The Daily Beet

15 May Easier Done Than Said: How Susan Gave Up Milk!

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(Susan with Rip)

We asked you what you had the hardest time letting go of in your plant-strong journey, and BOY did you respond! We got a few 100 responses from people letting go of everything from coffee to steak!

We hope that you enjoy this series. We will be posting answers over the next several months, so stay tuned!
Please leave a comment on your experiences about letting go of something that you never thought you could.
Today we learn how Susan got past drinking milk.

1. What was your biggest fear about becoming plant-strong?

When I first saw Forks Over Knives, I had my doubts about how much protein plants could provide. Surely plants could not possibly be as protein-packed as lean meats, fish, eggs, cheeses and milk—these were protein powerhouses and as a runner I depended on them at every meal. After almost four full months on the Engine 2 Diet, I saw first hand and solid evidence on how beneficial a plant-strong can be and how much protein I was actually getting.

2. How did you overcome that fear?

I had my doubts up until about two and a half months into the diet. Yes, I know, sounds like a long time to carry doubt around but I kept at it, hoping I would somehow see some “proof.”   Soon after the two and a half month mark, I notice something astonishing. I noticed that my weak brittle nails were stronger than they had ever been. I was completely blown away by my little discovery. The only way I was ever able to achieve strong nails in the past was through a daily regimen of prenatal vitamins and biotin. My previous diet of lean meats, fish, eggs, and dairy were never enough to make give me visibly strong nails—hence the need for additional supplements. They always broke easily, split in half and I could pick and peel them back rather than clip them—ugh, awful. But on a diet of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and other plant strong whole foods I was able to achieve the same strong nails I had while on supplements—sans supplements.

3. What was the hardest thing for you to give up?

I was never a huge milk drinker as an adult. I actually enjoy water and always avoided sodas and juices. But once I gave birth to my son about seven years ago, I started incorporating more milk into my diet thinking it was a healthy and nutritious component to add. Heck, my son was drinking milk, so why shouldn’t I drink it as well?

After a short while, I was hooked on milk and soon found myself drinking 3-4 glasses of skim milk every day. I’d have one for breakfast or with cereal, as a pre-workout and post workout snack and then another glass before bedtime. I absolutely loved the taste of ice, cold milk and really thought it was a healthy drink. Once I watched Forks Over Knives and The Engine 2 ‘Kitchen Rescue’ with Rip Esselstyn DVD, I stopped immediately. There was no weaning necessary—I just stopped cold turkey. I knew I was done with milk once I heard Rip refer to milk as “liquid flesh.” I had just bought a whole gallon of milk and thought there was no way I was going to drink another drop of milk ever again and as much as it pains me to throw food away, I dumped it down the drain and I never turned back.

Although I had committed myself to making the switch I didn’t impose it on my family—yet. I wanted them to make the switch on their own. The happiest moment of this diet was the day my husband called me from work and told me he had finally had it with milk. I was overjoyed and in disbelief. He told me he sat down at his desk a bit early to have some cereal before his day officially started and all of a sudden he could not bring himself to pour cow’s milk over the cereal. The FOK information and Rip’s “liquid flesh” analogy kept echoing in his head and at that moment he made the switch and finally agreed to make the switch for our young son as well. Joy!

4. What were some ways you coped with getting rid of the milk in your house? Did you read or watch anything that helped you make that decision?

After I watched The Engine 2 ‘Kitchen Rescue’ with Rip Esselstyn DVD, I listened carefully to the part when Rip suggests milk alternatives. The entire DVD is full of super alternative plant strong foods but having poured my milk down the drain I listened carefully to the milk alternatives listed and headed straight to my local Whole Foods to purchase new milk.

I had never tried any milk alternatives—I’d heard about them of course but I never had the need, never mind interest, in trying them, so I honestly had no idea what any of them tasted like—completely clueless. I looked at my choices and brought home several containers of new milks—almond, rice, soy, and oat.  I gave my family a blind taste test and we found out that we all preferred almond and rice—specifically Almond Breeze and Dream Rice milks. And for me personally, the former milk freak, I find and highly recommend Original Rice Dream, as it comes closest to milk in taste and consistency. I made the switch first and my family consumed the alternatives on occasion. When my husband finally gave up on milk, we all made the permanent switch to almond and rice milks.

Cheese was my other weakness but it was easier to give it up compared to milk. I was surprised and thought I’d have a harder time getting rid of cheese but it was rather easy. It was especially easy replacing my favorite topping—parmesan cheese—with nutritional yeast. When I first heard Rip mention it I thought, “oh boy, that doesn’t sound tasty at all,” but that didn’t stop me from trying it. I took myself directly to the bulk foods section at my local Whole Foods and purchased a bit of large flake nutritional yeast. At first it was so-so, but then after about a week I was sprinkling it on pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and veggies. It was delicious. My family was not convinced at all but after they tried it a few times they were hooked as well.

Have you given up milk? What non-dairy milks do you enjoy?

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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
    Posted at 11:19h, 15 May

    I am totally digging all of these personal profiles – they provide such a powerful model for others who follow in the footsteps of change!

    As for non-dairy milks, I don’t use a whole lot of it yet enjoy oat and rice most. I find soy a bit beany and almond milk amps up the fat content.

    Dairy is so often the last to go – as it was for me!

    Thanks Susan for telling your story,

  • DeAnn
    Posted at 11:50h, 15 May

    I’m just getting started. I have only tried the soy and almond milks and I’m leaning toward the almond but now that I’m reading more, I’m going to give the rice milk a try.

    The day cannot go by fast enough for me to start seeing the results. I bought the Engine 2 diet book yesterday and can’t put it down! I weigh 421 pounds and I know my journey has barely begun, but I look forward to showing everyone what this can do for me.

    DeAnn Barrett

    • Elaine
      Posted at 14:10h, 15 May

      DeAnn, wishing you great success, you are about to reclaim your life! I am so excited for you. Hang in there and you will be amazed at just how short the journey to health really is and how well worthwhile it is! You’re an inspiration.

  • Cynthia
    Posted at 12:08h, 15 May

    Milk was my last thing too. I gave it up a month ago and I don’t miss it. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Johanna Miller
    Posted at 12:56h, 15 May

    Today is my first encounter with Engine 2 and Rip Esselstyn and I have to say it just keeps sounding like the smart thing to do.

    I had started drinking Almond milk over a year ago during my pregnancy after reading an article my prenatal yoga instructor provided the class with regarding Cow’s milk and it’s potential harmful effects on unborn babies. I didn’t hesitate for second. I’m a huge cereal eater, it’s how I start my day and I’ve grown to love the taste.

    My daughter, now 12 months, has a bovine intolerance. If I had a dairy meal she would have terrible gas because she was getting those nutrients through my breast milk. Further to that she had one scary vomiting attack when we had given her formula at 4 months. Now that she is weaning, with the approval of our paediatrician, I give my daughter almond milk. Even though she is supposed to grow out of this intolerance I don’t see why I would make the switch. There is obviously something in cow’s milk that we aren’t supposed to be ingesting…

    Food for thought indeed!

  • Karen
    Posted at 13:48h, 15 May

    milk was easy for me. back in the 80’s the talk was what was in milk. It really made me ill thinking what I was drinking.

    I use almond and coconut milk, both satisfy my need to use a milk product in my cereal, some baking and etc. works well.

    thank you for all of the testimonies, information and recipes. Enjoying it all as I enjoy my new lifestyle.

  • Joyness Sparkles
    Posted at 13:57h, 15 May

    Oh my goodness…I totally noticed the fingernail thing too! That really threw me for a loop. Great story, wonderful post!

    I think my favorite drink is chocolate coconut milk. I save that for special occassions. 🙂

  • Bruce Johndrow
    Posted at 14:11h, 15 May

    Mac and cheese. Most of all the cheese part. I have found cheese subs that make up to some degree but not as well as i would wish for.

  • Mary
    Posted at 14:34h, 15 May

    @Bruce, if you look up Chef Chloe, she has a vegan Mac n cheese recipe using almond milk and nutritional yeast that is glorious. I like it better than cheese and it tastes delicious without making you feel sick.

  • Debbie
    Posted at 15:05h, 15 May

    I’m inspired. Thanks, Susan!

  • Pamela
    Posted at 15:25h, 15 May

    Ohhh I know what you mean. When you THINK about what milk ACTUALLY is, it’s pretty gross.

    I’m living in Mexico at the moment and can’t buy any alternatives except soy milk with lots of added sugar. So I make my own nut milk for myself and oat milk for my daughter. We love it – especially in our plant-strong pancakes!

    Sometimes if I want something really decadent I’ll add a little coconut milk to my oatmeal. 😛

    Congratulations for giving up dairy!

  • Sheila
    Posted at 18:14h, 15 May

    I have never been able to tolerate drinking milk, but still ate yogurt, cheese and eggs because they didn’t seem to bother my stomach like milk did. Even before I gave up dairy entirely, I was determined not to replace all my protein with dairy and eggs, so I made a goal to use dairy only once a day. I noticed that my joint pain (which I had experienced for almost 20 years) greatly diminished, which motivated me to take the final step to eliminate dairy altogether. NO JOINT PAIN anymore! It’s amazing, and people who know me and my history with joint pain are stunned to hear the difference.

    Usually when I crave cheese (especially with something spicy), a little bit of avocado seems to do the trick.

    I still really miss macaroni and cheese, and haven’t enjoyed any of the alternatives so far so I’d love some recommendations. Despite missing it, I’m not looking back because I feel so much better!! Now the rest of the family, while still using some dairy and lean meat, have begun eating so many more fruits and veggies–it’s definitely contagious in a good way.

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