Such a funny expression we humans use :+) “I turned vegan” like George Burns mocks in his fabulous piece on aging.
A paraphrase… “Then you turn 30, like soured milk. Suddenly you’ve gone bad.”
There is so much stigma and massive misunderstanding about the global shift to eating more plant based foods.
Numbers doing so are increasing world-wide. Ocean Robbins of the Food Revolution shares the following with us in his article Jan 18, 2018 …
"There’s been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the U.S in the last three years. According to a report by research firm GlobalData, only 1% of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan in 2014. And in 2017, that number rose to 6%. Yet you have the naysayers slam-dunking this way of eating and some for good reason."
‘Oh yeah, I tried “going vegan” it didn’t work for me.’ While a statement such as this may have been a true experience for this person, the question begs to be answered…
What does eating a vegan diet mean for them? What foods did it consist of? Was it a balanced, nutrient dense, whole foods diet? Were meals made up of sufficient plant based proteins, quality carbs, healthy fats and adequate fiber in appropriate amounts for their present state of health, activity levels/lifestyle?
Calling something vegan or vegetarian doesn’t automatically give it an elite status or free pass to ‘healthy’. Just as the ‘organic’ or gluten-free label on foods doesn’t assure you it’s a healthy food choice.
Potato chips and junk food, be they vegan, gluten free, organic or not, don’t make for a healthy dietary choice. I see many plant-based eaters adamant about being completely vegan in their life approach yet eating a diet of vegan fast food such as poutine, pizza, mac n cheese, hot dogs, and doughnuts.
While well-meaning this depicts those likely driven to a vegan lifestyle due to ethical reasons foremost and not overall health and well-being. This way of eating invites in criticism and doubt on the health benefits of shifting to a plant based diet. No fast food or extreme dietary approach works well and it can lead to serious health issues.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to defining / determining a vegan diet. The more mainstream term for this approach to eating is ‘plant-based’ or ‘plant-strong’ and it means a diet of a wide variety of ‘whole’ or minimally processed foods.
Sure we can eliminate all animal products from our diet yet a vegan dietary approach (like any particular approach) must still include the essential nutrients. In our human habit of putting labels on life, let’s stop for a moment and talk about a well-balanced, whole-foods-centered, dietary approach that comes from the plant kingdom. Diets are a funny thing. We all need our very own. NO one fit works for us all yet there are some basics to guide you.
Here’s what a nutrient dense, real food vegan diet needs to look like:
Essential macro nutrients:
- Sufficient intake of plant based proteins such as legumes/beans, nut/seeds, ancient grains, tempeh/tofu/seitan/natto, shiitake/wild mushrooms such as shiitake…
- Protein rich, quality carbs such as ancient grains like buckwheat, wild rice, farro, freeka, millet, quinoa, sorghum, pearl barley…
- Produce – fresh, raw and cooked and lots of them in the form of leafy greens, root and cruciferous vegetables, celery, asparagus, cucumbers, etc, and fruits of all kinds. Variety is essential for a full spectrum of nutrients.
- Adequate hydration with clean water
- Sufficient intake of all the necessary vitamins and minerals with a focus on -
- Vit D
- Vit B12 and all the B vitamins spectrum
- Omega 3 fatty acids from foods such as flax, chia and hemp seeds as well as leafy greens and a micro algae supplement
- Sea vegetables for iodine and omega 3’s
- Zinc and Vit K2 are also suggested for those eating a vegan diet
- Calcium (can be an issue as well - best is food sources such as greens, beans, seeds like sesame and chia, almonds, organic soy...)
Mainstream media news of the benefits of eating plant strong is now more accepted than ever with the science to support it.
Be part of the growing shift; just be sure to do it well and access the full spectrum of nutrients via food and augment with supplements as needed. Working with a qualified (nutrition educated) health practitioner is recommended.
Regular MD's and GP's are rarely your best resource for nutrition information.
Here’s a great resource to help you move to a more ‘plant strong diet…
The Vegetarian Society
Looking for more guidance and support on a truly healthy diet? Contact me for personal, family and group coaching.