Veganuary was bittersweet.
For those of you who aren’t aware, January was THE month to go vegan. It’s also the month for resolutions, feeling like you’ve got superpowers and actually testing them out.
Right about now, the dust is settling and you’re getting into the swing of things.
This year I decided to join in the vegan festivities. After a maddening birthday month and Thanksgiving, I needed something to reset my body and quickly. There are many diets to choose from, so I chose the one that the most sustainable for my lifestyle and will have the best impact for what I wanted to accomplish.
Being vegan means not consuming any products derived from animals. GOT THAT ( but not everybody does) , it’s a little bit more intense than being vegetarian.
Anyways, the last time I went vegan was pre-med school and boy things have changed since then.
Can we say FRANKEN-FOODS?
The selection of Gluten free, Dairy Free, Egg free products are outstanding. I mean damn near impressive. I had access to vegan deli-sandwiches, mozzerella sticks, pizza, ice cream, cookies, scrambled “eggs” vegan cheese cakes, heck even the Impossible burger at Top Golf in Vegas. I mention these examples because it didn’t exist 10 years ago!
A majority of my diet was lentils, occasionally tofu, fruits, beans and veggies, brown rice, quinoa…rinse and repeat. How you should be eating if you’re bothering to go vegan. But it was the holiday so…..don’t judge me. I had every holiday craving desired, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on any of my cheat foods.
I guess my takeaway advice here ( to get to the point) is: don’t substitute a majority of your diet for Franken-manufactured-foods, you’ll be worse off. I now understand why a good number of vegans I’ve met have high cholesterol and are pre-diabetic and have low vitamin levels. Choose a whole foods vegan diet!
So here’s a list of what TO DO and what you should AVOID:
(I’m recapping my real life experience and my EPIC FAILS)
Eat whole foods, I mean it should be recognizable that it came from a real living plant
Get in plant proteins at every meal. Protein deficiency is a major problem for vegans and why they carb binge.
Eat frequent balanced meals. Transitioning from my meat eating habits, I realize you get alot of calorically dense nutrients with animal proteins so you can afford to eat 1-2x/day ( like with Intermittent fasting), but with vegan, your calories are less and you’re more subject to being hungrier more often. Change the frequency and eat more. Be sure to include sources of fats.
Find restaurants in your area that are vegan friendly early on. Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese and most salad bars have vegan options. I‘ve found many restaurants are now open to making dishes vegan for you.
Pinterest was a god-send. So find your recipes and cookbooks to give you ideas. Otherwise you’re eating cold boring salads and starving yourself.
Avoid foods that are listing top ingredients as a starch (Tapioca, Potato, Arrowroot) as primaries. These are highly refined white starches that will spike blood sugars and tell your body to store as fat if not used leading to higher cholesterol levels. I am wary of the pea protein isolates in the beyond burger and what ever makes up the impossible burger (GMO and animal tested)
Use carbs to substitute for hunger. if you are hungry, eat a balanced meal with proteins instead of snacking. Avoid snacking.
Watch your salt intake. Many of the prepared meat substitutes are high in salt and may lead to water weight or bloating. Balance this with unsalted green leafy veggies that are mineral rich, fresh green juices, or diuretic teas made with horsetail and alfalfa.
Get more protein in. Whoever said you don’t need protein when vegan lied to you. Whoever said you can get it from veggies LIED TO YOU! On a vegan diet, most women should aim for 40-50 grams of protein/day and men 50-60 minimum. If you have a bustling job where you need your brain to work, you’ll need the protein and fat combined for better brain fuel. Make a point to count grams until you get the hang of it.
Eat the same foods again and again. Literally there are hundreds of combinations of foods you can make and so many resources that exists to help you figure out what to eat. Meal plan and get creative!
I’m 70+ days vegan and counting. Hope these tips help you on your vegan journey!