Vegetarian Review

Had an amazing weekend catching up with friends and running the Shamrock Half in honor of Cameron Gallagher.  Will post a recap soon.

This week was supposed to mark our buffer week in the food experiment department.

BUT, Justin and I have had an unexpected eye opening experience in these last 2 weeks.

I already mentioned some findings I learned through these 3 weeks.

Finding 1

Finding 2

We have enjoyed some pretty yum meals on this plan.

Week One

Week Two

Week Three



These meals weren’t too far off from what we normally eat, just no bison or chicken.  I struggled with feeling full week one and two.  By week three, I was eating a lot of beans and starting to feel like I was going to float away with all the extra “air.”  But, I noticed an increase in energy, mood and performance this last week.

I lost 1 lb., but I don’t know if that was from my increase in teaching classes and running or decrease in eating meat.


I never have my act together and this did not change.  I blame that on the kids.

What was our eye opening experience?

We have just started having aversions to meat, specifically beef, chicken and turkey.  We have actually started thoroughly enjoying a plant-based diet (once our guts adjust!).

A plantbased diet is one based on vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruit, with little or no animal products (including dairy).

As I’ve been studying Colin Campbell’s work, I see how plant-based diets actually reduce certain diseases.  While researching Paleo or other meat-driven diets, I don’t see a “this lowers the risk”, but more of a defense, “this won’t cause a risk.”  That was a big eye opener for us.  I mean, how can you argue with things that you plant and God grows for you?

Here are THREE more reasons we’ve decided to go plant-based.  I’ve looked into the arguments that meat eaters make against vegetarians and have found these 3 the most prevalent.  That plant-based eaters don’t get enough omega 3’s or protein and that they consume too much phytic acid.

1.  Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for health. We need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain, and since our bodies cannot make omega-3 fats, we must get them through food.  SOURCE

Plant-based sources of omega 3’s include soybeans, flaxseed, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, leafy greens.  These types of omega 3s are called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA.

Animal-based sources include fatty fish.  These type are referred to as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

However, research from meat-eaters indicate that the conversion of ALA (plant-based omega 3’s) to EPA and DHA (animal-based) is extremely limited. Less than 5% of ALA gets converted to EPA, and less than 0.5% (one-half of one percent) of ALA is converted to DHA.  SOURCE

What do my plant-eaters say?

Despite having significantly lower intakes of EPA and DHA (from fish or fish oil), blood levels of EPA and DHA in vegans and vegetarians were approximately the same as regular fish eaters.  The results indicate that the bodies of vegetarians and other non-fish-eaters can respond to a lack of dietary omega-3 EPA and DHA by increasing their ability to make them from omega-3 ALA.


I tend to agree with the plant eaters on this point.  This is just my opinion and thoughts, but I feel like our bodies are machines, constantly compensating for things.  From one of my throwback favorite shows…

The human body is designed to compensate for loss. It adapts so it no longer needs the thing it cannot have.  But, sometimes the loss is too great and the body can’t compensate on its own. That’s when surgeons get involved.

and (not from McDreamy)

The human body readily responds to changing environmental stresses in a variety of biological and cultural ways.  We can acclimatize to a wide range of temperature and humidity.  When traveling to high altitudes, our bodies adjust so that our cells still receive sufficient oxygen.  We also are constantly responding in physiological ways to internal and external stresses such as bacterial and viral infections, air and water pollution, dietary imbalance, and overcrowding.  SOURCE

So why couldn’t our bodies adapt to a different form of omega 3’s by chance?  Just a thought.

I typed in “the human body is amazing” and food this picture. ????

2.  Plant-based eaters do not get enough protein.  Remember this post?  It varies widely, but humans really only need 10-30% of their daily calories to be from protein.  Obviously endurance athletes would be on the higher end.  It may seem like you need more, but American certainly does not have a protein-deficiency problem.  If anything, we have a protein surplus problem.  Yes, it is MUCH easier to get those calories from meat, but it is very possible to also get them from plants.

If you are an endurance athlete, or trying to bulk up on muscle, just add a VEGA protein shake to your day and BAM, there’s your required daily amount.

(No I’m not sponsored by VEGA in any way, shape or form.  I just heart them.)

3.  Phytic Acid.  This is a big proponent of the Paleo Diet.  Phytic acid is called an anti-nutrient by some because it binds to nutrients in the food, preventing you from absorbing them. It doesn’t steal any nutrients that are already in your body, but it does make that bowl of lentils a lot less nutrient-dense than the Nutrition Facts panel would have you believe.  SOURCE

Phytic acid is present in beans, legumes and peanuts.  Paleo-ers do not eat these items.

With this being said, Kale can also be considered an anti-nutrient according to this definition.  It contains glucosinolates, which, after processing by the body, can suppress the thyroid gland’s ability to take up iodine and convert it into thyroid hormones. SOURCE

Also, by soaking, sprouting or fermenting the food items you can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the amount of phytic acid in them.

But, I do agree with the Paleos that these beans and legumes can irritate the gut.  Hence my extra “lofty” feeling post bean-rich vegetarian meals.  But, I think our bodies can, again, adapt.

So what are we eating?

For those of you looking forward to my food experiment, my apologies.  After researching, listening to MILLIONS of podcasts and watching several documentaries, we just don’t feel able to eat the meat-driven Paleo way.  I hate labeling ourselves, but if we have to, we are “plant-based.”  We plan on eating some fish and eggs, but no dairy and mostly plants.  The whole vegan month may happen in the future, but we plan on continuing this way for now.

Here is our goal:

What are your thoughts?


6 thoughts on “Vegetarian Review

  1. Tina Muir says:

    Innnteeerrresssting!!! Thanks for sharing the ins and outs of it. I learned a lot from your post, and I have always been curious about it. Cant wait to hear how you get on with the others…..oh, and another congrats for this weekend 🙂

  2. briwifruit says:

    Over the past year or so I’ve been looking into a more plant-based approach to eating, not only for the health reason but also for environmental and kindness reasons as well. I’ve settled in a place of 80% vegan (I can’t have dairy and avoid most gluten due to bad skin – it has actually helped immensely), local and organic chicken, fish and eggs a few times a week and whatever I want maybe 10% of the time. I think you’ll find what works for you and what makes you feel good and healthy, which doesn’t have to mean being strictly vegan or paleo. I realized I can’t be rigid due to eating disorder behaviours, and do feel better including some meat in my diet. As vegan podcaster and athlete Rich Roll says, “strive for progress, not perfection.” 🙂

  3. Aimee West says:

    First of all, thanks, Emma, for doing all this research for us and then summarizing it. Campbell’s studies and trials which have been 25+ years in the making are very convincing–especially the cancer-preventing results! I try to stick to the vegan diet 95% of the time. Along with avoiding all white sugar and white flour and processed foods, I truly believe in it. For me, the hardest part is the non-dairy because of no CHEESE! But I have “adapted,” as you would say. KUDOS!

  4. Carrie says:

    I know that you have mentioned the china study a bit and the ties between casein and cancer. I checked out the book from the library and looked at reviews on amazon. If you look at the one star reviews for the book, their are some research based disputes and after looking at the book, those disputes are more compelling. It is worth looking, as I know you research food. It just seems like a lot of data in the book is somewhat picked to make the cause and things are left out. I agree that eating a more veggie based diet is healthy, you can’t go wrong but I am not convinced that a diet with lean meat and lowfat dairy is not just as healthy. I especially worry about taking some nutrients from my kiddos before they can choose how they want to eat. Of course my 4 year old refuses most meat so she is already a vegetarian! Only kiddo I know that would request a salad for breakfast ( yup, yesterday).

    • bemomstrong says:

      Yes I have read many criticisms about the China study. Chris MasterJohn is one of the main critics. I definitely see pros for both ways but think this is the best for us right now. I’m planning on many more disgusting meat eating versus plant eating so stay tuned! And I’m not advocating one way or the other I’m just trying to present the facts to show what works for my family. I totally understand you with the toddler and only eating certain things though so good luck with that I’m right there with you!

  5. Change of Pace says:

    I’ve loved reading your posts- so much great information in them! And easy to read without having to do all the research 🙂
    Very interesting that you guys have decided to go mostly plant based. I also find it interesting to say you’ve developed a bit of an aversion to meat. I never intended to stop eating it when kelly went vegetarian then vegan. However, the less I ate it, the greater my aversion grew.
    I also still eat eggs and seafood once in a while. It works well for me!

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