When people find out that I am vegan, they immediately ask me these two questions: Where do I get my protein? (literally the MOST annoying question ever), and what do I eat? Surprisingly we don’t just eat rabbit food (aka salad). Anything you like to eat, I can eat. Only in a slightly modified form, and much healthier. As for the reasons WHY you should go vegan, well that’s a topic for another day. Today I will be focusing on what to eat as a vegan. So wether you are a new vegan that is trying to get a better sense of what to eat, or you are just someone who is wanting to make some healthier food choices, then this is the blog for you.
Let’s get right into it.
First and foremost, here is what vegans do not eat:
- dairy products
- honey (though some vegans do still choose to eat honey)
Pretty simple list if you ask me. Now for what we do get to eat!
Fruits that are fresh, frozen, and dried. Eat daily fresh, organic fruits and juices. Use fresh or dried fruit as sweeteners (example: mashed banana in oatmeal). Fruit smoothies are also a great way to eat a fairly large amount of fruits. And you can make it even more nutritious by adding a handful of greens.
All vegetables, but especially focus on eating dark leafy greens. Choose organic vegetables whenever possible, or stick to purchasing organic for the vegetables in the Dirty Dozen (more on that at the end of this blog). Focus on eating at least half of your veggies raw. When you have to cook them, try to stick to steaming and boiling.
Beans, lentils, peas, and their sprouts. Soy food, and peanuts. Aim for three servings a day. Soak or sprout dried legumes before cooking. Always choose non GMO organic soy products. When choosing soy milk, go for the one made from whole soybeans rather than isolates. And limit vegan meats, which is highly processed and full of unnecessary salt and oil (though I do enjoy a veggie burger every now and then. Simply eat in moderation).
Sprouted, interacts, cut or rolled whole grains. As well as amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, and wild rice.
Sprouting grains greatly helps reduce compounds that inhibit nutrient absorption. Pseudo-grains (amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, and wild rice) are more nutrient dense and are gluten free. Use whole intact grains whenever possible. Moderate use of flour products (even if they are whole grain). Limit processed grain products such as flaked grain cereals, and minimize refined grains.
Nuts, nut butters, and nut cheeses. Soak nuts to improve digestibility to help decrease compounds that inhibit nutrient absorption. Walnuts provide omega-3 fatty acids. Selects natural nut butters without any unnecessary ingredients (such as added oils and sugars). Limit intake of roasted nuts, with tend to be roasted in oils and salt or coated in sugar.
Seeds and seed butters. Sprout seeds for added nutrition. Soak to improve digestibility and to decrease compounds that inhibit nutrient absorption. Select natural seed butters. And use seeds that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (chia seeds, hemp seeds, and ground flaxseeds).
All except hijiki. Sea vegetables provide essential fats and iodine as well as B12, but they may be contaminated if from polluted waters. Avoid hijiki due to arsenic contamination.
CONCENTRATED OILS AND FATS
Mechanically processed oils rich in omega-3s or with a good balance of omega-3s and omega-6s.
Limit use of added oils which have a high fat content. Use organic oils to minimize toxins, which are concentrated when oil is extracted. Store refrigerated. If cooking with oil, use small amounts of organic olive, canola, coconut, or high-oleic oils. But cook oil free whenever possible. Minimize use of hard fats other than coconut oil, such as margarine.
Dried fruit sugars, maple syrup, agave, and blackstrap molasses.
Minimize use of concentrated sugars. Sugars made from whole foods such as dates or coconut are more nutritious options. Blackstrap molasses is the most nutrient-rich sweetener. And choose organic sweeteners.
This is by no means an extensive list of things you should eat or things you should limit eating. To sum it up, eat whole foods as much as possible, choose organic, and limit processed foods, oils, and sugars. When it comes to buying organic foods, it tends to be more expensive at times. But consider it an investment in your health when you choose organic rather than conventional. Refer to the Dirty Dozen list down below to help you when having to choose between buying organic or conventional produce. The list changes every year, but here is the 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Sweet Corn *
- Frozen Sweet Peas
- Papayas *
- * Some sweet corn and papayas that are sold in the US are GMOs. So choose organic and avoid GMO versions.