A while back, I talked about watching the CNN show The Last Heart Attack. The show was based on the idea that heart attacks could be completely prevented by diet and exercise and based much of its theory on the research of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic.
I thought they presented some pretty strong evidence and so followed up by watching Forks over Knives, a documentary that goes so far as to say that the majority of degenerative diseases, including some cancers, might be kept at bay and in some cases reversed, with a plant-based, whole foods diet.
I’ve been a healthy, whole foods diet proponent for years, but the one thing that I’ve never paid much attention to was the role of dairy in disease. Specifically, the role of casein protein, which is found in dairy. In the comprehensive China Study, T. Colin Campbell (also featured prominently in Forks over Knives) found that casein protein, found in the vast majority of cow’s milk, promoted cancer in all stages of development. I also learned that our calcium is probably better absorbed when it comes from sources other than cow’s milk. Hmm, me with two stress reactions, and two dairy loving kids, just might want to pay attention to this one.
Topping it all off, there’s the environmental impact of going vegan. With a little effort towards veganism, we can make a pretty big dent in the way we treat the earth.
So all this has led me to start down the vegan path–eating nothing with a mother or a face and no dairy. Have I gone 100 percent? Not at this stage. Here’s where I score on some of the counts:
- Meat–we haven’t had any in about three weeks and I don’t think anyone really misses it. Challenges–packing the kids lunches and keeping it mixed up for them. I will admit that they were not fans of the Tofurky roast beef I tried to slip in!
- Fish–This is one I wrestle with. There are plenty of health benefits to be derived from certain fishes and so we are keeping this in our diet about once a week. Fish more falls into an ethical category for me–our waters are severely overfished.
- Dairy–I’ve replaced all of our yogurts with soy yogurt and this is fine with the kids. I’ve also added soy milk and almond milk into our refrigerator and the kids use it on cereal; I use it in cooking.
- Produce–We already ate lots of fruits and vegetables, but now we’re getting even more in. I’m also making sure to buy the “dirty dozen” produce items organic, something I wasn’t entirely dedicated to before.
As a guide for cooking, I’ve been turning over and over again to the Skinny Bitch Everyday Cookbook by Kim Barnouin. Jason recommended it to me and it’s a real find. She loads it with easy, fantastic vegan recipes. Some of my
favorites so far: vegan cassoulet, pasta, navy bean and spinach soup, and kale with peanut sauce. The book also comes full of valuable nutritional information, which I appreciate.
The bottom line–I think a vegan(ish) approach can fit into an athlete’s diet quite well. Many might argue that you don’t get enough protein, but really, we 1. think we need more protein than we do, and 2. can get plenty from plants.
What are your thoughts on a vegan diet?
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