I’ve been receiving so many emails in the last few months from friends who have been observing my transformation. Some want to know why I became a vegan, some want to know how to make the leap and some just want help eating healthier. I’m breaking my posts into two parts- my story and food. In this post, I will briefly cover how I eat, my suggestions, places to find recipes, websites for further reading and books I have read and have found extremely helpful.
I eat a strict vegetarian/vegan diet that is largely whole foods based. I do not eat beef, poultry (including their eggs), fish or dairy products. I don’t count calories, watch my carbs or worry about protein. I do eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. For the most part, I stay away from processed foods- when I go to the grocery store, 80% of my basket comes from the produce department. I rarely drink alcohol or caffeine and greatly limit my use of white flour and sugar. This might seem like self-deprivation and torture, but I assure you it isn’t. This is coming from a Kansas raised girl who used to love cheeseburgers and fried chicken and who (still) enjoys baking.
Whether you want to make the leap to being a vegan or just flirt with the idea of eating healthier, here are some of my tips to you:
-Choose your foods intelligently: know where it comes from and be able to pronounce all the ingredients on the food label.
-Let go of the idea that carbs are bad. Yes, white flour is bad for you. But if you are eating WHOLE grains (aka 100% whole grain) you do not need to worry.
-Do not worry about getting enough protein. I guarantee you already consume way more than you need and consuming extra protein increases your risk for Osteoporosis.
-Try replacing the milk you put in your cereal, coffee, baking, etc with almond or soymilk. Try both, try different brands. They are all different.
-Eat your vegetables (and fruit)- lots of them. I eat between 10 and 15 servings most days (I fast-track this by drinking 1-2 smoothies a day)
-Engage in some sort of physical activity.
Places to find yummy recipes:
Links where you can read more:
Onto the books. I did not write the reviews that are in italics. To save us both time, I compiled the ones that express how I feel about these particular books. The first three books are pretty mild and I would recommend them to anyone wanting to know more about being healthy and making better food choices. If you are curious and want to know more about veganism or if you are sincerely interested in trying a vegan diet and making it a lifestyle, I definitely recommend the last two books.
“Eat less of certain foods, specifically animal products, refined carbs, and junk food; and more of others, specifically plants, in close to their natural state.”
Mark Bittman’s Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating is a guidebook for the typical American eating the typical American diet–heavy laden with meat, animal products, and processed foods. This typical American diet, Bittman points out, is calorie-dense, harmful to the atmosphere, taxing on global resources, and unhealthy. Bittman easily mixes scientific research with his own personal account of needing to lose weight due to high cholesterol and sleep apnea and shows that shifting his diet by emphasizing vegetables, legumes, and beans over meats and processed food helped him reach his weight and health goals without resorting to rigid dieting and calorie-counting. Let me make it clear here that Bittman is not advocating vegetarianism. He allows himself a little meat during his dinner meal and incorporates some meat in the recipe section of his book.
A food journalist and cook book writer (his How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has been praised by icon Mario Batali) divides his book into two sections. The first section, Food Matters, lays down the reasons we need to shift from meat and processed foods to vegetables, fresh produce, legumes and beans. If you’ve already read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food, this information won’t be new to you. But it is a good recap of the incremental way the typical American diet has become unhealthy, burdensome to the environment, and “insane.”
The second section of Bittman’s book, the recipe section, is excellent, not just for the 75 recipes and suggested menus, but for the basic foods he says you should always keep stocked in your kitchen and the secrets for adding bold flavors to your meals.
The title: The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet, by Alicia Silverstone, says it all. The plant-based diet, according to Silverstone (and a few doctors quoted) will improve your health, help prevent disease, improve the environment and help you lose weight.
The book begins with Silverstone’s personal story. It includes her early attempts at not eating meat, and an unhealthy period when she ate only raw foods.
Then the book discusses the “nasty foods”–meat, dairy, white sugar and processed foods. We learn the many reasons these foods are unhealthy, bad for the planet and bad for animal’s welfare.
Next, we learn what the “kind foods” are–notably, whole grains, new proteins, veggies and healthy desserts.
There is a chapter on nutritional FAQ’s.
Silverstone gets we are not all ready for a vegan diet, especially if we are used to a diet heavy in meats, dairy and processed foods. So, she presents three levels: flirting, vegan and superhero.
In flirting, she makes recommendations like: go to a vegetarian restaurant and order a dish, buy some vegan products from her “Transitional food chart”, and simply recommends we start adding vegan meals into our diets.
In vegan, she presents a plan on how to build a meal and a vegan meal plan.
Finally, the superhero level is loosely based on the macrobiotic diet (minus fish,) and features fresh, local and seasonal fare.
Silverstone adds helpful tips, like chew your food really well, what to do about detoxing and cravings and more.
There is a chapter on tips when away from home.
The book concludes with fantastic looking recipes (I’m a pretty good cook, I can always tell.) They recipes are divided into vegan and superhero.
Even if you are not committed to a full time vegan diet, I highly recommend this book–just start with the flirting and see where it takes you. If you do get into the vegan lifestyle, know that there are lots of good cookbooks out there to help.
….The introductory phase of the Kind Diet is known as the flirt phase. During the flirt phase, participants are guided into gradually substituting the meat and other animal products out of their diets. By slowly reducing the amounts of animal-based products, participants can ease into a stricter diet or they can choose to remain at the flirt phase. Silverstone claims in her book that those at this level will generally see quick changes in their weight, appearance, and feeling of well-being and may be more motivated to maintain the diet.
T. Colin Campbell, PhD, is the project director of the China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and HealthProject (the China Study), a 20-year study of nutrition and health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University. In more than 40 years of research he has received more than 70 grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding and authored more than 300 research papers.
The main point of this book is that most nutritional studies that we hear about in the media are poorly constructed because of what the author terms “scientific reductionism.” That is, they attempt to pin down the effects of a single nutrient in isolation from all other aspects of diet and lifestyle.
While this is the “gold standard” for clinical trials in the pharmaceutical world, it just doesn’t work when it comes to nutrition. Given that the Western diet is extremely high fat and high protein compared to most of the rest of the world, studies that examine slight variations in this diet (i.e., adding a few grams of fiber or substituting skim milk for full fat milk) are like comparing the mortality rates of people who smoke five packs of cigarettes a day vs. people who smoke only 97 cigarettes a day.
Campbell’s research, which he describes in a very accessible and engaging fashion, has two tremendous advantages over the typical nutritional study. First, there is the China Study itself – a massive series of snapshots of the relationship between diet and disease in over 100 villages all over China. The rates of disease differ greatly from region to region, and Campbell and his research partners (including some of the most distinguished scholars and epidemiologists in the world) carefully correlated these differences with the varying diets of the communities.
It’s not lazy “survey research” either – the researchers don’t rely on their subjects’ memory to determine what they ate and drank. The researchers also observed shopping patterns and took blood samples to cross-validate all the data.
The second amazing part of Campbell’s research method is his refusal to accept any finding without taking it back to his lab and finding out how exactly it works. In other words, we discover in The China Study not only in what way, but precisely how, the foods we eat can either promote or compromise our health.
The book is part intellectual biography / hero’s journey (although Campbell is always wonderfully humble – there’s no trace of self-congratulation, just a deep gratitude for what he has experienced), part nutrition guide (the most honest and unflinching one you’ll ever read), and part expose.
I can honestly say that no book has shaken my world view like this one. Anyone interested in health – their own, or that of their family, friends, or community – must read this book and share it. Campbell has started a revolution. Skip this work at your own peril.
The China study is the most life-changing book I have ever read. Colin Campbell clearly and concisely presents rock solid evidence guaranteed to change your mind about the way you eat and the way you view your health.
Do yourself a favor and read this book. It contains no diet plans or recipes. It does contain highly readable, extremely interesting insights of one of the nation’s top scientists, his work with humans and animals, and his astonishing discoveries.
You should order this book, read it immediately, and send everyone you care about a copy as well.
This is a fantastic book that’s loaded with so much eye opening information, it’s the kind of book that I’ll read again. I feel if you don’t convert to a whole food plant based diet after reading this book, I don’t think anything in the world will convince you….the evidence is just overwhelming.
I turned vegan the minute I finished this book (I didn’t even try being a vegetarian first). Not only have I lost weight but I also feel really good. This book punched me right in the face and woke me up to all the crap that I had been eating. This is for anyone who needs that kick in the butt to motivate them. This will not only boost you into a healthy diet, but a healthy lifestyle.
I have never read a book like this. Ever! Since I read this book I’ve gone from a meat and potatoes girl to a committed vegan. I always knew I was eating the wrong way but somehow couldn’t bring myself to put my money where my mouth was. Skinny Bitch spoke to me in such a straight shooting manner that the choice no longer felt difficult – I just knew what I needed to do.
If you want to lose weight, feel healthy, and do the planet and animals a big favor – read this book and take it on. I owe a big thank you to Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman for writing a book that finally gets people like me to act!!
If you are uptight and cringe at vulgar language, don’t get this book. For the rest of you who love a good laugh while actually learning a thing or two, you’ll enjoy it! This book gives you a push to get healthy. It summarizes the food industy’s corruptness and what are all the toxins and chemicals put in foods and how to read through the misleading food labels on packaging. How to take care of yourself and turn things around. The authors also give you healty alternatives and brands to try. I have purchased many of them already and they are all very tasty! I loved this book and have ordered it for some friends.
If you can’t take one more day of self-loathing, you’re ready to hear the truth: You cannot keep shoveling the same crap into your mouth every day and expect to lose weight.
While Socrates claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living, Jeffrey Masson’s message in The Face on Your Plate is that the unexamined meal is not worth consuming. The sad reality is that most people know little or nothing about the lives of the animals who arrive on their dinner plates; nor do they know about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment or the harmful effect of animal products on human health. The Face on Your Plate provides readers with the information they need to make fully informed ethical choices about their meals. Masson takes us on a behind the scenes tour of animal agriculture and lets the facts speak for themselves. He reaches the overwhelming conclusion that veganism is the ideal diet in every respect.
The Face on Your Plate arrives at a propitious time, given the increasing number of organic food advocates. But Masson goes one step further. He is not a proponent of “sustainably” raised meat. Drawing on his previous research on the emotional lives of animals, he encourages us to tap into our capacity for empathy, recognizing that other-than-human animals value their lives just as much as we do ours. While vegetarians and vegans are accustomed to responding to queries about why they eat as they do, Masson poses the more interesting question: Why do people eat meat (or other animal products)? His overriding thesis is that the consumption of animal products exists because of a systematic denial of the suffering that underlies the production of animal products.
Masson’s book has something for everyone. He offers a plethora of little-known facts and astute observations about the impact of animal agriculture that will be new to many, even the well-informed vegan/animal advocate. How many people know, for example, that the level of stress that pigs endure on factory farms is so intense that sows are becoming increasingly anorexic? His discussion of fish is the best I have seen and worth the price of the book alone. Among the many mind-boggling facts he presents is that a pesticide used in the 80′s and 90′s to control the common problem of lice infestation on ranch-farmed fish contained a nerve toxin considered to be one of the most toxic chemicals in the world.
For those who hear the “v” word and immediately want to run, I encourage you to hear Masson out. He is not out to castigate meat eaters. His mission is one of opening doors so that people can understand the larger story behind the food on their plates. Lest you anticipate a dry set of statistics that lull you to sleep, or send you into despair, I can assure you that you will not be bored or depressed. Masson is a terrific writer with a gift for weaving factual information together with anecdotes drawn from his own life. In addition to sharing his personal trajectory toward veganism, he gives practical tips to help those who feel daunted about how to make the transition to veganism. His ultimate message is one of hope, leading us on a path toward better health and wellbeing for all. The Face on Your Plate is a superb book that deserves to be widely read.
Masson writes beautifully and with heart. He writes in a way that does not preach, does not judge and does not bore. His combination of facts and figures with personal anecdotes and emotion is for me, the perfect balance.