Being a Vegan Day 4: Vegan-ism & Health

Today’s Menu:

Breakfast:

Black Iced coffee

Oatmeal with dried fruit and apples

Lunch:

Amy’s Organic Asian Noodles with Vegetables & Tofu

1 Plum

~ 15 Quakers’ Apple Cinnamon Pops

Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry ** this pop as do other brown sodas contain caramel coloring- according to my animal free app some caramel is derived from corn (vegan friendly) some is derived from cane sugar (not vegan friendly) so this is questionable. Also meaning my Diet Coke is questionable as well. WAH.

Snacks:

1 Almond & Apricot KIND Bar

Dinner:
Diet Coke

Vegetarian “Drunk Noodles” rice noodles with broccoli, carrots, and peas

Wow. Only one more day to go- I am in the home stretch I will definitely be enjoying some meats and cheesy goodness this weekend.

20130516-230852.jpg

So yesterday I talked about “Veggie-ism” and sustainability, and animal rights. Today I’m going to talk about how animal based diets versus plant-based/vegan diets are impact our health.

Many times people opt for a plant based diet to lose weight, to manage blood pressure, to better manage heart conditions/cholesterol, I even have had a few patients of mine who have said they went vegan to better control their Diabetes.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and estimate people have different perceptions of vegan-ism. It’s my understanding that it is no animal products. But I think some people perceive it as being more such as no artificial sweeteners no additives etc, and I’m sure some people REALLY go deep into it like with that animal free app..

I think following the latter is the more healthy option. It’s pointless to eliminate “animal products” just to incorporate more processed foods to fill that gap. I was once told by a vegan that they are completely vegan, and avoid any artifical sweeteners, and additives….but LOVE Doritos. I mean. Really?!

20130516-230739.jpg

What I have tried to do this week was fill my animal product gap with fruits and veggies, and things like avocados, nuts, and beans- and even tofu. I really think that this is the way to go about it, and find good substitutes for protein- such as tofu, and learn how to use it in a way that doesn’t gross you out.

Again with eliminating animal products you are essentially eliminating a lot of items that can affect your cholesterol and health negatively. Butter (saturated fat), milk (higher fat milks in this case will mean higher levels of saturated fats), red meat (saturated fat). You also eliminate lean protein like chicken/poultry, fish (salmon, tuna, halibut, tilapia etc), and skim milk, and eggs.

-But don’t undo all of this to fill the gap in with trans fats (which also negatively effect your cholesterol & heart health), and refined sugars & process crap (which will affect triglycerides too)

But our cholesterol as a whole is very much influenced by animal products, and poor choices regarding fats- and a lot of our saturated fat intake can be attributed to animal products. Saturated fat has a general effect of elevating our “bad” cholesterol, and lowering our “good cholesterol”. We do not need excessive amounts of saturated fat, it should only make up about 7% or less of our total intake (in terms of calories/energy intake).

Many people who struggle and struggle with their cholesterol, and aim for optimal heart health, and/or want to completely avoid using Statin drugs to aid in lowering their cholesterol seek out more plant based alternatives- soy milk versus cows milk, reducing red meat intake. Those are usually the first changes I see made. After that point I encourage people to work with healthier fats like almonds & walnuts, avocados, and eat fatty fish like salmon or tun 1-2 times per week (sometimes budget allowances do not allow this so we need to get creative), and work with beans as well. Some people want to “go farther than that, which is fine- it just needs to be done properly.

20130516-230042.jpg

By cutting that chunk of your diet out, and without proper knowledge or planning you can really open yourself up for nutrient deficiencies (B-12, iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, and inadequate intake of Omega Fatty acids), these deficiencies can range from being mild to very severe depending on the how long you have been Vegan/veggie, and not eating proper vegetarin sources for these nutrients or not supplementing properly.

Anyone who goes into going all Vegan without the proper research on plant protein, and nutrient dense foods to fill the gaps on what they are leaving behind when the move away from animal protein could be at legitmate risk for developing some of the deficiencies mentioned above.

From what I have learned this week here are my tips in terms of going all veggie or all vegan, or whatever degree of veggie-ism you can commit to.

1) If you’re not a Dietitian, seek one out, remember this blog (or any blog or tv show etc) isn’t a substitution for one-on-one education. Also every RD is a Nutritionist, not every nutritionist is an RD.

2) Think about what you like, and what you get from it. Do you like salmon? Do you like milk? Do you like NUTELLA?

3) Then think about if you decide to give those things up- what would you be missing and how would you substitute them? I.e. you give up milk- will you add in soy/almond/coconut milk? You essentially could do salmon/fish should you go the Pesco-ovo-lacto veggie route meaning you eat fish/dairy/eggs. Nutella….. well really this is irreplaceable (queue Beyonce’s jam).

4) Now why are you doing this? Are you doing this to be healthy in which case you plan to stick with this 90-95% of the time and allow the occasional indulgence? Are you doing this because you feel salmon are being abused or chickens don’t have rights? The why may be the main thing that influences how dilligent you are with this change, and how far you go with it (will you throw out all your wool sweaters, and avoid consumption of Diet Coke because there is a possibility the caramel coloring came from cane sugar that POSSIBLY used animal product for processing? or do you want to reduce your carbon foot print or cholesterol, but allow the occasional cupcake, and not have all the worry or fuss about secret hidden sources of dairy/egg/animal)…

5) What is your time frame? I would recommend doing it gradually. Pick one thing at a time, to eliminate or focus on, so you can find things you like to replace things that you are leaving behind. If you’re going towards reducing your intake of just meat, but want to stay with fish/eggs/milk then work on recipes with beans, and lentils, learn to like tofu, and learn about different types of fish, what you can afford, and different ways to prepare.

-If you plan to rid your body of dairy. For this I suggest a pantry/cupboard/fridge raid. Dairy is in A LOT of shit (pardon my french but it is). Just when you think you’ve come across something dairy free (like your favorite Soy Protein Powder) boom look under that allergen info- and there lies dairy. Don’t just mindlessly throw stuff away look at everything you will essentially be giving up. What will you be missing? Nutella obviously. Now you have to figure out what you will sub in for all these treasures.

It would be quite an undertaking to make all of these changes at once. If I were in a position that I HAD to go Vegan, I would do it gradually.

 

Would you go vegan or to some degree of vegarianism? Why? Or Why not?

If you did go what would be your reasoning behind it?

If you switched would you indulge in the occasional cupcake/nutella/burger?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s