Dietitian Answers Commonly Asked Questions About Going Vegan

published on July 2, 2020

– You technically can eat
a little bit more food

on a vegan diet without
gaining much weight

We're eating more food, more volume,

but taking in less calories

Hey, my name is Delilah and
I'm a registered dietician

Today I'm gonna answer some
commonly asked questions

about vegan nutrition and
share with you some tips

on how you can go vegan the healthy way

We have eight essential amino acids

And these are essential because
our body cannot make them

Therefore we have to get them
from the foods that we eat

If a protein food has all
eight essential amino acids,

it's considered complete

So these are typically animal-based foods

like chicken and eggs

Plant-based foods do
not necessarily always

have all eight essential amino acids

and so they're labeled as incomplete

Just because they're incomplete
does not make them at all

inferior in any way

All plant-based foods
have all eight amino acids

in varying amounts

There's no need to worry about
combining rice with beans

to make sure that you're getting the right

amino acid combination at each meal,

as long as you're eating a wide variety

of different protein sources

So that means beans,
lentils, whole grains,

nuts, seeds, soy, tofu and tempeh

You will be sure to hit
all eight amino acids

throughout the day

Carbs are very healthy and
nutritious for our bodies

and they come in many different forms

The quality of carbs is very important

You want to get whole grain carbs

And try your best to either avoid

or limit the refined carbs

Refined carbs are not
very helpful to our body

because one, they're
missing out on the fiber

And they're missing out on B vitamins

Whereas whole grains, such as brown rice,

wheat bread, quinoa, et cetera,

those have fiber, which
is good for your gut

and your heart and they
have the B vitamins

which are really good for our energy

So that's not to say that you can never

have white bread or white pasta,

it's totally fine to still
have those foods in your diet

But you wanna make sure
that you're prioritizing

the fiber-rich carbs in your whole grains

So it is absolutely still
possible to get enough iron

even if all of your iron
sources are plant-based

Your vegan sources of
iron are particularly

your dark green leafy vegetables, so kale,

collards, spinach, those
are very rich in iron

But also beans and lentils as well

And you want to pair those
with sources of vitamin C

So for example, when
you're cooking your beans,

cook them in a tomato sauce

A really popular example is chana masala,

or the next time you
make your kale smoothie,

put some strawberries in there
because strawberries are also

a really great source of vitamin C

A lot of us have been taught
to turn to dairy for calcium

because we've been told
that the calcium in dairy

will help strengthen our bones

and make sure we don't get osteoporosis,

but actually research has suggested

that people who drink more
milk have more bone fractures

So the high protein content in milk,

it creates an acidic
environment in our body

And our body has to bring
our insides back to normal

So in order to do that, it needs a buffer

And it gets that buffer from calcium

And where is all the
calcium stored in our body?

In our bones

So our body resorts to taking
the calcium from our bones

to rebalance our body and over time

when that keeps happening,
a person can begin

to have weak and brittle bones,

which can lead to osteoporosis

It's very possible to get enough
calcium on the vegan diet

Plants give you just enough calcium,

particularly the dark
green leafy vegetables,

such as kale, collards,
broccoli, spinach, et cetera

Also fortified nondairy milks

They're typically fortified with calcium

so those are also a
really fabulous source

I feel that soy is absolutely
a safe and nutritious food

and there's no need to be afraid of it

The biggest concern about
soy is the estrogen content

The type of estrogen in soy
is called phytoestrogen,

meaning it mimics real estrogen

but it's not actually real estrogen

There is real estrogen in other foods,

such as milk, dairy and eggs

That's really important to remember

Because that phytoestrogen,
it can attach to those

estrogen receptors in our body,

and it can actually
displace the real estrogen

that's in other foods

And that's important
because it helps regulate

how much estrogen we're
actually taking in

So when it comes to soy, you
want to try to prioritize

the more wholesome forms,
edamame and tempeh,

because the soy is still
in the whole bean form

Edamame are just straight up soybeans,

and tempeh is a fermented soybean cake

Tofu's a great option as well

It's a little bit more processed

And with the imitation
meats, try to limit them

to be just occasional
additions to your meal,

because they tend to be
much higher in sodium

and potentially preservatives as well

If you're transitioning
to a plant-based diet,

just know that it is totally normal

for you to want to eat more food

These new foods you're eating
have less calories in them

so you're gonna need to eat more food

to feel completely satisfied

100 calories worth of cheese
is much less in volume

than 100 calories worth of
spinach or mushrooms or eggplant

So because of that,
you technically can eat

a little bit more food on a vegan diet

without gaining much wait

We're eating more food, more volume,

but taking in less calories

When you're on a vegan diet,

I do recommend supplementing with B12

So B12 is really crucial to our health

because we need it for
our red blood cells,

we need it for our circulatory health,

and even our brain cognition

So B12 is actually a bacteria in the soil,

and most Americans today get
it from eating animal foods

Now it's not actually in
the animal flesh itself,

but when animals eat their
food, there's dirt on it,

so that's actually how
they're getting their B12

If you're doing the daily supplement,

make sure you're getting
it in the methylated form

And that's because it is much easier

for your body to absorb

Two other options are nutritional yeast,

or you can drink nondairy milks
that are fortified with B12

Another major concern for
when people are going vegan

is that they're letting go of fish,

and fish is a major
source of omega-threes

So good news, there are
plenty of plant-based sources

of vegan omega-threes

To break it down, there are actually

three types of omega-threes

We have our ALA, EPA and DHA

ALA is a form of omega-threes that's found

in your plant-based foods

So your walnuts, chia,
hemp, and flax seeds

And DHA, EPA, those are found
in your animal-based foods,

so your salmon, sardines, et cetera

Now our body converts ALA to DHA

As long as you regularly
consume omega-three rich foods,

you are going to be okay

Keep in mind that fish,
they're getting that DHA

from eating the algae

So it's the algae that
has the omega-three in it,

not the fish itself

So DHA is a plant-based food

Now if you just feel like eating
those foods is not enough,

you can take an algae-based supplement

So vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin

And that's because our body

actually creates it from sunlight

But, depending on where you live,

during certain times of the year,

you probably won't get
exposed to that much sun

So you might wanna consider
vitamin D supplements

Other ways to get vitamin
D when you are vegan

are nondairy milks that are
fortified with vitamin D

And this advice doesn't
apply just to vegans only

If you live in an area where
there is not much sunlight,

whether you're vegan or not,
definitely should consider

vitamin D supplementation

It is absolutely possible
to have a healthy pregnancy

on a vegan diet

You definitely do have
to be very intentional

with the foods that you choose to eat

When a person is pregnant,
they have increased needs

of lots of different nutrients

With any pregnancy, even vegan or not,

you still need to work
closely with both your doctor

and your dietician to make
sure that you are getting

the nutrients that you need

So although at first it can
seem a little bit challenging

and tricky to transition
to a plant-based diet,

just keep in mind that
there are so many benefits

You'll be getting more
fiber, more antioxidants,

less saturated fat, so
you're decreasing your risk

of developing heart
disease, type two diabetes,

high blood pressure

There are also even
other benefits as well,

such as animal welfare,
the health of the planet

Even human welfare as well

If you are new to the plant-based diet

and you're really concerned
about your health,

you can absolutely go to your
doctor and request some labs

and you can also work with a dietician

That can help put you more at ease

to make sure that your diet
is supporting your body

Going vegan does not
have to happen overnight

Try to start with just one thing per day

So if that just means
changing your regular milk

to nondairy milk, that's
a step right there

Or maybe just focus on
one meal out of the day

Try your best to make every
lunch a plant-based lunch

But keep in mind that this is your journey

and it's gonna happen at your own pace

Do what works best for you
and just be kind to yourself

(light music)

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