When I first transitioned to being Vegan, or I should say eating plant based (because I really didn't understand the scope of this title)...I honestly jumped into the waters blindly. Listen, I went running toward health as if Prince himself told me to purify myself in the waters of lake Minnetonka...yes, I just quoted Purple Rain (Rest in Power Prince). But seriously, we have to slow down and start to retrain ourselves which is going to take some research.
There are some things you are going to have to know and understand when you first step away from this matrix of a society we live in. I won't talk about the stigma aspects, as I discussed this in my previous blog...go and check that out if you haven't. In this particular blog, I want to present to you some specific information to help guide you on your health needs and ideas for your transition or active vegan lifestyle .
When you transition to living plant based, you are removing all animal products and byproducts from your diet. So you will no longer consume another mammal's milk products (e.g., cow, goat, etc.), eggs, animals for their protein, (whispers...saving the planet from destruction and animal lives) and so on. The goal is to now to head to the source for your bodily needs, because we eat to live right? There is a basic purpose in eating, that is forgotten behind all of these promoted imposter foods, slogans, and profits... and that purpose is to nourish all the cells within your body.
So lets look at the four popular items you need to know about (believe me you will be asked):
Do you really know what this is? So basically protein are composed of amino acids and these are one of the three macronutrients your body demands (as it can not produce this internally for homeostasis). When we consume protein-containing foods, we then use what we need (or can't produce...so they are considered"essential") as a base to recreate the 9 essential amino acids out of the the 20 types our bodies require.
Food examples: lentils, hemp seeds, broccoli, beans, chia seeds, nuts, etc. (these are just a few examples)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
This is 1 of 8 B vitamins that is especially noted because it helps with the metabolic process for carbohydrates and fats, and also with converting carbohydrates into the glucose (energy) the body needs.
Food examples: spinach, almonds, sun dried tomatoes, asparagus, collard greens, bok choy, etc.
Okay, so we talked about essential amino acids, there are also 13 essential vitamins the body can not create on its own. Vitamin D happens to be one of them, and it supports bone health, neurological function, immune health, and more!
Sunlight will provide you with Vitamin D...but if you can't get outside daily for at least 15 minutes, and even if so - include Vitamin D rich foods within your diet!
Food example: dairy free fortified milks and yogurts, orange juice, mushrooms, fortified cereals, etc.
Vitamin B12 This is a vital vitamin that plays a crucial role within the brain, nervous system, and production of red blood cells. Many believe that animal protein is the only source to receive B12. In actuality, B12 is not animal derived as the animals either eat it or are injected with B12 shots. B12 derives from bacteria! You DO have to supplement B12, and this is especially important for brain health and development in vegan kids! Please use only fortified B12, and follow the instructions.
Source - Must purchase a vegan supplement and take as instructed.
This is an important mineral in your body that is primarily stored within your bones and teeth. Calcium is also used for muscle function and contraction. Milk is not the only source for calcium, and we talk about some plant based sources for all of the above topics below.
Food examples: leafy green vegetables, almonds, black beans, broccoli, some tofu's, etc.
Above, I have listed out four very important health topics to take note of and to ingrain within your regular routine because you will need to supply your body with these items via supplementation (either food based, and or supplement form).
As a new vegan or individual seeking to properly feed and fuel your body, I would recommend signing up for a free nutritional application like "Cronometer". I use this program to track my micro and macro nutrient intake, water intake, and statistics. I also use this program to take notes, track biometrics, exercise details, and more. This will ensure that you are eating not only enough but the right foods. A lot of people feel crappy going vegan but did not take the proper steps needed to ensure actions being made were effective.
To sum up this blog, let's just recap the important take aways. Going vegan can be exciting but when making any major change we must take a moment to research what these changes entail (you may want to consult with your doctor first). We must learn more about our nutrition and why we are eating and craving certain foods (we will talk about this in the future to come). Arming ourselves with knowledge will also help us stand up for our changes and perhaps plant seeds into future vegans to be. Lastly, use technology to sign up for a free health application to track your nutritional intake, fitness, and more to ensure your doing this right!
I hope you found this blog to be helpful! There will be many more transition and related blogs filled with sound bites of information to help guide or remind you or myself of helpful information.