Friday, September 19, 2014

From Vegan to Beef Heart

All the credit for the title goes to my friend Kendra. She was picking at me when I posted a pic of a beef heart on my Facebook.  

So as you may remember, I was vegetarian and actually almost completely vegan for awhile.  I had several reasons - concern for animal welfare, environmental impact of factory farming, health, and it was cheaper to boot.   This ended when I was pregnant with Fletcher.  With Lucy, I had a pretty strong aversion to meat, but with Fletcher I craved it.  I addressed my animal welfare and environmental concerns, as well as health concerns, by sourcing most our meat from local farmers.  I feel much better about eating a pig that I saw happily hanging out a few days earlier on the farmer's Facebook page.

After Fletcher was born, I started having some concerning health symptoms, as well as a worsening of some previously mild ones.  It's a long saga and I still have no diagnosis or competent help from my doctors, but I'll save that for another day.  My frustration with my care and my concern about my health sent me straight to the University of Google to earn my degree in What's Wrong With Me with a minor in How Can I Fix It.

Enter the Paleo Approach, and more specifically the Autoimmune Protocol, commonly known as AIP.  This book is intense.  I am not a total dummy, but I really had to focus and get my mind in study mode to read it.  The science is sound, and the author is brilliant.

  So what is it?  It's a very strict elimination diet based on the premise that autoimmune disease is largely impacted by the health of our digestive systems, and that what we eat or don't eat can exacerbate or ameliorate symptoms.   Basically you follow the plan until you feel better, then you slowly start reintroducing foods and see how you do with them.  I have put off doing this for a year, but in that year I've spent hours researching it and preparing in case I did end up needing to try it.  The reason I am hesitant is because my gut is great.  I don't suffer from GI issues, so it's hard to get on board with the train of thought that my gut could be causing or contributing to my overall health.  I'm finally ready to give it a shot.  Other than being difficult, it can't hurt and could potentially help.  Plus I'm never one to shy away from a challenge.  I've been following the plan about 85% all month, but in the next few weeks I'll be jumping in with both feet for a 100% compliant period of probably 60-90 days.

So the sad part (aka what I won't be eating)-
-seeds and seed based spices
-processed foods
-nightshades (peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants)
-vegetable oils (can have olive, coconut, palm oil)

Yeah, I know.  I'm not doing this for fun. I'm mourning the loss, at least temporarily, of pretty much everything "normal" and tasty to eat.

So what does that leave?  Lots of local pastured meat, seafood, vegetables, some fruit, and......that's pretty much it. Thankfully there are several cookbooks and lots of great AIP blogs for creative recipe ideas.  And where does the beef heart come in?  This plan calls for eating organ meat and offal (oh the irony of that term),  I have made burgers using beef heart.  And you know what? They were rich and delicious! I'm sure Rich wishes he had a normal southern wife that cooked him chicken spaghetti, ritz cracker chicken and the like but he's stuck with me.  Insert evil cackle here as I think about the beef tongue and oxtail in the freezer.

I'll keep you posted when I actually start the plan fully.  I plan to blog about what I'm eating and if it is making any difference.  Because if I feel the same after a few months of eating this way, you can bet your caboose I'll be back on the chocolate and tomatoes.   I'm skeptical, but hopeful.

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