It seems to me that being vegan these days is very much in style! Although I am not considering myself vegan (you can read why here), just based on what I eat (or don't eat) a lot of people consider me a vegan. So very often I get asked "if you don't eat meat where do you get enough protein from?", or "no dairy products? what about calcium?"
I always have to laugh at these questions, because personally I have never felt healthier and more energized (yes, despite two small kids!) then since I gave up all animal products few years ago! In addition to listening to my body very closely for any vitamin deficiency symptoms, once a year I also do a blood check-up, just to make sure that there are no deficiency I am not aware of. Before I made the choice to give up all animal products, I did my fair bit of research on how to make sure that I still incorporate a complete and healthy diet in my active lifestyle and avoid any type of deficiency.
Where do I get enough Protein from?
- raw nuts
- chia seeds
- hemp seeds
- organic tofu
Because I workout every day, I will add some hemp protein powder in my green smoothie every morning after I my workout.
Where do I get enough Calcium from?
- kale (I am not a big fan of kale, so I always include some in my green smoothie)
- collard greens
- Chinese cabbage
- mustard greens
- hemp milk
- soya beans
- bok choy (usually add this to my green smoothie)
- dates (usually add some in my afternoon, pick-me up smoothie)
- figs (will usually have some in the morning)
- black berries
- black currants
- the products listed above are the ones I am using regularly, but this is not the complete list! For full list on plant-based Calcium sources please check here.
Plant-based vitamin B12 sources:
This is one aspect that is a bit of a concern for a vegan diet, as the best sources of vitamin b12 are animal products, such as milk and milk products, cheese, eggs, fish and poultry. Because vitamin b12 is so extremely important to our health (to find out why, read here), experts recommend taking either daily supplements, or add fortified foods such as nutritional yeast on daily basis. The list of plant based vitamin b12 sources is very limited:
- dried nori
In the past couple of years, my b12 levels were slightly below the normal level, so I got a b12 injection. Some doctors recommend for this to be done every six months. I am personally aware of the symptoms, and when I feel tired for more than a week I will check with my doctor my b12 levels to determine if there is a need for another shot. I just has blood work done, and although the last b12 injection that I got was well over a year ago, the levels were absolutely ok.
As I have said so many times, my personal philosophy is to educate myself, try different direction, listen to my body and see when I feel the healthiest, most energized, and at my best. What works for one, might not work for the other. I also think that as long as there is a balance in your diet, then there shouldn't be a deficiency, no matter whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or simply eating everything.......there needs to be a healthy balance and variety!