Beans & Greens
For the past few months I’ve been working out with vegan body builder, Derek Tresize. It’s been pretty awesome! As any good fitness trainer will do, he instructed me to keep a food journal which I highly recommend if you want to become conscious of your actual consumption. But beyond journaling, what Derek really emphasizes is “Beans & Greens!!!” He’s gotten this drilled into my head, which is awesome because I now instinctively make sure to include beans and greens in my daily diet. The benefits go beyond building muscle and increasing energy.
When asked about my vegan diet, people will frequently ask where I get my protein. Others more nutritionally savvy, will ask about calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. The answer… Beans & Greens. I became a vegan mainly for health reasons and have remained a vegan for health and ethical reasons. Since I want to be a healthy vegan, I needed to know where to get all my vital nutrients. Here’s what I’ve found. Without meat, dairy & eggs, we need to make sure we get enough of the following:
Protein: Beans, Nuts, Tofu, Seeds
Calcium: Green Leafy Vegetables, Beans, Nuts. Also fortified tofu, soy milk and cereals.
Iron (vitamin C will help with absorption so consider citrus): Green Leafy Vegetables, Beans.
Zinc: Nuts, Seeds, Grains, Green Leafy Vegetables (TIP: I keep raw pumpkin seeds in my car for snacking while running errands)
Vitamin B12: While there have been mixed reports as to whether it is necessary for vegans, I take a raw B12 supplement to be safe. You can also get B12 using Nutritional Yeast (I use on rice, potatoes, popcorn and in other recipes, it’s delicious and nutritious). B12 is also in Tempeh, Miso and Seaweed.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Flax Seeds, Walnuts, Chia Seeds. (TIP: I use flax seeds in my green drinks) also (TIP: I top my morning oatmeal with walnuts and chia seeds which also supply calcium, protein and anti-oxidants). Omega 3’s, done!
As for Vitamin D…. get outside. 10-15 minutes of sunshine on your face and arms 3 times a week will get you plenty of vitamin D. It can also be found in fortified juices and soy milk.
I’ve only been a vegan for about a year, but so far I can say mentally and spiritually, I feel better about my self, my consumption. Physically, I can report more energy and one huge welcome surprise was that my inflammation is down. I have had back and joint problems for years. My pain has decreased and my mobility has increased dramatically. I credit this to giving up dairy. So far, so good.
As I continue to learn more and more everyday I will happily share my findings. I hope you’ll find some value in this. And of course, I am always open to hearing and learning from you as well. Good luck on your path. The journey continues…