What I’ve Learned; the Vegan Edition

Updated 03/01/2012

As you know, I adopted a vegan diet because it was what worked best for my body. Last fall, after practicing mindful eating for months, I found myself still struggling with digestive problems and regularity issues so I started to eliminate foods from my diet to try and figure out what was causing the problems. On a whim I decided to cut out all animal products and within days I felt like a completely new person. Thinking it might be coincidence I ate some dairy about a week later and immediately reverted back to my old problems. It was then I decided to eliminate animal products completely on a more permanent basis. That was almost five month ago.

Once I adopted a vegan diet I felt amazing; I had/have tons of energy from the moment I wake up and throughout the day, I am regular, I sleep soundly every night, my body recovers from workouts quickly- I have no more lingering joint pain or aches, I just feel fabulous. No love of cheese or steak could ever make me want to give up how my body feels now.

In addition to feeling great I love the food I am eating. I have tried tons of new recipes as well as a plethora of new food items. My meals are always satisfying, satiating, and they never leave me feeling like crap afterwards. I put good fuel into my body and in return I get high energy and great health. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.

But I wanted to know why. Why did my body react this way to the changes? Yes, I was 100% satisfied with the decision I made but I wanted to know more, to learn more about veganism and make sure I was making the best decision for my health in the long term. So I read articles, blogs, watched documentaries, heard speakers and of course consulted my doctor about the change I had made. Along this road I have learned some very interesting things and I thought today I would share some of them with you. None of these I knew before adopting a vegan diet and I am not quite sure how much of this would be considered common knowledge (although it should be, in my opinion) so I thought I would share.

– We are the only animal that drinks another animal’s breast milk. Isn’t that weird? I never really thought about it until I heard it on ‘Forks over Knives’

– Cholesterol is found only in foods containing animal fat. Our body produces cholesterol on its own; just the same way cholesterol is produced in other animals. I found this odd because when I was told that my cholesterol was high (4 years ago) my doctor didn’t tell me to stop eating animal products. That seems like a really great way to lower your cholesterol. *Update* It was kindly brought to my attention yesterday that the amount of dietary cholesterol we eat makes very little difference on our actually cholesterol levels. The thing that does affect these levels is the amount of fat we eat in our diet. So the next point too, although valid, may not matter.

– All meat contains almostthe same amount of cholesterol. In a 3.5 oz serving there is; 90mg C in pork, 85mg C in beef, 85mg C in chicken, 82mg C in turkey, 82mg C in lamb, and 73mg C in trout. So eating chicken instead of beef (although it may have less fat) will not reduce your cholesterol intake. *Plant foods have 0mg of cholesterol 🙂

– Most common question I get asked is on this subject; how do vegans get their protein? Protein is found in plants, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc in addition to meat and dairy. Basically if you are eating any whole food it will contain protein.

– Do you know what the medical term for protein deficiency is? I didn’t. I never even knew there was such a thing. It’s called kwashiorkor (I had to Google it just for this post because I couldn’t remember the name) and is mainly found in developing countries. It is a very rare disease in the U.S. I don’t think anyone should be worried about vegans being diagnosed with it any time soon. I think I heard that there were zero recorded cases of it in adults in the U.S. last year. The rule of thumb goes- if you are eating enough calories, you are getting enough protein.

– Too much protein, however, is a bad thing. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, which our body can store excess of long term, excess protein converted to amino acids is then converted to ammonia to urea. Overconsumption of protein can lead to an increased risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis. The excess consumption of protein is why osteoporosis, which is chronic loss of bone mass, most often occurs in nations with the highest consumption of dairy.

Do you know how much protein you should be consuming daily? For me, it’s 64g a day. You can calculate it yourself using this formula (current weight/2.2)*0.8 or you can go to Interactive DRI which will calculate all of your recommended daily nutrient intakes for you. Yesterday, I ended up consuming 69g of protein which is slightly higher than recommended but goes to show how easy it is for me to get my daily protein requirement on a vegan diet.

– Where does calcium come from? Did you say dairy? Yeah, if you asked me five months ago I would have said dairy/milk too. You aren’t wrong if you said dairy but dairy is not the only way to get calcium. Calcium is a mineral. It comes from soil. Which means that plants, grains, legumes have calcium, too. You can still get the calcium your bones need while following a vegan diet.

This post isn’t meant to try to convince you to adopt a plant-strong diet or preach to you. I am merely using this blog as a way to pass on some of the things I have learned that I found interesting. I hope you take it as such.

Any neat or weird food /nutrition facts you’ve learned recently that you would like to share?

Thanks for reading!

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February 29, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Diet, Vegan.

5 Comments

  1. cassiebehle replied:

    I’m sorry, Dacia – I will never love anything more than a perfect steak!!! (But good for you – I’m glad you’re feeling amazing!) 😀

    • Dacia replied:

      No judgement here! Enjoy your steak!

  2. Simply Sidney replied:

    I love being exposed to your vegan diet, no only because you are bringing me tasty alternatives but you are educating me as well. Not sure if I’ll ever be fully vegan, but right now, part vegan is the place for me- and that my sweet friend is your influence showing 😉

    • Dacia replied:

      Thank you! Like I said, we all have to do what’s best for our bodies. I am glad i have influenced you to try and incorporate more plant based meals into the routine. I think we all could benefit from eating more plants 🙂

  3. Erica Zamsky Hunt (@MommaHunt16) replied:

    I am now just getting to post on here, I read blogs when I can from my phone, especially when people tweet them!! Yet I am to lazy to type on my iphone! Anywho, I like this post a lot. I have been thinking of becoming Vegan (well technically I want to be a vegetarian but since I can’t eat dairy it would thus be vegan). I am struggling with this decision becuase I want to do it but it will be hard for my family since I am the one who cooks. I am thikning of slowly transitioning over the next few months then trying it out over the summer when I can devote more time to recipes and cooking (I am a teacher with the summers off) and see how it goes. I figure I only go around once if something looks like a good fit for me why not try it! Thanks for you post and the follow up one as well that I didn’t comment on!

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