MGU 306 | Diet Judgments

 

The recent years have welcomed one health-conscious generation, but it has also opened up different discussions regarding different lifestyles. In this episode, Whitney Lauritsen sits down with Liz MacDowell, cookbook author of the new book Plant-Forward Keto, to address these diet judgments and ingredient shame. Liz is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and avid food lover specializing in vegan and vegetarian whole food diets, food allergies/intolerances, special diets, and nutritional support for digestive health. The two dive deep and break misconceptions on restrictive diets and intuitive eating that so many struggle with. Having faced backlash from her cookbook, Liz also talks about dealing with internet shame and criticism that comes with a purist mentality. Now, she focuses on normalizing intuitive eating that still allows you to live your best life while eating well with her upcoming cookbook. Stay tuned!

Listen to the podcast here:


 

Addressing Diet Judgments And Ingredient Shame With Liz MacDowell

I’m excited about our guests because this is someone that I’ve gotten to know on a very personal level. In fact, we spent the past 45 minutes chatting before a recording and thought to ourselves, “We should have hit record a long time ago so that we could have incorporated all of that into this.” I’m sorry to say that you won’t read our full conversation, but we had a good warmup. I want to start off with something I’m very excited to see but wanted to save until we are recording the show, which is the cover of your brand new book. This is Liz. We met through the vegan keto world. I’ve talked about this a number of times on the show.

Before I see your book, I’ll tell a little of this story, which is I started off my vegan keto journey. I’ve been off and on doing since July 2018. At that time, I felt so insecure about combining vegan and keto together. I didn’t know anyone who did it. I don’t even remember why I decided to do it. I was very curious about keto and frankly, it was mostly a weight-motivated decision for me, although I am mindful about not emphasizing weight these days. I am a big advocate for people using intuitive eating and not being hyper-focused on weight loss.

At that time, I did want to lose weight and I did turn to keto as an experiment, but I remember thinking how hard it was going to be completely plant-based and low carb at the same time because so many people associate the keto diet. I remember scouring the internet and barely finding any information about vegan keto. I’m thinking like, “I don’t know if this is possible.” I started over time learning all these new methods. There were a few brands back then.

It wasn’t that spoken about, but eventually, I found Liz’s work because of her very first cookbook, the Vegan Keto. I found this book second. The first book that vegan keto-ish book I found was Will Cole’s book, which is Ketotarian. I was like, “This is amazing.” It turns out Ketotarian is not the greatest word for it. I guess it makes some sense because I always think “tarian” is like vegetarian, but technically it’s pescatarian. It includes some fish and some eggs maybe.

Liz and I have talked a lot about this book over time, but I remember finding it and being excited but a little disappointed because it wasn’t vegan. I found Liz’s book. That’s why it’s bookmarked so much. I was over the moon and I dove into Liz’s work. Lo and behold, we started talking on Instagram, I think mainly because I was starting to work on my vegan keto book.

I remember, Liz, asking you specifically about backlash because I was afraid of people coming for me and bullying me over doing something about the keto diet. I don’t know if I was more afraid of strict keto people being like, “How dare you incorporate vegan into the keto lifestyle.” I imagine it was a little bit more nervous about vegan people coming at me because it seems so many people in the vegan diet are on the opposite end in this keto, which is high carb. That was how we connected.

I might’ve messaged you before then, but I specifically remember reaching out and saying, “My book’s coming out soon. I’m nervous about the backlash.” That might be a good place for us to start because I recall you saying to me that you didn’t receive that much backlash from people, but then you and I had a conversation where you had a different form of backlash. Maybe not bullying or trolling but criticism. It was about every ingredient-specific thing.

As you were saying that, I was like, “We were struggling.” We were like, “How are we going to start this conversation?” We had 45 minutes of talking about everything. As you were saying that, I’m like, “This could be a whole show talking about dragging each other down on the internet or the backlash that you received from people you wouldn’t expect it. Not the communities that you would think would be giving backlash.”

I’ve received so little backlash from the general keto community. Usually, they do not care. They’re like, “Whatever. Live your best life.” It’s the vegan community that is all like, “This is too much fat. This is going to spike your cholesterol.” Every amount of criticism plus, as you said, “Ingredients-specific.” Sometimes I dread posting a recipe because I’m like, “What ingredients are going get me in trouble for this? Are they going to be mad that I’m using soy?” Someone always will complain if you use stevia or sucralose. I don’t use sucralose. What am I thinking of, sugar alcohols?

There's no need to be overly restrictive on keto. Click To Tweet

Xylitol and the list go on and on, allulose now is the big one. It’s interesting as you share this too because another thing that comes up is you and I share a lot of things in common. First of all, we’ve hung out in person multiple times because Liz lives in Massachusetts. It’s close to where my parents live.

It’s our annual tradition to get together, hang out, go shopping, exploring and it’s been such an amazing experience connecting with you, Liz, on a level that rarely happens when you make online friendships. That’s been such a blessing. One of the big things you and I have in common is having gastrointestinal challenges like digestive challenges. I feel like you are almost my twin because we are almost exactly the same. You’re technically a celiac, is that right?

My doctor said they weren’t even going to bother to do the test because my reaction was so severe when they tried to reintroduce wheat. They were like, “Maybe we call it celiac.”

That’s a big difference because I am very sensitive to gluten, but I have not tested for celiac either, but now you saying that inspires me to look back into it because it’s probably been ten-plus years since I got a food test done. I remember I didn’t test positive for anything, but it took me years later to realize I have food sensitivities, not allergies. It was an awful journey because I was suffering, having no idea that food was causing all of these issues for me. Liz and I bond over that. My top list is gluten, soy, corn and almonds. You have all four too, plus maybe some other things, but what else are you sensitive to?

Those are the big ones.

I’ve never met anyone else who has those exact same four.

Dairy was one, but that’s not an issue. I don’t know if it still is the same with eggs could still be who knows but those four and like, “Who has those?” No one has almonds. I know one other person who has almonds and that’s it.

MGU 306 | Diet Judgments

Vegan Keto

Almonds are the ones where people are like, “What?” It’s the worst thing to be sensitive to especially if you’re doing vegan keto. Almonds are in at least half of the products out there that you can buy. Almond flour is in seemingly everything, which I think is a wonderful thing. If I wasn’t sensitive, I’d probably be like overdosing on almonds because it’s such a great alternative. Luckily though, we have things like coconut flour and that’s why your book probably spoke to me on a whole new level because you have all these ingredients that I can personally eat, but it circles back around to what you brought up to the weight comment that I made.

I think keto, especially people, gets sensitive about restrictions and extremes, which makes sense because I had to be very careful when I started the keto journey to ensure that it wasn’t motivated by my previous eating disorder. It is technically something that I’ll struggle with to some extent in my whole life. I was nervous about that restriction, but I found keto made me feel good gut and energy-wise, which is why I continue doing it and try not to emphasize the weight side.

It did impact my weight, but I wonder if it impacted it from an inflammation standpoint because it was stomach weight loss. I lost some inches on my body, but it felt like my body looked more inflamed. As I’ve dabbled off and on of keto, I’ve noticed that I’ve incorporated some starches like potato every now and then or rice.

Those I don’t seem to have too much of an inflammatory reaction to and I had them in moderation, but I noticed a difference in how I feel and how I look when I’m eating mostly keto versus not. Since you eat almost entirely keto, but I know occasionally you’ll dabble. I don’t know if that’s a secret that I’m revealing about you. Do you disclose that to people? Do you talk about how you eat a gluten-free pizza? That’s not keto every once in a while.

Maybe not as much as I should because that’s a good point because I feel like I do it on my personal IG account. I’ll be going out to dinner with friends and sometimes you want to have a real pizza. I’ll post that I’m at dinner and you can see my meal or I’ll talk about that. I feel that’s a good point. I should make it more clear on my Instagram that while I do keto almost all of the time, it’s not 1,000% or 100%. On Thanksgiving, my mom made gluten-free vegan apple pie for me, which you can’t find that in a store and you can’t find a keto version. I lived my best life. I had some pie.

Don’t you have an apple pie or pie dish recipe on your site because you also saved me my first vegan keto? Maybe it was my second vegan keto Thanksgiving, 2019 it was. I had already been dabbling it for a while and my Thanksgiving was almost exclusively your recipes. You have a brilliant one on your website, Meat Free Keto. All the recipes on the recipe section of your website, you have a Thanksgiving section, and is the apple pie still in that section or somewhere else?

It’s still there and it’s under desserts or something.

I love the way that you organize it all, but it was such a clever recipe because I had never thought to take dehydrated apples, which are high in carbs if you don’t have them a moderation, but the way that you lay out your recipes, as you can use a lot of foods that are not super strict keto, but do them in a way where the net carbs end up working out for you. It’s such a great simple recipe. I remember being so grateful for it. That’s part of the reason I love what you offer. I also think those recipes are great for anyone because you don’t have to be keto to enjoy those recipes. If you want, you do not worry about the carb count and have as much as you want of your food because it’s good.

You bring up an interesting point too, which brings back a point we were talking about earlier, which is making food judgments and a lot of the negative comments I’ll get is if someone sees that recipe, for instance, they’ll say, “You can’t have apples on keto because they’re not keto-friendly.” Yes and no. You probably can’t eat an entire apple and stay in ketosis unless you have also hiked them out or done a ridiculous amount of exercise to burn off fat glycogen, but you can have small amounts of various fruits or starches. I like the mashed butternut squash with cauliflower. It’s not just cauliflower all the time.

You said, “You have smaller amounts of it so that the carb count works out.” There’s no need to be overly restrictive with keto and a lot of people tend to be at the beginning. You don’t want to have to think what are the carb counts for every single food you’re ever going to encounter. Sometimes it’s easier to say, “I’m only going to eat these things.” If you get bored or if you like slightly higher-carb foods, there’s a way to incorporate them into a ketogenic or very low-carb protocol.

As you’re saying that, I’m like, “If I wrote another cookbook, I would love to do one called intuitive vegan keto eating.” That’s what I have ended up doing. I was strict on keto for a year. Once I felt good about where my body was at and I felt more relaxed about it all, I started incorporating higher carb foods, and then I went entirely off keto for a long time and found myself yearning to do it, so I went back on.

At the end of 2021 and for a good chunk of the year, at least half of the year, I have been doing this intuitive version of it, which is I strive to eat keto because I know I feel good on it. To your point, if I want to have potatoes, something starchy or I love that you brought up the gluten-free apple pie and I’m curious. There’s that amazing pre-made gluten-free vegan crust. It’s called Wholly Wholesome. I’m wondering if that’s what your mom used. That’s one of my favorite crusts for gluten-free and you can get it at most stores, Whole Foods, Sprouts, even Trader Joe’s has it. Is that what your mom used?

My mom is a scratch baker and would be very upset if I insinuated on a show that she used a crust. I would use a crust, but my mom made it homemade. She made her crust. That’s the thing. I can’t say no to that. What am I going to be miserable and pass up this awesome opportunity? That crust we’re talking about is delicious.

It’s so convenient because certainly making crust from scratch is going to taste so much better, but that crust is an awesome pre-made crust. I’m curious, what ingredients did she use to make your crust?

As funny as it sounds, keto helped me stop obsessing about food. Click To Tweet

I know there’s oat flour involved and I forget what brand it is, but one of the brands of the all-purpose, but she blended it with oat flour to make it less. You know how all-purpose gluten-free flours are gummy a little bit. She blended it to get rid of that. I don’t know what brand. I’ll have to find out because it was good.

I was going to say you could post on your website, but people would be like, “Why is this on here?” Maybe we should define a little bit more for people because I’ve talked about it very lightly and certainly you could go look it up, but a lot of people don’t even know what it means to eat keto. I want to make sure we don’t make that assumption.

The very first time I remember hearing about it was through Tim Ferriss. I used to listen to his podcast all the time and he would talk about it. Looking at the stages that keto has gone through over the years, I’m sure it is fascinating to you, Liz, because you started keto in 2015 or something like that. It’s been a while.

It’s the early days of veganism like you see how far it came. I need to ask you in a moment how you even managed to be vegan and keto for that long because even the difference between when I started in 2018 to now in 2021 and 2022, it rapidly evolved. When I heard about it, which was probably 2015 or 2016 through Tim Ferriss, it seemed like something very extreme and something like the Tim Ferriss category, but it’s like this growy life hacker type of thing. I bring him up because he would talk about his higher-carb days. I feel like there was a term for it. It wasn’t a cheat day. It was carb-loading, is that right

I listened to him talk about it a little bit too back in the day. Did he write about it in The 4-Hour Body?

He probably did. What you’re describing, you could have some carb-loading recipes on your site. I wonder how people would react to that. Maybe it’s even like a secret part of your website that people discover and they’re like, “Lizzie has higher carb too.” I don’t think I told you this, but we went on a walk in Concord, Massachusetts, or was it Concord or Lexington?

I think it was Lexington. I think we went to Minuteman the first time.

For those that don’t know Massachusetts, they’re right next to each other and they’re historic. That’s also been part of our like annual tradition is going to these historic areas. We took a walk and I remember where we were on our walk, Liz, when you told me that you are not super strict on keto. I remember I was not doing keto at the time and I felt slightly nervous to tell you that. I was like, “This is the first time we’re meeting.” I thought you were so strict about it. It reminds me of other people I’ve met over the years who have done things like the 80/10/10 fruitarian raw diets.

There was another person who I always associated with raw vegan food and I saw him at a cooked vegan restaurant. It was like a run-of-the-mill vegan Thai restaurant. I was like, “What are you doing here?” He was like, “I cooked food sometimes.” I was like, “What? You do?” It was this mind shift. I almost felt that way when we were talking. I feel like to your point earlier, that would be a great thing for you to talk about more often because it’s part of challenging these misconceptions about diets like raw food, keto, 80/10/10, not everybody is going to do them, 100% all the time.

We didn’t talk about this at a time she doesn’t know, but in my next book that’s coming out in January of 2022. I have a whole section on intuitive eating on keto because that’s more or less how I eat too. When you said that, I was like, “That’s so funny.” I tried to find it, but I got my book. It went to the printers. I don’t know where everything is yet.

In addition to lower carbs, I also have 30 grams of net carbs per day meal plan. There is a 45 gram that we call medium carb and many of the recipes have “Medium carb modifications.” For those who aren’t familiar with the scale of ketogenic eating, most people can get into ketosis, which is a state in your body where your body preferentially burns fat over glucose or carbohydrates. Most people can get into ketosis by eating between 20 and 50 grams of net carbs per day. Net carbs, for the most part, is you subtract fiber from whatever carbs you’re eating.

The higher end of the spectrum is the 45 to 50. Most people don’t do that because most people are on keto for weight loss. If you are like me or like Whitney, and you’re in ketosis to manage inflammation or on a very low carb diet, because that’s what feels better for your body than eating 45 grams or even higher, whatever feels best to you is an option and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

I wouldn’t have judged you anyway, even if you were like, “I barely eat keto.” It’s a weekend thing or whatever because it’s whatever feels best for your body. If eating a ketogenic diet during the week and then having carbs on the weekends is what feels best to you because maybe that’s what your workout schedule is or however it happens to, go for it. That’s the ethos of my next book is that ketosis is awesome and here’s how you get into ketosis, but it’s not just this is one way to do keto and that’s it. It’s a spectrum. Everything in life is another spectrum where you can tailor things to meet your own needs.

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I’m so glad that you’re doing that because as we were talking about the beginning, which I think will be the ongoing theme now, is all of these judgments and fears that we have. I know now that you wouldn’t judge me. I’m so grateful for it. When you’re getting to know someone meeting them for the first time, we often are afraid that someone’s going to perceive us in a way that’s doesn’t line up with how they are, how they think, how they live or the impressions that they have of us?

I also feel that’s refreshing from the keto because even now, I feel a little uncomfortable talking about keto and telling people that I do keto. I’m afraid of being misunderstood and thinking that I’m doing something bad for my body. It comes back around to what you were saying about the criticisms and the comments on platforms like Instagram, where it feels like everyone’s fighting about what ingredient is best, like, “How dare you to use soy? It is so bad for you.” Some people are like, “Eat as much soy as you want. It’s perfectly fine.” “How dare you use certain sweeteners? You should only be using natural sweeteners.”

It is another thing I’m curious about for you. This came up and I did a podcast on another show with a doctor who specializes in teaching people about sugar. He’s not a fan of processed sugars like stevia, monk fruit, and all the other options out there. He’s much more into dates. I think the dates are his primary sweetener choice. I remember thinking, “Everything he’s saying makes sense.” It’s that I know that eating a lot of high sugar foods like dates is not going to make me feel great.

I’m wondering, have you come across something that’s keto but a little less processed aside from eating straight-up stevia leaves? Have you done much research on this? Is there an answer yet? If not, can the two of us join forces and figure out how you can do keto without eating too many processed sweeteners?

It’s so funny because when you’re like, “Have you found anything?” I was going to say, “I grew with stevia plant to add the leaves to my tea.” That way, it was adding the leaves instead of the processed stevia that have additives, glycerin, it’s in alcohol or has preservatives. I was like, “This will be such a great way. I’ll throw leaves in my tea.” I did that for a month maybe and then I killed the plant because I had no idea what I was doing back then with plants, none at all.

I never got back to that, but I love this idea and I’m with you. I think we should look for a way to make things sweeter that doesn’t use all of these sugar alcohols because there’s nothing wrong with them in moderation. They do upset my stomach and I know they upset a lot of people’s stomachs. I feel like that’s my potty telling me not to be eating those. I’m down to find something. Let’s find ourselves, scientists.

I have to say, though, I once got some unprocessed stevia. I don’t think it was from the plant directly. It was dried stevia leaves and they were gross. I’m one of those people who doesn’t mind the taste of stevia. It’s like cilantro, where people are either super pro stevia or no way. I’m eating anything with stevia in it. I am cool with it for the most part. I remember that specific stevia. I was like, “This is awful. Give me the processed stuff.” My favorite brand of stevia is Omica. Do you have a favorite brand flavor-wise?

I don’t think I do. I also don’t mind the taste of stevia, even the straight powdered extract from Trader Joe’s. I’ll like sprinkle into stuff and not even think about it. NuLeaf makes a vanilla one and I do like that around the holidays because it makes me feel festive.

I’m so grateful that many brands have come out with vegan keto products either accidentally or very purposeful in the past several years. I noticed that at the food show I went to. There were many brands using the phrase vegan keto. I was like, “This is awesome.” Now I don’t have to think about it, although I still have to check the label for almonds and sometimes corn, which is annoying. What’s also interesting is speaking of food labels, there was a product at that show that said it contains almonds, but it was either on the ingredient list or not on it. When I asked the company about it, I was like, “It says it contains almonds.” They’re like, “That’s because it’s made on the same equipment. We have to say it, but there’s technically no almonds in it.”

I was amazed. It made me curious how many companies I’ve been avoiding because of that since I don’t have a full-on allergy. Maybe there are some foods that I could eat, but they have to put that on there for allergy reasons, regulations and all of that. My point is that there are so many products coming out, many more options and brands using different nuts, coconut flour or cashews. We’ve seen walnuts and getting creative with different things that they can use to make these foods. The convenience of it can be so wonderful whether you don’t have time to cook, traveling, tired or someone like you, who’s cooking all day for work. You want to take a break and not have to make another meal.

The third time hanging out, we went to Target together. Whitney needed groceries. She called me and she was like, “Do you want to come to Target with me and get groceries?” We ended up both taking footage, which probably looked insane to anyone else on Target. We both were filming all of the new vegan keto products that we saw in passing. We weren’t looking for them. We were shopping, but there were many of them, it was unbelievable, in all product categories like protein bars, dessert items and random snack foods. It was crazy. It was very exciting now.

MGU 306 | Diet Judgments

Diet Judgments: It’s not just this one way to do keto. It’s a spectrum like everything in life where you can tailor things to meet your own needs.

 

Do you have a favorite packaged vegan keto product that you keep going back to over and over again or one that’s new and exciting for you?

This one you introduced me to, and it’s the refrigerated BHU bars. Those I got at Target with Whitney, but if you’ve tried the regular BHU bars, which are good, they’re fine. They are a vegan keto product that does not have almonds or gluten. I recorded them. I go to them pretty often, but if you can find the refrigerated, my goodness, it’s a whole different ball game. They’re amazing. That’s mine. How about you, what’s your favorite?

The BHU bars have been my favorite products ever since I tried the keto diet. They’re also either all organic or mostly organic. They use great ingredients. They’re based in California. I don’t know if it’s all women-owned, but I think there is a female co-owner at least or a partner. There are a lot of great elements to that brand. I’m a huge supporter. Speaking of which, I almost ran to my refrigerator while you were talking. I don’t know if it’s like a seasonal thing. They have these new refrigerated containers of cookie dough. That concept of theirs has been around for years, but they have new flavors. The one that I tried is a strawberry cheesecake flavor.

It was very exciting and they have a few things on their website that I don’t think I’ve tried. For the readers, if you go to Wellevatr.com and check out for this. You can buy directly on the website. If you don’t have them in stores, they’ll ship them to you. You can get good deals and things like that. I’m glad that we’re on the same page with those. Things like that have also helped me do keto more regularly, especially during the times where I was struggling to eat it on a daily basis.

I would still buy the vegan keto products as snacks because it was something I’m very grateful for it and this was also true when I was transitioning to the vegan diet. I eat a ton of processed foods and packaged foods because it was easier. I didn’t have to think about a recipe. Sometimes when you’re trying something new, especially keto. You have to buy all these new ingredients. If you’ve never cooked with or baked with coconut flour before, it’s expensive. What if you don’t like it and you’ve spent all this money on something or you’re struggling to make it and it’s time-consuming? It feels very daunting. I think that will throw some people off.

It’s also when you’re new to vegan. You’re trying to figure out which plant-based meat you like, cheese or milk. It can be pricey, but if you can try a little bit of it at a cafe or if you can try a little of it in pre-packaged food, you not only get the convenience of it, but you also get to lean into it more. That’s one of the big reasons that I’m such a fan of all of those options for us, plus traveling. It makes a huge difference.

Find the diet that works for you – if it's keto or paleo, GREAT! Live your best life. Click To Tweet

I pretty much feel the same way. I wanted to go back to what you said, where you said, “Even when I don’t eat keto, I still eat keto products.” That’s more or less exactly how I do it too. If I’m going on a family vacation, my mom always wants all of us to get together every year. I can’t always be keto the whole time for that and sometimes she made a pie. I know that I’m not going to be in ketosis for at least that part of the day. I still will be like, my breakfast, lunch and my snacks will be keto. I’ll accept that like, “I’m having a pie. I’m not being in ketosis,” but still, 80% of my day was a keto day. I happened to have that pie as well.

I think that works better for me. Instead of spiking my blood sugar consistently all day long, feeling gross, terrible and sick, it’s that one meal and if I’ve had a day where I feel good all day, sometimes the extra sugar doesn’t even spike my blood sugar that much. It’s a pie. It’s not going to not spike your blood sugar. Sometimes I feel better at the end of the day, physically having only had that one, but also making sure that I’ve eaten high-quality food throughout the day and also those bars.

I could eat those all day, every day and feel like I’m good to go. When I first tried them, there was one day where I ate 2 or 3 in half a day’s period of time because I was like, “These are nourishing. It tastes so good.” Sometimes it’s nice to have those things. I think I was going to talk to you about this offline, but I know that we share a common interest in vegan keto cereal and this is a big movement. The first vegan keto cereal I tried was Catalina Crunch, which I felt like that moment the light from heaven shines down and you hear the angels singing. That’s how I felt when I saw Catalina Crunch.

I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” They have any flavor of cereal you can imagine, they have. They have Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Grahams and on and on, but they’re all vegan, all keto gluten-free. It was very exciting until I realized they upset my stomach. Even though the ingredients look good from the outside, I don’t know if it’s the flour they use or something about that combo of ingredients that ruins my stomach. You and I both share this in common and have to eat it in major moderation. Tell me about your experience with Catalina Crunch because it’s very similar to mine.

It’s identical. I heard about it probably through an Instagram ad like, where else do you learn about things? I was like, “I’m going to try this.” I got a bunch of different flavors, like the chocolate, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the Honey Grahams, maybe the fruity was the other one that I got into. That’s Froot Loops for those of you who haven’t binge-eat in an entire bag of Catalina Crunch before. I got so excited. I tried the serving size, which is very small. You’re going to want to eat two of the serving sizes. You do because you’re stupid and you think, “This will be fine. I’ll have a double serving.” Pretty much immediately after eating, my stomach started to gargle a little bit and then a little while later, it’s not great. The aftermath was not ideal.

It’s such a disappointment because I think that’s part of the phase that we’re in with vegan keto is it’s still a big compromise. I remember this when I first went vegan, there was vegan cheese, but it tasted horrible. It didn’t melt. It was like, “I’m going to eat this, but it’s not pleasant.” I remember vegan hot dogs were awful. Even Tofurky, which either my palette’s changed or Tofurky has improved over time because my first Thanksgiving eating vegan, I got a Tofurky. I was like, “I’m going to do this” It was awful. I could barely eat it. I was like, “This is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had in my life. I can’t believe this is how I have to have Thanksgiving from now on.” Now we have so many vegan turkey products.

MGU 306 | Diet Judgments

Diet Judgments: Find the diet and the way of eating that works for you.

 

Many of them are allergy-friendly. My favorite one is the turkey burgers and the Turkeyless Burgers at Trader Joe’s, which, if you haven’t tried these yet, they’re a game-changer. Everybody I’ve introduced them to has been blown away, but they’ve also never heard of them. For some reason, not enough people talk about them. Try the Turkeyless burgers. They’re soy-free, gluten-free, they’re made with pea protein. They’re still processed, but not heavily. I am looking forward to the day with vegan keto is not going to ruin my stomach, but I feel like we’re getting closer. Here’s an example. I think it’s called Seven Sundays. Have you tried their products, their cereals?

I have not, but I’ve seen them. I didn’t realize that they were vegan or keto.

They’re vegan and grain-free. I don’t remember if they have any keto labeling on them. They’re probably borderline not keto, but as part of my current state of things and more on the intuitive eating side, I tend to eat grain-free foods because they tend to be keto, paleo at least or simplified ingredients and gluten-free at the same time. That brand is the first one I’ve tried that has not upset my stomach. They use sunflower seed flour. It was something surprising, simple ingredient lists versus another brand of vegan keto or grain-free cereal that I tried was made with chickpea flour and it tasted incredible. It was so good. They get a pumpkin spice. Do you know which one I’m talking about?

No, but it sounds so good. I’m getting very excited.

I thought I saved the box because I tend to feature things like that on this show. It was pumpkin spice seasonal cereal and it was grain-free, maybe marked keto, but it upset my stomach. I think it was the chickpea flours. The fifth on my list is legumes. I cannot digest legumes very well. This is why vegan keto has been such a good fit for me because vegan keto products tend to be gluten-free. Many of them are soy-free, corn-free, and legume-free because of the carb count. It’s the almonds that are tricky.

It’s funny you say that because chickpeas would probably be my number five as well after almonds, which is annoying because I like chickpeas. I love hummus. A chickpea pasta is probably the best replacement for pasta that’s gluten-free. I used to eat a lot of it because it’s that trade-off where you’re like, “I can’t have these other things because it has a violent reaction.” The chickpea is more discomfort than a serious intolerance or allergy, but chickpeas, they’re in everything. If it’s not almonds, it’s chickpeas.

This also goes back to the ingredient shame because I felt shame for my food sensitivities. I think I was a little tied into my fear around going back to disordered eating, which I was like, “Am I restricting myself too much? Is this disordered eating behavior or is it all in my head?” That was part of the journey that I went on was knowing I didn’t feel good eating certain foods but feeling like they were healthy for me. I should eat them anyways, like chickpeas, legumes in general. I felt so much shame for not eating them because everyone would talk about all the health benefits. I was like, “No, they upset my stomach.”

I would also try to eat them in tiny moderation to see if I could change it, but they would upset my stomach no matter what I did. It’s the same thing with almonds. I thought I could train myself back into eating almonds. I think as possible for some people to overcome some food sensitivities through eating foods in moderation and generally, having a medical practitioner guide you through this is the best way. So far for me, it hasn’t worked and it’s like, have you ever felt like you’re questioning your choices because everybody else is eating something and you’re like, “I wish I could eat that way or maybe I should eat that way.”

I have a similar disordered eating/eating disorder background. As you imagine, it ebbs and flows. One becomes the other and it goes back and forth for a decade. Keto was the one thing that got me out of that headspace, as weird as it sounds because it is such a restrictive way of eating. At the same time, it got me to stop obsessing about food. I could stop eating when I was full. I didn’t have insane cravings all the time. I wasn’t constantly obsessing about food. As what this ingredient shame, someone would make a comment like, “You shouldn’t be using peanut butter because of the aflatoxin or the fact that it’s slightly more inflammatory than almond butter. You should only be using almond butter.”

My goal has always been to get people to eat vegetables and less meat. Click To Tweet

I’d be thinking to myself like, “I would rather deal with aflatoxin than anaphylaxis.” I don’t know. It’s so weird because you get all these little digs at you. I would start being like, “Don’t use peanut butter and I can’t use almond butter.” You’re like, “I won’t make recipes with this. I won’t post these foods or I won’t do this thing.” You’re getting yourself back into this restrictive like, “I’m only going to post and eat these things because this random on the internet told me to.” It’s not because a random person told you to. It’s more because you’re afraid of that backlash and posting something you made with peanuts or dehydrated apple, or butternut squash and having 50 people on the internet tell you’re wrong, stupid, the keto diet is dumb, butternut squash isn’t keto and peanut butter is going to kill you. You’re like, “Let me live my life.”

It does trigger disordered eating in a lot of ways because I’ve gotten to the point where it seems like everything I eat is wrong in somebody’s eyes. The only diet I felt I didn’t have a lot of shame around was the 80/10/10 diet because all I was eating was fruit. When people who don’t know about 80/10/10 or the fruitarian diet and they hear about it, they’re like, “That’s crazy and that’s an eating disorder.” That’s so restrictive and that’s true, but it didn’t come with a lot of shame because I was eating all of these high nutrient foods and single ingredients. They weren’t processed and who can say that fruits are bad unless you’re super strict on keto.

I felt like I was finally overcoming all of those challenges of the shame and the backlash. There was a whole movement. I don’t know if you remember this because you’ve been doing keto for so long, but the fruitarian diet was a huge deal on YouTube and social in general. It was probably from 2012 or 2013 to maybe 2015 or 2016.

Some friends still eat that way, but it was a big thing in the vegan world online. Especially in 2021, I’ve heard a lot of people coming out and acknowledging the fact that promoting those diets caused some people to have eating disorders. Everybody was talking about this being the ideal way to eat that I ended up restricting myself too much and being afraid to eat anything outside of that way of eating. That caused me to have a lot of disordered eating habits, which was eye-opening for me.

This is why I try to talk about keto very carefully when it comes to weight because, as we’ve talked about throughout this episode, there are many benefits to keto beyond the weight loss factor. It’s been promoted as such a weight-loss-focused diet that people put it into this box and think like, “If you eat keto, you have an eating disorder,” or, “If you eat keto, you’re too strict and it’s bad for you. You must be eating all these processed foods.”

Certainly, there’s a way to do keto in a very balanced way and in an intuitive way, like you talk about in your upcoming book. Also, eat a ton of unprocessed foods, especially your recipes. I feel like few of them, if any, contained processes in grades unless you would count like the sweeteners. Have you intentionally crafted your recipes to be less processed or is that how they turn out because they’re vegan keto?

I’m going to go back to the whole high-carb thing later because that was also a big part of my life for a while. I hate using judgmental phrases, whether it’s a good or bad judgment, like clean ingredients, dirty keto or lazy keto, because that’s starting to pass judgment on you. Even if it’s lighthearted, it adds up. When you think to yourself like, “This isn’t a clean ingredient.” You eventually get to a point where you’re like, “I’m being crazy right now. I’m not eating this thing I want to eat for one meal because I’m afraid that it’s not clean enough.”

I do use simple ingredients mostly because it makes it easier for more people to find them. Also, because it’s easier to work around food intolerances, it’s very hard to find a good recipe on the internet that doesn’t have something you’re allergic to in it or intolerant of. I like to present a simple enough recipe that someone can say, “I can’t eat this, but I do know that this basic ingredient like almond butter can easily be substituted for sunflower seed butter.” I like to keep things as simple as possible.

MGU 306 | Diet Judgments

Diet Judgments: The vegan experience is buying a cookbook knowing you can’t eat most of it and then saying, “What substitutions can I make?”

 

Lazy in itself, it’s like, we can all relate to that, but it’s not even lazy. Sometimes, we don’t have the time or energy to make certain foods. That was another thing I loved about your book. In fact, I’m looking at my tabbed pages. I remember one in here that was so good and shockingly simple. My favorite recipe in your first cookbook is your bagels and they’re called tahini bagels. I’m trying to find the recipe on here. They are easy to make and satisfying. I felt like I could cry when I tried those.

When you search for vegan keto, both of our cookbooks come up side by side, which I love. I feel like we’re in this together, but yours is called vegan keto. It’s flax seeds, psyllium husks, baking powder, salt, warm water and tahini. That’s it. It’s easy to make and satisfying. I’m starting to drool. I don’t think I’ve psyllium husk right now, but I think I’m going to have to go out and buy some so I can make this recipe again. It was naan. Is that in the book?

It’s on the website. I don’t know if it’s up. I’m reworking some of my older recipes where the pictures are garbage. That might be one of them. I’ll have to check.

Let me know what’s it called specifically for anyone who wants to search for it.

It’s vegan keto naan. I don’t get very baroque with recipe names.

I’m going to look this up because it is another thing that’s making me salivate right now. It was also simple. What were the ingredients in that?

It’s just coconut flour and psyllium husk. I think that might have either been tahini or sunflower seed butter. I’m not sure which one I eventually settled on, but it was super basic and then coconut yogurt.

That was another thing I tried. I was like, “Not only is this easy, but it’s so delicious.” This is why I became obsessed with you, Liz. I wanted to go back to the high-carb stuff because you said that you wanted to acknowledge that. I’m very curious how you feel about that way of eating?

Before I went keto, I was into 80/10/10 completely rob because I thought it would fix all of my problems. It fixed everybody’s problems on YouTube, and I don’t want to call out creators, but some major creators were in the game then. I think they still are now. I still get emails from some of them. I’m like, “You exist.” As with you, I was motivated by weight loss a long time ago and I saw on a YouTube video people eating 30 bananas a day throw that out there. These people would be like, “All my blood sugar issues were resolved. I lost all this weight. I have more energy than I’ve ever had.” Any problem that you can think of, somehow it was carried for these people by eating only fruit, lettuce leaves, a quarter cup of raw soaked walnuts, every 48 hours or something ridiculous.

It seemed like it would be a great diet because they were eating whatever they wanted. I thought, “This is great. I don’t have to think about tracking things. I don’t have to think about counting calories, which I was very into when I was younger.” I will be, “I’ll eat whatever I want.” I ended up getting so thick on eating a high-carb diet. My thyroid tanked. I was freezing all the time and it was July. It wasn’t like it was winter and I was freezing.

I gained ten pounds eating a high-carb, low-fat diet. I was thinking to myself, like, “I must be doing this wrong.” I started feeling bad about myself. I was tired all the time. My skin got garbagy. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I internalized it and I was like, “No, it’s me. I must be doing this wrong.” At the time, I had started my nutrition program. I didn’t know enough yet to know that, “No, this isn’t you. This is not the way your body processes carbohydrates. It’s not the same as these people. These people processed carbohydrates much better.” It took a toll on me, both physically and mentally. I advocate modifying things to make you feel better and not listen to some idiot on the internet. Even if that idiot is me, I’m an idiot too. If you don’t like a recipe or a meal plan that I put together, you don’t have to follow it. Do what feels good for you.

Snacktivism – secret vegan activism by feeding people snacks. Click To Tweet

I was feeling the same way because it was very humbling. There are so many people out there that want to say, “This is a way to do something.” I’ve certainly said similar things over time. I would get in my ego and be like, “I found the best way to eat.” There was something about doing the vegan keto diet where I shifted. Part of that is maturity and learning from our experiences. I also think my journey with disordered eating and recognizing that I didn’t want to fall back in the trap, but I wanted to try it.

Intuitively, I felt very drawn to keto and it ties into the whole intuitive eating side of things. I felt shame, like I said earlier and even telling people what I was doing versus in the past where I would feel proud and try to be like, “Look at what I’m doing. I’m eating the right way.” I felt like I would shrink down and got nervous about it. The truth is that it’s working for me, it feels good and that’s what’s most important.

All of these messages that we’ve heard through social media, YouTube, friends, doctors, there are so much confusion, pressure and this idea that we can find our way to the ultimate way to eat. We’ll finally feel fixed, pure and perfect, but it’s not always like that. Even when you’re doing a diet intuitively, you’re still going to go through periods where it might not work. Sometimes it stops working too. Your body is such a complicated thing. It needs shifts. Your body and hormones are changing like so much is going on in different stages of your life, and you’re going to need different types of nourishment.

Information and science are changing. The research will show us new things. Time will tell too. The fact that the 80/10/10 craze was intense for years and now it isn’t. Certainly, there are people still doing it in different variations of it like you mentioned, but it’s nowhere near like it used to. If we had known that at the time, that would have felt shocking because, for those few years, it was like the be all end all. My heart goes out to anyone who’s still struggling with that mentality of thinking they’re feeling ashamed. I had a similar experience and it didn’t fit my intuitive way of eating. I did 80/10/10 for a few months in 2012. I felt great at the time and it was fun like you said, “Eat as much fruit as I wanted.” I liked going to the store and buying a ton of whatever fruit I was into that day.

There were certain things like watermelon I was into and I would eat as much watermelon as I wanted. I enjoyed trying some of the simple recipes that were three ingredients. I could see its appeal, but then I remember feeling less interested in it. After a few months, I was like, “I don’t feel drawn to it, but I felt all this shame for stopping something that so many people were advocating for and like you, I thought, “It must be something wrong with me,” or, “I need to force myself to eat all this fruit because this is the way to eat.” At least I need to stay raw, but that was not what felt good for my soul, and that comes back to that intuitive way of eating.

As you’re saying, for you and me, we found the opposite end of the spectrum that felt good to us, but there’s nothing wrong with someone who wants to eat fruitarian because maybe for whatever reason, their body and mind thrive in that way of eating. There’s no shame in either way. I think it is the big point here.

That leads me to something I want to touch upon, which is your new book. Some of the things that you had shared with me about that journey of writing a book which contain some things that you’re not sure about yet. I’m curious where you are at and if you could give some context to what this new book is and how it’s different for you compared to what you’ve been doing in the past and compared to your first book?

MGU 306 | Diet Judgments

Diet Judgments: Whenever someone is mean to you on the internet, it’s more a reflection on them and not on you.

 

Firstly, I want to agree on everything. Find the diet and the way of eating that works for you. If it’s keto, high-carb vegan, paleo, live your best life, do what works for you. I do want to talk about my upcoming book. It’s called Plant-Forward Keto. You’ll notice that it’s called Plant-Forward Keto and not Vegan Keto. Although, I didn’t name it. I can’t take credit for that. It is a little different for me and in a lot of ways. I did not work on the recipes by myself this time. I think, 80 of them or something. I love everyone at my publisher. They’re great and fantastic.

When they were putting together this book, they had the idea that, like, “It would be cool to reach out to everyone.” Meaning, not just vegans and vegetarians, but people with low-carb keto dieters, like all food persuasions. They found this talented woman. Fer name is Launie. She has a blog called Teeny Tiny Kitchen. She did eight recipes that are animal proteins. I’ve been vegan for several years now. I had to think about it for a long time because I felt strange having something that I didn’t eat at all. They’re not my recipes. They’re not my name on them.

I had to come to terms with the fact that these ingredients were going to be in a cookbook that had my name on it. I’m saying I come to terms with it as if I didn’t have any agency in this, which isn’t true. I had agency in this decision, but when it comes down to it, my goal has always been to get people to eat more vegetables and to get people to eat less meat. My secret and double mission is to eat less meat and animal products.

My hope is that people would otherwise not buy a book that says vegan because they’re like, “I don’t want to eat vegan food.” It is a weird standpoint that a lot of people have. They forget that means food that doesn’t have an animal product. There’s not a weird sub-category of foods that are vegan foods that automatically taste like hemp and kale.

My goal for this is to have people who would normally not buy a book that says vegan keto start making these like plant-based recipes. If they still need to eat a little bit of eggs, fish, chicken or whatever their last holdout item is, they can incorporate that if they want but start to move towards a predominantly plant-based diet. That’s my secret goal in my head. I call it snack activism, where it’s secret vegan activism by feeding people snacks. That’s my goal. It was weird at first, thinking like, “This book isn’t like mine. It’s not a vegan book.” Although that said, 80 of the recipes are vegan and eight of them are not. It’s still a mostly vegan book.

What is it like in alignment with Will Cole’s book like we talked about? For me personally, I bought that book and I was thrilled. I don’t think your book has officially come out yet. If it had, I didn’t know about it. It was right around the same timeframe, but his came first. I was completely fine buying a book that wasn’t entirely vegan because it was plant-forward, like yours. It had the fish, eggs and whatever, and I ignored them. I’m like, “This is fine.” I could take those same recipes, modify them and make them vegan like somebody could take one of your recipes. Modify them and make them not vegan.

This is another element of this whole topic of ours about ingredients shame like the shame and judgment that can come from vegans. You’ve also said where it can be so critical. It’s this purest mentality of, if it’s not fully vegan, you’re a bad person. The truth is few things in life are 100% vegans if we look at the whole supply chain or whole process chain. Our tires on our car are always that great example of even if everything in your car’s interior is vegan, which is also rare, your tires are probably not vegan.

Recognizing how small I am in the world helps me realize one bad comment doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Click To Tweet

We can put ourselves on this pedestal of saying like, “I’m vegan 100%. I don’t have anything that’s got animal products or involved with animals.” It’s probably not true or possible. Even this mentality of shaming other people if they decide to go to a non-vegan restaurant in order a vegan dish, which some people I’ve experienced in my life and I’m like, “That’s fine if you want to go to 100% vegan restaurants only.” For me, I’m comfortable with some cross-contamination.

One of my favorite things to eat on the road is from Carl’s Jr. because they have the Beyond Burger. There’s not one in Massachusetts, but they have Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.’s, same company. Have you been to either of them? It’s nowhere near you. They’re all over California and because I’ve traveled across the country, there’s Hardee’s or Carl’s Jr.’s in many parts of the country. It’s awesome because it’s a drive-thru that serves the Beyond Burger and they make it keto because you can get it lettuce wrapped.

It’s the easiest vegan keto meal on the road for me, aside from a salad and I love the Beyond Burger. I’m getting it from Carl’s Jr. It’s possible that there’s some cross-contamination. They try to cook it on a separate grill and use different utensils, but who knows what they’re doing back there. I’m personally comfortable with taking that risk because I get to eat food that feels good to me and nourishes me. I’m also supporting the business and encouraging them to make more of this food.

Another example is KFC has been working on their plant-based chicken with beyond meat for a long time. Liz, I never publicly told people that I went and tried it because I was felt uncomfortable admitting that I bought from KFC. In my head, I’m thinking, “This is amazing. Just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean that I don’t want to have the KFC experience. It can be good.” It’s the same thing with Panda Express. They have a chicken, which I also think is Beyond Meat. I went and tried it but felt like I was like doing something wrong. I was like, “This is so cool.”

To your point, Liz, the people that would buy your book that is not vegan but now subtly try something. I think a lot of people are interested in trying plant-based foods, but they’re not going to go out of their way for them. If they can go to somewhere like a fast-food chain that they already like and maybe add on the vegan chicken, in addition to a non-vegan dish, that is ultimately helping the planet in a significant way. It’s inching them closer and realizing that not all plant-based foods taste like hemp.

Thank you for all of those amazing examples because you’re right. I do that thing where we have this like all or nothing mentality where I’m like, “If I’m not doing this 1,000% perfectly, it’s not good enough.” I follow this girl on Instagram. I don’t remember her username, but she’s vegan. Every year she goes home at the holidays and has a milkshake from this favorite diner that she used to go to, a real milkshake with real milk. She posted about it, saying like, “I went to my favorite childhood spot and had my one annual dairy-based item.” She got, as you can imagine, reamed out. Every person is like, “This isn’t vegan. I can’t believe you would do this. You’re betraying vegans. This is a bad look.”

Every negative comment that you could think of, she got. That’s always in the back of my head, but at the same time, she posted a follow-up to it. She was like, “A thousand vegans trying 95% of the time and having a few non-vegan meals is way better than the one person who manages to be perfect or even the 100 people who manage to be completely perfect all of the time.” It made me think because, like you said, “There’s always something.” It’s going to be the tires on your car or handbag that you got from your aunt for Christmas when you were fifteen that you haven’t thrown away yet. That’s a real example from my own life.

There’s always something in your life that’s not, “Vegan,” or not, “Perfect.” To your point about cookbooks, I’m realizing I don’t specifically seek out vegan cookbooks most of the time. I always look for flavor profiles that intrigued me because I already know my food intolerances/allergies, I’m going to need to modify it. I always look for, like, “What’s a cool cookbook.”

MGU 306 | Diet Judgments

Plant-Forward Keto: Flexible Recipes and Meal Plans to Add Variety, Stay Healthy & Eat the Rainbow

I got this one called Orchids and Sweet Tea. It’s this woman Shenika Graham-White, Orchids and Sweet Tea is also her Instagram handle. Her recipes are mostly plant-based, but they do have me and some of them. She’s not vegan or anything. She just likes plants. Her recipes have Southern and Jamaican Flavors. I saw some of them on Instagram and I think that’s how I found her. I am obsessed with that now and I’ve been modifying all these recipes in our cookbook. I always forget that’s the vegan experience is buying a cookbook that you can’t eat most of it and then saying, “What substitutions can I make?” I don’t know why I’m talking about this and got here.

That example too about keeping something non-vegan. I’ve also met a ton of vegans who wear non-vegan clothing either because they’re not at that stage yet. It’s not important to them because the diet is their focus or they’ve bought it second hand, that are several things. I have a flashback to this one prominent person in the VMworld that I won’t name, but this person was wearing what I knew to be non-vegan shoes. I knew the brand and that specific shoe was not vegan because I had always wanted to buy it, but I hadn’t because it wasn’t vegan. I think they bought it brand new and they were like, “These are my shoes. I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.” I’ve also met many vegans that wear silk, leather or whatever because they got it secondhand or someone gave it to them.

The point is that as you said, I think towards the beginning, there’s a whole spectrum to all of this, whether you’re keto, vegan or something completely different and realizing that few people are 100% doing anything like this perfection myth that we have and this purest desire. I’ve also found that the times where I felt like I was doing things 100% were stressful and they did not give me the feeling I was after, which was like, “I finally made it and I’m doing everything right.” I’ve never felt that no matter how hard I’ve tried or how close I’ve gotten to something, it doesn’t shift me in the way that I’m yearning for because of all these cultural myths that we have.

I feel like that intuitive flow and being gentle with myself, not judgmental of myself and ultimately working on deflecting or letting anybody else’s judgments of me pass through. That has been some of my greatest work. I think this would be a great note to end on to circle back with you, Liz, is you talked about this ingredient shame before and I know that some of it has come from social media, like how have you been processing that? How are you also gearing up for what you fear might be some backlash with this new book? Have you learned some new practices to handle judgments and criticisms? Are they still hard for you? Where are you on that path?

I would love to be like, “I like to let go of everything because my seven hours of daily meditation has made that possible.” It is not like that. I have tried to get into meditating to see if that would help me take things less personally. It did a little bit. I want to mock myself for it, but being mindful, focusing on meditation and realizing how small I am compared to the whole world. I think like, “This one comment means nothing in the grand scheme of things.” Even 100 comments, 1,000 comments or a negative review or someone being needlessly rude on social media. That isn’t a real thing and that’s someone having a bad day.

The other way I process it comes from working retail for so long. This is from when I was a barista. These people are mean when they haven’t had their coffee. I realized that whenever someone is mean to you on the internet, it’s a reflection on them. It’s not a reflection on you or in real life too. It’s like in line at 7:00 in the morning. It helps me to take a step back. I still feel that initial reaction where you feel like you’ve been got punched where you’re like, “Why would someone say something so mean to a person that they’ve never met that has had little bearing on their life.” There are valid criticisms out there. I’m not talking about valid criticism. I’m talking about the random hate on the internet.

I like to think, “This person is probably not in the best state right now. Something is wrong with them or something isn’t right with them.” I try to extend my kindness to that person. Not to blatant trolls, but even sometimes, you’re not sure whether this is a troll comment or a person being rude and phrasing things poorly. I always try to respond with kindness and usually, you get a good result from that.

Sometimes the person is like, “Thank you for responding. I realized I sounded rude there.” Their response is nice and you’re like, “Maybe I misread their tone and the comment.” That’s a big one too. I think we’re also ready to be attacked. I don’t think there’s a secret to it. I still take negative comments personally sometimes. The ones where someone’s like, “Keto and vegan foods are disgusting. I would never do that.” Generally, broad sweeping negativity always bums me out. Do you deal with that? My long-winded response equals I don’t know.

It also sounds like it’s on a spectrum for you. The other overarching theme of this episode is that we’re in the flow and it’s not about getting to this place where suddenly comments don’t matter to you anymore because it can be triggering. It’s a great opportunity for us to step back and say like, “What is this bringing up for me? Is it true?

That’s one of my favorite questions. It comes back to the work of Byron Katie, who has that amazing question when you get triggered by something is asking yourself, “Is it true?” There’s a whole set of questions you can do. I know that this has come upon other episodes, but if you look up Byron Katie, the work, you can follow this questioning practice and realize that whenever somebody says something to you, that’s hurtful. Generally, it’s like bringing up a belief within yourself. If you go through the questioning, you can uncover and realize that your feelings are all to do with yourself and not to do with that other person. That’s much easier said than done.

I get triggered by comments and am fearful of things. I let people’s judgments hold me back from expressing my full self and I’m working on it. Hopefully, I’ll be freer one day, but I don’t know if I’ll ever feel fully free of the pain of criticism because I think that’s part of the human experience. I used to strive for that. It was like, “If only I could get to this place where that didn’t matter to me. If only I could develop that thick skin.” The trade-off with developing a thick skin is that you lose a lot of your sweetness and vulnerability in putting up too much armor.

In essence, you lose yourself because you’ve created so many layers. You’re no longer your true self. You’re a different version of yourself that’s wearing some mask to protect it. That means that I’m going to have to ride the wave of negativity. I’ve also found that no matter how perfect I try to be on social media, in videos or on the show, there’s always going to be someone who interprets it differently than I meant it. There’s truly no way of pleasing everyone. We have to keep practicing showing up regardless.

I’m glad that you’ve been doing that and sharing vulnerably here, Liz, and coming out with this book that I think is going to make a huge difference. It might even be a much bigger success in your first book for that reason because it reaches an even bigger audience. I can’t wait to see the results. It’s now available to either pre-order depending on when you read this or purchase. Can you share the name one more time, in case someone wants to go right now and buy it while they’re reading?

It’s called Plant-Forward Keto and my name is Liz MacDowell.

We were talking about heritage before we started the show. Is MacDowell Irish?

It’s Scottish.

Are you also part Polish?

McDowell is my married name. I am not part Scottish. My dad’s family is Polish. My mom’s family is of Irish descent, but I married into a family who out also doesn’t have Scottish descent. This is the name of an adopted dad. Many years ago, their ancestor was adopted by his stepdad and took the name McDowell. Nobody has any genetic connection to Scotland. I think it’s funny because a lot of people will always be like, “I’m Scottish too.” I’m like, “It’s my married name, but also none of us are Scottish, no Scottish descent, no connection. We don’t wear kilts to think.”

I don’t know why. I find that entertaining because people do make many assumptions based on your last name. Understandably, that’s part of what the last name is about. It tells where you’re from or who your people are. I grew up with a very Polish name. It’s Witkowski. It’s weird to me having a name that doesn’t intimidate people into trying to spell. The Witkowski is not hard to spell. People just don’t like Slavic names.

First of all, I didn’t know all these fun facts about you. Thank you for sharing them. This might be the best part of the episode. It’s great for people who stick around because if they know this, they’re invested enough that this is like a fun fact for them. I do not think about someone’s last name that much like you described. Maybe if I ask a question, but I don’t ever think about the historic reasons behind somebody whose last name. Some people do, I suppose, but my last name is Danish. The Danish culture is not talked about that much in my family. It’s just part of the journey that it took for my family to have me over time.

It’s always interesting to reflect on how even that can lead to a judgment about who somebody is and what they’re like. The overarching message is that we encourage people not to be judgmental and open-minded. We also encourage you to recognize you will receive judgments no matter what you do because everybody is a little bit different in doing things for their own reasons.

I’m grateful to know you, Liz and I have someone that I can always turn to, talk about vegan keto, trust for great recipes, and be on this journey of veganism in general. I’m grateful that you came on and I can’t wait to celebrate your book launch with this and your cat too. We talked about how I’m hoping that Liz starts putting her cat in her TikTok videos because most people love cats. I was going to say, “Who doesn’t love cats?” As much as I love cats, there’s someone out there that’s like, “I’m not watching a cat video. This is boring.” I will watch every second of your cat videos. I hope that you put them up on your TikTok account. Is your TikTok account under your name?

It is under @MeatFreeKeto, but it pops up as Liz MacDowell.

That was something else we talked about with the transitions in different usernames because you have two usernames.

On Instagram, I’m under @Liz.MacDowell, but that’s like me. I never post and don’t follow me there. You’re saying like, “Do you want to associate yourself with this brand, this identity? Do you want to try to be yourself?” Maybe that’s a conversation for another day. We could talk about branding. I need to record my podcast and get you on that podcast.

Are your episodes still up to listen to? Where do we find your podcasts?

In iTunes and Stitcher, It’s called The Vegan Keto Podcast.

I knew you had this, but I don’t think I’ve ever listened.

I haven’t recorded a new episode in over a year.

Speaking of usernames, it’s under your Healthy Gamer Girl.

It’s from a million years ago and you can’t change it without screwing up the RSS feed and screwing up the back catalog. I was like, “This is a decision I live with.”

I might be able to figure out a way around this. For people that don’t know this about me, I work with a podcast company. I might be able to do something about this.

Whitney is the most knowledgeable person about social media and blogging on every platform and every possible way of online communicating that I’ve ever met. She is an encyclopedia. You’ll be having a casual conversation and she’s like, “Casually, I’m an expert in this topic.” She won’t say it like that. She’ll say everything you’ve ever wanted to know and some stuff you didn’t know you wanted to know about that topic and then be like, “Did you not know I knew that?” You’re like, “I didn’t know anyone knew that.” She’s amazing.

I’m going to be on a show and they asked me some pre-questions to prepare for the episode. One of them was like, “Tell us three fun facts about you?” I was like, “I don’t know what to say.” Maybe I’ll include that one. I’m a human encyclopedia. I feel like such a nerd, but I love it.

I love it and I appreciate it so much. Every time I talk to you, I feel like I should be paying you for consulting time. I’m like, “How has no one told me that before?” It’s just you’re amazing.

It’s the way my brain works and I’m very flattered, thank you. The HealthyGamerGirl.Podbean or you can search for The Vegan Keto Podcast because it came right up when I searched for it. It’s on iTunes. It’s anywhere that you probably are reading to this show. I’m super excited about the possibility of you recording more episodes and lots to be explored there.

Thanks again for being on this show. I appreciate it. For the readers, the brand new book is Plant-Forward Keto. The first book is called Vegan Keto, not The Vegan Keto. It’s in Wellavatr.com, along with your TikTok, your Instagram and all these places where people can geek out over your amazing work and your wonderful positive personality which I’ve always felt from your online presence and very grateful for. Thank you so much for reading. We’ll be back with another episode. Liz, I hope to see you very soon too.

Thank you so much for everything. This was so much fun and I cannot wait to do it again.

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About Liz MacDowell

MGU 306 | Diet JudgmentsLiz MacDowell is a certified Nutrition Consultant, yoga teacher and avid food lover specializing in vegan and vegetarian whole food diets, food allergies/intolerances, special diets, and nutritional support for digestive health. Liz’s passion for recipe creation and helping those managing autoimmune conditions inspired her to expand her online presence to deliver a more diverse range of options and resources.

On her site, you can find an array of recipe choices that are gluten-free, allergen-friendly, sugar-free and AIP approved, She has a Bachelor’s from McGill University, and a certificate in holistic nutrition from Bauman College, as well as a certificate in Ayurveda from the National Library of Ayurveda Medicine in India.

Previously Liz worked as Healthy Eating Specialist and Marketing Team Leader for Whole Foods Market. Liz is the author of Vegan Keto and has been recognized by many publications including: Well+Good, Everyday Health, Plant-Based News, Organic Authority, Live Naturally and more.