Me, I’m the dummy. Aren’t we all? AAnnyhoo.
So I have had some questions about how to make veganism work without getting bored or losing out on nutrients. First of all, I’m no expert, I’m speaking from my own experience. Please make sure you talk to your doctor about your diet choices if you’re making a huge change or feeling weird (extra tired, weight loss, general weirdness .. totally medically legit in my opinion).
I went vegetarian on October 20th, 2007. In the middle of a bite of chicken breast. You can read more about it here. I was a super picky eater and didn’t really know what I was doing. My main protein was probably coming from hummus and pita in large quantities. I also have a super active lifestyle. All this landed me feeling really crappy and I decided to go in for a blood test at my College doctor’s office. I passed out. Before ballet class. It was not good. Also, with low iron and B12 vitamin levels. Things needed to change.
After graduation, I moved to Canmore, Alberta (a beautiful, mountain getaway town) for a show. I had time to learn how to cook and eat! I lived with people who were older and wiser about nutrition. I learned to eat eggs, and later love them. I realized I liked beans, nuts, cottage cheese, oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables that I’d HATED before. Overall, the biggest benefits of my vegetarianism is it’s taught me to be a less picky eater! Crazy, right? I got my levels retested a couple months later and was fine. No major changes, just a general attention to eating better.
Skip forward a couple of happy veggie years to May 2010.
I decided to go vegan after reading The Kind Life. I was doing a show and living alone so I had lots of time for cooking and trying new recipes. I found it to be really fun and educational! My first vegan foray was when I really got into cooking. I started having brown rice with peanut butter and almond milk for breakfast! I was focusing on not just vegan food, but real food. A first for me! The only thing that I found difficult was eating with other people. Especially brunch. Which I was having a lot of because that’s when Mr. Best Things and I were getting together. All in all, I’d had my fun, and I went happily back to my veggie ways with a greater understanding of healthy eating.
Most recently, I’ve taken a 3o day vegan challenge from Run To The Finish. And I cheated yesterday with a cheese plate.
Some meat eaters and convinced that I must be dying due to lack of protein because I don’t eat meat. This is just not true. There is protein in everything. Oatmeal, vegetables, and of course the regular vegan ones: tofu, beans, lentils, nuts, nut butters.
According to the calculations below I need about 95 grams of protein/day.
How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:
1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.
Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day
So let’s look at some examples of what I eat in a day and see what kind of protein I’m getting. I’m going to focus on vegan sources for this example.
Breakfast: 1/2 cup oatmeal – 10g
1/2 cup soy milk – 3.9g
1 tbsp nut butter – 3.8g
banana – 1.3g
Snack: pita bread – 6.3g
3 tbsp. hummus – 3.3g
Lunch: 1 cup quinoa – 8.1g
1/2 cup black beans – 7.6g
salsa and avocado – 1g
1 cup spinach – 1g
Snack: Oh She Glows Salt and Vinegar chickpeas 1 cup – 14.5g
apple – 0.5g
Dinner: BBQ tofu (1/2 block) – 13g
1 cup brussels sprouts – 3g
with 20 almonds slivered on top – 5.1g
3/4 cup brown rice – 3.4g
Dessert: 1 cup soy milk – 7.8g
frozen banana -1.3g
cocoa powder – 0g
1 tbsp. almond butter – 2.4g
I’m not going to lie. That was more difficult than I expected. I used LoseIT.com to find the protein totals. Let’s just keep in mind this is a general analysis and not an exact science. That being said, this is a totally normal kind of day of eating for me when I’m on track. I think the thing about being vegan is you can’t just eat what you feel like and not think about your protein. You can get enough. But at first, there’s going to have to be some research and planning.
Read, read, read. That’s my advice. Blogs like Oh She Glows and Daily Garnish are my go-tos when it comes to vegan eating. Check out The Kind Life too. Although it’s a little more whole food specific (read; a little unrealistic if you ask me). Read books like Skinny Bitch or any number of vegan “diet” books. You need inspiration AND information. Ideas are essential. You will get bored more easily. Change it up. And use online calculators to see how much protein you’re getting. And pay attention to how you’re feeling. Are you feeling sluggish? Tired? Achy? Up the protein. Grab a protein powder if you need to and add it to shakes. That’s a sure fire way to get a hit of protein.
Anyone have a great vegan/veggie resource to share? How do YOU get enough protein?