The Truth: Protein and Other Concerns

Transitioning to my current diet was not something that happened overnight. It took weeks of cutting certain foods out and required a mind switch in terms of what to buy and what to cook.

So let’s run through some of the concerns most people (myself included) have around cutting out meat/animal products:

Protein

Getting enough protein in my diet was one of my first concerns with eating a predominantly plant-based diet. Like everyone else, I assumed we needed animal products like meat, milk, and cheese in order to get all of our essential nutrients. If this is where you’re also hesitating in terms of changing your diet, fear not! I am by no means a nutritionist, dietician or have any form of medical training so this is all based on research I’ve done myself/my own personal experience over the last year. This is all information that is easily accessible to anyone who wants to read up on it.

I’ve learned that there is protein in most everything we eat (plants included). If you’re eating a balanced diet with lots of different fruits, vegetables, and legumes then there’s nothing to worry about. As someone who will eat almost anything, this hasn’t been a problem for me. When I stop and think about it, there are SO many options when it comes to plant-based protein: Lentils, red/white kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans (heck, any kind of bean), avocados, broccoli, spinach, quinoa, mushrooms, nuts, and tofu just to name a few. Start looking at nutritional labels more closely and you’ll be quite surprised at the protein hidden in your cupboards and fridges.

Feeling Full

Another concern of mine was that I wanted to make sure I would still feel full after a meal. I didn’t want to leave the table still hungry. As someone who has a large appetite (both before and after changing diets), I can honestly tell you that it IS possible to eat plants and feel fully satisfied! With the right recipe, which does not have to be complicated or involve obscure ingredients, you can eat a meal without animal products and get that full, “hit the spot” feeling. Ensuring that each meal has some plant-based protein included (which is now obviously easy to do), I’ve never made a dish that left me craving more food (minus a few failed recipes, because no one is perfect). Variety is definitely key.

Energy Level/Weight Loss

A lot of people who have transitioned to a vegan diet have claimed to have increased energy levels and claimed to have lost weight. Personally, I wouldn’t say that my energy levels have increased by much, but it definitely hasn’t decreased either. I’m not the most active person, but I do walk to/from work, enjoy weekend hikes, and the occasional run. After switching my diet, I’m still very much able to do all of these things no problem and am more than capable of making it throughout the day as I would have before. Unintentionally, I did lose some weight. Not enough that anyone would notice or to raise health concerns over, but my boyfriend and I did notice our pants fitting slightly looser than normal after a couple of months of cutting out meat.

Supplements

I was weary at the thought of taking multiple vitamins or supplements to ensure I was getting everything my body needed, without animal products (I’ve got a horrible memory). Thankfully, all I currently take on a regular basis is a B12 supplement, which is normally found in various red meats. I won’t lie, there are some days I forget to take it – Although I’ve never gone long enough for it to actually feel like it’s had any negative effect on me. Other than that, no further supplements needed which keeps things easy-peasy.

Overall, I feel great.
I’m getting all of the nutrients and health benefits from mainly eating plants.
If there’s a healthy, environmental-friendly, cruelty free (and of course delicious) way to enjoy food, why not give it a try?

Stay tuned, as I’d like to share with you some of my fave vegan snacks that you can easily find in the grocery store – Perfect for lazy days or when you’ve got those food cravings!

 

 

 

Yes, I Eat (Mainly) Plants

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love food – Always have, always will.

I’m usually planning my next snack or meal shortly after finishing what’s in front of me. There’s not much I won’t eat (or at least try) and I refuse to leave the table feeling hungry. Who knew I could still enjoy all of the above and basically just eat plants? I didn’t believe it either.

When my boyfriend first suggested that we start reducing the amount of meat we consume, I felt pretty comfortable with the idea. Prices for meat products had significantly risen anyway, so only using it for one meal a day was easy-peasy and cost-effective. After a few weeks, my boyfriend then suggested we cut meat out altogether. I was a bit hesitant on the idea, thinking of all of my favourite meals I’d miss out on like turkey dinner, tacos, and lasagna. I didn’t want to give up on some of the foods I really enjoyed, but after some convincing we transitioned into a vegetarian diet. Thankfully, we didn’t starve. We starting trying more new recipes and discovered we really enjoyed cooking together. After a few more months went by, my boyfriend suggested the unthinkable, “We should go vegan.”

Vegan means no animal products. No meat. No milk. No yoghurt. No cheese. No eggs. If it came from an animal, in any way, it’s a no-no. My first thought on the idea of going vegan? “No. Way.” I thought it was too extreme and I thought it was unhealthy. Where were we going to get our protein? We already stopped eating meat, so didn’t we need foods like eggs and cheese for protein? I also didn’t want to be perceived as a hippie and not be able to eat out at restaurants. Above all, I didn’t want to complicate things. Cutting out meat was a relatively easy transition, but cutting out ALL animal products sounded unbelievably overwhelming.

It’s now been almost a year – I still haven’t starved (sigh of relief) and most importantly, I’m still enjoying delicious, healthy, and satisfying foods every day. My diet is about 95% vegan and 5% vegetarian. When I’m at home, I eat a fully vegan diet (which also includes the lunches I make each day for work). This did involve some adjustments in grocery shopping, but really only took a few weeks to get used to what my new staples would be. I resort to a vegetarian diet for anything else. If I’m going somewhere where the food prep is out of my control, I just do my best to east as vegan as possible. Some people might think this is a hypocritical concept, but it’s what I’m currently comfortable and happy with in terms of transitioning my diet. I’ve made significant changes so far and I think that I’m on the right path forward.

So, why go vegetarian/vegan in the first place? Why cut out foods everyone enjoys like bacon, burgers, eggs, and cheese?
I have two main reasons for you to consider:

  1. For the animals – We all know that animal cruelty happens in the farming industry. Cows are artificially inseminated over and over again, while their newborn calves are dragged away just so we can drink their milk. Chickens are claimed to be “free range” but they’re still kept in crammed quarters and their beaks clipped off. Newborn male chicks are still thrown away (live) since they won’t lay eggs. For some reason, we’re outraged at the thought of violence against a pet (we have laws to protect our dogs and cats), but we turn a blind eye when it comes to any other animal. We can’t deny the fact that these animals are suffering just because we like they way they taste.
  2. For the environment – This might be a newer concept for some people, but the farming industry is one of the top contributors to the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. This is helping to drive the effects of climate change we’re experiencing around the world. From the fuel used to transport the animals, the water needed for raising/processing the animals, and to the methane released from the animals (yes, I mean cow farts), it all adds up to polluting our environment. So even if you don’t care about animal welfare, you can at least care about our planet and it surviving for generations to come.

Choosing to reduce or eliminate animal products from your diet is such a simple way to have a positive impact on the world. Giving up animal products is such a small sacrifice to support two very important causes. By eating a predominantly plant-based diet, I’m healthy, happy, and doing my small part as a global citizen.

I bet most of you are now going to proceed to give a lecture on how unhealthy it is to eliminate animal products from your diet (I’m guilty of giving a similar lecture to my boyfriend). You’re thinking about how we need meat for protein and cow milk for calcium. That’s what we’ve been taught for the last 100 years or more. I’m happy to say that this is not the case!

Stick around for my next post and I’ll walk you through some of most common myths about going vegetarian/vegan (all of which I was weary about myself).

-L