Making the decision to embrace a vegan lifestyle can be an empowering and meaningful choice. By eliminating animal products from your diet and lifestyle, you can contribute to animal welfare, reduce environmental impact, and potentially improve your health. At California Performance Co. we say YAY to this of course! We’ve been trying our best to contribute our own “whey” 😉
However, before diving into the world of veganism, it’s important to be well-informed about some key impacts of the vegan diet. In this article, we will explore 5 essential things to know before embarking on your vegan journey, backed by scientific studies and research.
Understanding Protein Sources:
One of the most common concerns about a vegan diet is obtaining sufficient protein, and indeed it can be challenging sometimes. While animal products are known sources of protein, plant-based protein sources can also provide all the essential amino acids needed for optimal health.
To ensure adequate protein intake on a vegan diet, it’s essential to understand the recommended daily protein requirements. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) suggests that the average adult should consume approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, for individuals with higher activity levels or specific needs, the requirement will be higher as you may already know.
For example, an individual weighing 154 pounds would aim for around 56 grams of protein per day.
For individuals engaged in regular exercise or sports activities, protein requirements may be higher to support muscle repair, growth, and recovery. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends a protein intake range of 1.4 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on the specific training goals and demands.
Fortunately, there are many plant-based protein sources that can help meet these requirements. Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and black beans provide around 15-20 grams of protein per cooked cup. Tofu and tempeh offer approximately 20-30 grams of protein per serving. Quinoa, a complete protein, contains 8 grams of protein per cooked cup, while a handful of almonds or a tablespoon of peanut butter contribute about 6-8 grams of protein.
Incorporating a combination of these plant-based protein sources into meals can easily fulfill the daily protein needs of individuals following a vegan diet.
Essential Nutrient Considerations:
While a vegan diet can be nutritionally adequate, it’s important to pay attention to certain nutrients that may require special consideration. Vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron are some nutrients commonly found in animal-derived products, which means that it’s harder for Vegans to find this in their diet, and they mostly have to supplement themselves. Though, fortified plant-based milk, breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, and certain meat alternatives often contain added vitamin B12, watch out for them 😉
If you aren’t too sure, don’t hesitate to meet with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional. They will be able to give you a great supplements plan and ensure a well-rounded diet.
Cost and Accessibility of Vegan Food:
Some individuals may worry about the cost and accessibility of vegan food. While certain vegan specialty products can be expensive, a well-planned vegan diet can be affordable and accessible. It is possible!
Focus on whole plant-based foods like grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, which are often more budget-friendly and offer essential nutrients. Shopping in bulk, exploring local farmers’ markets, and opting for seasonal produce can help lower costs while supporting local agriculture.
Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Weight:
Transitioning to a vegan diet can be a beneficial strategy for weight management, as plant-based diets tend to be lower in saturated fats and higher in fiber. However, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced diet and be mindful of portion sizes because vegan diets can tend to have more calories. As a matter of fact, plant based proteins have twice the amount of carb than meat protein.
Try to find foods that will make you feel fuller longer. Incorporating a variety of whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like avocados and nuts can promote satiety, a healthy weight and overall well-being.
In the end, everyone can do it. It might be tough to have your friends and family (still eating meat) understand your decision, but hey… YOU DO YOU.
All we have to say is, make sure to reach your daily nutritional needs so you don’t start lacking certain nutrients.
LET’S GO VEGAN!
- Turner-McGrievy, G. M., & Mandes, T. (2020). Vegan diets for weight loss: How effective are they? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical
- Pawlak, R., Berger, J., & Hines, I. (2014). Iron status of vegetarian adults: a review of literature. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 8(6), 424-436.
- Berners-Lee, M., Kennelly, C., & Watson, R. (2020). Current global food production is sufficient to meet human nutritional needs in 2050 provided there is radical societal adaptation. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 8(1), 1-18.
- Mariotti, F. (2019). Vegetarian and plant-based diets on the risk of cardiovascular diseases: an update. Nutrients, 11(3), 557.
- Gorissen, S. H., & Witard, O. C. (2018). Characterising the muscle anabolic potential of dairy, meat and plant-based protein sources in older adults. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 77(1), 20-31.