If you are considering dropping the cheeseburgers and pulled pork, I am HERE FOR IT ! Going vegan or vegetarian is a process and while watching a Netflix Documentary on the benefits of the vegan diet is inspiring, you need to plan ahead to make a successful switch.
Meatless meals can bring health wealth such as lowering risk of heart disease, keep cholesterol low, improve blood pressure, lower your body mass index (BMI), lower risk of diabetes and may protect you against cancer. Not to mention the environmental impact of eating meat is higher than all the carbon emissions from cars, trucks and airplanes combined. mic drop…
If you have been eating animal products your whole life having a plan to switch to becoming vegetarian or vegan takes time and planning. First, how far do you want to go? Full splash or dip the toes? Below is a list of some of the various meatless methods:
- Vegetarian– Avoids meat, fish and poultry. Butter, eggs and milk are in the diet.
- Flexitarian – This is someone who is primarily a vegetarian but on occasion eats meat or fish.
- Pescatarian – A mostly vegetarian diet that occasionally consumes fish.
- Lacto-Ovo – Avoids meat, poultry and fish but eats eggs and milk.
- Vegan – Avoids ALL animal products, sometimes honey and gelatin. Eats fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes.
- Plant Based or Plant Forward – A newer term that isn’t as strict. The focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.
I would describe myself as Plant Based with a dash of Pescatarian. I started three years ago implementing a Meatless Monday in our house after reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollen. After learning about the treatment of feedlot meats and poultry and amount of steroids and hormones in those meat products, I knew I wanted to make a change. I gradually tapered off meats and eventually dairy and most animal products. I was vegan for several months but decided to eat fish 2-3 a month (Wild Caught Salmon or Snapper) and eggs twice a week. This works for me and I feel great, I find it is best not to focus too much on the label and remember each plant based meal you consume makes a difference to your health and environment. #nojudgementhere !
Also, for real Gypsy can’t have beef or chicken or she gets itchy. Not a joke. She eats eggs and fish too because she wants to be just like me.
How to go Vegan/Veggie/Flexi/Whichever Successfully:
- Start SLOWWWWWWW– Meatless Monday is a great start. It helps for you to sort through recipes and flavors you enjoy and doesn’t put too much extra planning in your already busy life. If you change to tofu and tempeh right away you WILL miss your meat. Remember slow change is meaningful change.
- Be a “Conscious Vegetarian”– You can’t just eat pasta and bread. One of the nutritional benefits of a plant based diet is eating a variety of plants (taste the rainbow 🌈 ) which will translate to good health. If you only enjoy a few veggies, you will need to expand a few more each month.
- Monitor your protein intake– If you don’t eat enough protein you will feel weak, fatigued and have cravings. The magic number of protein PER DAY is 0.36 mg/pound as a minimum. Start by finding your magic number and keep a journal or note on your phone how you are doing. *See the bottom on this post for plant based protein sources.
- Supplements are most likely needed- Most of our B12, Iron and Zinc are from eating meats. Given this will greatly be reduced in your diet, it is a good to consider a multivitamin for support. If you are vegan and not having dairy, Calcium could be deficient but is rich in dark, green leafy veggies. As with all supplementation, it is very unique what our body needs and always a good idea to talk to a health care professional for advice.
- NOTE about plant based meats– OK, so plant burgers and sausages are everywhere. When I first made the switch, using these sources were really helpful from a psychological perspective so I didn’t feel like I was missing those real burgers. However, the processing of those products has a huge environmental impact and they also have lots of additives in them to make them taste appealing. My advice, use them as you need to but they should NOT be the only protein source and used sparingly.
- Some positives to eating more veggies– OK, if you are not going to the bathroom (poop ok, I am talking about poop) at least once a day, that will change very fast. You may notice you are going several times a day while your gut settles in and gets used to the fiber and nutrient dense foods your are eating. Also, once you start eating more vegetables, your taste buds will crave more and more and you will start actually reaching for them more and more. Win Win!
If you decide to drop the animal protein and go plant based, I wish you luck and let me know how you feel. Remember one meatless meal makes a huge impact!
|Plant Sourced Protein||Protein Amount||Cup|
|Firm tofu (soybean curds); good calcium and iron source from all soy; Use Non-GMO!||10 gm||per ½ cup|
|Tempeh (fermented soy)||15 gm||per ½ cup|
|Edamame beans (immature soybeans)||8.5 g||per ½ cup|
|Red or green lentils contain plenty of protein, fiber, and key nutrients, including iron and potassium.||Cooked lentils contain 8.84 g||per ½ cup|
|Cooked chickpeas||7.25 g||per ½ cup|
|Peanuts are protein-rich, full of healthful fats, and may improve heart health.||20.5 g of protein; Peanut butter is about 8 g of protein per tablespoon||per ½ cup|
|Almonds lots of vitamin E, which is great for the skin and eyes.||16.5 g of protein||per ½ cup|
|Quinoa is a complete protein. Rich in magnesium, iron, fiber, and manganese.||Cooked quinoa contains 8 g of protein||Per cup|
|Seeds are low-calorie foods that are rich in fiber and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia and hemp seeds are a complete source of protein.||Chia contains 2 g of protein per tablespoon, Hemp offers 5 g per tablespoon.|
|Separately, rice and beans are incomplete protein sources, eaten together it is complete protein.||7 g||Per cup|
|Hummus||3 g||2 Tablespoons|
|Protein-rich vegetables – Many dark-colored, leafy greens and vegetables contain protein.||a single, medium stalk of broccoli contains about 4 g of protein; kale offers 2 g of protein per cup; 5 medium mushrooms offer 3 g of protein|
|Ezekiel bread is a nutrient-dense alternative to traditional bread. It is made from barley, wheat, lentils, millet, and spelt. Ezekiel bread is an excellent choice for bread lovers who want a more nutritious way to eat toast or sandwiches.||4 g of protein per slice (more with peanut or almond butter)|
|Eggs||6 gm per egg|