Veganuary is a great chance to explore plant-based cooking
When I started embracing eating more plants in my food plans for better health, I came across A LOT of information about nutrition. I took a vegan nutrition course to dig a little deeper into what the science says. My main concern was how I was going to feel after I ate and would it taste as delicious as all of the other foods I love to eat? As a professional chef taste and flavor were dealbreakers for me if it was not up to my standards.
So, on my journey, I have come to see that there are some myths about eating mostly fruits and vegetables and here I am to dispel those myths from my own experiences. Am I a 100% plant-based eater? Not today, I am taking it one day at a time and practicing progress, not perfection, and my doctor likes my approach to health so I will continue on this delicious journey of new foods.
1. You can't get enough protein and nutrition
I have heard that Americans eat too much protein on a daily basis. The recommendations run the gambit from 6 ounces a day to whatever your body can handle. I see these charts and I am always surprised at the amounts of protein in vegetables and grains. How much should you have? Well, that depends- on your activity, your age, and if you are trying to lose weight.
If you want to calculate your protein needs this site from Women's Health magazine can help you do that. They suggest:
The bottom line: Get your daily protein intake (at least 0.36 times your body weight) from whole food sources where possible, and adjust amounts accordingly if you're looking to lose weight or build muscle.- Women's health magazine
Plant sources of protein I found that work for me are
All Beans and Rice, but especially lentils
Broccoli and other protein-rich vegetables
Nutritional Yeast for B-12
Tofu and Edamame
Ezekiel Bread and nut butter
2. It's Expensive
I have always believed, it's cheaper to be healthy, than ill. Whether you believe food is medicine or not, there is something to be said for being more mindful of eating too many processed foods. If you stick to the four main food groups- Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, and Legumes these items are commodity items and can be purchased in many forms. The less work you want to do, the more it will cost. Your freezer is your best friend.
3. It's a lot of work
Food prep can be time-consuming and require skill, however, there are many time-saving tools out there to assist. Being organized is the most important skill as most everyone who has been cooking through the pandemic has noticed for sure. Sitting down with a piece of paper or a computer and planning your meals can save dollars, time, and energy during the week. My mantra is to cook once, eat four times.
4. I can't eat out
Times, they are a-changing... Restaurants have figured out that the plant-forward movement is upon them and they are ready to accommodate the customers who are searching for ways to eat less meat. The truth is that it's not the vegans driving the menus to change, it's the omnivores and flexitarians who make up a much larger part of the dining population. Looking at the menu ahead of time and asking for substitutions will get you through most menu dilemmas. I have found that all menus offer something for the plant-based loving public they serve.
5. I have to give up my favorite foods
I was surprised to hear on a virtual conference recently a vegan restaurant owner talks about her customers are buying more comfort food replicas of their favorite foods than heaping plates of vegetables. This confirmed to me that we don't have to give up our favorite foods, we just need to learn the art of the swap out. Some things won't be even close, like cheese, however, with the power of the internet, you can find recipes for any dish that you love with plant-based substitutions. Keep an open mind, it will not be the same product, but chances are it will be similar in flavor and hey, you are doing something good for your body!
Interested in more information now about Veganuary? Click here to sign up on the official site.