The vegan dietary lifestyle is one that can feel full of mystery for the uninitiated, but fortunately learning to cook plant-based meals comes with a ton of health benefits, plus it's fun! In honor of World Vegan Day, we answered some of the top questions about going vegan on Facebook Live with Lindsay from our Nutrition Team at Terra's Kitchen.
1) How do you get enough protein if you're eating meatless meals?
Fortunately, protein is found abundantly in the plant kingdom! Every plant food contains some amount of protein, some more than others. Pulses like lentils, beans and chickpeas are great sources of protein and can be used in all kinds of recipes. Another excellent source of plant-protein is soy. Soy can be consume in bean form as edamame or made into tofu or even milk. You can also get protein from vegetables like green peas, corn, and broccoli, as well as nuts and seeds, so there are plenty of delicious protein sources that aren't meat.
There are health benefits to consuming plant-based proteins too because they also contain phytonutrients, they're low in saturated fat and they're cholesterol-free. If you're worried about becoming protein deficient, dont be! In fact, 97% of Americans get enough protein, and that number includes includes both vegans and vegetarians.
2) Will I be full enough eating just vegan food?
Plant-based meals are excellent sources of fiber which will help you to stay feeling happy and satisfied after mealtimes. Fiber is only found in the plant kingdom, so you'll have plenty of it when you switch to this dietary lifestyle. Increasing the fiber in your diet can also help you loose weight, and it helps protect from diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. The recommended daily allowance for fiber is 25-30 grams per day and roughly 96% of Americans don't meet the minimum.
3) Will I need to take supplements to stay healthy?
People concerned about getting enough iron, such as people with an iron deficiency can get the nutrient by eating plenty of leafy greens, legumes, oatmeal, whole grains, and pumpkin seeds. Blackstrap molasses can also be taken daily because it has a high iron content. Our nutrition team recommends pairing any of these high-iron ingredients with vitamin C to help increase absorption
Many people are also concerned about where to get calcium if they are not drinking milk. Fortunately, you can get calcium by simply eating leafy greens as well as soy and broccoli. Another benefit of consuming plant sources of calcium is that they are more alkaline than alaternate animal sources like milk. If you are considering any type of supplements of while following a vegan diet, we recommend consulting your doctor to make sure you have selected the correct one.
4) What are some of the reasons people choose a vegan lifestyle?
In addition to the many health benefits, reducing or eliminating consumption of animal products helps to reduce your carbon footprint. Even if you're only switching to one plant-based meal a day, or even one per week, small changes can add up to make a big impact.
5) How can I get started with vegan cooking, any tips?
Not knowing how to get started can be a challenge, but don't forget that you can start slowly. Going vegan doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" approach. Terra's Kitchen offers a variety of vegan and vegetarian meals, and many of our vegetarian meals can easily be made vegan by leaving off animal products like cheese or honey.
Terra's Kitchen can help expand your horizons and try foods that you wouldn’t normally eat. All of our recipes are plant-based, and starting by trying vegetarian or vegan meals one day a week on #meatlessmonday can help you get started.
If you're looking for recipe inspiration, we recently released a Free Recipe Download that includes 12 of our favorite vegan recipes in honor of World Vegan Month in November.