Most would agree that eating vegan is a compassionate way of eating nutritious food.
However, following a plant based diet is more about than just eating compassionately – a plant based diet is a much healthier approach to eating compared with the standard American diet (SAD).
Before you jump on the bandwagon, there are some essential things that can help achieve the right level of fitness and diet.
Let us now look at some of the things which you must do before going down the lane of being plant based.
Find New Protein Sources
As most plant based coaches will attest, each meal you consume must contain protein. Most non-plant based eaters may think this is an issue. However, us on a plant based diet know that all vegetables have protein and therefore our meals will have some levels of protein – no matter what
To oversimplify, proteins are the building blocks of lean muscle tissue. Proteins break down into amino acids, which help with cell growth and repair. Obviously, proteins are a vital macronutrient that our body needs to stay healthy.
The amount of protein requirements differ depending on who you talk to. A good rule of thumb is that adults need to consume 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body mass weight. If you are a 150 pound women then you should consume 54 grams of protein per day.
If you’re wondering how you will ever be able to consume 54 grams of protein on a plant based diet then see a sample daily meal plan meal below:
Breakfast: ½ cup oatmeal, 1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds and 1 cup of blueberries with 2 slice of whole wheat toast and 1 tbsp. of peanut butter = 500 calories & 16 grams of protein
Lunch: 4 cups of lettuce, 2 tbsp. of vinaigrette dressing, ¼ block of grilled tofu and ¼ cup of raisins = 500 calories and 23 grams of protein
Snack: Green Vegan Machine Smoothie (1 tbsp. of cocoa powder, 1 tbsp. of peanut butter, 1 frozen banana, 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of soy milk and 1 tbsp. of hemp seeds) = 370 calories and 18 grams of protein
Dinner: 2oz of pasta, ½ cup of marinara sauce and ½ cup of black beans with side salad of 4 cups of lettuce, 1 tomato, ¼ cup of diced onion and 1 tbsp. of vinaigrette dressing = 530 calories and 18 grams of protein
OK, so without being creative in food selection, this sample day meal plan has a whopping 75 grams of protein on a 1,900 calorie diet. Even if you don’t have time, and by time I mean less than 5 minutes, to whip up the smoothie, you will still exceed your protein requirements for the day!
Keep in mind that some of the high-quality vegan proteins include lentils, beans, quinoa, seitan, and natural soy.
Go Easy on the Franken-foods
Franken-food consists of foods that are vegan, but not necessarily a healthy, plant based food. Think of the Beyond Burger. It’s immediately healthier than its beef based counter-part, but it’s not necessarily something you want to be eating on a daily basis.
Most of the Franken-foods contain large amounts of processed soy. The results on soy are biased. Some health experts emphasize the dangers of overeating soy, while promoters of soy products state the benefits of incorporating soy into your diet.
Soy-based meat substitutes are usually highly processed and loaded with too much sodium and preservatives. It is always good practice to review the ingredient label carefully before making any purchase of meat substitutes.
Although scientists are still debating the effects of soy on heart health you will always be safe sticking to a whole foods, plant based diet
Those working to develop their own vegan bodybuilding transformation can easily do so with focusing on whole foods – not Franken-foods.
Do Not Replace Animal Products with Junk
Planning to do away with meat-based products in exchange for Oreos (yes they’re vegan!), white bread, and other processed junk will hinder your plant based transformation.
Processed food items provide minimal nutritional value and only calories in exchange for animal-based products.
Vegan junk food is still junk!
The Need for a B12 and Iron Supplement
Vitamin B12 always occurs naturally in animal foods only, which is the reason you need to have in stock as a supplement. However, if you have been non-plant based for a number of years, your body may already have enough B12 stores to last you for years!
For those who don’t know, B12 makes sure that blood cells and the body’s nerve remains healthy, and also supports DNA synthesis.
Hence, a deficiency of in B12 can cause tiredness, weight loss, weakness, and constipation.
Now onto Iron. Iron is available in two forms, heme and non-heme. Heme makes up to 40% of the iron in animal-based food and is absorbed by the body.
A vegan diet comprises only non-heme, which is not easily absorbed, and one might need to consume more of it to get the benefits.
With a vegan diet, there are still a number of sources that you can get your Iron from. If you are plant based the you are probably already consuming foods rich in Iron. Foods such as, legumes, sunflower seeds, dried raisins, and green vegetables all have adequate amounts of Iron.
At the end of the day, you will want to work with your personal physician to understand any deficits you may have. B12 and Iron are standing markers in blood testing and your physician can help you identify the best path forward.
When you decide to switch from an animal-based to a plant based diet, it might seem a bit out-of-the-box to switch from the daily intake of meat and poultry to more whole foods and plants. However, in the end, if you plan on living a healthier lifestyle, while contributing to reduction in animal cruelty, and being a positive contributor to the environment then and then a vegan diet based on whole foods is definitely the way to go!