Being a plant base vegan I often get asked a lot of questions and I know most of you out there who are vegans go through the same issues. When I first went vegan I was getting quite upset when people asked me where I got my protein from. Now when asked, it provides me with an opportunity to educate people on the negative effects of animal protein on our bodies and how they can obtain protein from other food sources.
My journey went from being pescatarian with little processed food in my diet to a full blown whole food/plant based vegan. I’ve been finding it a little challenging with a whole food vegan lifestyle in the sense that I often have to be prepared ahead of time when I eat at restaurants or go to eat in people’s homes. To take it a step further, when I mention the term whole food/plant based lifestyle, most people don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.
So today, I want to educate people on the difference between a vegan lifestyle and a whole foods vegan lifestyle from an eating perspective only. I’m going to refrain about talking about animal rights and products even though it’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart as I love all animals. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I try to refrain from using the world ‘diet’ and the reason I do this is that when the term diet is being used, most people look at it a caloric deficit and a quick way to lose some weight. As a result of a plant based vegan lifestyle, you will lose weight and keep it off by consuming whole foods, but for today’s blog, I want to focus on the difference of foods that you consume as a vegan and a plant-based vegan along with the health benefits you gain from adapting a plant base vegan lifestyle. So let’s begin.
A Vegan Lifestyle:
Going vegan means that you omit animal products from your daily eating routine including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and animal bi-products. You also refrain from using products that contain animals bi-products or have been tested on animals. Take it a step further, vegans respect the environment of all animals, meaning that you observe them in their natural habitat only. However, coming from a health standpoint, a vegan lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean that it promotes lasting wellness. You will hear the term ‘plant-based’ which means that even though people may refrain from eating animals products, they still don’t live a vegan lifestyle. Many vegans still eat refined sugar and processed food. Processed foods such as french fries, oils, vegan cheese, and fake meats are all vegan friendly foods but very unhealthy for our bodies.
Going vegan is a great transition in adapting a whole food/plant base lifestyle but if you’re still eating processed foods out of convenience, it can lead to a very unhealthy life. There seems to be a message that a vegan diet is healthy and it is to some degree but if you are consuming large amounts of refined sugar and processed food, you can end up being nutrient deficient.
A Whole Food Vegan Lifestyle:
Plant based foods are foods that originate from whole, plant foods which include fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and no animal or animal by-products. Refined sugar such as white flour, soda, and sweets are not consumed. Foods that are found in their most natural state are eaten as a result of this lifestyle so foods that are picked from a tree or taken directly from the ground.
When I tell most people about a whole food/plant base lifestyle, they immediately think that all we consume are salads, fruits, and vegetables. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact if this is all I ate, I would be losing out on consuming essential nutrients, not consuming enough calories, along with missing out on some great incredible tasty food. So what does one eat on a whole food, plant base lifestyle?
- Beans – packed with protein are garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, black beans, navy beans, white beans, romano beans, the list goes on.
- Nuts & seeds – almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, etc.
- Good fats – avocados, nuts & seeds.
- Greens – packed with vitamins and minerals, protein (yes, plants contain protein) are kale, broccoli, spinach, and collard greens.
- Fruits & veggies – berries, citrus fruits, bananas, peppers, beets, cauliflower, and the list goes on.
- Good starches – foods that contain lots of nutrients and carbohydrates to fuel us such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, amongst others.
- Whole grains – oats, quinoa, barley, wheatberries, kamut, brown rice, etc.
Then you have a whole list of spices that you can add to provide that little extra taste to already amazing tasty foods. These foods when combined together can be transformed into some very incredible dishes. The key to eating whole foods, is to include lots of colour on your plate to ensure you are obtaining all the key vitamins and minerals.
Health Benefits of a Whole Food/Plant Base Lifestyle:
- Fiber – as an example, foods such as brown rice and broccoli are high in dietary fiber. Fiber is the transport system of the digestive tract and moves food wastes out of the body.
- Nutrients – plant foods are a richer source of nutrients than animal protein. Plant foods contain a higher enzyme content which is essential for maintaining a proper intestinal tract. A happy ‘gut’ promotes proper nutrient absorption and proper disposal of waste.
- Lower cholesterol – one of the main benefits you will receive from adapting a plant base vegan lifestyle is lowering your cholesterol as plants contain no cholesterol.
- Weight loss – plants have a much lower caloric concentration than animal protein overall, which allows for more food volume without excessive weight gain.
- Blood Pressure – people consuming plant base foods have lower blood pressure due to a higher intake of potassium-rich foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables which all contain high amounts of potassium.
There are so many more benefits of a whole food plant base lifestyle but I think you get the idea of where I’m going with this. If you’re looking to change the way you eat but are feeling overwhelmed than start with baby steps. Don’t try to do everything all at once. You will have much more success if you start to educate yourself on the benefits of living this lifestyle and start omitting certain foods that no longer serve you or your body. Stay tuned next week of how I take you through on how to start eliminating animal protein from your diet and replacing it with healthy protein. In fact you might be surprised how much protein and fat you are currently eating without even realizing it.
There are many reasons to giving up animal protein; not just for our health, but for the ethical treatment of animals, and for environmental causes. Going vegan is a great start to becoming healthy but if you are not consuming nutrients that the body requires, it will shut down and disease will appear. Diseases like common cancers, diabetes, obesity, and CHD, are very unnatural diseases to occur in our bodies and if you want to decrease your chances of getting these diseases, wouldn’t it make sense to just simply change your eating habits? Whole foods are so delicious and simple to make. There are so many options out there for recipes for plant base vegans with lots of variety of foods.
Art and I are very much connected to food now as our food choices are more than just for health reasons. The impact of the food we consume plays a larger role in sustainability and the ethical implications around the world. We’re here to help those who want to change but are having difficulty with the process and need our assistance. We hope our blogs are helping you to simplify the process and make your life easier.
Eat clean & live green!
Your Compassionate Coach,