Have you ever wondered if becoming vegan is safe and sustainable or if it is as hard, and possibly dangerous, as the media makes it seem?Today I am going to tell you 7 things you should know about before becoming vegan. I will also answer the most pressing question on your mind–is a vegan diet safe?
1. Where do Vegans get their Protein
In our animal-food crazed age it is very easy to believe that to be healthy or fit we have to eat a lot of protein. You probably have seen ads for protein supplements (mostly whey products), protein bars, or even milk commercials, telling you how many grams of protein you will get in each serving. You might have been led to believe that if you became vegan, one day you might be walking down the road and run out of protein.
Vegans do not lack protein! In fact, all plants have protein and we need no magic protein supplements, or special food combining to ensure that we get enough protein in our bodies to have optimal health.
In fact, plant protein is a superior form of protein and is highly digestible, compared to its animal counterparts!
If you decide to eat a wholly plant based (vegan) diet, to ensure you get enough protein, whether you are an athlete, a pregnant and nursing mama or have little ones to think about, simply eat a healthy, junk free, plant based diet, including as many various plants as you can, including grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, greens, fruits and veggies. If you do that, you will never have a shortage of protein in your diet!
2. Healthy Vegans vs. Unhealthy Vegans
Now that we have protein covered, you should know that there are two types of vegans–those who are health-minded, and those who are not. There are health vegans, and there are junk vegans.
Don’t be fooled to believe that if you become vegan, you will magically become healthy. Just like with any other diet, you have to be conscious of the quality of the foods you are eating. If you eat junk, sugary, processed and fat laden vegan products, while you will be saving lives of animals, you will be killing yourself in the process. If you eat fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and and supplement with B12, you will be on your way to eating your way to a healthier you.
3. Sugar is Vegan Right?
An interesting topic to consider. Some sugar sold in the marketplace is and some of it isn’t. Did you know during the final purification process, cane sugar is filtered through activated carbon (charcoal) which may be of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin. This step is unnecessary for beet sugar and therefore is never done. Over half of the cane refineries in the United States use bone char (charcoal made from animal bones) as their activated carbon source.
Now, vegan or not, did you know that Sugar is MORE addicting that Cocaine? A study had shown (cited in the article I just linked to) that lab animals preferred sugar water to cocaine over 90% of the time! Yikes! And we all know just how dangerous sugar is to our health and immune system.
So, while we all can enjoy an occasional sweet, we need to make sure it is as processed sugar free as possible, unless we want to mess up our immune system, make our body acidic and mess with our hormones. Sugar is NOT for health minded individuals on a daily basis.
In Sugar is MORE addicting that Cocaine I talk about healthy sugar alternatives and ways you can overcome sugar addictions.
4. Which Healthy Oils Should I Use?
NONE! Not even highly praised coconut or olive oil. In fact there are NO healthy oils! I do not care if your mailman, your doctor, your best buddy or the best known health food blogger tells you otherwise.
While I use coconut oil as my skin moisturizer and make up remover, I keep all oils OUT OF MY FOOD!
A study on humans conducted by David Blankenhorn, M.D., and his associates compared the effects of different types of fats on the growth of atherosclerotic lesions inside the coronary arteries of people by studying the results of angiograms taken one year apart (JAMA 263:1646, 1990). The study demonstrated that all three types of fat–saturated animal fat, monounsaturated (olive oil), and polyunsaturated (EFA)–were associated with a significant increase in new atherosclerotic lesions. Most importantly, the growth of these lesions did not stop when polyunsaturated fats of the w-6 type (linoleic acid) and monounsaturated fats (olive oil) were substituted for saturated fats. Only by decreasing all fat intake–including poly- and monounsaturated fats–did the lesions stop growing. (Source)
You can read an in-depth scientific research on this oily topic in the There are NO healthy oils article.
5. Should you be Raw Vegan, High Raw Vegan, or “Whatever” Vegan?
Over 8 years ago I went vegan for health reasons. In the process I learned that not all vegans are “created equal.” I found several factions:
- Vegans for ethical reasons
- Vegans for health reasons
- Health & Ethical vegans
- Raw Vegans
- High Raw Vegans
- Juicing Vegans
- Blending Vegans, and
- anything you can imagine vegans
Ok, I know I am making some of it up, but you get my point. When you read my Vegan Done Wrong series you will learn the most beneficial way to structure your vegan diet. You can also learn whether you should become Raw Vegan in my article which discusses pros and cons of the choice.
6. It is easy to have a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy
I know I did! I practically had no pregnancy symptoms, save my growing belly.
(taken the night I went into labor)
While pregnant, I taught 10 hours of fitness classes a week, until the day I went into labor. On the day it happened, I still was doing side splits and push ups. I also made a 5-course meal and entertained guests that day.
For those who decide to consume a whole foods plant based diet, there is virtually no need for supplements, except for B12. The best prenatal vitamins come from a clean, healthy, well balanced plant based diet.
One of the greatest benefits of being whole foods vegan before, during and after my pregnancy, and including regular exercise into my daily routine, was the quick weight loss I experienced post partum, and the fact that I did not gain any unneeded fat.
I put on 30 lbs with Sprout. After she was born, I lost 18 lbs overnight; 23 lbs total by the end of week 1 post partum, and the rest before I went back to work (teaching fitness classes) in less than 8 weeks post partum–all with diet alone, as I did not exercise until I went back to work.
7. Vegan Diet has NO side Effects!
Really! I have not heard of anyone dying of eating too much kale or having too many green smoothies. I dedicated many articles to revel in this fact.
- A whole foods, plant based diet (WFPBD) offers a natural treatment for hypothyroidism–I successfully reversed hypothyroidism with a plant based diet.
- It is easy to lose weight on a vegan diet!
- A plant based diet helps to heal hormones and makes it easier to conceive
- A plant based diet helps to treat PCOS
- It helps to lower blood pressure without meds
If you transitioned to a well-taught plan based diet and learn the basics, living healthy becomes easy. So easy, in fact, that for most of my clients it takes only 30 days to learn how to transition to a plant based diet successfully.
If you still have concerns about a vegan diet, here are some serious side effects to consider:
- You might become too healthy
- You might become too happy
- You will save money, since you won’t have to see doctors or pay for meds and surgeries
- You will live longer
- You will sleep better
- If you are young and want kids, you will conceive easier
- If you are having hormonal issues (ED, menopause, etc.), you will resolve them
- Your vision will improve
- Your weight will drop
- Your hair will be shinier
- Your bones will be stronger
- Your heart will be healthier
- Your waist line slimmer
And this is just a drop in the bucket.