How I Get My Protein And All Your Other Vegan Questions Answered
Hi there! I'm so excited to show you guys my new favorite shirt from my friends over at The Modern Hippie! Be sure to check out their shop and instagram. And keep an eye out for more future posts about this lovely shop!
I want to thank you for all your questions and support that you sent my way! I'm overwhelmed at the response and encouragement that I received after I posted about why I've become a vegan and I'm SO excited that you are interested too! I gathered all your questions and hopefully this can be of help to you and give you some more insight on how I made the switch and more. Let's get started!
Don't we need meat for protein?
First things first, let's get this one out of the way. If we are going to recognize that meat has protein, we must also recognize that meat has cholesterol. A cholesterol level higher than 200 raises your risk for heart disease, and the average cholesterol level of an American meat eater is 210. Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. Slowly but surely, we see the connection. If you can get your protein without raising the risk of essentially, well, death, why wouldn't you?!
It should also be noted that our body runs off carbohydrates first and foremost, and then protein, and then fats. All three of these are very important, but we live in a protein powder-obsessed society when really, #carbsarelife. I don't get into anything crazy like tracking my macros or counting calories, but I do know that there's far more I'm concerned about than protein when eating my meals.
I took the time to write down all the plant based forms of protein and I counted 40. There's way more than that! You do not need to eat meat to get protein. Eating plant protein will provide all the protein needed along with other essential vitamins and nutrients. When you eat animal products as a source of protein, you're eating saturated fat, cholestoral, chemicals, GMOs, and hormones. Not to mention animal products are almost completely void of the so called "protein, calcium, and vitamins" they are providing for you. It makes no sense to go through a middle man (the animals who ate the plants with protein) because you will end up with less than if you just went straight for the protein packed plants yourself. Plant proteins will give you more bang for your buck, no doubt about it.
Here are a few (NOT ALL!) plant-based sources of protein:
black eyed peas
As you can see, protein is the last think you need to worry about in the vegan diet :) I did not include soy on this list and you can find out why through this blog post.
Don't we need milk for calcium and strong bones?
Okay, so this is a big one. Sometimes I lay in bed at night amazed at how the dairy industry got us to believe that we need the milk of another species to be healthy. We are the only species on the planet that drink the milk from another species. Just like breast milk is for baby humans, cows milk is for baby cows. The reason babies wean off breast feeding is because they have gotten the nutrients they need from their mother and are ready to start eating real food. The same goes for cows, and every other animal. If we wouldn't drink dogs milk or cats milk, why are we drinking cows milk? It's essentially indigestible to humans (because it's for baby cows) and toxic to us (because it's for baby cows). If we fed human breast milk to a baby cow, it wouldn't be getting the nutrients that it needs because we are human and it is a cow. Vice versa.
Milk is linked to many many diseases and illnesses such as cancer. Casein which makes up over 80% of milk protein is a known carcinogen. Let that sink in. Whether it's organic or not, it's a huge glass full of hormones, puss, and blood. Drinking cows milk came to be a thing for money, not health! In the dairy industry, female cows are artificially impregnated, and once the baby is born, it is stolen from the mother. Mama cows will cry out for days for their baby, and often times weep when their child is taken away from them. Cows are intelligent creatures that form connections with their babies just like we do. They feel pain, fear, and heartbreak just as we do. After their baby is taken from them, their milk that was meant to nourish their baby is then taken for us to drink and eat simply because we "could never live without cheese". And the process happens again and again until the cows are worn and can no longer walk. It is only then that they are sent to the slaughterhouse to become a burger. And then the process begins again with their babies. There is far more pain and cruelty in the dairy industry than in the meat industry.
There is no way on earth that God would create something so cruel to be necessary for us as humans.
There are plenty of plant based foods that contain more calcium than milk will ever give you and there's no hormones, puss, toxins, antibiotics, or animal cruelty involved.
Here are some (not all!) plant based sources of calcium:
How do you get your B12?
It is said that even meat eaters should be supplementing B12 because as a cleanly society, we just don't get enough of it. Nutritional yeast, mushrooms, spirulina, and chlorella are very high in B12. I take a Chlorella capsule every day and I typically eat a good amount of mushrooms, nutritional yeast, and spirulina so my B12 is in very good standing and if anything is higher than when I was eating animal products. There are also B12 fortified cereals (organic of course) and B12 supplements (vegan of course) that can be taken if you do not eat the types of foods mentioned above.
I'm interested in going vegan, but I'm worried I won't be getting all the nutrients and vitamins that I need
From the above questions, we can see that this is the most common question. I think it shows how terribly we've strayed from real food. If we're being realistic here, if you're eating animal products, you are already not getting all the nutrients you need.
The amazing thing is, all the nutrients that we need to thrive and nourish our bodies comes from plants! In Genesis 1:29 God said "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in it's fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life I have given every plant for food." and nothing has changed from that verse.
I have created a PDF that you can download which includes lists of plant-based sources of vitamins and nutrients. The list is most definitely not complete, but it's long and is a good thing to keep around for reference if you are worried about not getting all the essentials. I printed mine out and hung it on my refrigerator for easy access :)
When did you become a vegan and how did you make the transition?
I've been a plant based vegan for about a month and a half now, so I'm still a newbie :) I made the transition overnight. This worked for me because I was already eating mainly a whole foods diet and very little animal products. But I also did a lot of planning, researching, and recipe gathering before I made the switch.
I'm interested in going vegan, but I don't know where to start
Another one of the most common questions. I switched to a vegan diet overnight, but it may be easier for some to slowly transition. The best advice that I've heard is to "crowd out, don't cut out" If you are eating a very animal product based diet and you wake up one morning and say "okay no more of that", you will be left with nothing to eat and feel deprived. Instead, gather vegan recipes and start shopping for and making plant-based recipes. If you're nourishing yourself with plants and the right foods, you will have no room to crave or want animal product based foods. Going vegan doesn't mean just eating salads all the time. Some tweaking of your favorite recipes may be necessary, but it doesn't have to be a bland diet. If anything I feel like I have more options now that I'm a plant based vegan. Before I was always running out of food ideas and easily got "sick" of things but I don't think I've ran out of meal ideas once since becoming vegan.
My best advice is gather recipes. When I making the switch to a plant based diet I scoured youtube and Pinterest for weeks gathering recipes and seeing basically what it is like to be a vegan. I have an addiction to "What I Eat In A Day" videos. They can give you some really great ideas. I hope to make one for my youtube soon :)
Now I will say that I (along with a lot of other vegans) went through a detox period. Mine lasted about two weeks, but it will be different depending on each person. I went twenty years eating animal products, and my body and taste buds were essentially addicted to that sort of food. When I suddenly took that away, my body had to adjust and figure out what was going on. The same would happen if you were to all of a sudden stop giving your body anything else such as cigarettes, sugar, caffeine, etc. I had headaches, was super bloated, and just generally felt blah for about two weeks. But after that, I've felt better than I ever have. Before I was vegan I used to feel sick after every single meal no matter what I ate and that was my "normal", but now that I'm vegan I no longer feel that way. I can feel the food actually nourishing my body and fueling it. Don't let the adjustment period discourage you. It won't last forever!
I know that may be very general advice, but here is a gigantic list of articles that will be a huge help to those just starting out on their vegan journey :)
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be more plant-based but lives at home with a family who eats meat at every meal?
I think this is a struggle for a lot of people! I would suggest sitting down with your mom or dad or whoever you live with and kindly explain where you are coming from and why you want to start eating a more plant-based diet. Maybe suggest watching a documentary together. They may not agree or want to do the same thing, but most likely if you are kind and give good reasoning, they will respect that and want to help you. Explain that you would like to start eating meatless meals, and offer to help with meal prep and cooking your own meals. If they see that you're really committed to this, they may jump on board too!
What are your thoughts on being a Pescatarian as a Christian? I only eat fish and very few dairy products
Everything said in my last post applies to this type of diet as well. Fish are still animals and just like other animals, have shown the ability to feel fear and pain. During fishing procedures, not only are fish killed, but other sea life such as dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and sharks too. Fish are actually factory farmed too and their conditions are just as disgusting and cruel as conditions for cows, pigs, chickens, etc. They feed on who-knows what at the bottom of their crowded tanks which then gets into our bodies when we eat the fish.
Fishing is wreaking havoc on the environment and aquatic life. Yes, people ate fish in the Bible, but the affects of fishing back then are nowhere near the issues that it is causing today. Fishing has exterminated 90% of large fish populations in the past 50 years. Sea food still falls in the animal product category and is just as harmful to our health as eating the meat of cows, pigs, or chickens.
The reason for veganism and not just vegetarianism is because in the dairy and egg industry, the cows and chickens are treated just as terribly. After they are done unnaturally pumping out eggs and milk, they are sold to the meat industry. I don't feel that it's possible to support one but not the other. If you are buying eggs and dairy, you are also supporting the meat industry whether you buy meat directly or not.
Do you eat eggs?
Nope! That still counts as an animal product. Like I mentioned above, after chickens are done producing eggs, they are sold to the meat industry. I feel it would be very hypocritical of me to not eat meat but eat eggs which still supports the meat industry. Not to mention that conditions for laying chickens are just as terrible as chickens raised for meat, if not worse because they are pumped with unnatural hormones to continue producing a mass amount of eggs in an unnatural way. We don't need the eggs of another species. The eggs are there as a means for the chickens to reproduce, just like human female eggs. It's just not right to take eggs from chickens because they aren't ours. Often times they can't decipher which eggs have been fertilized or not, and form a bond either way. Check out this eye-opening article for more incite on the effects of taking eggs from chickens.
How did your friends and family react when you told them you were vegan?
Luckily they have been very accepting. They don't necessarily understand or agree, but they support me. It will always be hard to see loved ones take part in something that I'm so very against, but I don't believe that change is impossible at this point. I still get comments like "don't you miss bacon" or "are you getting enough protein" but I don't let it discourage me because the more I'm able to talk about it, the more people will learn the truth.
I'm worried about not eating enough
This is a very valid worry. When you switch to a plant based vegan diet, your serving sizes will need to increase. Before I was vegan it seems like I barely ate anything. I would get full so fast because I was eating animal products which A) weren't giving me the nutrients that I really needed and B) poisoning my body. Now that I'm vegan it still amazes me how much I eat. I've heard that 2,000-3,000 calories a day is ideal for a plant-based vegan, but I'm not a believer of counting calories and I never track mine. I eat when I'm hungry and until I am full and satisfied because I'm only eating healthy food that nourishes my body. That's the important thing to keep in mind about a plant based diet. This isn't about society's "smaller portion sizes are better" cliche, it's about finally treating your body the way it should be and filling it up with foods that nurture and nourish.
What are some easy vegan meals that you've incorporated into your diet?
Oatmeal and Buddha Bowls are my main go-to's when I don't really feel like cooking a super extensive meal. As for oatmeal I will use organic rolled oats, and cook them on the stovetop with water. I like to sweeten it with maple syrup or coconut sugar, and top it with lots of fresh fruit, coconut, nuts or nut butter. My favorite combo is blueberries and sunbutter!
Buddha bowls are amazing because you don't have to follow a recipe. I basically just throw plants together and call it a meal! I start with either rice, quinoa, or rice noodles for a base, always potatoes and some type of bean or lentil. I add in lots of fresh veggies, avocado, some lemon or lime juice and call it a meal! You can add cooked veggies, raw veggies, however you like to do it. There's a ton of different ways you can cook potatoes to make them exciting. Buddha bowls are also great when you have leftovers in the fridge and you can just throw a bunch of things together with rice or potatoes as the main base.
What do you typically eat in a day?
I have oatmeal and a smoothie almost daily. For breakfast I've been having a bowl of oatmeal and then a smoothie a little while later for my "second breakfast". For lunch I'll typically have something easy and simple like either a Buddha bowl or leftovers from dinner the previous night. Dinner is when I try to make something exciting and maybe more in depth. Cooking is like therapy for me because it forces me to slow down and learn something new. My dinners look different every night but some of my favorite go-to's lately are vegan pizza with lots of veggies + basil, vegan mac n cheese, and spring rolls made with rice and raw veggies wrapped in a rice roll wrapper.
Would you say using almond milk or coconut milk would be a better replacement for a coffee creamer?
I would say yes because it's not dairy! Dairy is very damaging to our health and since we have access to wonderful plant based milk, there's really no excuse! I typically don't use creamer in my coffee, but when I do it's coconut or almond milk. I know they even have coconut and almond milk "creamer" that's thicker than the average milk and flavored, but still dairy free. I highly recommend!
What are some good lunches/dinners for a college kid in a dorm with limited access to a kitchen and supplies?
My number one suggestion is oatmeal! It's microwaveable (even though I suggest using a stovetop if you have access for this reason), it's filling, full of nutrients, and is delicious with healthy toppings like nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, coconut, seeds, etc. I'm not familiar with dorm life so I'm not exactly sure what you have access to, but there are some really great youtube videos for vegan cooking in college :)
What was the hardest food to give up?
First I want to say that I didn't "give up" anything. I actually gave back what wasn't mine to take in the first place. I know, total vegan thing to say. But I feel that so deeply in my heart. The hardest food for me to stop eating was probably eggs. When I decided to actually make the switch to veganism, I was already eating quite a low amount of meat and dairy. After knowing what I knew, just the thought of it made me sick. And I honestly haven't had a craving for it since. But eggs on the other hand were something that I've always used in a lot of my baking, which is something I love to do. So it was a matter of being able to convert my favorite recipes to vegan without using egg. Which is definitely doable and something I was familiar with because my brother has been allergic to eggs his whole life. It also was one of the harder things to stop eating because it took me longer to realize and understand the effects of taking eggs from chickens. I grew up dreaming of having a farm and collecting beautiful eggs each morning from our chickens and displaying them on the kitchen counter. My family and I wanted to raise some backyard chickens for eggs and we were actually about to get some this past spring, but I believe it was a total God thing that it didn't work out because I don't think I would have ended up going vegan or realized how wrong my lifestyle was if we did.
You've always said you wanted to live on a farm, now that you're vegan do you still want to?
Yes!! Even though I've just gone through this huge lifestyle change, I'm still me and my dreams are still the same, and Tumbleweed and Twine will continue to be a farmhouse-styled business. I've known from the start that I would never be able to raise animals for meat on my farm, even before I was vegan. So that has never been in the cards for me. I love cows and chickens and pigs and sheep and goats so much and I sort of always joked about having farm animals just as pets. Once I became vegan I realized that's not so much a bad idea. God recently put on my heart the idea of being a sanctuary/rescue farm. I've wanted to help animals ever since I was little and I remember always reading animal rescue books. Now that I'm vegan and I see that my dreams of having a farm are still the same and if anything, have more reasoning and meaning, I know that I'm on the path that God wants me to be. I'm seeing all my dreams that I've had since I was a child come together and hold more meaning than they ever have. Being vegan gives me a purpose outside of myself, and that feels really amazing.
How did you come to realize that there is a connection between veganism and Christianity?
Okay so I'm gonna be totally honest here. The reason I've always been so against vegans is because I thought it was a total liberal-hippie thing and like, that was it for me. (And I think a lot of people feel that way too and that's why I want to spread this message) I really felt a tug at my heart about veganism and I wanted to see how and if it could relate and line up with my beliefs. After watching more documentaries and vegan youtubers, I learned that these vegans that simply want to live their lives with more compassion and less cruelty, related more to the Christian calling than I thought. They may not have the same theology as me, but their reasonings make sense. I began to dig around on the internet to see if any other Christians were feeling the same way. I found two books that I linked in this post, that helped me immensely and really challenged me to evaluate what I thought was right, and ultimately led me to change my lifestyle.
Don't you think there's more important things to focus on as a Christian? Like helping the poor or the hungry?
You know, this is something I struggled with too. But this thought process gives in to the belief that human lives are more important than non-human lives. Also, the fact that helping the poor, hungry, and vulnerable is all connected with veganism is enough for me to know that this is something worth fighting for. What if instead of growing crops for animals to eat, we fed that food to people instead? It's said that if humans ate the amount of crops that are grown to feed livestock each year, we would be able to feed around 800 million. That's a lot of hungry people fed. What if we took back the 50% of the worlds water that goes to feeding agriculture and instead focused our energy on making that water clean and accessible for those who need it? It's all intertwined and it all begins with us.
Now that I'm vegan I feel closer to God and His creations than ever before. By spreading veganism and a compassionate lifestyle, I'm helping not only the animals but people too. Not everyone is going to be called to be a missionary in a third world country. I know that where I'm supposed to be is in the depths of spreading the word about food and health because God wants glory and redemption to come from every part of our lives, not just the "spiritual" parts. And as you've read, this very much so connects to our health and what we eat.
Labeling myself as vegan is hard. I've tried it before and failed because of what other people think of vegans and how hard it is to eat out at restaurants.
This is very hard and I'm sure something that all vegans struggle with at some point. But this makes me think of Christianity. It's hard to be a Christian in today's world. It's hard to tell non-Christian people that you're a Christian because there's always going to be stereotypes and preconceived notions. But that would never stop me from spreading the Word because it's something I believe with my whole entire being. And I feel the same exact way about veganism.
When we eat at non-vegan restaurants and order a vegan meal, we are increasing the demand for more vegan friendly meals and places. It is a hassle but if it's something that is truly important to your heart, it will forever be worth it. There are always going to be people that judge and there's always going to be people that get pissed off. But doing what's right is never safe nor easy. It may take a while to become comfortable with telling people you are vegan or ordering at restaurants, but we can't let worldly ways discourage us.
What were some of your struggles with other people or personally when you went vegan and how did you overcome them?
One of my main struggles was the detox period which I mentioned in an above question. I was confused because I thought I was supposed to be feeling better. I kinda had this notion that the moment you become vegan you're glowing and radiant. But like anything, it's a process and takes time. I feel amazing now so I'm glad I didn't let those few weeks stop me. Another personal struggle was having to admit to myself that for 20 years I participated in something so cruel. No one likes to admit they were wrong. So that was really hard to accept, but it's never too late to make the change. The past is the past and what matters is that I'm making a difference now.
I find it disturbing that no one questions the unnaturalness of eating the flesh of other animals, processed foods and chemicals, but the moment someone mentions eating real, organic, whole, plants, people are skeptical. If you are one of those people, I absolutely do not blame you personally. It is our money-driven world that profits off of sickness that has caused us to think like that. And that is why I am here to speak the truth, to open your eyes. A plant based vegan diet has reversed chronic illnesses, it has completely wiped cancer from people's bodies. I believe that healing will never be found in big-pharma funded medicine, in chemo, in a pill—there you will only find more sickness. God has created for us what we already need- real food. Food that doesn't come from a factory. Food that doesn't come from pain. Food that doesn't come from sickness. Food that doesn't come from chemicals.
Food is medicine.
My first post mainly talked about the animal cruelty side of things and this post was more focused on my journey. I hope to have my next vegan related post to touch more on the health benefits of a whole foods plant based diet. I'm also considering setting up a resource page here on my blog that can link you to further writings, studies, articles, and information about everything that I am so passionate about because no matter how much I write, there will always be more to say. And I want you guys to have access to those things and that information. Let me know if you think that would be a good idea :) If there's anything I didn't cover here that you're wondering about, I'm always here to chat! Thank you for reading!