Vegans everywhere it’s ‘Veganuary’ throughout January, and to celebrate your month here are a few facts about how great veganism can be. We know dining out as a vegan has its difficulties, but it’s worth it because it’s actually a diet that can be protein- rich, crammed with nutrients, filling and fueling. Try it for a month for a more muscular, energetic and leaner you.
Vegans everywhere roll their eyes when asked ‘but where do you get your protein?’ So many people assume protein only really comes from meat. But there are some well-developed vegan body builders out there all finding adequate supplies in their diet.
Here are a few great sources of protein for vegans…
Quinoa – the superior cousin of couscous is protein rich. Use it as a rice or couscous substitute, add it to cookies, burgers and muffins and you’ve got a varied diet that supports and builds muscle. You’ll also get your fill of fibre, iron, magnesium and manganese from this food stuff.
Soy Beans, unlike others from the bean family, are a complete protein and can be used as a meat substitute as they come in a chili or after the coagulation of soy milk to make tofu. The firmer the tofu the greater the protein content, so don’t scrimp if you’re cooking a stir fry to help bulk your biceps.
Quorn was first developed to provide a protein alternative to address global food shortages, so as well as eating it to support yourself, you can also be doing your bit for the environment as there are powerful sustainability arguments attached to its production and consumption. But be warned, a number of Quorn products are bound with egg white so choose those labelled suitable for vegans.
Alongside the protein you can get, the best foods for everyone nutritionally come from the vegan camp. Try adding these to your diet…
Goji berries (wolfberries) are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin A, amino acids and over 20 trace minerals and vitamins. Bung them in your smoothies, sprinkle them on your cereal or add them to vegan muffins for a sweet treat.
Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamins B6, C and D alongside potassium and iron which collectively support blood production, heart function and bone health while fighting disease. Trade them for traditional white potatoes if you can. They taste great baked or roasted, make excellent chips and can be found in some cake recipes too.
Kiwis are also nutrient rich. Each of these furry fruits houses enough Vitamin C to last you the day as well as Vitamins A and E, potassium and fibre.
Eat for energy
Sugar and coffee may be natural products but most vegans rely on other food stuffs to give themselves energy before a workout and as part of the recovery process after.
Fruit contains lots of natural sugars alongside many vitamins and fibre too. Generally speaking the riper the fruit the higher the sugar content, so if you need an energy boost enjoy a ripe banana or a juicy pear.
Seeds are magnesium and folate rich and easy to transport for snacking and sprinkling on fruits and salads. When exercising, the magnesium helps the body break down glucose to provide energy while folate helps produce the red blood cells that transport the oxygen around the system while you exercise.
Fibre is also crucial for sustained energy as it moderates the take-up of sugar from the gut to the blood. All raw fruit and vegetables have fibre in them. Kale leaves in a smoothie, spinach in a salad and a bowl of cereal all do the trick. In addition to helping energy levels, fibre also fills you up and is great for the digestive tract.
Satisfying Vegan snacks
And if you’re worried going vegan means going hungry there is no need to panic. The sheer range of high protein and high fibre foods will please your palate and fill your tum without going overboard on the calories. Try these for size…
Nuts have plenty of protein and all the good fats you need to snack secure in the knowledge that you won’t be craving more food before your next mealtime. The rule of thumb is to have enough to fill the palm of your hand and the non-salted, non-roasted varieties are the healthiest.
A Granola bar is another satisfying option filled with seeds, oats, nuts and dried fruit to give energy, fibre and nutrition. Try to find lower sugar alternatives like those sweetened with maple syrup.
And don’t forget good old-fashioned fruit. Again they’re a fibrous and nutritious snack and some skins, like those of an apple contain the appetite suppressant pectin which will keep hunger pangs at bay.
Once you try eating vegan you may be surprised by how healthy, how filling and how tasty the food is. If you can give it a go this month maybe it will affect your diet for the long term. Meat-free Mondays are growing in popularity, maybe Vegan Tuesdays will be next.