This is a popular and new diet trend in today’s age because of the animal cruelty exposure the meat industry is involved with, the environmental damage animal agriculture is contributing to and the health concerns that meat and dairy products pose to our health.
If you are interested in even one of these issues you would be starting to become interested in starting a Plant-Based lifestyle.
When I learned of all the issues that meat was contributing to, I too wanted to learn how to become Vegan. I had the common questions in mind that most people have, such as:
- Is it hard?
- What can I eat?
- Am I doing it properly?
- Am I getting all the nutrients I need?
I did learn quite a bit from YouTube and listening to other ordinary people talk about what worked for them and what didn’t, or those ‘What I eat in a day – Vegan Diet’ videos to get meal ideas, which I highly recommend.
But some of it came from trial and error. For you, you can get all the tips right here from me, you don’t have to make the mistakes I did or the misconceptions I had.
Getting Your Nutrients from Plant-Based Sources
Here, I will list some vital foods that are ideal for a plant-based diet and contain a variety of essential macro and micronutrients.
Legumes are an excellent source of protein, iron, magnesium, fiber, and healthy fats. These include Soybeans, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Green Peas, and Chickpeas. These are all just a few of my favorites. In regard to protein, an approximately ½ cup of legumes contains 15-26 grams of protein dependent on the legume.
Seeds are a great way to get lots of different micronutrients. Some seeds that I consume regularly are Chia seeds which have many benefits including omega 3’s, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and for protein, you can consume 11 grams via 2 tbsp.
Hemp Seeds are also a fantastic way to get your protein (15 grams), iron, magnesium and zinc, all in ¼ cup. I usually put these in my oats for breakfast, they make a great mixture.
Plant-based milk are provided in most supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths and there is quite a variety:
- Soy Milk
- Almond Milk
- Oat Milk
- Macadamia Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Rice Milk
- Cashew Milk
These sources are a great way to get more protein and other nutrients dependent on the brand and variety of milk. The brand, ‘So Good’ Soy milk provides additional nutrients in their products which is great for us plant eaters!
Vegetables of all kinds! You cannot get enough vegetables to be perfectly honest; I know we all know this to be true. They have so many micronutrients that most people miss out on when consuming more animal products than vegetables. So do not be afraid of experimenting with different vegetables of all colors! Leafy greens like spinach are additionally crucial to getting micronutrients, amino acids, antioxidants and fiber into your system. If you’re like me and don’t really eat salads, put some spinach in your shakes! 2 cups of raw spinach, for example, is 2.1 grams of protein.
Quinoa is a great way to get protein as only ½ cup contains 14 grams Additionally, it contains magnesium, fiber, vitamin B6 and iron as well!
Tofu is a great alternative to chicken. Just fry it the way you like and put the sauces that suit you and it is great for vegetable dishes, on toast and stir-fries! ½ cup of tofu contains approximately 20 grams of protein. What a whopper!
There are a lot of different types of tofu in terms of how companies manufacture them, so if you do not like one, do not be afraid to try another because they can differ substantially. Additionally, they are very inexpensive if you buy it raw – approx $3.
Nuts! The ¼ cup has 8 grams of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. I must admit I do not get enough of these but I really should. Almonds, walnuts, macadamias, peanuts and cashews, there are quite a few! I like to eat the butter instead, like raw peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter.
The Protein Talk
I am sure you are used to thinking that we need hundreds of grams of protein if we are to lose weight and gain muscle, but this is just the fitness industry advertising their products, in fact, according to numerous studies, too much protein of any kind can cause serious issues in the body in various ways such as stressing your kidneys and liver and if its animal protein it increases your risk our risk of cancer and elevates blood cholesterol levels.
The recommended dietary allowance for adults is around 0.8 grams of protein a day for each kilogram or 2.2 pounds of body weight.
So for example, I weigh 49 kg so I would need 39.2 grams of protein per day.
If you get the necessary daily calorie intake for your body (weight and age) it is actually impossible for you to be protein deficient. Even if you just ate rice for a day – one of the lowest protein food sources – but had met the calorie requirement, though that diet is not ideal for health reasons, in regards to the protein you would still not be protein
*If you are interested in this information and want to know more, I would recommend watching ‘Food Choices’, it is available on Netflix and was a large contributor to why many people have become Vegan.
What About B12?
What is B12?
B12 is a bacterium found in the large intestines of animals. It also occurs within humans but we cannot use our B12 because it is found further up our colon. It is excreted via a bowel movement.
B12 is found in most animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy, and fish. Unfortunately, it is not found in plant-based foods even though there are some myths that deem it is. This is usually due to the fact that though B12 may be present in Spirulina and blue-green algae, for example, it is a different analog which is not bioavailable to us. Additionally, there are some unreliable sources that may contain B12 such as Chlorella or Nutritional Yeast but the contents vary widely and some have been formed synthetically which may impact B12 absorption.
It is important to get B12 because, without it, there are serious health implications. You can be on a plant-based diet and not notice the effects for years, but they will occur if B12 isn’t taken. 5 years is the average length before symptoms can occur.
These symptoms range from:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of bladder control
- Sore mouth and tongue
Overall, B12 is not readily available in a plant-based diet naturally.
However, there are ways to get this vitamin on a plant-based diet by doing one of the following:
- Eat B12 fortified foods two-three times a day to get 3 micrograms a day – soy milk is a popular food source for this reason. Check the labels on food to make sure you are getting the necessary amount per day.
- Otherwise, you can take a B12 tablet – dependent on the brand, some can be taken daily, others weekly
The recommended daily B12 intake is (depends on age):
- Birth to 6 months – 0.4mcg
- Infants (7-12 months) – 0.5mcg
- Children (1-3 years) – 0.9mcg
- Children 4-8 years – 1.2mcg
- Children 9-13 – 1.8mcg
- Teens 14-18 – 2.4mcg
- Adults – 2.4mcg
- Pregnant teens and women – 2.6mcg
- Breastfeeding teens and women – 2.8mcg
Meal Ideas to Get Excited About!
Vegan Pancakes are a favorite among my friends and I. Just replace the eggs with 2 mashed bananas and the milk for plant-based milk. Top it off with berries, maple syrup, and vegan ice cream! 😀
Vegetable Lasagne – replace the mincemeat, use mushrooms, tomato, onion, capsicum with a sprinkle of either vegan cheese or nutritional yeast which is used for a cheesy texture. If you do not want vegetables, you can purchase vegan mince from Coles and Woolworths.
Scrambled Tofu – Use raw tofu and mush it up between your fingers turning it into a scrambled texture. Add a curry paste and add desired vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach, tomato, and onion – my personal preference 🙂
Vegetable Curry – This would be made with a curry paste of your choice, coconut cream, vegetables, and rice. So simple but so delicious!
Some Tips to Leave on
Get a blood test yearly – this is something I failed to do. I was very lazy and thought I was doing everything right because I felt great. Some I wish I did it earlier so I could get on top of my B12 and, though my iron was fine it could have been better. I have been added hemp seeds to my oats every morning since my blood test and eating more beans.
Do a bit of research and get meal ideas so you don’t lose it when you can’t think of what to eat or how to prepare a meal. It is a big change so it is obviously going to take a little time to figure out what foods you like and what you don’t like.
Give it a chance. Some people I know start it, and then if they feel a little tired or something feels off, or they just simply cannot be bothered anymore, and then they give up.
It won’t take long before those small feelings go away because it is likely that you have been eating meat and dairy your whole life, so it is okay if your body feels different or you are eating habits change (the amount, when you eat).
But these feelings will adjust itself and you will feel great in no time, your bowels will be moving more regularly, you’ll feel great after your meals with no heavy sick feelings for example and you will feel great that your diet is doing a world of difference to both animals, the environment, and your body.
It is worth the effort!
Thanks, everyone for reading and I hope I helped you better understand how to start a plant-based diet effectively and answered the questions you were pondering.
Please feel free to comment or ask any questions you need help with!
THE EARTH CO.