Meat or No Meat?

April 2, 2012

in Blog, My Philosophy, News, Facts, Fitness

Happy Monday!  How was your weekend?  I hope none of you got pranked by some lame April Fool’s joke 😉 Last night we celebrated my Dad’s birthday, so that was a good time.  Saturday night I was solo, as hubby had hockey, so I finally got around to watching Forks Over Knives.

I knew it was a movie about living a vegan lifestyle, but I honestly thought the movie was going to be more about animal cruelty and what’s”really” in our food.  I hate seeing that sort of stuff, so that’s why I put off seeing it for so long.

I was happy that it wasn’t about that at all!  It was about research done all around the world about nutrition preventing disease.  What they determined was, sticking to a plant based diet (vegan, as they recommend no dairy, eggs or fish either) is what can prevent or reverse diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes to name a few.

Cancer is a BIG concern for me, considering my otherwise healthy mother died of colorectal cancer at only 60 years old.  My dad’s side of the family has high blood pressure and diabetes (but that was due to being overweight).

I have been vegetarian on and off throughout my life, so I’m no stranger to that lifestyle.  I’ve been vegan too, as when I was a teenager, I had a lot of food intolerances, so it was for dietary reasons.

In more recent years, I’ve stuck to a higher protein diet (but very little red meat and pork), and that was primarily because it was introduced to me when I got more involved in fitness and competing.  I must admit, when in contest prep mode, the amount of chicken and fish I was eating didn’t seem all that healthy to me.  It was way more than I’ve ever consumed.  Constipation almost became and issue, and I could just tell my body was so acidic.  But you’re programed to think that you need the protein to get lean, but I’m now learning that its totally not the case.  Given, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you have to watch your diet very closely to make sure you’re getting enough protein, and calories in general. There are quite a few vegan athletes and body builders out there, so it is possible, but I just never knew that might apply to me.

Low Fat?

In the movie it talked about a low-fat plant based diet.  I’m not sure I agree with that 100%.  I still think people are much too afraid of fat.  Naturally, a plant based diet will be naturally lower fat as you won’t get the saturated fat from animal products.  But avoiding nuts and things like coconut oil?  I don’t think those should be avoided.  Fats are great for balancing blood sugar, and for the satiating effect.  The low-fat approach has gotten society into big problems.  Fat is generally replaced with sugar in various foods, and I firmly believe that a low-sugar lifestyle is a far better approach than low-fat.

Why I Stopped Being Vegetarian

The reason I opted out of the vegetarian lifestyle in my early 20’s was because I didn’t feel good on it.  I think it was the kind of food I was eating.  A lot more grains than normal, and a lot of the processed vegetarian meat products.  I later realized I was sensitive to wheat, and all those products are filled with wheat gluten!  I also don’t think I’m that good with soy.  I need to test it out again.  I could easily eliminate dairy, aside from whey, as I don’t have much of it anyway, and I use almond milk as an alternative.  Eggs.  I’m not sure I could be without them, especially if soy wasn’t agreeing with me.  I could only eat so many beans, ya know?


I’ve also been doing a lot of reading on Paleo style of eating for close to a year now.  Its heavily meat based, but with no grains or dairy.  Cutting out all grains would be very tough for me, and I wouldn’t want to rely on red meat and pork.  Red meat doesn’t digest well with me, and I always end up with stomach cramps during the night if I have it.

Brent and I did follow a grain-free diet for close to 2 weeks last year, and we both felt great on it.  But then again, we pretty much stick to shrimp, fish, chicken & turkey only.

What’s the Answer?

For me, I’m not sure, and now seeing that movie really has me thinking!  During this pregnancy, I’ve naturally been eating a plant-based diet as meat has been really turning me off.  Eating more beans, I’m definitely noticing I’m even more regular with all the extra fiber, so that can’t be a bad thing!

In my mind, I’m always thinking about what my nutrition plan will be post-pregnancy to get back in shape.  My focus is going to be getting lean, but not ultra-lean.  Something I can maintain.  Similar to how I looked here, or perhaps a touch leaner:

I’m planning on doing a similar method to Jamie Eason’s LiveFit trainer, and do weights only at first, with no cardio to get back my lost muscle (as I know I’m losing it daily not being able to workout with my pregnancy back issues).

What I’m not sure is….with a plant based diet, how much fruit can be included in a persons diet without hindering progress.  I’ve pretty much had the belief that too much fruit is a no-no because of the sugar.  Also, will I have to work that much harder to get the muscle and leanness that I want if I’m not consuming as much animal protein?  I guess all I can do it try it!

BUT!  Considering I won’t be competing again, I’m more concerned about health and how I feel, versus everything being about appearance.  Being ultra low carb is not a realistic approach that’s maintainable for me.  My brain needs proper amounts of carbs to function!  Even though I felt great doing grain-free, I would have a really hard time sticking to it long term. What can I say, I love my oatmeal, and using oat-flour in my baking recipes.

I’m not saying I’ll be going off meat altogether, but I’m considering cutting it down— a lot.  I guess I’ll be my own guinea pig and see how it goes.

Interestingly enough, I just read this article from Mercola with his point of view about the movie, and he makes some great points as well.  We think the same in terms of low fat, and proteins such as free range eggs.  To add more to the confusion, I’ve also read a lot on cancer growth related to sugar from Dr. Lustig. His video I watched on YouTube titled “Sugar – The Bitter Truth” got millions of views. So naturally that also has me wondering how many carbs are a good amount.

I think the moral of my rant is…the same approach won’t work for everyone, so you really have to experiment and do what works for you! Its an ever-evolving process.

QUESTION!  I’d like to learn more from you!  What’s your eating philosophy, and what made you come to that decision?


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I'm Kristine Fretwell, busy mom of 2 little girls, author, blogger, and former pro fitness competitor. I love almost any kind of cookie, anything coconut or pumpkin flavored, and Thai food. A perfect day for me is enjoying my family, getting to the gym, and whipping up a new healthy recipe. I've got a collection of over 300 healthy recipes, and other tidbits like fitness and health tips. My recipes have been featured on websites such as Huffington Post, Savvy Mom, Shape and Skinny Scoop.
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Latest posts by Kristine (see all)

  • seclement

    Also, I am doing LiveFit right now, and I am loving it. I’ve been a devoted weight lifter for a decade and a half now, so it’s not anything new, but it was a really great change from the P90X2 I was just doing. (Hated it. Don’t recommend it.)

  • seclement

    Regarding fruit, I am veggie and I rarely eat it. Maybe a piece of fruit every couple of days, and always one that is low in fructose (usually berries or a small banana). It’s because I have fructose malabsoption, but honestly I feel a lot better without all that sugar. My point is that you can be veggie and not each much fruit, or any at all.

    Regarding the low fat thing, I was actually rather annoyed that Forks Over Knives subscribed to that camp. I don’t agree with it, either from a nutritional standpoint or from a compliance standpoint. A lot of people don’t thrive on a plant-based diet without fat. Of course some people do, but I don’t think they are the majority. As you said, fats from wholesome food are good for you and necessary! It’s not like most vegans and vegetarians are out there eating nuts, seeds, coconut and avocado by the fistful. That would probably make them nauseous! Ha. 

    I think you look amazing in that picture, by the way. You’re always stunning though!

    • Kristine Fretwell

       First off….thanks! You’re so sweet!

      Great point about the fruit!  Yah, super low fat would not work for me!  Been there done that and it leaded to no menstrual cycle!

      Glad you’re liking the Livefit.  It seems like a nice switch, and not super intense. I haven’t heard great stuff about P90X2.  I’ve never been super consistent at doing home workouts….I need to go to the gym majority of the time or I’ll put it off.

  • Kristine Fretwell

    Thanks for sharing…very detailed!  She makes some really great points!  Especially the part about the survival rate of the rats! Interesting!

  • Suzriley1

    I have always toyed with the idea of going vegetarian but have never been able to actually do it. While my family and myself rarely ever ear red meat, I would say that we consume turkey and chicken almost daily. We do eat a good amount of fruits, veggies and beans but I still think we could incorporate even more into our diets. After reading your blog today, I was motivated to start doing “Meatless Monday” for my family and my personal blog. I figure one day per week is not enough to get complaints from the family but it will allow us to get more creative in our meals without using meat on a daily basis. If all goes well, I may try it a couple days per week!

    • Kristine Fretwell

       Awesome! Any changes can make a difference!  Meatless Monday is a great place to start!! 🙂

  • Anna @ The Guiltless Life

    Obviously I’m a vegetarian so I’m going to be a bit biased here – but I have always chosen vegetarianism for moral reasons rather than health. It was only after I cut out meat and started to feel so much better that I realized there could be health benefits to this! Having said that, I then had to do some major research, because before long I realized that my diet was out of whack in terms of carbs vs protein.

    When I started tracking my eats for my naturopath using I saw my average balance was more like 65-70% carbs and 15-20% fat and protein each. So I soon realized I needed to jack that up. I now have about 45% carbs, and 25-30% fat/protein and feel SO much better! It was actually my naturopath who told me yes, to eat more protein (which I already knew) but also to eat more fat, which I did NOT know. I was not intentionally eating low fat but it turned out I was consuming about 25g a day – with my naturopath’s help I’ve upped that to 45-50g a day of heart-healthy fats and I feel great!

    So I agree with your sentiment on fat and I think you should do what you feel like regarding vegetarianism/veganism. I would find it tough to be a full vegan though because of eggs and Greek yogurt/cottage cheese and whey protein = all major protein sources for me as I avoid eating too much soy as well. Each to their own, and I’m sure you will find the balance you’re looking for!

    • Kristine Fretwell

       Thanks for sharing Anna!  Glad to hear it was progress for you too! When I’ve tracked my calories, I seem to feel the best with at least a 30% fat ratio, so I agree with you there! Much better for hormones and brain health as well. I just need to dig further and find more vegetarian protein sources.

  • Lauren Moore

    My diet has completely changed over the last 8 months. It started by taking a holistic health course. What I got from it, is it LISTEN to your body. Notice the cravings. Notice the foods that don’t sit well. Notice the foods the do sit well. In the end, don’t follow a “diet,” because every body is different. What works for one body, won’t work for the other. Listen to your body and use that as your own diet method. I also watched Forks over Knives and it really opened my eyes to meat in the diet. It’s not necessary because protein comes from so many different sources. To kill something to eat it does seem wrong in some ways to me, especially around the energetics in the meat and the killing. That might be a whole other topic in itself though. I still eat meat, but have seem to have cut down quite a bit. Maybe that is just happening because I’m more aware and in tune to how I feel.

    • Kristine Fretwell

       Great advice!  Listening to your body is so important!

  • Logos712

    I’ve wrestled with this myself. I’m concerned about the conditions our food comes from (soil, slaughterhouse, etc.) and as I get older, my health becomes more important (heart disease and high blood pressure have been family issues). I could easily go vegetarian, don’t know about vegan….maybe. Would rather be fit & healthy naturally, than to look huge & “pumped up” and not so healthy, as many of the bodybuilders are (steroids & other drugs, notwithstanding). The more I read about vegetarian eating/health, the more convinced I become.

    • Kristine Fretwell

      Making that step from vegetarian to vegan is a tough one! Agreed! I don’t think looking that huge is attractive, and it is unnatural for most guys. In the movie, they highlighted an MMA fighter Mac Danzig, who is vegan, and he is very fit and ripped! You’d never even know he was vegan!

      • Logos712

        There’s a lot of atheletes/models who I’ve thought to myself “You’re a vegan/vegetarian?” Everytime I’ve asked this question to women ” What type/look for a guy do you find more attractive, a Brad Pitt (Fight Club) physique..lean, but, muscular..or, a Jay Cutler/Arnold type?” The answer I’ve always gotten was the Brad Pitt type (and with a lot of wide-eyed head shaking 🙂 The Mr. O look, just isn’t natural.

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