Sunday, October 26, 2014

Plant Based Living Guide Part I

Is it hard to become vegan or plant based?  NO, it really is not!  With all the food choices we have these days, it is easier than ever.  In just a few short paragraphs I hope to give you some staple foods for your pantry and fridge, easy to follow instructions and some simple rules to live by.  Let's GO!

1.  What is a plant based eater or vegan?  A vegan or plant based diet is simply eating only plants.  That's it.  No animal products or by products (anything that comes from an animal).  Good bye meat, dairy and eggs!  Hello fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, beans  and nuts! (trust me, you will not go hungry)

2.  Decide why you want to become plant based:  ethical reasons and or health reasons.

3.  Be careful of what you are eating.  Just because it is vegan/plant based doesn't mean it is healthy for you!  Oreo cookies, yes, are vegan.  But are they good for you?  NO, they are full of sugar, chemicals and fake ingredients.  If you are eating a plant based diet to be healthy, why would you eat a chemical cookie?  You wouldn't and shouldn't!  Make sure to educate yourself on label reading.  Check out my blog about food ingredients.

4.  Speaking of food ingredients, it is very important to know "code" words that the food industry uses. You might find some non-dairy items or soy cheese that says it's "vegetarian" but it has casein in it.  (Definition here).  Learning what is actually making up the food that you are eating is very crucial if you want to keep to a straight plant based diet.

5.  Eat whole foods.  Eat foods with out ingredient lists.  That simple.  By eating food in their natural state you are receiving all their benefits; fiber, protein, omega 3 and 6 fats, vitamins, minerals…you get the picture.

6.  Is being plant based expensive?  No.  If you break down the costs of what you are spending now on red meat, dairy products and snack food that you might eat, and then compare to the purchases of seasonal fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains, beans and nuts you will see that a plant based/vegan lifestyle is very affordable!

7.  Do you need to take a vitamin supplement?  You can get all your nutritional needs from plants.  According to the American Dietetic Association "…appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases."  I personally, take a B Vitamin Complex just to make sure that I am getting enough of this certain vitamin.   Below is a list of nutritional needs and the plants that you can get them from:

Protein-legumes, lentils, soy products, whole grains
Calcium-almonds, broccoli, kale, tahini, tofu
Vitamin B12-many fortified foods such as cereals and meat substitutes.  I do not eat a lot of those types of foods, therefor I take a vitamin.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids-flaxseed, chia seeds, tofu, walnuts
Iron-brussels sprouts, edamame, kidney beans, lentils, turmeric
Also, go buy yourself a bottle of Nutritional Yeast.  It has a cheesy flavor.  It is great on popcorn, mix it in casseroles or a topping to your favorite vegetables and is full of B vitamins!

These are just to name a few!  The list is endless.

8.  Do you get enough protein?  YES!  Yes I do!  Thanks for asking!  Don't worry about protein deficiency.   Eating an animal is not the only way to receive your daily intake of protein.  (Many people believe the RDA for protein is actually too high).  Your very own body, working though your metabolism, takes care of combining the foods you eat, into the protein you need.  No need to worry about eating pasta with rice with tomatoes to make a complete protein.  Your body will take all of those amino acids and use them for good, trust me:)

9.  Can I still bake?   Of course you can!  I do!  There are many non dairy substitutes that are not full of chemicals and toxins.  You can use chia seeds instead of eggs, maple syrup in place of sugars or honey, almond milk, even tofu can be used as a substitute in baking.  Take $20 out of your pocket and go buy a good vegan baking cookbook, you will thank yourself for doing it.

10.  Do I have to be stuck eating only whole wheat noodles?  Heck no!  There are many different types of grains out there, and all of them are tasty!

Bulgur Wheat
Wheat berries

On top of these great grains you have beans!  and legumes!  and lentils!

Cannellini beans
Kidney beans
Lima beans
Pinto beans
White beans
Black beans.

Go out there, live life on the edge and try something new!  Start out slowly by doing meatless Mondays.  Get the whole family involved.   In the end, your body will thank you for it!

Enjoy YOUR day!


Check out the American Dietetic Website here…EatRight.Org

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