....and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine. - Ezk. 47:12
Why do people cut out Meat and Dairy?
People usually decide to cut out meat and dairy because of their desire to get healthy or because they want to support animal rights. Most recently you can add environmental reasons since the meat industry is responsible for 51% of the carbon footprint.
Meat - In a perfect world, the body is designed to get everything it needs from a plant-based diet. But since the soil used for agriculture today has been depleted of many nutrients and saturated in pesticides, our plants are far less nutritious than they used to be. Although it is more difficult to get your nutrients from a plant-based diet, it is not impossible. Animals have been used to fill the nutrient gap for our less than stellar plant food. However, when you consume animals for food you are getting second-hand nutrients or "dead" nutrients. You are also getting whatever the animal was fed such as GMO corn. Animals should be 100% grass fed and you won't find this in your typical grocery stores. You will find grass fed labels but those labels only require the animal to have 10% of their nutrients from grass, the rest can be from grains or corn. I have eaten both, and you will notice the difference in taste. When I found 100% grass fed meat, my family did not like the taste because it was so different than the store bought "grass fed" meat.
In looking at meat consumption from a deeper understanding, everything carries an energy, and an animal that has been raised by the meat industry has been confined, mistreated and naturally experienced great fear before being slaughtered for its meat. You are eating this energy! The more people that continue to buy meat, the more animals that get slaughtered to fill the need.
Dairy - If the animal is treated ethically, dairy can be a good source of protein for you but you are still getting second-hand nutrients. The biggest problem with the dairy that we eat today, is that it is all pasteurized. That means they heat it up to kill bacteria and it also kill most of the nutrients. Dairy has also taken the lead as the foods most likely to cause allergic reactions. Raw dairy straight from the farm looks and tastes much different and is far more nutritious. Finding it is the hard part. The Amish still make dairy the way it was supposed to be and you can actually order from them and have it delivered. Farmers markets are great choices. If you go to a farmers market and purchase eggs, compare the color to a typical dairy industry egg. Animals treated and cared for properly, produce different color yolks. The yolks from the grocery stores are light yellow, where the eggs from the Amish or a farmers market are a deep golden yellow, a sign of a healthy happy animal.
What Nutrients Will You Be Missing
The obvious nutrients you will be missing out on are high amounts of Protein and Amino Acids. You also may lack Omega Fatty Acids and B and D Vitamins. Finding the foods that contain high amounts of these sources will be a staple of your diet.
Good Substitutes for Meat and Dairy
The difficulty for most Vegans is getting a complete protein. That means adequate amounts of protein plus all your amino acids that the body needs. Eggs are one of the healthiest and most complete proteins of the dairy family. A great way to get started, is to cut out most dairy but just eat an egg a day and you will have everything you need as far as proteins and amino acids. Eventually you can work to cut out the egg and replace it with plant-based options. It just requires a lot of dedication to what you eat. Here are some helpful food combinations that will help fill the void.
Complete Protein/Combinations - quinoa, edamame (should be fermented), grains & beans, nuts & beans, spirulina & beans
High in Proteins - peas, almonds, beans, quinoa, or spinach
High in Amino Acids - apples, avocados, beans, carrots, hemp seeds
Omega - flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, seaweed, beans, winter squash, leafy greens, cabbage, berries
B Nutrients - Apples, cauliflower, bananas, potatoes, lentils
D Nutrients - Sun, mushrooms
Vitamins - Be careful not to solely rely on vitamin supplements to fill in your nutrients. Most supplements on the market today are synthetic versions of the natural nutrients found in plants. The body doesn't respond well to fake vitamins and doesn't absorb them as easily as natural nutrients. The vitamin coatings are often made of petroleum and contain unfermented soy which can be a hormone disruptor. Check out Doctor's Research website for more details about what to look for in vitamins.
Food Replacements - You can use the meat or dairy substitutes to get you started but they shouldn't be consumed forever. They are your transition food. Many replacement foods have other unhealthy processed ingredients. Especially gluten-free foods. Read labels and be careful what you buy. If you can't pronounce it, it's probably a chemical ingredient.
Candida - Don't overindulge in grains and legumes or processed meat and dairy substitutes. Your body has a small amount of yeast that is kept in check by good gut yeast. If you cut out dairy such as yogurt and foods that feed the good bacteria and overindulge in foods that contain sugar or turn to sugar quickly that feed the bad yeast (grains, legumes, starchy vegetables), you will get an overgrowth called Candida. It is very hard to treat. Balance your diet with high vegetable consumption, moderate fats and proteins daily (this is where your eggs come in to help you transition). Fermented kraut and a good probiotic will be your best friend in keeping candida in check.
Replace rice with Quinoa, beans with lentils and buckwheat with oatmeal. They are healthier and lower glycemic which means it turns to sugar slower and your body can process it better.
Nuts are a very important source of good fats. It's important to know how to prepare nuts to consume them with their nutrients in tack. Nuts contain a protective enzyme that is difficult to digest and if you eat a nut that hasn't been sprouted, you will not be able to digest the nutrients. Even squirrels have a process of burying and sprouting their nuts before eating them. Sprouting is easy; all you do is soak your nuts in water anywhere from 4 hours to overnight to breakdown the enzyme. You can either add sea salt or vinegar to the water to help the process. Check online for sprouting times of different nuts. Afterwards, stick them in an oven on low heat for several hours to really dry them out.
Make sure they are organic, then sprouted (if not sprout them yourself), unsalted (since you don't know what quality salt they are using), then add your own salt to your liking later.
Storing Nuts - Fats go rancid. Some nuts and seeds need to be stored in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Specifically walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and pecans.
The Real Food Pyramid
I have seen a lot of food pyramids out there, but based on my experience, here is what it should look like: Your water should be natural spring water, and add lemon or apple cider vinegar to your water to alkalize it. Despite what we have been told about 6-8 glasses of water, you should only drink when you are thirsty plus a little extra. If you overindulge in drinking water just to get in your 8 glasses you could be depleting vitamin nutrients because you are already hydrated.
Embrace Super Foods
Super foods are foods that are filled with the maximum amounts of nutrients. You eat less food with more nutrients.
9. Broccoli Sprouts (10 times more nutritious that broccoli itself)
Raw is best.
Raw "live foods" contain enzymes that will get depleted when cooking or processing. You can tell when a raw food has lost its enzymes because it starts to turn brown or go bad in some way. We want to be eating the pure life force that food can provide in its natural state. Even with nuts. After sprouting, raw is better than roasted. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc.) are the only ones that need to be cooked to break down the protective enzymes in order for your body to absorb the nutrients.
Start small. Go vegetarian first, relearning how to eat before attempting a vegan lifestyle. Start with taking out red meat, then chicken, than fish from your diet. I was vegetarian for a year before attempting vegan. Eventually you can cut out cheese (replace with raw first), than yogurt (replace with a probiotic), than egg as your last resort.