The diet is easy. Simply eat plants (Fruit/Berries, Veggies, Beans, Grains, Nuts and Seeds). Eat them in a whole form (minimally processed). The less processed the better.
Vegan Frequently Asked Questions
I recommend a mix of raw and cooked foods. Some vegetables, like tomatoes, for instance have increased levels of nutrients when cooked. Most fruits and vegetables lose some vital nutrients when cooked.
I recommend stopping all animal products — meat, poultry, fish, milk, cream, butter, cheese, and eggs.
Don’t beat yourself up. What you do in the long run is what matters so don’t get overwhelmed. If there is a food that you must hold on to, like grandma’s meatloaf — then simply have a small amount on special occasions. You can do it! No one can eat perfectly, so when you slip up and eat an unhealthy meal don’t fall into “all or nothing thinking” such as “I’ll never be able to eat right.” Simply remember to eat right at your next meal.
When you eat whole plant food, it is low in calories and very filling. So you don’t have to count calories. Use the Traffic light system. Green light means eat them as much as you want. This group includes high water content fruits and vegetables, beans, and starches (corn, rice, potatoes, whole grain breads and pastas, cereals, oats etc). Yellow light foods means to be cautious because they are rich in calories including tofu/tempeh, nuts, avocado, fruit juices and dried fruits. Red light means do not eat them at all including animal products, trans-fats, oils and highly processed foods such as pastries/sweets. (REF: Dr. McDougall’s Color Picture Book: “Food Poisoning”)
Avoid adding oils to your foods. Avoid fried foods. Bake, don’t fry. When you saute veggies, steam them with water. Instead of oily salad dressings simply use vinegar, lemon, teriyaki, or mustard based oil free dressings. Olive oil is still liquid fat and very high in calories. Coconut oil contains mainly saturated fat and is very unhealthy.
Weight loss is slow. The best advice is for patience. However, it is also time to re-check yourself and prioritize your efforts.
- Avoid animal products and meat/cheese substitutes.
- Review your added oil and fat intake — avoid frying foods, adding oil to cooking, oil dressings, and butter/oil in baking. If you are getting heartburn from your foods you are eating too much fat/oil.
- Review The Traffic Lights System (see above) and take a look at your daily intake of rich plant based foods such as tofu, avocados, nuts, and dried fruit. These foods are healthy, but they are rich in calories. When you are trying to lose weight you must be careful with these.
- Review your salt intake. Beware that salt is a flavor enhancer and it causes you to crave more food. Think with potato chips “you can’t just eat one.” The high salt can lead to swelling, tightness in your hands and joints, high blood pressure, and a feeling of fatigue.
- Review sugar. At this point you are probably not eating tons of sweets but are hard to resist and are comforting during stress. They can make you tired after an initial high. Review your intake of sweetened drinks, sodas, and fruit juices. Treat fruit juices and sorbets as a delicacy or dessert. This does NOT include whole fruit. When you have a sweet tooth, then eat grapes, mangos, bananas etc.
Fake meat and cheese may serve as a transition food on your way to a completely plant based diet. Although they may be slightly healthier that their animal alternative, they tend to be unhealthy overall. In general, try to avoid these fake foods. Fake meat and cheeses tend to be salty, high calorie, processed foods with low fiber. Instead of fake burgers, eat bean burgers (typically made with beans, sweet potatoes and rice) or substitute a large Portobello mushroom.
When compared with dairy products, the plant milk options are healthier and a great alternative to help with baking, and eating in cereals. Consider almond, soy, oat, rice, coconut, and cashew milk.
In baking, use applesauce as an oil substitute the ratio is 1:1.
For eggs in baking use ground flax seed (1 TBSP ground flax to 3 TBSP water) and it acts as a binder but leaves brown specks in the product.
Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds: Dr. Fuhrman’s daily recommendation to get nutrition packed foods every day. Notice that greens are first because they are the most packed with nutrients.
Yes. Oxalate containing greens like spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are good but if you over do it. Limit intake of these greens to about 1 cup per week. Instead focus on arugula, kale and collards which have no/low oxalate. Typically vegans/vegetarians have multiple reasons that prevent kidney stones so this shouldn’t be a problem unless you have a genetic risk. Here is a video explaining oxalate.
Ideally eat whole foods. When eating packaged foods, look at the nutrition label for a less than 5:1 Carb to Fiber ratio per serving. This helps to clarify what is high in fiber. Example: In 2 slices of “Wonderbread” there are 27g carbs and 2.7g of fiber. This ratio is 10:1 which is high carb with very little fiber and best avoided if possible. Video Explainer here.
Diet is more important than exercise for weight loss because you can easily / accidentally eat too many calories. Trying to exercise these calories off is much harder than simply avoiding them. Also, exercise should not be an excuse to eat poorly. Remember that there are more dietary concerns than simply weight, including inflammation, dietary toxins and carcinogens to avoid.
I recommend supplements that have been tested by third parties that are proven to contain the advertised substance and to not contain known harmful substances such as lead or mercury. Use supplements that have been cleared by USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) such as NatureMade or Kirkland brand. If choose to buy a supplement — look for a third party verification program.