The Daily Beet

10 May Easier Said Than Done: How Susan Gave Up Dairy.

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First, we have a lot of winners to announce! We have had 5 giveaways in the past week, and today we are announcing all of them!

The Plant-Strong Poetry winners: (Our judges could not pick so we had to pick random winners, the judges all said that everyone deserved a copy of Kitchen Rescue, sadly we could not do that, but we did pick 3 people)

The winners of Kitchen Rescue are:

Joyness Sparklers (poem submitted by her 10 year old son!)


and, Avital!

The winner of “The Starch Solution” is:


and the winner of Lani’s “Fit Quickies” is:

Heather O.

All of you should get an e-mail from Natala today, if you do not please e-mail her at: natala@engine2.com


Now, let’s talk about Susan’s journey!

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.
In today’s interview you will learn all about Susan’s journey to becoming plant-strong.

E2:  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.

E2: 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.

E2: 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!

E2: What were some ways you coped with getting rid of dairy? 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, oat, and coconut. 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.

E2How did you feel about giving up cheeses, milk and eggs?

I don’t feel like I’ve given anything up with milk or cheeses. I found a great substitute for milk in Rice Dream’s Original and I simply don’t miss cheese at all. Eggs are a little harder to let go of but I do not consume nearly as much as I used to in the past. Although when I do have one egg, it is usually with some guilt—a very similar feeling to having just indulged in a yummy decadent dessert you know you shouldn’t have eaten. I miss eggs so much but I am learning to live without them.

E2: Did you have a hard time learning to cook without using cheeses, milk and eggs?

I was always a great cook so I don’t seem to be having a difficult time adjusting to cooking without these products. Same way I have learned to cook without oil, I find myself not missing them at all. The natural flavors of foods are so delicious to me know and so strong that I find myself craving them on their own. Using cheese, milk, eggs or oil to cook with somehow masks the natural flavors I’ve rediscovered in foods rather than adding or enhancing them as I previous felt before Engine 2. My parents, who are both in their 70s, watched FOK with us but had their doubts big time. But once they started tasting my cooking sans these ingredients, they were prese

E2: Do you miss or have cravings for cheeses, milk and eggs anymore?

I don’t crave milk or cheeses anymore. Surprisingly, I developed an aversion toward these foods quite quickly. Once of my previous cheese weakness was for ricotta cheese. I could eat it as is from the container—a concept I find pretty gross today. I knew I was over my ricotta love affair when I recently made vegetable lasagna for distant relatives who were coming over. I made one large lasagna with nutritional yeast and no dairy cheeses and just for me and my family and the other with shredded and ricotta for our meat and potatoes visitors. In the past I was always tempted to sample the ricotta by the teaspoonfuls as I assembled the lasagna, but found myself a little turned off with the idea of doing that again. I was so proud of myself I immediately told my husband, “Hey honey! Guess what? I have absolutely no desire to eat ricotta anymore. Can you believe it?!” It was great. At that moment I felt sort of felt free from milk and cheese.

Eggs on the other hand are so difficult to let go of, although since January 1, 2012, I’ve only had about six eggs. This is a huge difference compared to having two eggs about three times a week—and two eggs every day when I was pregnant years ago. I’ve yet to venture into the realm of egg substitutes and admittedly do need help with this one.

E2: How long did it take for you to feel comfortable in your plant-strong life?

It was rough the first six weeks of my plant strong diet. I run 3-4 times a week and depended on eggs, cheese, milk-based fruit smoothies, turkey, and other lean meats for protein. Finding protein-rich foods other than the ones listed was difficult. Food shopping was proving to be difficult as well. My family and I were already health conscious eaters—avoiding overly processed foods and all—but finding substitutes or simply learning to live without dairy or meats was a bit tricky indeed. Once we approached the one and one half month mark, I realized it became easier.

E2: Did you have any success?

After watching the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, reading helpful links and resources at engine2diet.com and visiting my local Whole Foods Wellness Club, I was encouraged at finding alternatives to foods I once included in my diet. It’s difficult to wrap one’s head around a whole new way of living but I was determined to stick with it.

E2: What advice or encouragement would you give someone in a similar situation?

A lifestyle change is difficult no matter what the change may be. I personally went from 236 lbs/size 16/18 after the birth of my son in 2005 (bed rest and processed high caloric foods is not the best way to maintain one’s weight) to a lean 140 lbs/size 6 now. It wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t impossible. As with any habit, it took about six weeks to get into a groove where I was looking forward to exercising and used to eating healthier. I was so hung ho about the new me that once I reached my pre pregnancy weight, I kept at it and lost an additional 30-35 lbs. I’m healthier and fitter now than I’ve ever been in my life and having that weight loss success was encouraging enough to keep me on track to a healthier plant-strong me. Change like this doesn’t happen over night, but through hard work, determination and above all patience, it does happen. Don’t expect to be perfect and compliant 100% of the time—moments of weakness where you take a bite of a non-plant strong food—like, ummmm, an ice cream bar—may happen. It happened to me. The key to getting past it is not to beat yourself up over it and to keep trying to control those moments. With time they eventually subside and those moments become are far and fewer in between and easier to ignore.

Thank you Susan! We want to help Susan get past her egg cravings! Let’s hear from fellow E2-ers. What helped you stop craving eggs? Was there any knowledge that helped? Did you find good substitutes?

If you’d like to contribute to this series, please e-mail info@engine2.com


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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!

  • Heidi
    Posted at 09:34h, 10 May

    I used to love eggs for breakfast, thought I was getting ‘complete’ protein. And I loved the creaminess of the yolk. But after switching to plant strong foods and no oil, it only took a few weeks for me to be turned off by the sight or smell of a cooked egg. The knowledge of how much cholesterol is there did it for me. And getting used to food without oil made anything else seem too rich and fatty. For breakfast my favourite high protein food is now refried beans (without oil) on toast. As many as I want, they satisfy my craving for filling, high protein food and with none of the cholesterol. Salsa on top is a good addition or hot sauce, pretty much whatever you would usually eat with eggs. Try it out if you haven’t yet, maybe it will be your new favourite too.

  • Cindy Jewell
    Posted at 11:12h, 10 May

    I still have a craving for a boiled egg once in a while, even though it has been 19 months since we started our plant-based life. It passes.

  • Cathy Lewis
    Posted at 11:29h, 10 May

    I don’t miss eggs at all, even though I ate them everyday. I don’t miss milk or ice cream either, the alternatives are so much tastier. But cheese, oh cheese!!! Some substitutes are okay but they are such nutritional crap. I can make some things with tofu, cashews, and nooch. I find it best to remember what cheese is (just animal protein, fat, and casomorphins) and how bad it makes me feel, that helps me stay away from it.

  • Sara M
    Posted at 11:41h, 10 May

    Great work giving everything up. I have really struggled with giving up dairy. Meat was easy. I love sour cream and yogurt sauces and cheese (soy alternatives are not the same). The easist thing I have found is to not have it in the house. Milk was a different animal. I never used it much except on cereal, but my husband had it everyday with cereal. My proudest moment was when we were driving and he said to me (totally out of the blue) that he would be willing to try soy milk! I couldn’t believe it! We now use unsweetened almond milk and he is totally cool with it. The sad part is that I don’t like it at all. I have tried every alternative and I think they are gross, so I guess, no cereal for me…. Not the worst thing in the world. I still use it for baking and recipes and that is ok. Keep up the good work!

  • Linda
    Posted at 11:53h, 10 May

    Like Susan I find Rice Dream Original a great alternative to milk so giving up milk was not difficult. Ice cream was slightly difficult although the guilt that came with eating it for outweighed the pleasure so I did give it up. Now cheese……although I go long periods (weeks, months) without having cheese every once in a while I still “slip” and have a tiny bit. Although I have heard nutritional yeast is a good alternative I haven’t used it in that manner yet. But Susan’s article has inspired me so tonight I am going to pull out my nutritional yeast and use it as a cheese substitute in a meal. My goal is to eliminate the cheese completely starting today!

  • amilyn
    Posted at 13:02h, 10 May

    Cheeeeeese…. i cant stop! im actually thinking of getting hypnotised to help.. its painful i need it… and the fake stuff scares me, so i wont swap…

    • Jerry
      Posted at 16:01h, 10 May

      The “fake” stuff scares you? The “real” stuff should scare you. Consider what cheese actually is, where it comes from and the processes that are implemented to make cheese – that is very scary. Loaded with hormones, anti-biotics, puss (from the infected nipple/cups that suck the milk from the perpetually impregnated cows) – When I want “cheese” I use Diaya – yes it’s got a lot of fat but it’s much better than all the other alternatives – there’s also nut cheeses that are quite wholesome – but cows cheese is the scariest of all- by far

  • Jessica
    Posted at 13:40h, 10 May

    Thanks for the inspiration, Susan! I cannot recommend this salad strongly enough– Happy Herbivore is GREAT about providing alternatives that fill those cravings. When you crave eggs, maybe give this salad a try? http://happyherbivore.com/recipe/eggless-salad/

  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 14:28h, 10 May

    It took me years to go from vegetarian to vegan. After ups and downs with the amount of dairy I would eat, I was finally able to give it up when convinced animal protein of any kind is not necessary and is actually very bad for you. After going cold turkey 10 months ago, I really just don’t miss it 99% of the time. The few times I’ve allowed myself to eat some dairy, I felt very bad afterwards. I’m done with dairy!

  • Maribeth
    Posted at 14:40h, 10 May

    I can identify with this article in many ways. I’m also a runner and have been meat free for just over a year. Meat was easy and actually milk wasn’t hard for me either, but cheese I still haven’t been able to give the boot too. The cheese alternatives are gross, but I haven’t tried nutritional yeast yet. As far as eggs, I don’t eat them but cooking without them is not something I’ve mastered yet. Still trying…

  • Liz
    Posted at 15:21h, 10 May

    Good for you for not forcing your husband to make the change when you did. Letting people do things on their own time makes life easier for everyone involved.

  • Joyness Sparkles
    Posted at 16:18h, 10 May

    As a family we gave up milk cold turkey as well after watching Forks Over Knives and various other things. It does not take long to develop that aversion. My husband still loves the taste of eggs, but knowing what goes on to produce those eggs, he will not eat them.

    As for cheese…my favorite cookbook for cheese substitutes is “The Ultimate Uncheese” Cookbook…OH YUM!!!

  • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
    Posted at 11:52h, 11 May


    Dairy was the last to go for me, too. Nice job on your journey!


  • wildflower
    Posted at 10:47h, 12 May

    What an inspiring read!

    To anyone out there who is missing eggs: try black salt also known as ‘kala namak’. It has that eggy flavour (it’s scary how much like eggs it tastes!) and you can sprinkle it on your tofu scramble or add to any homemade sauce/spread. (don’t cook it though, or the flavour will be gone).

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