People make the change from a Standard American Diet (SAD), filled with processed foods and animals products, to a vegan diet for a variety of reasons.
Whether it’s for ethics, such as animal cruelty, to help protect the environment, or for the many health-benefits, such as reducing heart diseases, including heart attack and stroke, or to regulate blood sugar diseases such as diabetes, Vegan’s ultimately make the change to help themselves and help others.
Shifting from a standard diet of animal products can be a wonderful decision if done correctly, but a terrible one if some effort and care is not considered.
The benefits are widely known among vegans and scientists alike, but because of the way that the food system is currently set up in North America, and because most of us began our journey in this world eating animal products, it can be extra challenging to adopt a vegan lifestyle that works well in the long run.
Vegans face many challenges when it comes to successfully living this way, from environmental and social challenges, to getting enough of the right nutrients on a consistent basis.
Here we look at one of the biggest challenges that vegans face when it comes to what to put on the plate.
WHAT DO I EAT?
Eating too many of the wrong foods is the no.1 mistake that vegans make!
Not including enough fruit and vegetables, and a variety of them is a common problem in nearly all diets. This coupled with too many processed foods, acidic foods, and foods that are too high in protein, and being a vegan can be just as damaging for your health as a SAD diet.
Not having enough variety is also a major issue and it is a problem that is a apparent in nearly all diets. Even fruitarian diets such as the popular 80/10/10 developed by Dr Douglas Graham, lack variety.
The issue with fruitarian diets or raw food diets, which emphasize large amounts of carbohydrates derived from fruits, is that they are missing out on the essential nutrients that are abundant in vegetables, especially the mighty green leafy ones.
In her book ‘Green For Life’, Victoria Boutenko looks at the issues that arise from not including enough greens in our diet. This is a common problem that runs throughout most diets and vegans are not beyond this.
Not only do many vegan diets lack an abundance of greens but they also tend to over-indulge in gluten-rich foods such as pasta and bread.
When a person makes the decision to go Vegan, it can at times, seem like the options have been severely cut. In many cases this is true.
The meat and dairy section in a grocery store is usually 10 time larger than the vegetarian sections and the vegan options are even less, if at all existent.
Limitation is a factor in well developed countries, but in parts of the world such as South America, you better forget about being vegan.
“Vegetarian? Sure we have can help you – rice and vegetables.” I speak from experience!
A lack of good quality options, often drives vegans & vegetarians alike, to pasta, rice, bread, beans, soy products and nuts & seeds.
Out of the options above, only a few of those food types are actually beneficial to our heath.
YOU MUST BE NUTS
In order for our bodies to properly utilize the beneficial fats, proteins, vitamins & minerals in nuts & seeds, we need to first soak them in clean filtered water for 12-24 hours.
This ensures that the digestive enzyme inhibitors and phytate acids are released.
During the soaking process, it is wise to drain and rinse the nuts & seeds a few times. The water will be murky and brown and it is this brown enzyme inhibitor and acid that we need to wash away.
Another benefit of soaking the seeds & nuts is that it starts the sprouting process.
Essentially, by soaking the nuts & seeds, we are activating them. Try comparing a soaked nut to an un-soaked nut and you’ll begin to understand the difference between an activated nut and a dormant one.
Once the digestive inhibitors and acids have been removed and the sprouting process has begun, we can then further enhance the power of the seeds by culturing them.
By putting the soaked nuts into a good blender with some coconut water (or filtered water) and blending them up into a cream, we prepare the nuts to partially ferment. If we then leave the nuts in a container such as a glass bowl and only partially cover it, with a tea towel for example, the culturing process will begin.
This process essentially breaks down the difficult to digest fatty acids and proteins into amino acids, ready for the body to easily digest and assimilate.
If we do not do this with our nuts we simply do not digest them optimally and end up being weighed down by the heaviness of the difficult to assimilate nuts.
Look at your poop after eating a good amount of nuts. You’ll see that they haven’t been utilized at all.
We must take the time to properly prepare our nuts & seeds to ensure that digestion and assimilation is smooth and easy by following the guidelines mentioned. This way we benefit from all of the wonders that nuts and seeds provide.
BUT WHEAT, ISN’T GLUTEN GLUE?
Another food people often mistake for being healthy is pasta.
These days however, its becoming more widely acknowledged that gluten & wheat, a primary component of pasta and grains, are extremely harmful to our system.
The word gluten is derived from the latin word for Glue.
Todays wheat products are not the same as what our parents ate. In order to develop drought resistant, insect resistant, faster growing wheat, the stuff we eat today, has been hybridized.
This type of wheat is loaded with amylopectin A (a starch that is worse than refined sugar). By consuming this starch, our blood sugar levels are sky rocketed and our appetites stimulated.
This, combined with the glue-like effects of gluten, make todays wheat products, such as pasta and bread, highly addictive and chemical laden. These hybridized foods are not in anyway health promoting.
JACK AND THE BEAN STALK
Surely beans & legumes are good for us, right?
Well, much like nuts, beans need to be properly prepared. In essence they need to be soaked because, like nuts & seeds, they contain phytic acid, which needs to be removed to avoid digestive issues.
Another issue with legumes is that they contain a carbohydrate called galaco-ligosaccharide, which can cause unpleasant digestive issues, especially for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Finally, beans contain high amounts of the toxic variation of lectin.
SOY I DID IT
Soy, a food which became popular during the early 2000’s, is often revered as a super health food.
Asians have been reaping the benefits of soy for centuries but for one distinct reason.
They ferment it!
Fermented soy is a good protein source and anti-allergenic.
Unfermented soy however, is linked to a variety of issues including:
• Brain damage
• Thyroid disorders
• Kidney stones
• Impaired fertility
• Breast cancer
• Infant abnormalities
• Food allergies
Unless you use non-GMO fermented soy, stay away from it!.
SO WHATS LEFT?
Aside from these common staples in vegan diets, the other issues are the processed foods.
Understandably, many vegan animal product replacements, have been created so as to provide variety and fill gaps in the market.
Unfortunately these foods are full of all sorts of harmful chemical, are highly processed, often genetically modified, and are usually highly acidic. We must carefully check the labels of these foods before we damage our health.
It may sound like there are no food choices left but in essence we are simply not supposed to be eating all of these chemical laden, hybridized foods, vegan or not.
As a general rule of thumb, if it doesn’t grow out of the ground or fall from a tree, don’t eat it.
Properly prepared soaked nuts, seeds & legumes, sprouted grains, fermented soy and fruits & vegetables can provide the body with everything it needs to run optimally.
There is room for some unhealthy variations, but limit them to no more than 10% of your diet if you want to run clean and efficient.
For some ideas of how to eat well with a vegan or raw food diet, head over to sites such as:
Be sure to properly prepare the foods in the recipes and be mindful of the high sugar recipes, and make sure you chew your greens well!
Remember, it’s not about living to eat, it’s about eating to live!
Article written by Michael-Angelo Drake
Creator of InfinityInspired.com a resource designed to increase productivity, inspire positive change, educate on fitness and nutrition and motivate happiness.