Happy Herbivore Blog

September 7, 2013

This Week's Q&A: Pantry Organization, Calorie Intake, Iron Anemia, Arguing Against "Sustainable/Humane" Meat, and Adrenal Fatigue/Exhaustion

You have questions....

Q: Have you written a post about organizing and storing all of your bulk foods? And how do you get away from plastic bags when trying to buy out of the bulk bins?

A: Here's my post on pantry and spice rack organization. It doesn't specifically mention bulk, although you can see some containers with bulk goods in the cabinet in the photos (one below!). I transfer bulk goods to BPA-free plastic containers, jars, etc. for the most part. You could use whatever containers you like. My assistant saves jars like salsa jars and empty spice containers to refill with bulk and homemade goods. Many stores will allow you to refill containers rather than use the bags in the first place too.


Q: My husband and I just started being herbivores! Our worry is calorie intake. I am stuffed but I only had about 1000 calories? 

A: Both you and your husband need to eat more than 1000 calories, even if you are trying to lose weight. Make sure you're not just eating vegetables. They're amazing for you, but really filling on too few calories. You'll want to include higher calorie plant foods like cooked whole grains (i.e. quinoa, brown rice), potatoes, legumes, lentils and fruits. 

If you still have trouble reaching your calorie requirement, you can add concentrated sources like dried fruits (but make sure it's just dried fruit and does not contain sugar or oil), and whole fats like nuts, seeds and avocados. However, if you have heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or are trying to lose weight, do not include these foods in your diet. Also, check out the meal plans. They take out all the guesswork and are perfect for newbies! 

Q: How do you respond to people who defend their meat eating by saying they only buy from "sustainably sourced farms who treat their animals right"?

A: I generally skip right past the cruelty issue and point out the health issues. It doesn't matter how the animals lived or died — it's the protein, fat, and cholesterol that causes disease and illness and those bad guys exist no matter what. 

If you want to argue the compassion issue: death is death. "Do you want to be shot or hanged?" There's no such thing as a "happy" death, especially when you're raised to die and killed. Plus every year, there are huge news stories about how so-called humane farms are WORSE. I remember one year a chicken egg place ran by MONKS (monks!) was investigated undercover and it was worse than many of the "conventional" farms. And what about all the wasted resources? 

There is no such thing as "sustainable" meat or dairy, or animal raised for food farms. (Check out Comfortably Unaware for more info). This is all marketing hogwash and lies people tell themselves because as Dr. McDougall says, people like to hear good news about their bad habits. (Even if the good news is actually false).

Additional Reading and Resources:

NYT: The Myth of Sustainable Meat

Peta: The Organic and Free-Range Myth

Humane Myth Org (warning, some graphic images)

Q: What do you suggest for female teenagers who are diagnosed with iron deficiency and are vegan/plant-based? 

A: Iron deficiency is common among young women and teens, particularly during their birthing years because of heavy periods (and the increased blood demands of pregnancy). It can happen to any woman, regardless of diet. 

My sister has been anemic since she was a teen (even as steak-guzzling omnivore, she was diagnosed as anemic). She's still anemic today (she's 30) and has been plant-based for several years now. After years of trial and error as an omnivore, then a vegan/plant-based diet, my sister and her doctor finally accepted her anemia isn't a dietary deficiency and she'll need to be on supplements for life. Courtney wrote about her anemia experiences here on the blog.

I also recently wrote a post on vegan birth control, and in the post I linked to an article about periods, etc. by Dr. McDougall, well worth a read, too.

Q: Do you have any stories of Herbies who have battled adrenal exhaustion and what they did with the vegan diet to help? We will not return to meat or dairy! So many websites insist you need meat to feel better from a fatigue syndrome... In my thoughts, it  takes a LOT OF ENERGY to digest that crap! And it is not life-supporting to begin with. 

A: I'm not too sure of the difference between adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome (forgive me), but we've had at least two Herbies of the Week that have reduced their fatigue issues through the help of a plant-based diet (see Sherry and Pamela — there may be more, too. After 2 years of amazing stories each week, I'm a little fuzzy on the specifics of each).

I also found these articles Googling:

4 Essential Ways to Stop Adrenal Fatigue

5 Dietary Changes That Helped Me Overcome Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

I'm not a doctor but it's my understanding that reducing stress is probably the most important thing you can do for adrenal fatigue. Stress comes in many forms, including from food and exercise. Animal products place a lot of negative stress on the body, so that wouldn't make sense as a solution. Plus consumption would put you at risk for more disease. 

All high protein foods, esp. animal foods, increase cortisol production, which leads to adrenal exhaustion. These foods also can increase production of an sustained insulin response which exhausts the pancreas, but the adrenals too because they have to produce more cortisol to force the pancreas to produce more insulin (nasty cycle). 

From a food stress perspective, eating as clean as possible — only whole foods, absolutely no oils, limited sugar and salt, etc. would be helpful. If your diet is not already plant-perfect, make it so :)

Of course coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, booze — all out.

Fruits should be abundant as they are the easiest/quickest source for energy still in whole form. Starches like potatoes should also help. You just have to keep giving your body the energy it loves, which is carbs, and keep protein low and fat as low as possible. (See The Starch Solution for more info).

Based on the protein effect, it seems like the the lower protein intake, the better for adrenal recovery, but I'm not a doctor — just what seems to make the most sense from what I'm reading about protein and cortisol, etc.

From life, you have to remove the stress. Easier said than done, I know, but you gotta do what you gotta do. More sleep, more rest, less work. Remove stressors from the life (even if its people causing the stress) and get a dog (or borrow a friend's!) — pets have great therapeutic effects :)

Beans are high in protein, so I'm not sure that's a great choice, but barley sounds good!

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