Q: What does it mean to be vegan?
A: Being vegan means that you do not consume or use animal products in any way. You also do not participate in anything that would exploit animals for our entertainment, like rodeos, zoos etc. Ultimately, it is having compassion for all living beings and seeing them as deserving of a quality life of freedom.
Q: Will following a vegan diet cause deficiencies?
A: Anybody following any diet can have deficiencies. But, if you eat a variety of whole plants, you will easily attain all of the essential amino acids necessary to sustain proper metabolism and to thrive. Plus, plant protein is perfectly packaged along with an abundance of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber—all critical components for optimal health and disease prevention.
Q: Where do you get your protein?
A: The most common question! Here is a list of protein rich plant based foods:
Beans and legumes (soy beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, pinto beans, black beans) seeds (hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed) nuts (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, pecans,) tofu, tempeh, spinach, broccoli, kale, green peas, oats.
Again, if you are eating a variety of whole plant foods, you should have no problems meeting your protein intake.
Q: Is there an easy way to make sure I am getting all my vitamins and nutrients?
A: Cronometer.com allows you to plug in everything you eat in a day to ensure you are meeting all of your nutritional requirements.
Q: Does eating vegan have to be expensive?
A: Not at all! A lot of the cheapest foods are whole, plant foods. Try googling or searching on Pinterest "cheap vegan food" or "vegan on a budget" and tons of recipes will pop up.
Q: I never feel full eating a whole foods, plant based diet. What am I doing wrong?
A: Plant foods, in general, are lower in calories than animal based foods. That means, lucky for you, you get to eat a lot more until you are fully satisfied. This means much bigger servings, which might take some getting used to. The great thing about eating whole, plant based foods is that you can (and should!) always eat until you are fully satisfied! The more calories you take in from whole foods, the more nutrients you are getting into your body, and the better you will feel. On the other hand, if you are not meeting your caloric needs, you will feel deprived. Your body will definitely let you know that you are missing something! The goal is to keep your body fueled with nutrient dense, plant based foods that are serving your body for the better!
Q: Does vegan=healthy?
A: No. Vegan means you are not using or consuming animal products. There are tons of unhealthy things you can eat that does not include animals. Oreos, for example are vegan. There are vegan donuts, cookies, ice creams, "chicken" nuggets, hot dogs... pretty much anything unhealthy you could eat that contains animals, they have a vegan version of it. These kind of foods are fun to have on occasion, but don't think you can fill your diet with these foods and expect to have great health, or heal any problems you may have. That is where whole, unprocessed foods come in.
Q: Tips for going Vegan?
1. Educate yourself!!! For a lot of people, this is all it takes to make going vegan a no brainer and eliminates all the temptations of consuming animal based foods. Soak up all the information you can. Here are some great resources:
What the Health (Netflix)
Forks Over Knives (Netflix)
"The Best Speech You'll Ever Hear" by Gary Yourofsky (Youtube.com)
2. If you are not the "go vegan over night" type person, that is OKAY. Don't beat yourself up over every choice you make. Any time you replace an animal product with plants, you are doing yourself, the environment, and the animals a huge favor. Every step forward counts.
3. If you don't want to eat animal products anymore, don't buy them! Also, clean out the fridge and pantry of any foods that don't positively serve your body. If you live with others, dedicate a shelf or section of the fridge and pantry to your food. This way, when you are hungry, you don't have to think about what to eat. You are free to eat whatever is in sight.
4. If you feel lost and don't know what to cook anymore after changing your diet, just veganize your favorite meals! I still do this. Our family personally enjoys tacos, enchiladas, alfredo pastas, just about everything we used to enjoy before going vegan. Pinterest is your friend here. Simply type "vegan (enter favorite food here)" and tons of recipes will likely pop up.
5. If you would like to help the environment and quit contributing to the suffering of animals, but don't want to change your diet, you can literally eat EVERYTHING you enjoy currently, in a vegan version. This is not the healthy route (still "healthier" than animal products) but it will do heaps of good for the animals and the earth. One of my favorite brands for mock meats is Gardein. They make everything from ground "beef", to "chick'n nuggets", meatballs, fish sticks, chicken cutlets, and more. Beyond Meat also makes a great burger (with 20g of protein!). I have yet to meet a meat eater that can tell the difference between this burger, and one made from cows. Coconut Bliss makes DELICIOUS ice cream. Tofurky makes lunch meats, chorizo, bacon.. There are vegan mayonnaises, cheeses, yogurts, milks, sausages, really anything you can think of!