Q::: I struggle with more than just gluten, also casein and soy protein….and, I’m morally challenged by eating meat. Any advise on that?
Oh boy, this is a great question! It’s one that I’ve faced many times (not in this exact formation, but similar as you’ll learn). So, I’m also not only gluten intolerant… I’m also sensitive to eggs, casein, the entire cruciferous family (think broccoli, cabbage, arugula, kale, etc) and the cashew family (which includes cashews, pistachios and mangos). Trust me, the list is long and includes things like canola oil.
Because of the length of my list, it makes the idea of cutting out meat difficult as I’m also not the most avid fish and crustacean eater. Just because I can tolerate them doesn’t mean I enjoy them. And thus my food world gets a bit more narrow.
Through into the mix that I was a yoga teacher who used to contemplated jumping on the “vegetarian bandwagon” in an effort to step out of the cycle of suffering that many people in that community are sensitive to. I admit that if I had to hunt for my own meat, I’d be in big trouble because I really don’t like to touch raw meat and find all the images of animal cruelty very hard to bear. So, I’ve tried going strictly vegan and that lasted all of 3 weeks until I just didn’t feel right (yes I know what to properly supplement) and it hit me… my body needs meat.
Eating for Multiple Food Sensitivities & Dietary Restrictions
The reason I share this is because this is the dance that we all live with… balancing the food we enjoy with what works for our individual bodies along with occasional ethical issues of how said food ends up on the dinner table.
All of this complicates eating gluten-free, for sure!
One way around this is by cooking your own food. By cooking, you’ve got way more control over what will end up on your plate. If you’re not a fan of cooking, then check out a local cooking class (or come to mine if you’re in the Philly-area) and get excited. Join a cooking club or find some virtual gluten-free friends and do recipe swaps and then agree to chat once or twice a month to share about your experience and hold each other accountable to cooking.
If you cook, then avoiding soy is pretty easy. Plus, soy isn’t good for your hormonal system and can cause all sorts of issues with your thyroid. Read more about that HERE.
Casein might be difficult should you love milk products (and I really mean all dairy products which include milk from cows, goats, sheep, etc), however you can try nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese and Daiya cheese (which is gluten, dairy and soy-free as well as vegan) in place of something you’d hope would melt. You can substitute almond milk (unsweetened and unflavored) into most recipes which require dairy including baking.
The one actual cow’s milk product which veers away from this rule of a vegan alternative is Ghee. Ghee is clarified butter which originates from cultures in the Middle East and India who seek to preserve the fat from milk Ghee is strictly the fat from cow’s milk as the lactose, casein and whey are removed. It’s quite tasty and excellent to cook with.
Now that we’ve covered all this… here’s the bottom line when it comes to eating meat/fish/poultry – ethics aside, you’ve got to eat the way that most nourishes and fulfills your unique nutritional needs. So should you break down and decide to eat meat, or perhaps eggs even, find a local farmer that truly loves and cares for the animals to which they tend, who allows them to roam freely in green pastures and eat grass and whatever else their hearts naturally desire.
Locate fishermen or fisheries that truly honor sustainability practices as best as they can and capture fish without damaging their ecosystem. And then inquire about the process by which the meat then became, well… meat.
I say this because in the yoga tradition, if not eating meat causes you to feel unwell (as was the case in my situation), then I’m doing more harm by not eating it. And for the record, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whom you would think doesn’t eat meat, actually does.
However, if you find that your body doesn’t need meat to function optimally, then explore the world of beans, legumes, whole grains (which are gluten-free of course), nuts and seeds. There are plenty of vegan alternatives out there, but make sure they are gluten-free and as close to nature as you can get. But please, please, please avoid all those fake meat products (which will be easy for you since you can’t do soy or gluten anyway).
And then consider being something like vegan-ish (like me). I eat at least one completely vegan meal every day… sometimes two and sometimes vegan all day. I don’t stress about when I eat meat as I go to great lengths to make sure that it abides by my standards that I’ve mentioned here.