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Vegan Diet Mistakes: 5 Common Pitfalls When Starting A Purely Plant-Based Diet

vegan

Vegan Diet Mistakes: 5 Common Pitfalls When Starting A Purely Plant-Based Diet

Thinking about adopting a purely plant-based diet?

We get it — after all, it’s been linked with decreased stress and increased happiness.

And who can forget that former president Bill Clinton adopted a meat-free eating plan to improve his heart health? (He underwent quadruple bypass and stent surgeries in 2004 and 2010, USA Today noted.)

But whether you’re doing it for health reasons or ethics (after all, a vegan diet means you aren’t eating any animal products — even fish, dairy and eggs), there are some mistakes a newcomer to the diet might easily make.

We asked two experts in plant-based eating — Amy Lanou, Ph.D., an associate professor of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina Asheville, and Vandana Sheth, R.D., C.D.E, a Los Angeles-based dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — for their advice for people who are just starting out on a vegan diet.

Their biggest tip? PLAN.

“A vegan diet can be healthy and have many positive health benefits, but ensure that it’s well planned and nutritionally balanced,” Sheth, who is a lifelong vegetarian, tells HuffPost. Make sure it “includes whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables and heart-healthy fats.”

Sheth says that a vegan diet can be healthy as long as you get the nutrients your body needs from a variety of plant-based foods.

Other tips from Sheth and Lanou:

– Drink plenty of water, as your body may not be used to getting all that extra fiber from the added fruits and vegetables.

– Let your doctor know about your new diet. Every body is different, and your doctor can help you understand what you might need more or less of, within the scope of a vegan diet. Also, if you’re on medications (like for blood pressure or cholesterol), your dosages may change.

Read on for some common mistakes Sheth and Lanou say new vegans may make — and their tips for avoiding them.

Are you a vegan? What piece of advice would you give to someone who is starting a completely plant-based diet? Tell us in the comments!

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  • 1. Eat The Same Amount As Your Pre-Vegan Days

    Always hungry on your new vegan diet? You may not be eating enough, says Lanou.

    “What people find when they move to a more whole-foods diet built from plant foods, is they have to eat larger quantities of food,” she says. “People find themselves hungry or not feeling full and it’s because the caloric density of the food they’re eating is lower.”

    For example, you can’t expect to go from eating a sandwich that has meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato, to a sandwich with only lettuce and tomato and expect to feel the same amount of fullness, she says. So you “have to eat more food, and that happens anytime you’re taking out, or removing, the calorie dense foods from your diet.”

  • 2. Don’t Seek Out Vitamin B12

    There are a myriad of plant-based options to get most of our body’s essential nutrients — you can get calcium, for example, from leafy green vegetables and tofu instead of milk, and you can get omega-3 fatty acids from chia seeds and flax seeds instead of fish. But a big mistake many new vegans make is not going out of their way to find a plant-based source of vitamin B12, which is vital for proper neurological development and functioning, Sheth says.

    The nutrient “primarily comes from animal products, so make sure you’re getting it either through things like fortified cereals or plant-based beverages fortified with B12,” Sheth adds.

    Lanou explains that because the body is able to store up vitamin B12 for a long period of time, you may not even notice that you’re deficient until a year or more after you’ve started a vegan diet.

    Older people who are going vegan should talk with their doctors about getting enough vitamin B12, Sheth notes, because the “intrinsic factor” in our bodies that help us absorb vitamin B12 diminishes with age.

  • 3. ‘If It’s Vegan, It Must Be Healthy’

    When some people start a vegan diet, they load up on foods like processed veggie burgers, processed veggie cheese, processed veggie hotdogs, and other, well, emprocessed/em veggie-based foods. While this can help you to stick to your meat- and animal-free goals, some of these foods aren’t giving you the nutritional benefits you would get if you actually ate whole, real, non-processed foods, Lanou says.

    “The benefit of going from an omnivorous diet to a vegan diet has to do with what you’re taking out emand/em putting in,” she says. “If you’re putting things in that are too similar, you may not be getting all the benefits you could be getting.”

    Sheth agrees, saying that she discourages her clients switching to a vegan diet only to rely solely on those processed vegan foods.

    “Those are also heavily processed — high in sodium and fat. But you wont want to live off that either — it’s emstill/em a processed food,” she says.

  • 4. Always Eat The Nuts/Salad When You Are Out And About

    Many restaurants and stores now have plenty of options for plant-based eaters — but not all of them. So, it’s wise to carry some delicious, nutritious back-up options if you find yourself in a place where you have nothing to really eat.

    “You can always find a bag of peanuts or cashews somewhere, and that’s not bad food, but you don’t want to live on that,” Lanou says.

    And the same goes for restaurants — don’t feel like you always have to have the salad if you’re out at a place that serves meat-centered dishes, Sheth says.

    “You can customize and say, ‘I’ll have the grains and vegetables that come with the steak,’ but ask if they have tofu or a bowl of chili so you can easily have all the nutrients you need,” she adds.

  • 5. Don’t Listen To Your Body

    Every time you alter your diet pattern, it will take about three weeks for your body to adjust, Sheth says, so don’t be discouraged if you’re feeling strange or still adjusting your eating habits when you first start. And don’t take cravings as a sign that your body “needs” a certain food (a bacon craving doesn’t mean your body needs bacon!) as it could just mean you need to reassess what nutrients you’re consuming.

    “If you’re craving meat or bacon, what have you been eating the last few days? Maybe you’ve just been living off salads, so you may not be getting adequate heart-healthy fats,” Sheth says. “See if you can balance it out. Is it the fat your craving? The salt? Just assess what you’re doing and see if you’re meeting all your nutritional needs.”

    Lanou advises people to listen to their bodies, and adjust accordingly.

    “If your body is telling you it’s hungry, eat. If it’s telling you something doesn’t feel good when it’s in your stomach, buy something else,” she says.

  • You’ve Got Vegan Food’s Benefits

    In this edition of You’ve Got, Kathy Freston tells you all about the health benefits and variations of Vegan food.

    http://spanishchef.net/spanishchefblog/2012/09/29/vegan-diet-mistakes-5-common-pitfalls-when-starting-a-purely-plant-based-diet/

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Oprah Conscious Eating: What I Learned on the 21-Day Cleanse What I Know for Sure

Oprah's vegan cleanse
The amount of time and energy I’ve spent thinking about what my next meal will be is incalculable: what to eat, what I just ate, how many calories or grams of fat it contains, how much exercise I’ll need to do to burn it off, what if I don’t work out, how long will it take to manifest as extra pounds, and on and on. Food has been on my mind a lot the past 30 years.

What I’m only now realizing, though, is that while I think about food so much and have used and abused it as a substitute for contentment, I’ve never been a conscious eater.

Oh, I’ve flirted with the idea of conscious eating—which for me, until recently, meant taking smaller portions, putting down the fork after every bite, not eating to fill emotional voids. But that is just one level of consciousness. Kathy Freston, in her book Quantum Wellness, struck a nerve for me by speaking of a higher level of awareness, what she calls “spiritual integrity.”

The question she raises: How can we say we’re striving to spiritually evolve without a thought about how the food we consume every day got to be on our plates?

I learned a lot about how animals are treated and mistreated before they get to our tables. It is appalling and beneath our humanity to allow the torture of animals for the sake of our gluttony. We’ve neglected basic human decency on such a large scale, and it really does bleed over into every other aspect of life.

So I spent 21 days on a vegan cleanse, as Kathy’s book suggests, removing all sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, and animal products from my diet. The goal is to allow the body to rid itself of toxins, but Kathy’s thoughts on the “health, environmental, and spiritual implications of the foods we choose to eat” got my attention too. (Had I not done the cleanse, I probably wouldn’t have noticed Nicholas Kristof’s July 31 column in The New York Times about the rights of livestock. That, too, hit a nerve; please take the time, if you can, to read it.)

For three weeks, I—a person who seldom eats eggs—obsessed over not being able to have an omelet. I craved cheese daily. But I also had some surprisingly delicious meals without a trace of flesh. Or dairy. I knew it was a new day when I heard myself asking for seconds on a jicama salad.

At the end of the 21 days, I could not declare myself vegan or even vegetarian. But I am, for sure, more mindful of my choices. I’m eating a far more plant-based diet. Less processed food. Thinking about sugar and fat consumption not in terms of calories but in terms of what happens to my well-being.

Kathy cautions that the way to full consciousness isn’t to give up every poor choice at once. She says “Lean into it.” Don’t try to break a lifetime of bad habits overnight. I’m leaning.

From the October 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Related Resources

Keep Reading

Kathy Freston’s Wellness Tips

Oprah Radio host Dr. Mehmet Oz talks with author Kathy Freston about simple ways to become a healthier person.

Week Two: Three Weeks of Meals

Try Kathy Freston’s week two vegan menu plan from her book Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World.

Oprah’s Blog

Read along as Oprah blogs for three weeks about the highs and lows of her experience following The 21-Day Cleanse.

About Kathy Freston

Best-selling author Kathy Freston is the author of Quantum Wellness and is helping Oprah through the 21-day cleanse.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/What-I-Know-for-Sure-Oprahs-Vegan-Cleanse#ixzz259aLbq2o

The Vegan Comes to Main Street Victoria Moran

An Interview with Victoria Moran

Are you annoyed by vegans?  Envious of their great skin?  Or wondering if a vegan diet is right for you? Being a vegan is no longer just for hippies and rich celebrities.  A plant-based diet, and the astounding health benefits that come with it, are within reach. Curious?  Learn more in this exclusive interview with Victoria Moran, best-selling author of the new book, Main Street Vegan.

Julian A. Barnes of Body Local chatted with Victoria Moran—the best-selling author of eleven books, including Creating a Charmed Life and the plant-based weight loss classic, The Love-Powered Diet—about her new bookMain Street Vegan, how she began her journey as a vegan, and her thoughts about why the medical community has been slow to advocate plant-based diets. Below are excerpts from that conversation.

JAB: Hi Victoria. I have heard you say that you are returning to your roots with Main Street Vegan. What have you learned since you wrote your first book, “Compassion the Ultimate Ethic: An Exploration of Veganism,” in 1985?

VM: A lot! I started writing for teen magazines when I was in high school, and after I went vegetarian at nineteen, I wrote for small magazines sold in health food stores. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to do a foreign study and went to the U.K. to study vegans. (Since the vegan movement started there, there were enough vegans in a small enough area to actually study.) That research led to “Compassion the Ultimate Ethic,” the first book on vegan philosophy and practice to come from an actual publishing house.

JAB: I have also heard that many people refer to Main Street Vegan as “The Vegan Bible.” How does that make you feel?

VM: It was quite an honor to have it called that by Big City Vegan and I’m thrilled that other people are saying it too. I want this to be a book people turn to where they can get their questions answered. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal to be vegan, but because of the social connections we make and how people react when we do something different, people think it is. I wanted this book to be a guide that people could lend to their friends or family member to support that person who is embracing this wonderful change.

JAB: So what was your inspiration for the title?

VM: I went to a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) fundraiser in 2010, and although I’ve been in animal rights for all of my adult life, that evening the images in the videos they showed were just so powerful that I wanted to help in a greater way than I ever had before. On the train home that night, it just came to me: write “Main Street Vegan,” short chapters, a recipe after each one, geared to people who have an interest in this way of life but who think it’s just too edgy or fringy, or that it’s a really good idea but not something they themselves could do.

JAB: So how would you define a “Main Street Vegan”?

VM: A Main Street Vegan is, like any other vegan, a total vegetarian, meaning he or she only eats food from the plant kingdom. But this person isn’t a mogul or celebrity with a private chef. A Main Street Vegan is just a regular person who wants to live a better life, enjoy better health, do some good for animals, and live responsibly on the earth.

JAB: What do you think has contributed to the interest in a vegan lifestyle?

VM: I think it’s the result of two movements—animal rights on one hand, health and fitness on the other—growing rapidly on parallel tracks over the last 30 to 40 years. On the health front, there was a renewed interest in vegetarianism beginning in the 1970s and ’80s with books such as “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappé, and “Fit for Life” by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  Meanwhile, ground-breaking research was conducted by doctors like Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., who showed that coronary heart disease could be reversed with a plant-based diet. When I started, being a vegan was very odd. Now most people know at least one vegan and many people have seen former President Bill Clinton’s CNN interview where he discussed why he has adopted a plant-based diet. So, even though only 2.5 percent of Americans are vegan, more people are aware of the benefits of a vegan diet.

JAB: Why has it taken so long for society to understand the benefits of a plant-based diet?

VM: That’s a great question, especially since an article that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association way back in 1960 stated that a pure vegetarian diet could eliminate 90 percent of coronary disease. Part of the reason is economics. Rapid and widespread adoption of a vegan diet could cause economic chaos to the meat, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries. And the standard American diet is standard because we’re used to it; it’s part of our culture. Besides, preventative measures are not sexy; people are always looking for something dramatic and instant like a cure for cancer instead of a cancer prevention solution.

JAB: Are doctors more enlightened about plant-based diets today?

VM: I believe that more are aware than ever before, but most don’t feel sufficient urgency to make these changes themselves or to share the notion of plant-based diet, which is still seen as radical by most Americans, with their patients. And the majority of medical doctors weren’t trained in nutrition so they don’t talk about it—or they pass along the same conventional wisdom that everyone else believes in. Doctors, like the rest of us, have different points of view and they are entitled to their opinions, but you need to shop for a doctor the way you’d shop for a spouse. You don’t marry the first person who takes you to dinner.

JAB: Do you believe that Americans could live longer on a vegan diet? Would this country have more Blue Zones, communities where people live active lives past the age of 100?

VM: That’s exactly right. The only Blue Zone in this country is in Loma Linda, California, which is a largely 7th Day Adventist community. Approximately 50 percent of Adventists are vegetarian and in Loma Linda, where they have their large university and medical school, that percentage is higher. As a tenet of their faith, members consume very little refined or processed food, they don’t smoke or drink, they tend to have stable families and community support, and they’re taught to value exercise. The upshot is an entire city where the health statistics—or rather, the illness statistics—that are common to the rest of America just don’t apply.

JAB: Let’s shift gears for a second. Tell us how a young girl from Kansas City became a vegan.

VM: I was a practicing binge eater for my first 30 years. I took time off to diet but all I really knew how to do was diet and binge eat. I couldn’t go vegan until I had the willingness to treat my binge eating like alcoholism or a drug addiction. I admitted my own inability to deal with the issue, then I turned that over to the care of a Higher Power, and finally I focused on cleaning up my life and being of service. This occurred around the time daughter was born and it was important to me to raise my child vegan. It was hard in those days to stay plant-based at restaurants and while traveling and in social settings, but I looked at this baby and I couldn’t tell her that it was okay to eat eggs and milk when we were out but we didn’t do it at home because it hurt the animals. It either hurt them or it didn’t. I wanted to be ethically consistent.

JAB: Did yoga play a role in your journey?

VM: Absolutely. Someone introduced me to yoga when I was 17 and I fell in love with it right away. I’d always been interested in spirituality, and yoga was the first time I’d ever seen spirituality come with a physical component. I’d separated my “high, lofty spiritual thoughts” from my overeating and the body I disliked, and here was yoga telling me that I was a single entity, and that I was of value on every level. Yoga also introduced me to vegetarianism. In those times, it was just expected that if you did yoga, you’d stop eating meat, fish, and probably eggs. With the explosion in yoga’s popularity, that’s been lost in many of the iterations these days, but it’s still in the tradition.

JAB: I read that you are a “high raw vegan” and that you eat an 85 to 90 percent raw diet in the summer. What’s a typical summer meal for you?

VM: I generally have a smoothie in the morning with almond milk or coconut milk and I put in berries and a banana, 2 teaspoons of ground flax seeds, and a scoop of Vega One All-in-One Shake. Maybe half the time I put in some blackstrap molasses. It tastes like a milkshake and is very sustaining.

JAB: Do you have a favorite juice bar?

VM: Watkins Health Food on 116th Street and Lenox is my standard spot because it’s near my apartment. I also love Organic Avenue and do one of their cleanses at the change of every season.

 

JAB: How about your favorite restaurants in NYC?

VM: Oh, I have so many favorites, including Pure Food and WineCandle Café WestSacred Chow, and Quintessence.

 

JAB: Do you have any practical tips for the average person to make the transition to veganism?

VM: It’s a very wide door. First, eat more colors. Your plate should look like a Christmas tree—mostly green with splashes of other bright colors. Step two is to get to know other people who are doing this. There’s a New York Vegetarian/Vegan Meetup Group with over three thousand members. Then educate yourself. Read books, like Main Street Vegan, and see films such as “Vegucated and “Forks Over Knives.  And attend some of the amazing events throughout NYC such as The Seed: A Vegan Experience. I’ll be speaking there along with a host of other fabulous speakers, including professional triathlete Brendan Brazier and best-selling author Kathy Freston.

http://blog.bodylocal.com/2012/05/31/the-vegan-comes-to-main-street/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Master%20-%20NYC&utm_campaign=Body%20Local%20General%20-%20%28Clean%29

The Environmental Effects of Meatless Mondays

Today’s Lean:  See the Environmental Effects of Meatless Mondays
You may have heard talk about “Meatless Mondays.”  In The Lean, I address how this can affect your health, but if you are wondering what this has to do with the environment (and how just one day a week could help in any way), check this out!If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

●100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
●1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;
●70 million gallons of gas–enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;
●3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
●33 tons of antibiotics.

See, a lean for you is also a lean for the whole world!


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