T Nation

Vegetarian Goes Paleo


Good evening, gentlemen.

Not sure if I qualify for thread-starting in your lovely forums, but I need your help.

Towards the end of last year I underwent some volatile dietary changes, but we’ll get to that.

First, a little context. For years I’ve prepared my home-cooked meals from a soyless vegan cookbook titled Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, supplemented with whey protein in the morning and after workouts. I typically swallow an uncooked egg after every meal, and that’s pretty much my only reliable source of protein.

It’s a bastard of a diet – suboptimal to say the least – but I’m not trying to be a throbbing physical specimen of manhood. I mostly stick to Rippetoe’s program for novice lifters and am content. At no point in the formation of this diet did I believe that eating meat is unhealthy. I did it for the animals. However, if life begins at conception, there will be at least as many chickens attending my hellscape as yours.

Towards the end of last year, I realized that I’d gotten rather fat. So I started transitioning to a raw food diet because of the supposed health benefits. I was already vegan, so why not? I did not realize at the time how scientifically dubious the raw food revolution actually is.

Normally I would research something like this beforehand, but for whatever reason I trusted the proponents of this sexy new diet, even though a woman once told me in person that she’d healed a tumor on her cervix by not cooking her vegetables. Ultimately, I ordered three recipe books from Amazon and started my own private revolution.

I continued to supplement with whey and eggs of course. But the problem I ran into was that without my usual pasta intake I began wasting away, which I expected but not to this extent. It’s just not possible for me to get enough calories from blender soups and fresh salads. But I persisted trying new recipes until yesterday because I experienced a similar transition when I was becoming vegan, not knowing what to cook and hence not preparing food efficiently enough to keep a steady supply.

That about brings us up to speed. The last time I weighed in before deciding that I was a little soft, near the end of last year, I was 196 lbs. Now I’m barely registering 170. The worst part is that I’m not even lean yet. It feels like half of the body mass I’ve lost has been muscle, because I wasn’t tragically fat to begin with.

I need to get back on track, both health and body-wise, and I’m literally willing to kill for it. I’ve been reading a lot of compelling threads on this site about meat-based diets, a.k.a. the paleo diet, or something less principled but near enough, and I’m willing to give it a try. It’s a total departure from the way I’ve been eating since I started lifting weights.

So here’s the plan.

  1. Learn to cook meat.
  2. Switch to a grainless, meat and vegetable diet with quinoa.
  3. Get body composition in check while learning enough dishes to get by.
  4. Calorie surplus.

I have heaps of respect for this community and I have lurked here often. This is the place that introduced me to Starting Strength, and right now I could really use a similar breakthrough in my life. What I need right now is help learning to cook meat in a healthy way using a stovetop and oven.

I would like to find a paleo recipe book that is dairy-free, devoid of sweeteners, and is easy. I would be much more comfortable with a book that mentions coconuts and coconut oil more frequently than bacon, but I’m willing to eat pork rinds if that’s your counsel and you have the studies to back it up.

And although self-photography is not something I’ll be making a habit of, I’ve decided to attach a photo of myself to this initial post as a sort of proof-of-life. This was taken within the past week, and it was the moment that I realized how bad things have gotten. It was while looking at this image of myself that I began to consider cooking meat.

If you help me, I won’t just vanish into the night. I’ll stick around to let you know how it goes.

After all, what’s a before without an after?

Good night for now.

Are you afraid of (animal) fat? You should immediately cut out seed oils and start using properly sourced tallow, lard, etc. Virgin Coconut Oil is also a good choice if animals still feel taboo to you.

Drop grains and sugar. If you’re set on eating quinoa or other pseudo-grains, learn to ferment/soak/traditionally prepare them to minimize the damage they cause to your body.

Eat mainly meat. Don’t go on the faileo diet: http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDcQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhuntgatherlove.com%2Fcontent%2Fare-you-faileo-diet&ei=zfZ-T6ePJoio8gTvvK3bBw&usg=AFQjCNE6Z6zxpo7XAnhAdSbwLMH4i9KJeQ&sig2=9Nd6OTc1l8Vgr9lYtT0Arw

Good luck!

For physique conscious recipes and cooking tips, I’ve yet to find anything to beat ‘Gourmet Nutrition’ by Dr. John Berardi.

www.gourmetnutrition.com/

swallowing an uncooked egg is kinda silly. I guess its quick and convenient but its actually harder for your body to digest and in rare cases leads to salmonella, not to mention it tastes like shit.

[quote]pxlitup wrote:
I did it for the animals.[/quote]
chuckles

[quote]
I need to get back on track, both health and body-wise, and I’m literally willing to kill for it. [/quote]
Good, let the hate flow through you.

Your major hurdle in this transition is going to be switching from a grain friendly (high starch) to meat friendly (high fat) diet. You mentioned not wanting to eat bacon? WTF? you are going to need way more fat than you think you need. Just trust me on that.

Don’t dick around with skinless boneless chicken breasts. Go right for the red meat and fatty cuts of pork. Think of it this way, your meatless diet probably had a macro ratio of 70%carbs/20%fat/10%protein. It will need to be more like 50%Fat/45%Protein/5%carbs.

[quote]jarwhite wrote:
Are you afraid of (animal) fat? You should immediately cut out seed oils and start using properly sourced tallow, lard, etc. Virgin Coconut Oil is also a good choice if animals still feel taboo to you.

Drop grains and sugar. If you’re set on eating quinoa or other pseudo-grains, learn to ferment/soak/traditionally prepare them to minimize the damage they cause to your body.

Eat mainly meat. Don’t go on the faileo diet: http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDcQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhuntgatherlove.com%2Fcontent%2Fare-you-faileo-diet&ei=zfZ-T6ePJoio8gTvvK3bBw&usg=AFQjCNE6Z6zxpo7XAnhAdSbwLMH4i9KJeQ&sig2=9Nd6OTc1l8Vgr9lYtT0Arw

Good luck![/quote]
Yes, I suppose I am afraid of animal fats in the sense that everything I think I know about nutrition is telling me that lard is bad – that coconut oil is a white knight intent on saving my princess heart from a world beset by ignoble fats. Perhaps this is misguided?

I’m at least aware that eating nothing but lean meat would just become a sad extension of the raw experience and leave me in a continual deficit. I was planning on eating grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, which I understand are significantly leaner than animals raised under conventional farming, but that’s not why I would choose to support those practices.

I hoped to find cuts of these healthy animals with the fats included to increase my caloric intake, cooked in olive oil (that’s not a “seed oil” right?) and coconut oil. I rarely use canola and grapeseed oils and their ilk already.

I will be eating a lot of vegetables, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll be eating less fat, which seems the be the thrust of that article.

[quote]roon12 wrote:
For physique conscious recipes and cooking tips, I’ve yet to find anything to beat ‘Gourmet Nutrition’ by Dr. John Berardi.

www.gourmetnutrition.com/[/quote]In mass market terms, physique conscious usually means low-calorie, but for this book that does not seem to be the case.

I really like the look of this one. Can anyone else vouch for it? It is $40.

Also, I would feel much more comfortable eating some carbs around workouts, which this book keeps in a section called Post-workout Meals. In fact, I remember reading an article on this very site that said completely avoiding carbohydrates like rice in the name of paleo leads people to be underfed when their body needs it most, and that even the most zealous enemy of carbs would benefit from them at specific times.

[quote]Gymjunkie4life wrote:
swallowing an uncooked egg is kinda silly. I guess its quick and convenient but its actually harder for your body to digest and in rare cases leads to salmonella, not to mention it tastes like shit.[/quote]I’ve swallowed eggs for years and the only thing you can taste is fear.

Secondly, salmonella won’t kill you, and I’ve never gotten it. It only comes from chickens who carry the disease to begin with, and the statistic I read was that 1 in 30,000 eggs are infected.

That figure is based on mass market eggs from miserably sick chickens. Moreover, these animals live in such close quarters that most of them are hypochondriacs, and therefore cannot be trusted to take any health survey seriously.

Give me fifteen minutes with a shire horse and a shop vac and I’ll show you a world without God.

I trust you.

Damn it.

What do you think of The Primal Blueprint Cookbook(s) then? It’s a Paleo recipe collection that makes an exception for butter and cream. It has a lot of bacon and coconut oil according to the reviews on Amazon, and seems to be a high fat meat-based diet without sweeteners.

If anyone else is familiar with this book, please chime in. I’m very close to ordering it.

[quote]pxlitup wrote:
What do you think of The Primal Blueprint Cookbook(s) then? It’s a Paleo recipe collection that makes an exception for butter and cream. It has a lot of bacon and coconut oil according to the reviews on Amazon, and seems to be a high fat meat-based diet without sweeteners.

If anyone else is familiar with this book, please chime in. I’m very close to ordering it.[/quote]
I have no problems with butter or cream. I add cream to my coffee and feel a twig of sadness when I can’t. As for butter, which you can use on its own, you can make ghee out if it which even people against butter admit is good.

I like this website: (GNOLLS DOT ORG) (I will PM it to you since MODS don’t like links)
http://www.gnolls.org/1141/eat-like-a-predator-not-like-prey-paleo-in-six-easy-steps-a-motivational-guide/

Marks Daily Apple is good:

This thread is good:
http://www.elitefitness.com/forum/diet-bodybuilding/predator-diet-90793.html

[quote]pxlitup wrote:

Give me fifteen minutes with a shire horse and a shop vac and I’ll show you a world without God.

I trust you.

Damn it.

What do you think of The Primal Blueprint Cookbook(s) then? It’s a Paleo recipe collection that makes an exception for butter and cream. It has a lot of bacon and coconut oil according to the reviews on Amazon, and seems to be a high fat meat-based diet without sweeteners.

If anyone else is familiar with this book, please chime in. I’m very close to ordering it.[/quote]

I have both the cookbooks. They have some good stuff in there. I sometimes alter the recipes myself though (as I tend to do with a lot of recipes). I am a much larger person than the target audience and need more nutrition than what some of those meals provide.
In regards to your earlier post about lard. Most lard that you could find in a super market is partially hydrogenated (contains trans-fat). Try and find pure leaf lard from a farm. Check out eatwild.com and localharvest.org to find out some farms in your area that may sell it.

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]pxlitup wrote:
What do you think of The Primal Blueprint Cookbook(s) then? It’s a Paleo recipe collection that makes an exception for butter and cream. It has a lot of bacon and coconut oil according to the reviews on Amazon, and seems to be a high fat meat-based diet without sweeteners.

If anyone else is familiar with this book, please chime in. I’m very close to ordering it.[/quote]
I have no problems with butter or cream. I add cream to my coffee and feel a twig of sadness when I can’t. As for butter, which you can use on its own, you can make ghee out if it which even people against butter admit is good.

I like this website: (GNOLLS DOT ORG) (I will PM it to you since MODS don’t like links)
http://www.gnolls.org/1141/eat-like-a-predator-not-like-prey-paleo-in-six-easy-steps-a-motivational-guide/

Marks Daily Apple is good:

This thread is good:
http://www.elitefitness.com/forum/diet-bodybuilding/predator-diet-90793.html[/quote]
That was a lot to go through, but I did read most of it, including the aptly titled Chaos & Pain.

It was very helpful. Most importantly, I don’t feel so afraid of certain fats anymore. I’d be perfectly comfortable starting to consume butter and grass-fed beef tallow starting now, and that’s a big deal.

I don’t agree with everything in the 6-step guide. For example, I think I’m right to continue making green smoothies.

And I dislike all the words-to-live-by machismo about being a predator in life and in the kitchen, but you probably expected that sort of reaction from Lisa Simpson on her period (a.k.a. This Guy).

Muscle is not a concern for me, so I won’t be trying to optimize my dietary composition or protein intake in a serious way. Until I lost all that body mass in the raw food escapade, I was as big as I wanted to be, with a little too much body fat to be comfortable. That’s not to say I was ever as big as T-Nation wants to be, but I exceeded my own muscular goals eating, as you rightly surmised, very little protein, so this diet will be easy mode by comparison.

I lift weights because movements like squatting are good for the knees and lower back, and deadlifting is fun. I prefer this forum because the people here think so too, although you gentlemen are so much more goal-oriented than myself that our motives can be said to have diverged. Nonetheless, I don’t think it will take any special effort for me to make the improvements I want to make if I’m cooking this way. Consider what I’ve been eating thus far!

Here is the kit I’ve chosen to get started, from Amazon.

Totally Bamboo Butcher Block, Large
The Primal Blueprint Cookbook
Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals

[quote]pxlitup wrote:

[quote]roon12 wrote:
For physique conscious recipes and cooking tips, I’ve yet to find anything to beat ‘Gourmet Nutrition’ by Dr. John Berardi.

www.gourmetnutrition.com/[/quote]In mass market terms, physique conscious usually means low-calorie, but for this book that does not seem to be the case.

I really like the look of this one. Can anyone else vouch for it? It is $40.

Also, I would feel much more comfortable eating some carbs around workouts, which this book keeps in a section called Post-workout Meals. In fact, I remember reading an article on this very site that said completely avoiding carbohydrates like rice in the name of paleo leads people to be underfed when their body needs it most, and that even the most zealous enemy of carbs would benefit from them at specific times.[/quote]

The author has written articles on this site and competed as a bodybuilder so it is not the typical low calorie junk in most diet books.

Also I believe the first edition of the book is floating around the internet in PDF form…

I also own Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Cookbook and while it does have some good recipes, I feel that it goes ‘out of its way’ to avoid any carb sources (as it obviously follows the Primal Blueprint guidelines). However if you are looking for coconut based recipes then it is definitely worth looking at.

[quote]Bonesaw93 wrote:

[quote]pxlitup wrote:

Give me fifteen minutes with a shire horse and a shop vac and I’ll show you a world without God.

I trust you.

Damn it.

What do you think of The Primal Blueprint Cookbook(s) then? It’s a Paleo recipe collection that makes an exception for butter and cream. It has a lot of bacon and coconut oil according to the reviews on Amazon, and seems to be a high fat meat-based diet without sweeteners.

If anyone else is familiar with this book, please chime in. I’m very close to ordering it.[/quote]

I have both the cookbooks. They have some good stuff in there. I sometimes alter the recipes myself though (as I tend to do with a lot of recipes). I am a much larger person than the target audience and need more nutrition than what some of those meals provide.[/quote]
Your recommendation was a factor in my decision to buy these. They seem like the right idea.

As for portion sizes and caloric density, I don’t think that will be a problem for someone as small as myself.

JLone’s literature speaks highly of grass-fed beef tallow, so that’s probably what I’ll look for. Right now I’m a little burned out, but I’ll look into how to acquire that stuff within the next few days.

[quote]roon12 wrote:

[quote]pxlitup wrote:

[quote]roon12 wrote:
For physique conscious recipes and cooking tips, I’ve yet to find anything to beat ‘Gourmet Nutrition’ by Dr. John Berardi.

www.gourmetnutrition.com/[/quote]In mass market terms, physique conscious usually means low-calorie, but for this book that does not seem to be the case.

I really like the look of this one. Can anyone else vouch for it? It is $40.

Also, I would feel much more comfortable eating some carbs around workouts, which this book keeps in a section called Post-workout Meals. In fact, I remember reading an article on this very site that said completely avoiding carbohydrates like rice in the name of paleo leads people to be underfed when their body needs it most, and that even the most zealous enemy of carbs would benefit from them at specific times.[/quote]

The author has written articles on this site and competed as a bodybuilder so it is not the typical low calorie junk in most diet books.[/quote]
The reviews I read were pretty glowing.

Looks like I’m having fish for dinner…

If I find myself using this book a lot I’ll definitely buy it. Thank you!

Mmm… coconut.

[quote]pxlitup wrote:
Most importantly, I don’t feel so afraid of certain fats anymore. I’d be perfectly comfortable starting to consume butter and grass-fed beef tallow starting now, and that’s a big deal.[/quote]

If I was not focused on building muscle I would use the GNOLLS DOT COM link or the Warrior Diet (Link attached).
http://books.google.com/books?id=I_f39J6wJi8C&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=warrior+diet+sample&source=bl&ots=A0Anz3l6tc&sig=_FgXad765Mej4VxGynfygmxyRb8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vUlyT6bwHNGltwekhsi7Dw&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

[quote]
Here is the kit I’ve chosen to get started, from Amazon.

Totally Bamboo Butcher Block, Large
The Primal Blueprint Cookbook
Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals[/quote]
I like the cookbooks but more important than a fancy block is a good chefs knife.

I would suggest reading everything on http://www.archevore.com/