Are you being held back from choosing a healthier lifestyle because you believe one of the many myths about going meatless? Many people who could greatly benefit from going what I call “NMP” (no meat or poultry, yes to fish, dairy products and eggs), whether full-time, or from time-to-time, do not do so because they are misinformed. That’s too bad, because eating more of a plant-based diet, is being pointed to more and more as a great way to maintain good health or lessen the severity of illness or disease when it does strike. So let’s dispel some of those myths right now!
Myth 1: A diet without meat and poultry is boring and hard to stick with.
Not true! Forget everything you’ve heard about going meatless either full-time, or from time-to-time. I follow an “NMP” eating style full-time, and I regularly eat delicious food like cheeseburgers, chicken parmesan, tacos, BLTs and chicken caesar salad (in their non-meat/poultry versions of course).
Myth 2: When you go “NMP”, you have trouble getting enough protein. The trouble with the “Typical American Diet” is that most people think protein means just red meat, poultry, pork or fish. There are lots of great ways for someone who follows the “NMP” eating style to easily get the essential protein that they need to be healthy. For example, some great sources of protein without meat and poultry include: fish, soy-based meat and poultry substitute products, high-protein pasta, beans, nuts, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and eggs (ideally just egg whites) and vegetable-
based protein powders.
Myth 3: Any food that I find in my natural foods/health food
store is healthy.
Just because an item is available for sale in a natural foods/health food store, does not mean that you can assume it is right for you. A frozen food entrée may have too much fat, salt or sugar even if it does not contain meat or poultry. There will still be white bread and white pastas, when whole grain would be healthier. A baked item could have partially-hydrogenated oil (trans-fat) in it. Nothing demonstrates better the fact that you still have to be on your guard at a health food store, than the fact that such major chains as Whole Foods Markets and Wild Oats Markets sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Myth 4: It’s hard for those who go “NMP” to fit in socially
Lots of people have special dietary needs and you shouldn’t let “meat and poultry eaters’ peer pressure” get in the way of your “NMP” lifestyle. Many of my friends and family did not even know I had changed my eating habits until I told them, because I tended to order food out from favorites like Italian, Chinese and Mexican or salad bars anyway. Instead of ordering a dish with chicken, I would go meatless or order fish, and no one was the wiser. If I went to a friend or family member’s house where I knew that they might not have much for me to eat, I would bring along a healthy meatless dish like a pasta salad as an offering to the host or hostess. This would ensure I wouldn’t “starve” and usually the meat and poultry eaters in attendance would enjoy it too.
Myth 5: I could never go “NMP”
Never say never! Even though I have been a healthy eater for nearly a decade after a “misspent youth”, if someone would have told me years ago that I would adopt an “NMP” eating style and maintain it for nearly three years now, I would have thought they were crazy. Taking my healthy eating habits to a new level occurred when I witnessed first-hand the heart disease and diabetes present in my family worsen. While that was strong
motivation, it might not have been enough if I was forced to eat foods I did not enjoy and give the heave-ho to all my favorites. If you find a way to get creative and still eat the foods you love, you’ll find that you can stick with it.
“Mythology” aside, the decision on whether or not you should go “NMP” either full-time, or from time-to-time, is a personal one between you and your team of health care professionals. But consider that such a lifestyle change could help put you in the best possible position to live a long and healthy life-both for your benefit, and that of your loved ones. And that’s a fact.