I sometimes get asked where do you get your protein and honestly if you have a healthy balanced vegan diet you will not be lacking in any food group, vitamin or minerals. Everything you need for a healthy body and mind can be gained from a plant based diet. When my daughter said she wanted to go vegan I rang the doctor to ask if she could have a blood test to make sure she wasn’t deficient in anything. Do you know what the doctor said to me? She said if your daughter is on a healthy balanced vegan diet then she is probably eating a healthier diet than most of the children that come into my surgery. That really backed up what I thought about her going vegan as obviously I don’t want her to be lacking in any essential vitamins. What I would say is if you are going vegan for health reasons then you will need to plan your meals. There is no point going from an unhealthy carnivorous diet to an unhealthy vegan diet. See below for some suggestions on plant based protein sources without the cholesterol.
If you are eating meat then you are ingesting the vitamins needed second hand. Some think eating meat will make them as strong as an ox but the ox eats grass and like other large animals they get everything they need from the earth. Some of the strongest animals on earth survive and thrive on a plant based diet. Such as Elephants, Rhino’s, Hippo’s, Horse’s, Manatee’s and Gorilla’s. B12 is an essential vitamin that we can’t get from a natural food source. Many vegan foods are fortified with B12 and you can also take a supplement. But many meat eaters can also be deficient in B12. You don’t get B12 from the animal itself. Many farm animals are given a B12 supplement which is then passed on to whoever eats them.
So lets talk about Omega 3’s because obviously you need to eat fish to get them right ? Wrong! There are other great sources of Omega 3’s such as Flax, Chia and Hemp seeds these can be added to smoothies or used in baking. Also Walnuts, just one ounce of these will give you a days supply of Omega 3’s. Soy is another great source, it comes in so many different forms such as milk, tempeh and tofu. Omega 3’s are fatty acids that are really important, they keep our hearts healthy and prevent inflammation related diseases and are essential for our brain. (Information from http://peta2.com)
So what about calcium. We have been sold a lie that cows milk is essential for our bones. The only thing cows milk is good for is a baby cow. So unless your a baby cow then I’d leave the cows breast milk alone. Did you know we are the only species on earth that drinks another species breast milk? Pretty gross isn’t it when you think about it. So where can you get your calcium. Good sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables, Tofu, sesame seeds, tahini, pulses, brown and white bread (calcium is added to bread in the UK) and dried fruits. There are so many good plant based milks around these days that there is just no need to contribute to such a cruel industry. As I have said before my favourite is oat milk, namely oatly especially in my tea. (source of info https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-vegan-diet/)
We have just come back from a week in Tenerife and I have to say from my experience veganism isn’t something the spanish understand just yet. I genuinely believe its a concept that they are just not familiar with. Luckily we were staying quite close by to a Lidl so were able to buy food there and they had the most amazing vegan frittata which we pretty much ate most mornings for breakfast. We ate out a a few times but mostly cooked and ate in the apartment. My son and his girlfriend also cooked a delicious vegan paella one evening too which would have given the spanish a run for their money.
I haven’t yet found anywhere to eat out that does anything remotely vegan but my tips for eating out would be, if theres nothing on the menu then ask. If there is nothing suitable then I would suggest just ordering sides. I have to admit my daughter pretty much just ordered chips wherever we ate. One evening we ate at a tapas restaurant and they placed a complimentary lentil dish on the table. My sons girlfriend who speaks fluent spanish asked the waitress if it was vegan to which she replied it was. Just as I was spooning it onto my daughters plate I noticed it had two chunks of pork in it. Thankfully I noticed it but like I said Vegano ( the word for vegan in spanish) just isn’t a familiar concept to them, so be vigilant and check everything.
We booked onto a boat trip which offered tapas as part of the trip. I explained that two of us were vegan and asked if they could accommodate, but said not to worry if they couldn’t as we could bring our own. They said no problem we can provide salad and fruit. Perfect! Although he went on to say so you can have tuna with your salad? I explained no nothing that comes from an animal. This clearly confused him as he said i just don’t know what you like anymore. I replied honestly don’t worry we’ll bring our own. Thank god I had packed vegan chicken slices and vegan cheese so we could do the British thing and bring sandwiches. As it turned out there was plenty of choice on the boat so we didn’t go hungry. We had the most amazing experience on the boat as were followed by dolphins. I have never experienced something so special as seeing the dolphins up close in their natural habitat. It was a truly magical experience that I will never forget.
I think the hardest thing being abroad and eating out is feeling like you’re being the awkward one when other members of your party are asking can you eat here? So the safest thing to do is cook yourself and when you are eating out just order a few different sides.
This is a question I get asked all the time. And my answer is probably similar to what you eat but without the animal products. I believe pretty much any meal can be veganised. If you are new to veganism I would recommend not falling into the trap of pre prepared vegan meals or convenience food, although once in a while when you’re busy is fine. You don’t want to switch from an unhealthy carnivorous diet to an unhealthy vegan diet. You’re not helping anyone by not taking care of your own body. Of course my reason for switching to a vegan diet is because of my love for animals but that doesn’t need to be at the detriment of my own health.
I would suggest adding some vegan staples to your cupboard to start with. Initially it will probably be a bit more expensive but once you’ve figured out what you can and can’t eat and have a bit of a meal plan this will even out. It only starts to get expensive when you’re reaching for the pre packaged convenience foods.
Staple foods I recommend are: lentils (tinned and dried) they are very cheap to buy. I use lentils a lot as a meat substitute in bolognaise, shepherds pie etc. Cashews; these are great for making creamy sauces for pasta and dauphinoise potatoes ( my daughters favourite). Nutritional yeast; adds a cheesy flavour to anything, good for sprinkling on top of dishes and also for making cheesy sauces. Plant milks; i use oat milk for pretty much everything and recommend oatly barista in tea and coffee. Also I’d recommend getting a good selection of herbs and spices for flavouring.