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To be a vegetarian after surgery, or not?

Jen581791

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Again from Blogger, Jan 29, 2017
 
I've been a vegetarian for maybe 13 years or so. Vegetarian like I don't eat any animals, but I eat dairy and eggs. Every once in a while I eat some seafood, usually out of total desperation if there's really nothing else. I'm a vegetarian primarily for anti-animal-cruelty reasons - I looked into factory farming practices, and I decided that I wanted to do my own small part in not perpetuating that. I'm not judgmental of people who eat meat. I do not "evangelize." I just choose not to eat meat.

That said, I'm starting to worry about whether I can eat enough protein while not too many carbs after surgery if I don't resort to animal protein of some sort. I usually eat a lot of beans, tofu and veggie burgers such for my protein, but these protein sources have some carbs in them - and more carbs than I think I should be eating after surgery.

I don't eat seafood mostly because of the negative environmental effects of overfishing, fish farming, and shrimp farming. These are pretty serious problems in the world, and I don't want to contribute to those problems. I like seafood. I just think it's better if the world eats less of this stuff. But what about me after surgery? What if I can't lose as much weight as I need because I'm eating too many carbs?

Also, what about eating out? As a vegetarian, the usual restaurant stand-bys are veggie pasta, veggie burgers, and pizza. All three of those (except just the burger patty) are not going to work after surgery. If I could have a salad with fish on top, or some fish and vegetables, restaurants would be doable. Otherwise, I just don't know what I would eat at all.

Anyway, I'm struggling with this issue right now. Being a vegetarian post-op sounds hard. Eating fish would make my life easier. But making that change would be a huge identity shift for me, not to mention seeming hypocritical. 
 



19 Comments


2 hours ago, ValerieKGorman said:

There's a vegan in the group that has lost lots of weight.  I can't remember her name...anybody?

LosingLex, I think?

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I am a vegetarian, like you I enjoy eggs and dairy products.  The brand Unjury as a new line of protein powders and stuff called "planted", its okay.  My surgery date is March 3.  So I am scouring all the boards looking for veggies and their experiences.  Looking forward to more of your blog posts and hope all is goes well in Mexico.

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@CoTN We can join forces in our search for veggie stuff then, maybe. I'm dearly hoping that Quorn goes over well with my pouch - I love that stuff and it's got a ton of protein. I'll keep an eye out for the Unjury planted - plenty of time to experiment with types of powders, I suppose. Good luck on your pre-op phase. It'll be here before you know it!

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@Jen581791 Hey, ringing your doorbell already...what did you eat/drink during the first week? Looking for suggestions in case I have trouble with dairy.

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I have trouble with dairy. I figured that out during the second week (I was on clears for the first week) when every shake I drank went... um... straight through me. As did drinkable yogurt. I can eat greek yogurt now because it's thick, I think, but still stay away from lactose as much as possible. 

I have been drinking lactose free milk, and that has given me no problems. Not sure of the availability of that where you are - your profile says "Europe" but since that's pretty nonspecific, I won't make any assumptions. If you can find unsweetened soy milk, I've used that (it's a little more bitter than lactose free milk) with good results. Unsweetened almond milk and rice milk work, too, for shake mixing. If you're somewhere those are hard to find, they're not terribly difficult to make if you have a blender. There's also coconut milk.

During my first week of "full liquids" (not just clear), I had cream soups (with the bits strained out), tomato soup, thai coconut soup, applesauce with no sugar added, and V8 juice. I tried sugar free pudding and it was awful - I've never liked artificially sweetened stuff, but after surgery, the taste is just terrible. Plus shakes - I was drinking two per day then.

You have the pureed foods to look forward to at that point, particularly ricotta bake (so yum, still make it) - here's a page a recipes from a great website that you can use for ideas: http://theworldaccordingtoeggface.blogspot.com/2007/08/pureed-foods.html

So much excitement coming in your near future! Don't hesitate to ask if you have questions.

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Sorry to hear you are having trouble with dairy. Just because you have trouble now with it, you may not always. I am veg and have been for 25 years. I don't eat seafood. I have had no problem getting enough protein post WLS and my surgery was 3.5 years ago. I do have a shake everyday. I also travel with moon cheese, nuts, protein bars, powders and shakes. For me, it was not an option to eat any kind of meat post-wls. I frequently look at menus online before I eat out and know what I am going to order in advance. If I know the best I can get is a salad that will be low on protein, I will supplement with extra protein at other times during the day.  Good luck!

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I am vegetarianish for all the reasons you stated above. Once I read about factory farms, I decided that I couldn't consume "sadness". I didn't want to eat something that was once a living being with a miserable life. I'm not philosophically opposed to eating meat, but the way meat is produced in the USA is inhumane. There's a lot more to my history with being vegan-veg-omnivore but that's a long story and I'm a bit sleepy right now.

I was told by my nutritionist in Tijuana that I could not be vegetarian after RNY. She actually scolded me and said that if this was important to me then I should have had the sleeve. She told me that it was important to eat meat and poultry after RNY because my body needed as much protein as possible. I kept my mouth shut because I knew that there are plenty of veg folks who have had WLS  

Since that chat, I've wondered how much of this is cultural? As you know, Latino culture isn't traditionally accepting or even accommodating of vegetarian lifestyles. I'm still having a hard time explaining to my mom that my daughter isn't going to collapse one day from being vegetarian. Do you have any thoughts, Jen?

 

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My NUT in Monterrey, Mexico was a little more accepting, like "You're going to have to be really careful, but I think it might be possible. Let's wait for your labs to decide." But she was surprised by my 3 month labs to see that I was doing well. 

I think it's very much a cultural thing. Some cultures are unfamiliar with the idea of being vegetarian, some cultures are hostile to it, and some are totally accepting. Having lived in Dubai for many years, I had a lot of contact with Hindu culture, which is very accepting of vegetarians (the United Arab Emirates population is like 50% South Asian due to the "guest worker" system). Indian restaurants there say "Non-Veg" on the sign out front if they serve meat - otherwise it's assumed they don't. I'm pretty sure that being a vegetarian is healthy because I know that millions of humans have enjoyed good health as vegetarians for more than 2000 years. 

Culturally, your mom may never come around to the idea of her precious granddaughter being veg, I suspect. Maybe if she met some grown ups who have been veg their whole lives she might waver a bit, but I suspect that the cultural weight of dietary norms are hard to make over.

I'm currently eating seafood a couple of times a week, which is still very strange to me. It always makes me wrinkle my nose a bit at the idea, and also the taste. I do it when I eat out because I haven't figured out how to eat out as a low carb vegetarian. It's a decision based on convenience, and one I'm not pleased with, but until I figure out the restaurant thing, I may be stuck. Never eating out again is not really an option for me, and there's not always an Indian or Thai restaurant around! 

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It's certainly possible to do well as a vegan after WLS, but as you @Jen581791 say it is not so easy if you don't have recourse to dairy or the concentrated protein of animal or fish flesh. Almost all plant-based proteins come with a lot of carbs and getting some of the amino acids is hard. My son is a vegan and so we make a lot of vegan meals when he is around. Because I can't eat so much if we have made rice and beans, I have to add some cut up sausage to my portion and skip the rice.

It's not a given that a vegetarian diet is healthy just because it is vegetarian .. rates of obesity are skyrocketing in India (while there is still widespread child and maternal malnutrition), heart disease is very common, and the consumption of inexpensive unhealthy oils is very high. I think on the Forum we can tend to ignore other elements of health eating (fiber intake, heart-healthy oils to name just two).

So in the spirit of out-of-the-box answers, here is a new idea:

Crickets. A couple of years ago the family was in Vietnam, and in Hanoi we ate at a great restaurant where one dish was stir-fried crickets. This dish was so awesome we went back to the same restaurant for the crickets (only place in a couple of weeks of great food that we went back to the same restaurant). Turns out crickets are high in protein and low in carbs. It's not so clear that vegans shouldn't be eating insects. Here is a Huffington Post article on this topic: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/14/vegans-eat-insects_n_6153476.html

_______________________________    and From the cricketflour.com website:

"Are crickets vegan or vegetarian?  No.  Typically, vegans and vegetarians do not eat crickets.  However, if their decision is based on environmental or sustainable concerns, crickets are a great solution.  Crickets use only 1/10th the water and 1/6th the feed of competing protein sources such as beef.  In addition, crickets do not produce the significant levels of methane, and do not feed solely on the same crops that people do."

(They offer not only cricket flour, but also toasted crickets in flavors such as cheesy ranch, buffalo wings, etc. I find this very humorous but they must know their audience. I'm going to try their 5-different-flavors assortment). 

So if one is vegan for environmental and ecological reasons (@NerdyLady) , crickets may be in your future. I have found them delicious when have had them. If you look at their nutritional composition, they are also high in the essential and branched chain amino acids that can be a struggle to get enough of with purely plant based diets. 

Just food for thought...

 

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Long time veg and my daughter has mentioned the cricket/cricket flour option.  Frequently, I  say we don't eat things with a face so I have been able to avoid crickets thus far.  It is doable after WLS but takes work and commitment to ensure proper nutrition.  ChirpChirp!

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Yeah, not sure if crickets are the way of the future for vegetarians. I used to eat nothing with a face, but since surgery I've been eating shrimp and fish now and then when I go out to dinner, and they definitely have faces. Does it count if I feel really bad about it?? @CoTN what do you do about restaurants? I'm OK in a Thai, Indian, Ethiopian or Middle Eastern place, but for other restaurants I just can't figure out what I should be ordering to avoid both things with faces and things with starchy carbs. Help! I'd prefer to avoid the faces.

Back to the crickets, which are apparently the topic now on this post about being a vegetarian (?), I used to live in Oaxaca, Mexico in my pre-veg days (about 15 years ago), and crickets fried up with chile and garlic is a traditional dish there. That's even the city's soccer team mascot. I ate them many times (if you add enough guac, you hardly notice the legs and antennae :wacko:) but can't say any dish I had with them wouldn't have been better without them. 

I'd like to reiterate at this point that being veg after WLS is easy other than at restaurants, btw. Dairy helps out, but I think vegan would be OK with appropriate amounts of soy based stuff (tofu, tempeh, soy milk) and meat analogs. 

Edited by Jen581791
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On 6/18/2017 at 1:54 PM, BurgundyBoy said:

It's certainly possible to do well as a vegan after WLS, but as you @Jen581791 say it is not so easy if you don't have recourse to dairy or the concentrated protein of animal or fish flesh. Almost all plant-based proteins come with a lot of carbs and getting some of the amino acids is hard. My son is a vegan and so we make a lot of vegan meals when he is around. Because I can't eat so much if we have made rice and beans, I have to add some cut up sausage to my portion and skip the rice.

It's not a given that a vegetarian diet is healthy just because it is vegetarian .. rates of obesity are skyrocketing in India (while there is still widespread child and maternal malnutrition), heart disease is very common, and the consumption of inexpensive unhealthy oils is very high. I think on the Forum we can tend to ignore other elements of health eating (fiber intake, heart-healthy oils to name just two).

So in the spirit of out-of-the-box answers, here is a new idea:

Crickets. A couple of years ago the family was in Vietnam, and in Hanoi we ate at a great restaurant where one dish was stir-fried crickets. This dish was so awesome we went back to the same restaurant for the crickets (only place in a couple of weeks of great food that we went back to the same restaurant). Turns out crickets are high in protein and low in carbs. It's not so clear that vegans shouldn't be eating insects. Here is a Huffington Post article on this topic: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/14/vegans-eat-insects_n_6153476.html

_______________________________    and From the cricketflour.com website:

"Are crickets vegan or vegetarian?  No.  Typically, vegans and vegetarians do not eat crickets.  However, if their decision is based on environmental or sustainable concerns, crickets are a great solution.  Crickets use only 1/10th the water and 1/6th the feed of competing protein sources such as beef.  In addition, crickets do not produce the significant levels of methane, and do not feed solely on the same crops that people do."

(They offer not only cricket flour, but also toasted crickets in flavors such as cheesy ranch, buffalo wings, etc. I find this very humorous but they must know their audience. I'm going to try their 5-different-flavors assortment). 

So if one is vegan for environmental and ecological reasons (@NerdyLady) , crickets may be in your future. I have found them delicious when have had them. If you look at their nutritional composition, they are also high in the essential and branched chain amino acids that can be a struggle to get enough of with purely plant based diets. 

Just food for thought...

 

@BurgundyBoy A couple of years ago, my friend supported a kickstarter whose business was making cricket chips. They were pretty tasty and I would definitely try them again. Years ago, my cousins took me to a restaurant in Bogota where I had a worm hamburger. It was delightful. 

@Jen581791 I've also been eating seafood and I'm not too happy about it. I need to learn how to find more nutritionally acceptable vegetarian food for my protein source.  I won't eat octopus after playing peek a boo with a 'pus baby in the ocean. After I left the octopus, a beachgoer swooped in and grabbed it for dinner. I'm still sad about that moment. :( I have a similar story about playing with a lobster, but this isn't the sad story thread. 

 

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Yall are funnyI I'm just not that adventurous regardless of veg status.  

Jen at restaurants I usually get beans, like at Chillis I get a side of black beans w/ sour cream and onions.  It is carby but the protein is good and its filling.  Or I just get a side salad and take care of protein with a shake/bar at another meal time.  Not sure if you have Zoe's but they have a snack pack w/hummus, cucumbers and pita. I just ask to swap the pita for a veggie.   :)

 

 

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13 minutes ago, CoTN said:

Yall are funnyI I'm just not that adventurous regardless of veg status.  

Jen at restaurants I usually get beans, like at Chillis I get a side of black beans w/ sour cream and onions.  It is carby but the protein is good and its filling.  Or I just get a side salad and take care of protein with a shake/bar at another meal time.  Not sure if you have Zoe's but they have a snack pack w/hummus, cucumbers and pita. I just ask to swap the pita for a veggie.   :)

 

 

Thanks, @CoTN. I think I need to wrap my head around the idea of just getting a green salad and dealing with the protein issue with something else later/earlier, as you said. That's a pretty good game plan. 

Most of what we might consider as adventurous eating involves things vegetarians don't eat, so my adventurous eating days are mostly a thing of the past ;) Which is OK. I've already tried all the weird stuff. 

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