Saturday, May 23, 2009

follow up to china study post

I wanted to do a quick follow up to answer some of the questions people had about my China Study post. Because we are moving in 6 days, I won't be on much next week. I had a little bit of time tonight and I didn't want to leave you all hanging for that long. 

First let me clarify that we have NOT yet stopped eating dairy. When I read the book, we still had milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt in our fridge. I was not going to just throw all that out, so we have been continuing to eat it until it's gone. We also have a bunch of eggs that we are still eating. So I can't yet say how the change of lifestyle is going because we haven't really done it yet. 

Let me also add (and you may have gathered this from the list of foods above) that I LOVE dairy food. I love drinking milk. I love cheese. I love ice cream. If you had asked me two weeks ago if I would give up dairy, I would have said, "NO freaking way!" 

BUT.... in the back of mind I knew it wasn't the best. When you really stop to think about it, eating milk from another animal is weird. Cow's milk is designed to make baby cows into big cows. It isn't really designed for us. I remember reading when I was pregnant that most people actually have some form of milk allergy and don't know it. This may sound weird, but one sign is having a chronically stuffy nose. And I totally do.  We'll see if it goes away once the dairy is out of my diet. 

Back to my point... given how much I love dairy, I had kinda chosen to remain ignorant of its faults. I started reading The China Study without realizing the impact it would have on me. Needless to say, it was so convincing that I am willing to give up my beloved dairy.

The next thing I want to clarify is that we are not going to become crazy strict vegans. I used to think vegans were totally extreme radicals and that to be vegan you had to treat it like a religion. I guess to be completely vegan, that might be true. But I have no intention of giving away my leather boots. Or of giving up honey for that matter. I'm not in this because I think it's morally wrong to use animals for food. For most of the world's history, humans needed to get food any way they could and that included killing animals and using animals milk. But we live in a time where we have abundance of all sorts. I don't need meat or milk to get my nutrients. And it turns out that our bodies seem to run better when we don't eat those things. 

Just as I know that sugar isn't good for me but I still eat candy sometimes, I will still eat dairy and meat sometimes. We have even decided to keep buying butter because I think margarine is weird. I'm not going to freak out over eating eggs in baked goods or having cheese sometimes. The big thing is that we are no longer going to have these products on stock at home. We realized that we consume a lot of dairy and we don't want to anymore. But every once in awhile isn't a big deal. 

I was asked if we plan to substitute soy products for dairy. The answer is sometimes. We already keep soy milk on hand to use for some things. I think it makes better french toast for instance. I don't enjoy drinking soy milk as much as I enjoy drinking cow's milk, so I don't plan on that becoming a perfect sub. I'm not really into the fake meat stuff or the fake cheese stuff. I would rather just have the real thing occasionally. Ice cream is a different matter. I'm not a huge fan of soy ice cream, but as I mentioned before coconut milk ice cream is AMAZING. I'm also looking forward to experimenting with various nut milks. Almond milk is really tasty. 

Someone else asked about possible negative aspects of soy. This is a very controversial topic with lots of info on both sides. I have not read about it extensively. But I do think its important not let any one food item overtake your diet. We eat tofu about once a week or so and have soy milk in things occasionally but do not revolve our diet around it. I imagine our soy consumption may go up a bit once dairy is out, but I still think soy is much better than dairy. I think the key to a plant based diet is to keep a lot of variety. (Here is a compilation of lots of info I found if you are interested...and another excellent article.)

Because we are getting ready to move, I haven't been able to go through the new cookbooks we purchased much yet. I'm really excited though to get new recipes and experiment. We already have several vegan dishes that we make regularly. Tofu stir fry is one. Rice and beans in various forms is another. We eat a lot of rice dishes (always brown) and a lot of beans. We also love pasta of course when we want a quick meal. Don't forget about other grains too such as millet and quinoa (which is actually a seed!). I will definitely let you all know when I find a good recipe. Here's one I stumbled across tonight for a dairy free dessert from New York Times: Mexican Chocolate Pudding

This is going to be a fun journey as we learn to adjust to life without dairy. I'm excited and actually less nervous than I would have thought. Something about it just feels right to me. I will of course let you know how it goes. 


  1. Oh please blog about new recipes that you try and that work. I have a short food attention span and am always looking for new veggie recipes to try.

    I think the hard part about being a vegetarian is to remember that the VEG is the important part. I know for me, my family harps about protein and where am I getting it and how much and when and in what forms to the point where I obsess about it and the reality is that we just don't NEED that amount of protein, what we need more of in our lives is VEG.

    I think I'm going to reduce the amount of diary in our lives as well, I just have to be subtle about it so that Chris doesn't freak out. If I'm careful, he'll never even notice.

  2. I want to read your post about the book in more detail when I'm home, but I have to say that a lot of this really resonantes with me. I grew up in a vegetarian family, Josh used to be vegan and still is vegetarian, etc. And I am a dairy-a-holic :). So I'm interested in hearing more about how this turns out for you and reading the book myself. Thanks for keeping everyone posted (no pun intended).