There are a few essentials that need to be considered when losing your veganity and if your mind and body are not primed and ready for the transition then it may prove to be a painful experience. However, they say it’s only in the beginning phase. Bringing back those innocent first-time mems’? No, you naughty boys and girls. Please take that mind out of the gutter, thank you. We’re talking about the other ‘V’ word. Veganism. Headlining as the definitive necessity yet mocked for not being able to indulge in any of the good stuff, as controversial as this subject is, we want you educated on all the things. This includes all dietary habits and lifestyles, sans the judgement.
Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivore, a wannabe vegan (a diet consisting solely of Oreos with peanut butter and spaghetti), a flexitarian, or as we like to call it, a naughty pescatarian, defined as someone who consumes fish, meat, and dairy on occasion. Perhaps you have adopted this way of living already, are transitioning for ethical reasons, or are simply curious. Whatever the case, we want to give you the goss on the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are needed when consuming a vegan diet, and how to avoid deficiencies. There are a lot of ‘vegans’ claiming to be walking chickpeas but are surviving on the bare minimum, resulting in a major lack of nutrients.
This article is not to convert anyone but to provide knowledge and pose questioning. A lot of us are exploring different food avenues and although the vegan diet is not an ideal, sustainable diet for every person, at the very least, we want you riddled with joy and striving for equilibrium.
The vegan virgin.
‘Protein will make me bulk-up?’ Lies. Leave that shit to the bodybuilders. Protein is a macronutrient, it supports healthy hormone production, weight management, helps to build and repair muscles as well as helping you reach satiety. In a nutshell, the higher intake of protein, the less you’ll indulge and overeat. Consumption of protein is by far one of the biggest concerns for someone who is consuming a plant-based diet. On average, a person should be consuming 0.8-1g/kg of body weight of protein per day. For example, if you weigh 54kg then you should be consuming 43-54 grams of protein per day. If you are of the male species and are training on the reg, you should be aiming to consume 1.5g/kg or more per day.
The aim of the game is to make up a ‘complete protein’, this is produced via 9 essential amino acids – histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Essential amino acids create protein and are compounds that cannot be made from the body. They are needed for the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. A lot of plant-based diets are at a loss when it comes to these essential amino acids, whereas animal products i.e. meat and dairy include all of them, which is why they are classified as ‘complete’ proteins. An example, please? We thought you’d never ask. Combining a grain such as brown rice together with legumes or oats with nuts and seeds will create a complete protein.
Sources of Vegan/Vegetarian Proteins:
- Protein Powder (Pea and brown rice protein)
- Legumes: chickpeas (as well as hummus), lentils, and kidney beans
- Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, hemp, sesame (as well as tahini) and sunflower seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cashews, almonds, seed sprouts, nut butters such as peanut, and almond butter. These can be included at every meal so amp it up.
- Grains: Quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, oats, and pulse pasta
An iron deficiency and anaemia are most commonly seen in vegans and vego’s as they no longer devour red meat which is what iron is most abundant in. This results in fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness, and brittle nails. Sacrilege.
Sources of Iron:
- Baby spinach
- Nuts and seeds (hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground linseed, and pumpkin seeds)
- Tofu and Tempe
- Dark chocolate
Supplementation is almost always imperative to ensure you are reaching adequate amounts of iron on the daily. Ladies, it is also important to mention that there needs to be an increase in your iron intake when Flo makes her debut. Whilst you are menstruating, you are inevitably experiencing blood loss so you need to up the ante and make up for lost times.
B12 is most abundant in red meat and since cow is no longer on the menu, the majority of vegans experience deficiencies. Symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, numbness, brittle bones, poor memory, and balance. B12 is stored in our liver and is needed for red blood cell formation, strength, and energy. B12 is rich in eggs, fish, and cow’s milk, so for you vego’s and pescatarians that are consuming these on the daily, you are in the clear. In order to prevent deficiencies and anaemia, supplementation is required and is commonly used in spray form.
Vitamin D is known as the sun worshiper vitamin as it is produced in your skin as a response to sun exposure. This vitamin has a plethora of important functions, it helps regulate your hormones, aids in immunity, and most importantly regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from your food, both are imperative for maintaining teeth and bone health, if not, can lead to brittle bones and wobbly pearly whites – no thank you. Vegans generally supplement with D3 to ensure the above does not occur. So, for the love of your health, soak up those rays. Summer is on the horizon, zero on the excuse front.
Fats are Phat
Why should we include these bad boys into our diet and don’t they make us fat?
Fats are a macronutrient, they need to be embraced and included in each meal – in small doses and it needs to be the right kind of fat. Not the margarine kind. That shit is faux. The body cannot produce essential fatty acids on its own so it relies on the diet to obtain these nutrients. Healthy fats help you reach satiety, they are anti-inflammatory, regulate our hormones, decrease oxidative stress, aid weight loss, and lower blood pressure.
What kind of fats should we be consuming on the reg? So glad you asked. Introducing essential fatty acids, omega 3, and 6. These two are like yin and yang. However, omega 3 wears the pants in the relationship. Vegan omega 3 rich foods consist of ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts, edamame beans, hemp seeds, and avocado. Omega 6 rich foods tend to get a bad rap but who wants to get through a meal without olive oil? Not us. For those that are not meeting their daily intake of omega 3 and 6, this can be substituted for algae. Fish oil is for the non-vegan/ vego crowd; however, algae are what the fish snack on so in our eyes it’s a win-win, it’s all coming from the deep blue sea.
**It is important to consult with your healthcare professional to distinguish whether you are deficient in any of the above areas. Alternatively, you can of course book a consultation at Cohere, we love a good wag.