eat lots of produce, beans, lentils, eggs, and whole grains but I don’t eat dairy, refined carbs, added sugars, coffee/alcohol, and I try to limit saturated fats as much as possible. However I do eat plenty of eggs, which have a lot of iron and B vitamins and other nutrients I only get from eggs. I’m anemic from ulcerative colitis so the iron is important and I don’t really get those B vitamins anywhere else in my diet. Eggs are also very cheap and my main source of protein. I don’t know what I would replace eggs with if I cut them out. Suggestions?

3. My mom is one of 5 sisters. All of them, including my grandmother, have Hashimoto’s. Since I know I’m predisposed I’m worried that eating too much soy products, being chock full of estrogen, will mess with my thyroid. What are some non-soy vegan protein options?

4. The social side. Lots of people view vegans as self-righteous bigots, especially in Alabama where I’m from. (I have just moved to Colorado so that will be easier, but my family still lives in Alabama.) Social gatherings often revolve around food as well and I’m worried that always having to bring my own food will limit my socializing. Nothing bonds a group of people like sitting down and eating the same food. I don’t want people to think that I think I’m better than them and I don’t want to be separated by my eating habits. How do y’all handle this?
Soy products do not contain estrogen.
 
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shyvas

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3. My mom is one of 5 sisters. All of them, including my grandmother, have Hashimoto’s. Since I know I’m predisposed I’m worried that eating too much soy products, being chock full of estrogen, will mess with my thyroid. What are some non-soy vegan protein options?

Please read:

''Part of the uncertainty is due to the intricacy of soy’s effects on the body. Soy is unique in that it contains a high concentration of isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) that is similar in function to human estrogen but with much weaker effects. Soy isoflavones can bind to estrogen receptors in the body and cause either weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity. The two major soy isoflavones are called genistein and daidzein. Soy isoflavones and soy protein appear to have different actions in the body based on the following factors:''



Pea protein, seitan, pulses (legumes)nuts & seeds are other alternatives to soya.
 

vegan89

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Vegan diets can actually be the healthiest diets. Check out the videos on Dr. Greger's website (nutritionfacts.org) and a book called "The China Study."

You can mitigate any social problems of being vegan by finding other vegans to hang out with :) There was some group in the United States called Plant Pure Nation or Plant Pods or something that hosts potlucks (whole food vegan, very health-focused) vegan meetings. This is in my area of Michigan, but you might have something like that near you as well. You might also check and see if other family members who attend these food gatherings you're talking about are receptive to vegan ideas. Getting more people on your side would probably change the opinions of the other people there.

You also might want to watch this free documentary about how a whole food vegan diet was introduced to a rural and southern community, and how it improved their health dramatically:

As for highly caloric vegan foods... there are a lot of those, but I wouldn't call them healthy (as with non-vegan highly caloric foods). There are vegan substitutes for almost every traditional animal-based food these days. Impossible Whoppers at Burger King, for example (assuming you get them without mayo). I used to like getting them and then putting a vegan mayo like vegenaise on them. They taste the same as regular Burger King Whoppers to me.

You mentioned eggs are a cheap source of protein and are filling. Dried rice & beans are extremely cheap and easy to cook in an Instant Pot, and give you all the protein you need. Healthier than eggs as well. Vegan food can be very cheap, rich in protein, and keep you feeling full. Oatmeal is another good one. If you have oatmeal and beans for breakfast I think you'll feel plenty full for however long you need to.
 
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