Any Vegans out there

Okay, to say that I'm going vegan would be a stretch. I won't call myself one. However, I've been inspired (by a documentary that someone on MFP recommended) to try out a plant based diet. I'm reaching out to vegans because they follow this diet. What do you guys eat to ensure you're getting all your nutrients, and how many calories do I consume? I'm not going to force this lifestyle on myself if my body doesn't adjust, I'm just going to try this out. I've been vegetarian for 3 weeks so I already have meat cut out which hopefully makes the transition easier.

Replies

  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    The calories you need will be based on your current weight, your goals (do you want to lose, gain, maintain?), and your activity. So it will be very individual to you, but it will be the same number you'd want to hit as a non-vegan.

    For new vegans, I always recommend trying a variety of new foods. If you aren't that familiar with beans, try a new bean recipe each week. Likewise with vegetables or grains you may be less familiar with. Think about what you want to add to your diet, not necessarily what you are subtracting.

    Nutrients of concern to vegans tend to be protein, calcium, B12, iron, and vitamin D. It's worth tracking your diet for a week or two (if you aren't already) to be sure you are getting enough of these.
  • TiffanyLoveG
    TiffanyLoveG Posts: 76 Member
    The calories you need will be based on your current weight, your goals (do you want to lose, gain, maintain?), and your activity. So it will be very individual to you, but it will be the same number you'd want to hit as a non-vegan.

    For new vegans, I always recommend trying a variety of new foods. If you aren't that familiar with beans, try a new bean recipe each week. Likewise with vegetables or grains you may be less familiar with. Think about what you want to add to your diet, not necessarily what you are subtracting.

    Nutrients of concern to vegans tend to be protein, calcium, B12, iron, and vitamin D. It's worth tracking your diet for a week or two (if you aren't already) to be sure you are getting enough of these.

    Thanks for the information! I purchased some once a day multivitamin supplements to ensure B12 and the extra iron, calcium, etc.
  • cuadrado12
    cuadrado12 Posts: 43 Member
    Was the documentary Forks over Knives?
  • TiffanyLoveG
    TiffanyLoveG Posts: 76 Member
    cuadrado12 wrote: »
    Was the documentary Forks over Knives?

    No, it was food choices! @cuadrado12
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    The calories you need will be based on your current weight, your goals (do you want to lose, gain, maintain?), and your activity. So it will be very individual to you, but it will be the same number you'd want to hit as a non-vegan.

    For new vegans, I always recommend trying a variety of new foods. If you aren't that familiar with beans, try a new bean recipe each week. Likewise with vegetables or grains you may be less familiar with. Think about what you want to add to your diet, not necessarily what you are subtracting.

    Nutrients of concern to vegans tend to be protein, calcium, B12, iron, and vitamin D. It's worth tracking your diet for a week or two (if you aren't already) to be sure you are getting enough of these.

    Thanks for the information! I purchased some once a day multivitamin supplements to ensure B12 and the extra iron, calcium, etc.

    Awesome on you for already picking up a supplement! :)

    I have found Pinterest to be a fantastic source for vegan recipes and ideas for new foods to try. You can type in "vegan" and then the name of the food you're craving or would like to try (pancakes, muffins, chili, etc) and get lots of recipes. You can also type in the name of a fruit or vegetable you haven't tried before and get lots of ideas. And if you like easy or quick recipes, you can add that to the search terms and get those too.
  • jimcretton
    jimcretton Posts: 3 Member
    Don't worry about protein, as long as you eat enough calories you will be consuming sufficient protein. Multivitamin supplements are generally a waste of time and money, just include things in your diet which contain those nutrients. B12 is the only issue, I use a spray (Garden of Life), or you can inject once a month. I'm sure other options are out there. As long as you eat a varied diet then nutritional deficiencies are not an issue, so don't stress about them. A lot of it is propaganda or fear mongering or just plain ignorance.
  • mcorog
    mcorog Posts: 1 Member
    Good for you for trying something new for your health! I have been on a plant based diet for about a year, and transitioned to it for awhile before that. Here are some things I've learned:

    Protein is pretty high in soy products like tofu and tempeh. If you're open to eating these, you should! They're very versatile and easy to prepare, and hold whatever flavors you pair them with. Lentils, beans, and peas are also good protein sources. It's easy to get enough calories if you dedicate some room on your plate for these. Veggies like spinach, broccoli, and kale also have a couple of grams per serving. Also, protein shakes/powders are easy if you're into those! There are tons of vegan varieties out there. Try the sample packs until you find one you like!

    One of my staples is nutritional yeast. It's a flaky powder that has a nutty, sort of cheesy flavor. It has a few grams of protein per TBSP, which is 20 calories, and is also one of the only good non animal food sources of B12 I have learned of. It can be an acquired taste, and was for me, but now I sprinkle it on my veggies, pasta, & anything that needs a savory flavor.

    Vitamin B shots are a good backup every month or so if you don't eat any fortified foods. I was told by my doctor that the shot is more effective because it stays in your bloodstream and can be used more efficiently than a supplement, which your body can only use so much of and excrete the rest. I do both!

    If you like recipes and enjoy cooking, Minimalist Baker is a great food blogger who has tons of recipes that she creates herself. Or like someone above said, simply google what you're in the mood for and there is a vegan or vegan-ized version. If you DON'T like cooking, just do what I do and throw a bunch of veggies into a steamer basket for a few minutes, or into the oven, and season with spices if you like, or dip in mustard, hummus, etc. You can make enough at once for a few meals, and just mix and match!

    There was a long adjustment period for me at restaurants of forgetting that something may have egg whites in it, or was cooked in lard, etc., but you will eventually learn what to ask, and it will be easier to assume what is a viable option for you.

    The last thing I'll say is that being vegan doesn't have to be 100% of the time, as it is a lifestyle choice and not a "diet." If I am in Italy, for instance, I'm definitely going to enjoy the culture to the fullest and have some dang pasta. It's important to enjoy life in balance--the problem is when we ALL eat multiple animal products with every single meal. The quality of those products suffers at such a high demand, and it has an impact on our health and the environment. Just go easy on yourself and enjoy the exploration process!

    Good luck and I hope you have a great experience and discover how much actually VARIETY there is, rather than feeling restricted! I'll stop rambling now!
  • caitlinj406
    caitlinj406 Posts: 38 Member
    I've been vegan for somewhere around nine years so I don't really recall the beginning but if I was starting all over it'd be so much easier now with the wealth of great cookbooks and bloggers out there. I cook a lot of international food since it's so full of flavor and vegetables. Lots of stir fry, curry, bowls with whole grains, steamed or roasted veggies, and some kind of protein and sauce. A lot of food is bland until you know how to work with it (tofu being the best example of this) so I recommend checking out some blogs or cookbooks that have the basics of how to get the most out of those ingredients. My favorite vegan cookbook author is Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Check out her website for some ideas, as well as Pinterest which has an endless stream of vegan recipes.

    The biggest thing is to not take it too seriously at first. You'll slip up, everyone does, and it's fine. You'll learn for the next time. Have fun, I discovered so many more interesting flavors once I became vegan.
  • sgcorrie
    sgcorrie Posts: 22 Member
    Vegan for 10 years now (vegetarian for 4 years prior to that). I originally made the change to get my anxious stomach under control (it helped) and to lose weight (it didn't work). I recommend eating all the things you are used to eating, minus the meat and dairy. I highly recommend getting used to nutritional yeast as it helps with your B12 levels (before anyone jumps on me I am not saying to use it as the only source) and has a bit of protein in it. I try to get a little bit of protein at every meal, whether it's nut butter on toast or in oatmeal and tofu or beans at lunch and dinner. Outside of tracking here I don't make a huge effort on making sure I get everything I need.

    My issue when it came to not losing weight was all the wonderful baked goods I made after I first went vegan. I can never just have one cookie! I've since learned to only bake for special occasions and to avoid those special Oreos (because yes, those are vegan).
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    jimcretton wrote: »
    Don't worry about protein, as long as you eat enough calories you will be consuming sufficient protein. Multivitamin supplements are generally a waste of time and money, just include things in your diet which contain those nutrients. B12 is the only issue, I use a spray (Garden of Life), or you can inject once a month. I'm sure other options are out there. As long as you eat a varied diet then nutritional deficiencies are not an issue, so don't stress about them. A lot of it is propaganda or fear mongering or just plain ignorance.

    This just isn't true. You can easily fail to meet protein needs if you're eating that is very high in carbohydrates (or fat). One could consume enough calories and still not get enough protein. There is also an issue with specific amino acids, specifically lysine. Some vegans could get sufficient protein overall, but still not get enough lysine if they aren't eating specific foods. There are a lot of lysine-containing foods available to the average vegan, so I don't consider it a huge issue -- but I don't think it's helpful to claim that protein would never be a concern.

    It could be a concern to someone who is eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables (as some vegans do). It could be an issue for someone who avoids beans and soy (as some vegans do).

    Here is some more information: http://veganhealth.org/articles/protein

    My advice: let's not act like protein is a big unsurmountable ordeal, but let's not pretend it's nothing.
  • lisabinco
    lisabinco Posts: 1,016 Member
    edited February 2017
    I highly recommend Forks Over Knives (great cookbook) and recipes from Eat To Live Cookbook. I was a rather unhealthy over-weight vegetarian for 15 years before I realized how to be a healthy normal-weight vegetarian (sometime vegan) with these two resources. It took me a few months to re-tool my cooking skills and nutritional knowledge, as it is, really, a lifestyle change. Over 5 years later, I can say it is the best thing I've done for my health.
  • Rocbola
    Rocbola Posts: 2,009 Member
    First off, good on you for giving it a try.

    The best foods, no matter what your diet, are the fresh fruits and veggies. No matter what, eat several pieces of fruit, every day. No matter what, eat green vegetables, every day.
  • jimcretton
    jimcretton Posts: 3 Member
    jimcretton wrote: »
    Don't worry about protein, as long as you eat enough calories you will be consuming sufficient protein. Multivitamin supplements are generally a waste of time and money, just include things in your diet which contain those nutrients. B12 is the only issue, I use a spray (Garden of Life), or you can inject once a month. I'm sure other options are out there. As long as you eat a varied diet then nutritional deficiencies are not an issue, so don't stress about them. A lot of it is propaganda or fear mongering or just plain ignorance.

    This just isn't true. You can easily fail to meet protein needs if you're eating that is very high in carbohydrates (or fat). One could consume enough calories and still not get enough protein. There is also an issue with specific amino acids, specifically lysine. Some vegans could get sufficient protein overall, but still not get enough lysine if they aren't eating specific foods. There are a lot of lysine-containing foods available to the average vegan, so I don't consider it a huge issue -- but I don't think it's helpful to claim that protein would never be a concern.

    It could be a concern to someone who is eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables (as some vegans do). It could be an issue for someone who avoids beans and soy (as some vegans do).

    Here is some more information: http://veganhealth.org/articles/protein

    My advice: let's not act like protein is a big unsurmountable ordeal, but let's not pretend it's nothing.

    Nonsense, you're just regurgitating disproved pseudoscience from many decades ago. Where are all the cases of protein deficiencies when adequate calories are consumed?

  • FruityFridays
    FruityFridays Posts: 16 Member
    SAD eaters = obsessed with protein
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    jimcretton wrote: »
    jimcretton wrote: »
    Don't worry about protein, as long as you eat enough calories you will be consuming sufficient protein. Multivitamin supplements are generally a waste of time and money, just include things in your diet which contain those nutrients. B12 is the only issue, I use a spray (Garden of Life), or you can inject once a month. I'm sure other options are out there. As long as you eat a varied diet then nutritional deficiencies are not an issue, so don't stress about them. A lot of it is propaganda or fear mongering or just plain ignorance.

    This just isn't true. You can easily fail to meet protein needs if you're eating that is very high in carbohydrates (or fat). One could consume enough calories and still not get enough protein. There is also an issue with specific amino acids, specifically lysine. Some vegans could get sufficient protein overall, but still not get enough lysine if they aren't eating specific foods. There are a lot of lysine-containing foods available to the average vegan, so I don't consider it a huge issue -- but I don't think it's helpful to claim that protein would never be a concern.

    It could be a concern to someone who is eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables (as some vegans do). It could be an issue for someone who avoids beans and soy (as some vegans do).

    Here is some more information: http://veganhealth.org/articles/protein

    My advice: let's not act like protein is a big unsurmountable ordeal, but let's not pretend it's nothing.

    Nonsense, you're just regurgitating disproved pseudoscience from many decades ago. Where are all the cases of protein deficiencies when adequate calories are consumed?

    You disagree that lysine is an essential amino acid?
  • BeardSense2017
    BeardSense2017 Posts: 41 Member
    Vegan and live on lentils...bahahahaha
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    Vegan and live on lentils...bahahahaha

    Lentils are delicious (to many), affordable, and nutritious. You could do a lot worse.
  • Boland_D
    Boland_D Posts: 86 Member
    I've been vegetarian for 4 years and keep trying to go vegan, but it's been difficult.
    As far as I know if you eat healthy all you'll need is B12. A flavored spray for under the tongue is the easiest. You can also get a shot which probably has the best absorption into the body.

    Eat a normal amount of calories depending on your activity level, height and weight.
    You can overeat as a vegan (even on healthy foods) and there is plenty of vegan junk food so try to find a nice balance.
    Goodluck!