I asked Tiffany of Nature Moms to do a short interview about her “nourished vegetarian” diet. She’s one that brings a lot of the Weston A Price principles into eating a plant based diet. She was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2006 at the age of 28 and has learned and blogged so much about living naturally. I hope that if you are considering a vegetarian diet, or currently follow one, that you glean from her experience.
1. Did you notice any difference in your health by eating a vegetarian diet and why did you make the switch? (and what type of diet did you switch from?) Could you also tell us which type of vegetarian diet you follow (no meat, no eggs, no dairy, etc)
I switched to a vegetarian diet about 2 years ago and for me that meant no meat but pastured eggs, cheese, and fermented dairy remained. I was eating a nourishing foods diet or a WAPF style diet at the time but did not want to spend large amount of money on expensive organic and pastured meat products. The conventional meats you find in popular chain stores was not an option (animal cruelty and health reasons) so I decided to do without. Right away I noticed changes in my skin and energy levels. Without meat in the diet I began eating large amounts of leafy greens and my skin plumped up like I had gotten botox. It also looked more youthful. I also had more energy throughout the day. My body did not miss meat at all as it turns out.
2. How do you make sure to get in enough quality protein?
I get most of my protein from lots of leafy greens, green vegetables, sea vegetables, fruit, eggs, yogurt, kefir, select grains like Quinoa, sprouted nuts and seeds, and sometimes from beans. I work out strenuously for 3 hours, 3-4 days a week, I run regularly, and I do a lot of weight training. Energy and stamina has not been a problem.
3. What about the essential fats found in fish and animal products? How do you get those in a vegetarian diet?
I get my Omegas the same way the fish do… by eating sea vegetables like Nori Kombu, and Dulse. Also algae like spirulina. Healthy fats can also be found in coconut oil, avocados, and sprouted nuts.
4. What are your thoughts on red meat causing cancer and disease?
The factory farmed meats you can buy at conventional stores are most definitely contributing to cancer and disease, no doubt about it in my mind because how healthy can you expect to be if you are eating an unhealthy and potentially diseased animal? I also take notice of foods that are acid/alkaline and I try to make sure that most of my diet is composed of alkaline foods or at least keep it very balanced. Eating meat would through off my balance in that area. I had cancer 5 years ago and I do not want to give new cancer cells that acid environment they crave. Meat unfortunately contributes to an acid environment.
5. What steps do you take to make sure your body is “nourished”? And how important is traditional food preparation (via WAPF)?
Eating organic and pastured is important to me. Healthy animals who eat what they were intended to eat make the healthiest animal products for us to consume. Milk is preferably raw and comes from pastured cows. Eggs need to come from pastured chickens. All organic of course. My kitchen is ripe with fresh fruits straight from the farm via delivery, the farmer’s market, or my backyard garden. Fresh foods still have all their nutritional integrity. Prep work in the kitchen also increases the nutrient value of many foods. I make yogurt, milk kefir, coconut water kefir, and sourdough at home. I also soak nuts, and sprout seeds.
6. What does a ‘normal’ daily food intake look like?
Typically I eat yogurt and/or kefir in the morning along with a quart of green smoothie later on. Another green smoothie with lunch which may be a large salad with Quinoa or maybe a soft boiled egg spread on sourdough toast. For dinner I may make a sourdough veggie pizza, sourdough pasta with spinach/mushrooms and a mustard sauce, or a nourishing veggie soup like Potato Leek or Mushroom. I snack on fresh fruit.
7. What common vegetarian foods do you normally stay away from?
I stay away from soy. That means no tofu dogs or soy milk for me. It is no health food and can really mess up your body.. I know this from personal experience. A few months ago I started eating a popular protein bar before I hit the gym and in true bonehead fashion did not read the ingredients. I guess I assumed they were similar to Lara bars but these bars were soy based, not nut based. After 2.5 months of eating them I became hypothyroid and my hair started to fall out. I also developed a painful cyst just under my left breast that seemed to appear and disappear with my monthly cycles. I immediately investigated my daily foods and found the culprit… it wasn’t hard to figure out what it was. I stopped eating the soy and within 6 weeks my thyroid levels were only slightly outside of normal and the cyst shrunk by half and stopped being painful. I am confident that a healthy, nourishing diet with no soy will set things right soon.
I will eat fermented soy like Miso or soy sauce though.
8. In your personal views, what type of people should consider a vegetarian diet?
Going veg can work for just about anyone but I think many people are being swayed against it when they see so many people doing it badly. There are lots of junk food vegetarians and vegans who are essentially “grainarians”. They consume lots of pasta and bread and lose out on nutrients in their food by not fermenting, soaking, and eating more foods in their natural raw state. They also eat lots of faux meat products with unfermented soy. In my opinion they would be much better off eating real meat.
Anyone who feels that they cannot afford pastured, organic meat should look to vegetarianism instead of opting to buy factory farmed animal products. They can simply spring for the pastured eggs and raw milk and spend the rest on nourishing greens and veggies. Meat free diets can be healthy and nourishing too.