So you’ve made the switch. You’re going green. Plant power has won the day!
But there are still a few things you need to know as you move from drumsticks to carrot sticks.
Here they are, the questions you’re likely to have when you go plant based.
What Do Vegans Eat?
We eat A LOT! People ask this question all too often. So let’s clarify. Vegans eat… fruit, vegetables, nuts, rice, noodles, waffles, pizza, pie, cake and a million other foods. You could fill three pages and still have more to say. Today, there are dozens of meat and dairy substitutes, so ‘traditional’ meals can easily be replicated into a non-dairy and meat variant (think shepherd’s pie and lasagna). We vegans eat just about everything you carnivores do. Donuts, check. Mac and Cheese, yep. We even make meatless ‘chicken’ wings. You aren’t sacrificing much here. Going plant based does not deprive you of your favourite food. Flavours change but taste remains.
Where Do You Find Protein in Plants?
Believe it or not, some of the best protein sources on the planet are plant based. Tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans, hempseeds, chia seeds, nuts, green peas, edamame, quinoa and oatmeal are just some of the options.
True, meat still adds more protein in one serving. But when you eat plant based proteins, you are also consuming a rainbow of vitamins and minerals from that plant.
And don’t turn your back on fruits and vegetables. They all contain traces of protein. The veggies with the highest levels of protein include sweet potatoes, asparagus, spinach and artichokes.
Where in the World is Iron?
Iron is essential to the body and has BIG effects on your energy levels. The good news is, plant based iron, unlike animal based iron, is easier for the body to absorb. So despite what you may think, vegans and vegetarians tend to have high levers of iron in their bodies.
To keep your iron levels up, try adding a few of these foods to the dinner menu: beans, lentils, peas, tofu, tempeh, hempseeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, swiss chard, kale, spinach, collard greens, potatoes, tomato paste, olives, oats, quinoa, dark chocolate, almond/soy milk.
Is Living Vegan More Expense?
It can be, but the same goes for a non-vegan diet. It depends on the products you buy and your lifestyle. If you continually choose to eat out, and purchase mock meats, mock fish, and specialty vegan desserts and ‘cheeses’, you might not like your monthly statement. But vegetables and beans (a vegan’s primary food source), tend to be inexpensive and are often more economical than meat. Just think about the protein in your meal; a piece of steak is going to cost you far more than a can of chick peas ever will.
Can Athletes Go Plant-Based?
Oh yes! In fact, there are many professional athletes that eat only vegetables. Football players Joe Namath and Ricky Williams; Basketball player, James Jones; Track star Carl Lewis; Boxer Mike Tyson; Tennis Player Venus Williams to name a few. Many other athletes, although not entirely plant-based, are making a major change and incorporating veggies in nearly all of their meals. Sport stars claim, eating clean vegan meals gives them more energy, helps their bodies recover faster, and seems to improve their athletic abilities.
Is it Difficult to Find Vegan Options?
10 years ago, the answer would have been yes. Today, we live in a world where even Steakhouses offer vegan options on their menus. As the number of vegans and vegetarians in North America (and around the world) grows, so do does the demand for plant-based food. Toronto has a plethora of plant-based bakeries and restaurants; believe me you will not go hungry.