Becoming Vegetarian/Vegan Guide
By Amanda Froelich, ACE PT, RHN student
**The following is a guide I created to help anyone in their journey of eating more plant foods or possibly becoming vegetarian.**
So, your goal is #1) get healthy, and #2) try out a predominately vegetarian lifestyle… am I correct?
I will do my best to help you as much as I can. Remember, though, the final choice of change rests upon your shoulders. I am confident, however, you have the will to test out and adopt positive change.
When seeking to adopt a more vegetarian lifestyle know that this is one of the best choices you can do for you, the environment, and many animals. Countless studies document and prove that a predominately plant based lifestyle significantly reduces the risk of all degenerative diseases, especially cancer, and will emphatically improve the quality of your life.
See/Read: The China Study, by Dr. Colin T. Campbell, Documentary: Forks over Knives, Diet for a New America, and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
You can expect to experience better quality of sleep, more vitality, better focus, and less sluggishness in general, as well as improved physical performance, less sickness, and optimal well being.
Let’s start with the biggest question of all: “Where do you get your protein?”
Protein (broken down into amino acids) is deemed as “the building blocks of life,” and everything has protein in it in varying amounts.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need as much protein as the USDA says. It’s recommended you consume minimum of 5% of your calories from protein. Even with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, you would be getting your needed intake of protein because all fruits and vegetables are at least 5% protein. There are greater sources of plant protein, however, and the amount you intake should depend on your body type and activity level. (Read below for How much Protein is actually recommended)
A varying diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, and legumes provides more than adequate amounts of protein – only without the added cholesterol and saturated fats, antibiotics, chemicals, steroids, sulfuric substances, etc., found in animal sources.
Many current medical studies are showing that too much protein, in fact, especially from animal protein, is the problem. Too much animal protein can impair the kidneys as well as leach calcium, zinc, B vitamins, iron and magnesium from our bodies. Studies have also linked too much protein with osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. We’ve all heard the saying, “Everything in moderation.” The thing is, an overly excessive amount of protein in the human body can is detrimental to health.
Animal protein was thought to be superior for the longest time (1900’s misinformation) because it has all amino acids in the muscle tissue. However, this is a secondary source. Where do you think the cows, gorillas, etc…got their protein from? Plant foods! And when you eat animal sources of protein, it burns dirty in the body – creating an acidic environment, thus one of disease and sickness.
When you eat a huge steak, for example, your body has to labor and break down the protein into individual amino acids so it can use them in the body. You’re cutting out the middle man (the cow) when you go straight to the source and get a great intake from plant foods.
It’s easier on body overall, but especially your digestive system; although historically our ancestors might have eaten some wild game now and then, their omnivorous digestive tract doesn’t allow for optimal digestion of meat. A carnivore’s stomach acid is highly acidic, way more than an omnivore’s, and their digestive tract is very short, allowing fast elimination; humans, on the other hand, have a very mild stomach acid ph, and their digestive system is longer, actually allowing the meat to ROT in the intestines before it’s eliminated. This creates sickness & disease.
How much do you need?
“The RDA recommends that we take in 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram that we weigh (or about 0.36 grams of protein per pound that we weigh) 1. This recommendation includes a generous safety factor for most people. When we make a few adjustments to account for some plant proteins being digested somewhat differently from animal proteins and for the amino acid mix in some plant proteins, we arrive at a level of 1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight (0.45 grams of protein per pound that we weigh). Since vegans eat a variety of plant protein sources, somewhere between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per kilogram would be a protein recommendation for vegans.” (This is still generous, but a good average estimate.)
Click the below link to see the calculations that prove that most vegans consume 10% of their calories from protein, as well as a sample vegan menu plan, a table examining the amount of protein in various vegan foods, and also the number of grams of protein per 100 calories, and an Amino Acid Chart of common plant foods.
There are 8 essential amino acids your body needs. By eating a variety of plant based foods and proper food combining, it’s easier than ever to get them.
Ex. Eat beans & rice, nuts and vegetables, seeds and lentils… it’s Easy!
Some COMPLETE sources of protein that are plant based are:
Edamame & soy products (Tofu, Soy Milk)
Quinoa (an Incan grain)
Other Sources of Plant Based protein:
Edamame and Soy products (Males might want to limit overall soy consumption due to phytoestrogens)
Beans (all kind – kidney, pinto, black, mung(!), white, etc.)
Quinoa, Millet, Amaranth, Oats, Buckwheat, Brown Rice, etc.
Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Pistachio, Brazil…)
Seeds (Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower….)
Eggs (if you’re doing lacto-vegetarian, if you want to try all vegan, then opt out)
(I personally do NOT suggest Dairy) Read on…
I do recommend protein powders if you are of a constitution which requires more protein (which I am, being an O blood type) or if you work out a lot and need to up your intake.
I recommend raw & vegan ones like:
Garden of Life (Raw Meal Replacement)
Sunwarrior Protein (chocolate, vanilla, natural)
Brendan Brazier’s THRIVE protein powder. (Many flavors)
Why Raw? They are full of enzymes, nutrients, and are SO easily digestible you’ll feel amazing. Not to mention, most of the raw & vegan protein powders assimilate much better, burn cleaner, and help performance go way up since you can recover faster.
They have all the necessary amino acids for optimal recovery, and most have some sort of sprouted assembly of fermented whole foods (like brown rice, soy, etc) being incredibly amazing for your body.
What about Calcium? Do I need dairy for strong bones?
NO. You do not need dairy for calcium or anything else. This idea is perpetrated by an extremely aggressive advertising program paid for by the dairy industry that is not based on good science. It is a money-making scheme. Milk contains animal protein, and thus contributes to the host of illnesses.
Doctors say cow’s milk can lead to iron deficiency anemia, allergies, diarrhea, heart disease, colic, cramps, gastrointestinal bleeding, sinusitis, skin rashes, acne, increased frequency of colds and flus, arthritis, diabetes, ear infections, osteoporosis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and more, possibly even lung cancer, multiple sclerosis and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Also, studies have shown that that people in countries that consume milk routinely tend to have weaker bones than those in countries that avoid milk. Osteoporosis has been correlated to an excess of protein in the diet along with sedentary living. The women in the US consume 300% more calcium than women in underdeveloped countries who have no occurrence of osteoporosis.
Milk does NOT slow the process of osteoporosis that commonly occurs in older women. Pasteurized, processed dairy, in my opinion, is a toxic “food group”. It doesn’t help that it’s basically all saturated fat and cholesterol. Dairy also contains antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, steroids, chemicals, and even perchlorate (that is the scientific word for rocket fuel!) Yuck!
Dioxin, too, one of the most toxic substances in the world, is often found in dairy products. And how about the blood cells and pus that come in it, too, from the far overgrown mutated udders that are hooked up to painful metal machines all day to keep up with demand so that they blister and bleed? Not so appetizing.
On the other hand, a reliable source of minerals (manganese, chromium, selenium and magnesium) can be found in fruits and vegetables and in higher quantity and better quality. Fresh fruits and veggies are also high in boron, which helps lessen the loss of calcium through urine – while animal protein increases the loss of calcium through urine.
Plant-based foods are abundant in first hand calcium that is more easily absorbed by the body. This includes, but is not limited to, quinoa, molasses, green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards (any kind of greens, really), broccoli, soy products, grapefruits, chickpeas, fortified grains and cereals, red beans, seeds, raw nuts, etc…
What about Raw Milk?
Raw milk is somewhat of a different story. As mentioned above, pasteurized, commercialized milk that is so widely consumed in the US is basically a poisonous drink because not only is it full of hormones and toxins, but adults and children (after 2 years of age) lack the enzyme lactase to digest the lactose (animal sugar) and casein (animal protein) in milk. Therefore, most everyone is lactose intolerant.
When milk is pasteurized, it also loses all of its enzymes and turns into the poisonous drink elaborated above. When it’s raw, however, it’s actually viewed somewhat as a medicine since Hippocrates age. A ‘whole food’ and not a ‘drink’, it is a complete source of amino acids, fats, and proteins.
However, I still do not advocate drinking a lot of it, as it’s a high source of calories and saturated fats. Although the body handles it much better and it is no doubt better for you than pasteurized store bought milk, it’s only beneficial in small servings when 100% grass fed, organic, hormone-free, and from free range cattle.
The choice is yours. However, Great alternatives to dairy productsinclude:
Nut/Seed Milks: (Almond, Pumpkin, Soy, Sesame, Sunflower, etc.) Any nut/seed can be made into a milk, and not only is it alkalizing and highly beneficial with its high source of nutrients and minerals, but it supports the body’s regenerating system, therefore won’t contribute to aging, disease, and sickness.
They still taste creamy, delicious, and go will with everything.
Nut/seed cheeses. (Almonds, Pumpkin, Hemp, Cashew, Brazil, Sunflower, etc.) Very easy to make, look up raw & vegan cheese recipes for the best. As long as you have a blender or a food processor, you can make great ‘cheese’ alternatives.
Vegan alternatives you can find in stores include Daiya cheese, rice cheeses, and soy based cheeses which are all found at health food stores, and even chain stores (like Wal-Mart, believe it or not) sometimes.
Anything you want that has dairy in it can be made to be even MORE delicious and better for your body than its original version!
Now comes the part where you ask…”What do I eat then??”
Do you know that the average person rotates their meal consumption around 4-5 meals? That’s it!
Pizza, hamburgers, French fries, sugar products for snacks, etc. the American diet is not only SO unhealthy, it’s utterly bland! When I went vegetarian, it was like a whole new world opened up. There are hundreds of amazing plant foods that have a variety of textures, tastes, healing properties, and are chock full of nutrients, fiber, and disease preventing properties. The great thing, too, is that there are millions of recipes to help you learn to enjoy your veggies and fruits!
A healthy diet is one that is primarily unprocessed, filled with vegetables (60%), Fruits, Legumes, Sprouts, misc. (35-40%), and Plant based proteins (10-15%). Supplements as needed (protein, vitamins, and certain minerals for deficiencies…etc)
If you stick with the motto: “Eat Real Food. Not too much. And mostly Plants.” You will be a winner, for sure. Whole Foods, Whole Foods, Whole Foods….do you read me???
Check out some of these sights if you’re looking for a specific variation of your favorite meal.
www.allrecipes.com àsearch for vegetarian, whatever you’re looking for!
www.choosingraw.com à Gena has a great compilation of whole food and raw recipes. They are super easy and super healthy.
A great way to start your morning is to get in the Smoothie Habit:
You can start your day off right with a fruit smoothie, loaded with antioxidants, fiber rich foods, and even a handful or two of vegetables. (You won’t taste them, I promise).
Stick with wholesome, natural fruits, a handful or two of carrots or spinach, and some frozen fruit with your choice of nut/seed milk = a delightfully filling, refreshing, and energy boosting breakfast idea.
There are literally TONS of recipes on the internet. Google: “Vegan Smoothies”, or my favorite “GREEN smoothies” for great ideas.
Some other great breakfast ideas include:
Grain cereal (like oats, sprouted buckwheat, quinoa, etc) mixed with some fruit, and/or almond milk (or what you prefer) topped with nuts, seeds, and stevia…
Organic Cereal with your choice of milk & fruit. (Kashi, Back to Nature, Organic Farms Brands)
Pancakes: Here’s a great recipe (http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=3&oq=enzyme+in+cows+milk+that+makes+calves+go+back+for+more&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4TSHB_enUS340US341&q=becoming+vegetarian&gs_upl=0l0l3l532141lllllllllll0&aqi=s373)
Granola: I love Raw, so here’s a recipe (www.choosingraw.com/raw-cocoa-crunch-granola/)
Lunch / Dinner Ideas:
Vegetarian Pizza (http://www.thecasualvegan.com/vegan-pizza-recipe/)
Spaghetti (http://vegweb.com/index.php?board=347.0) à Who says spaghetti needs meat to be tasty? There are tons of versions at this address.
And my personal favorite…Green Soup! (This is Raw, Vegan, and you will need a blender…also known as “Blended Salad”. (www.choosingraw.com/wall-of-green–soup/)
Salads, Salads, Salads… get creative!!! So many versions – add tofu, fake meat, veggies, make raw salad dressings, vegan cheese, mushrooms, spirulina, the options are Endless!
If I could, I would list my top 100+ recipes, but there’s not enough room.
Ditch the myth, however, that vegetarians and vegans sit around eating carrot sticks and broccoli all day. (..Although with some sunflower ranch, it’s not bad!)
Don’t forget to Move!
Part of the great thing about becoming healthier, is that it’s an encompassing choice that truly improves every area of your life.
In order to become your most optimal you, it’s important you ‘work out’, ‘play’, or do an engaging activity a minimum of 150 minutes a week. Go rock-climbing, ride a bike, do yoga, run, walk, swim, play with your kids, dance your heart out, sing in the rain while twirling around! I don’t care, but you need to move!
Exercise is like the ‘magic’ pill when merged with a healthy plant based lifestyle.
Moving increases your oxygen intake, improves hormone balance, alleviates stress, improves immune function, removes toxins and waste from the body, and helps your body coordinate and work in synchrony! (Plus many more benefits!)
For individual exercise routines, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more ideas, personal workouts, motivation, and individualized personal training.
Overall, this is just a short and simple guide to help you transition into eating a more predominately plant-based diet. The research is unanimous, … living a plant based lifestyle is good for every area of your life! If you’re wary about adding any vegetarian alternatives
, why not do a Meatless Monday? One day a week, and I bet you’ll notice it.
Whether you’re looking for more ways to add healthier food options to your dinner, are wanting to go vegetarian, vegan, or even raw & vegan, there are countless Documentaries, Books, Cookbooks, forums, tools, support, and advice in the web and in your local health food store.
Use the internet to your advantage. Are you looking for a good substitute for you favorite meal? Do you want to know why meat contributes to heart disease? Are you trying to find out a good way to save money on your groceries while eating vegetarian?
All these are questions I’ll be happy to answer on my website www.bloomforlife.org, but there is simply too much to list here.
Don’t forget, the best lifestyle choice is the one that suits your body. When making any sort of transition to a healthier lifestyle, detach from any dogma and learn to “Listen to your Body”.
You know best, even though you may have forgotten how to read cues. If you’re battling sickness, no doubt it’s your body’s way of trying to overcompensate from years of abuse. Through hard work, dedication, commitment, and a willingness to adopt change and love yourself, you will find your most vibrant and optimal self.
…Get ready to experience amazing health by adding more plant foods to your palate. You will awaken to a world of sustainable health, amazing food variations, and a thriving you.
For more information, please visit the sources listed below.
http://www.waoy.org/9.html (For more about Dairy and its scientific background of how it’s no longer viewed as a ‘healthy food’)
http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm#table1 (Protein analysis)
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-health/protein-in-a-plant-based-diet-a-vegan-bodybuilders-perspective/ More information for those trying to build better physiques while being vegan. Did you know Broccoli has 2x the amount of protein per calorie than steak?
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