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Considering A Vegan Diet or Eating Less Animal Product?

May 2nd, 2011 | Nutritional Coaching | ksimon | No Comments

Going vegan can be a healthy choice for your body, mind, and spirit. People choose to go vegan for animal rights purposes, the environment, and for health. Done correctly, your vegan diet will be full of beans, nuts (see nuts and seeds blog for more information), seaweed, seeds, a variety of whole grains (see whole grains blog for more information), vegetables, fruits, and vegetable oils, soy products, and dried fruit, herbs and spices. (Dried fruits contain almost 6 times more iron than fresh fruit, but get sulphite free). The dark green leafy foods like spinach, kale, mustard greens, and sea vegetables are where you get your calcium so eat up! In general your diet should have a lot of variety and color and be less concerned about calories and more concerned about getting your nutrients. Vegan is a food lovers dream because the diet is not about RESTRICTION- it’s about quality abundance.


Studies show that vegan diets can help fight against and heal diabetes, heart disease, obesity, fibromyalgia, cancer, and numerous other afflictions.  Read some of the findings on the following websites:


With the exception of vitamin B 12, in theory a vegan diet can provide all necessary nutrients. However, since it’s difficult to practice consistent perfect diet, vegans should supplement:  calcium , iron , vitamin D , selenium , phosphorous , zinc, omega-3 and B-12.

For athletes, the diet is very low in the non-essential protein amino acid creatine. This can be supplemented as well as my personal suggestion to supplement carnitine. We produce less carnitine as we age and it’s essential for metabolism. Non- vegan and vegan should be supplementing it as they age. Vegan’s should take more of this supplement. (Go to our supplement page and click on Andrew Lessman).

Seaweed is one of those “new” ingredients you may want to add to your diet. Nori is usually recognized as the wrapping around sushi rolls. It’s rich in iodine, iron and high in protein. It’s also a good source of vitamins: C, A, potassium, magnesium, and riboflavin. The following website has helpful information about different types of seaweed, their uses, and how to cook with them:

Milk can be substituted with: soy, almond, coconut, and hemp. I recommend a variety and try to get sugar free organic. Butter can be substituted for vegetable oils such as: safflower, grape seed, hemp, and olive. If you require a solid substitute,  Earth Balance provides a variety of options. Coconut oil is also in solid form but shouldn’t be used for frying. Eggs can be replaced with Ener-g brand. If you are looking for vegan bread, try Food for Life’s variety of products. Pasta can be substituted with quinoa, Food For Life, rice, or soy noodles. Variety is always the best option to avoid getting food intolerance and to receive all nutrients.

Beans will be a staple in quite a few of your dishes. You can soak dry beans over night or simmer for at least 3 hours in a soup.  I use a lot of canned, but I  use no salt and organic. They can be mashed and blended into a lot of recipes to give it “bulk”.

Try to avoid as many processed foods as possible. They are nice way to break away from a traditional way of eating, but should eventually be weaned from your diet or only used in emergencies. Your best bet is whole, fresh, organic foods, bought and cooked close to when you eat them.

There are a good many books to either convince you to go vegan if you are undecided or to support your decision.  Some of these include:

  • T. C. Campbell, T. M. Campbell II, H. Lyman, and J. Robbins  “The China Study”
A stunning truth of the reality of what we are eating and what we should eat.
  • Brendan Brazier                “Thrive”
An athlete’s dream book
  • Howard Lyman                  “Mad Cowboy”
4th generation rancher gone vegan

Here are some of my favorite Recipe Books:

  • Sarah Kramer,  “La Dolce Vegan”
Fun cookbook geared towards healthy comfort foods made with accessible healthy ingredients
  • A. Green              “Field Guide to Herbs and Spices”
I like this guide because it’s small enough to carry to the store but packed with useful info.  Learn to flavor your food with spices instead of fat and sugar.
  • J. McCann      “Vegan Lunch Box”

For kids and grown-ups! simple, simple,simple

  • L. Sass     “Short Cut Vegan”
Great for dorm room creations or small kitchens.
  • Jo A. Kaucher     ” The Chicago Diner Cookbook”

Diner food and comfort food for the vegan that can’t go without their old meat favorites.

  • Pat Crocker     “The Vegan Cook’s Bible”
This woman knows how to balance nutrients and make it taste good. It’s also a wonderful resource and a must have.
  • Colleen Patrick-Goudreau “The Vegan Table”

Entertaining and want something to fit the holidays or seasons? Wonderful food for guests.

Sites to support your journey include:

The Chicago Diner

The Vegan Store

Fat Free Vegan Recipes

The Vegetarian Resource Group

Vegan Groceries

The Vegan Kitchen

The Wellness Forum

Finally, below are protein content amounts and how to combine your proteins while preparing your meals:
Table 1: Sample Menus Showing How Easy It Is To Meet Protein Needs
    Protein (grams)
Breakfast: 1 cup Oatmeal 6
  1 cup Soymilk 7
  1 Bagel 9


Lunch: 2 slices Whole Wheat Bread 5
  1 cup Vegetarian Baked Beans 12


Dinner: 5 oz firm Tofu 11
  1 cup cooked Broccoli 4
  1 cup cooked Brown Rice 5
  2 Tbsp Almonds 4


Snack: 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter 8
  6 Crackers 2
TOTAL 73 grams
Protein Recommendation for Male Vegan [based on 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight for 70 kilogram (154 pound) male] 56-70 grams
Breakfast: 2 slices Whole Wheat Toast 5
  2 Tbsp Peanut Butter 8


Lunch: 6 oz. Soy Yogurt 6
  2 Tbsp Almonds 4
  1 Baked Potato 4


Dinner: 1 cup cooked Lentils 18
  1 cup cooked Bulgur 6


Snack: 1 cup Soymilk 7
TOTAL 58 grams
Protein Recommendation for Female Vegan [based on 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight for 57.5 kilogram (126 pound) female] 46-58 grams
Additional food should be added to these menus to provide adequate calories and to meet requirements for nutrients besides protein.


Table 2 shows the amount of protein in various vegan foods and also the number of grams of protein per 100 calories. To meet protein recommendations, the typical adult male vegan needs only 2.5 to 2.9 grams of protein per 100 calories and the typical adult female vegan needs only 2.1 to 2.4 grams of protein per 100 calories. These recommendations can be easily met from vegan sources.

Table 2: Protein Content of Selected Vegan Foods
Tempeh 1 cup 41 9.3
Seitan 3 ounces 31 22.1
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 29 9.6
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 18 7.8
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15 6.7
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 13 6.4
Veggie burger 1 patty 13 13.0
Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 12 4.2
Veggie baked beans 1 cup 12 5.0
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 12 5.7
Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup 11 6.2
Tofu, firm 4 ounces 11 11.7
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 10 5.7
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 9 3.5
Tofu, regular 4 ounces 9 10.6
Bagel 1 med.
(3 oz)
9 3.9
Peas, cooked 1 cup 9 6.4
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), cooked 1/2 cup 8 8.4
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 8 4.3
Veggie dog 1 link 8 13.3
Spaghetti, cooked 1 cup 8 3.7
Almonds 1/4 cup 8 3.7
Soy milk, commercial, plain 1 cup 7 7.0
Soy yogurt, plain 6 ounces 6 4.0
Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 6 3.7
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 6 3.3
Whole wheat bread 2 slices 5 3.9
Cashews 1/4 cup 5 2.7
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 5 2.4
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 5 2.1
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 5 13.0
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 4 6.8
Potato 1 med.
(6 oz)
4 2.7
Sources: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18, 2005 and manufacturers’ information.

The recommendation for protein for adult males vegans is around 56-70 grams per day; for adult female vegans it is around 46-58 grams per day (see text).






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