2,300 cattle, 1,750 hens, and 125 hogs… is the incomplete and conservative estimate of animals who involuntarily sacrificed their lives for my pursuit of the perfect body. Okay I made these numbers up, but I don’t need a calculator to quantify the gravity of my contribution to the demise of these conscious beings.
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved meat, and was under the assumption it was vital and even necessary to my well-being. Although I’ve personally transitioned to a vegetarian diet – I still don’t think consuming meat from responsible sources is a detriment to your health. Honestly, from my time as a scientist and researcher I don’t believe the evidence does either. Even experientially, I could show you a portfolio of blood work, body composition markers, and physical performance metrics for 1,000 + omnivores I’ve worked with over the years. By any reasonable marker these people were physically healthy.
There are some undeniably healthy qualities of meat (excluding heavily processed meat):
- Packed with nutrients
- Bursting with high quality protein
- A delicious component of any staple american meal.
But is it possible to experience these same benefits from somewhere else, and if I did, could I meaningfully extend the lives of countless animals and reduce my environmental footprint?
I could not ignore this opportunity.
As an animal lover, this realization was only exaggerated by watching and reading a series of exposing ‘behind the scenes’ content on the food producing industry (NOT: “what the health”). Although in my eyes, documentary films are about as scientifically reliable as a blog post. The footage was real, the pain was real, the injustice was real. The mere possibility, that any significant percentage of animals were subject to this horrific fate in order to become my food was enough for me to realize I had to do what I could to make the change.
Cruelty tolerated, is violence encouraged. Every meal I consume being a vote I cast in contrast or support of who I am, no longer can I imagine doing so without being submitted to or partly defined by the very injustice I seek to reject.
Brief aside: There are a series of “mental models” I use to analyze and interpret the world around me, and my existence in it. A few were especially appropriate in making this transition:
- Logical consistency: I cannot actively criticize other forms of cruelty to animals (the circus, zoos, trophy hunting, etc.), yet purchase conventional factory produced animal meat. These are two fundamentally contradicting actions.
- Ethical harmony: my behavior must reflect the compassionate values I hope to see in the world. The question becomes: if I must kill to live (i.e. plants), than HOW do I kill to live?
- Aspirational standard: I refuse to accept habits, no matter how deeply ingrained, that do not support the characteristics of my BEST self.
When I first started really considering this transition, I thought this meant I’d have to sacrifice the physique I spent over a decade developing. But turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.
I ventured out on a path to identify the best strategy to make this transition without sacrificing any of the physical progress I had made over a lifetime. Fortunately after a few years performing protein metabolism research, I had a strong basis of knowledge to interpret the underlying physiology of my decisions. I could make dietary selections to mitigate any potential loss of muscle.
It was actually quite simple. Leveraging a few staple plant-based protein sources and products, I was able to seamlessly transition from omnivore to pescatarian, and finally to vegetarian.
Easy on the go supplements:
- Koia Plant Based Protein Shakes – premade [Link]
- Planet Protein bars (completely natural ingredients, perfectly filling)
Delicious high protein meal staples:
- Beyond Meat (everything from ‘beef’ to ‘chicken’ strips)
- Tempeh (grilled, ground, bacon, etc.)
With these tools, and the influx of new creative plant-based options, this transition has been much easier than I ever could have imagined.
As a coach, my instinct is to share the process I utilized to pave a path toward conscious consuming. Hopefully in doing so, you will have a tool that removes barriers that may have been preventing you from embarking on your own path in the past.
Below you’ll find an outline of the process I’ve found to be the most effective. I’ve also included a grocery list. In a subsequent post I’ll share some of my favorite recipes from my chef Nicole Shubalis of Le Koko cuisine (SHE IS AMAZING). I’ve refined and streamlined this approach to ensure it’s as simple and intuitive to implement as possible. I account for macro & micro nutrient balance through a process of inclusion not exclusion.
In short: we try to crowd out, rather than cut out.
Anything we add or remove is cumulative from the preceding weeks. Meaning, once something is added it can stay, once something is removed it should largely stay removed.
Beyond Meat Veggie Patty
Gardein Beefless Burger
Black Beans and/or Chickpeas
Upton Naturals “Chorizo” Seitan
Explore Asian Black Bean Spaghetti
Plant-Based Protein Powder: (email Evan for formula to create on Truenutrition.com)
Vegetables / Fruits:
Guacamole or medium Avocados
Non-starchy (green) Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, asparagus, bok choy, brussel sprouts, peppers, mushrooms)
Dr. Praegar’s Super Greens Veggie Patty
LTO – Lettuce, Tomato, Onion
Unsweetened Almond Milk
Unsweetened Almond Butter
Red Apple Fat-free Cheese
Julian Bakery Paleo Bread (Coconut)
Cucina Antica All Natural Ketchup
Walden Farms Calorie-free Italian dressing or FAT FREE Italian dressing
Honeyville or PB2 Peanut Butter Powder
Fat free salsa
All Purpose Seasoning
Some Easy on-the-go snacks:
Planet Protein Bars
RXbars – not Vegan
Certifications to look for:
Ingredients & packaging
Demeter Certified Biodynamic
No Antibiotics Added
Cage Free/Free-Range/Pasture Raised
No Added Hormones
-Your Wellness Wingman