Are you flexitarian, reducetarian, vegetarian, or vegan that is looking for some tips to improve your diet so you give your body all the nutrients it needs to be healthy and thrive?
I believe there was a time in history when meat helped us survive. The Omegas from the fishes helped us grow our brains bigger, and hunting an animal by a human was part of a natural life cycle. However, where we took it with the industrial revolution has nothing to do with the natural food cycle anymore. Nowadays more and more people are deciding to go plant-based, but often we forget to replace key nutrients.
What is a plant-based diet? Plant-based foods are foods derived from plants with no animal-source foods or artificial ingredients.
6 Fun Action Steps to Include More Plant-Based Meals
1. Apply One Simple Rule
Eat whole foods, eat locally and seasonally and no(or less) processed and sugary foods. A Vegan Or Vegetarian Diet Does Not Mean Eating Healthily.
The plant-based diet is usually lighter, and the fat decreases however sugar or processed foods intake can still be out of control. The plant-based diet is great to apply when you have a high level of cholesterol.
If it doesn’t feel right, don’t quit immediately all meat and dairy, but have an intention and motivation to reduce. You can also choose to eat plant-based for a week or two, every 2 or 3 months. Perhaps even starting small, replacing one, two, or half of your dishes with plant-based food is great! We don’t need more labels, we need action. Imagine if the entire world would cut down meat consumption just by 20%-50%. It is a lot of animal life that would be saved.
2. Diversify your dish.
Include proportionally fruits, grains, leafy greens, plant-based protein, legumes, vegetables, and nuts. Mix and Match as much as you can.
3. Add Missing Nutrients Through Food or Supplements.
Add high-quality plant-based supplements (without unnecessary glues, binders to hold the tablet together, or colorings, go for the pure active ingredient). I suggest only essential supplements, the most should come from food since nobody wants to pop 10 pills per day.
People that are so-called reducetarians or flexitarians and consume fewer animal-based products should think about this as well. Also, if you are a vegetarian, but you eat dairy products only once per week, it is too little, so you might consider supplementation as well.
Vitamin D is important for healthy bones and teeth and helps maintain healthy muscles, but also affects our heart, brain as well as the immune system. Foods providing the highest amount of vitamin D per gram are from animal sources. Many non-vegetarians are deficient in Vitamin D as well, especially during the cold months or months when you have no sun exposure.
The right dosage for Vitamin D is between 2000IU- 5000IU, if you take the higher doses consider taking it together with vitamin K for better allocation of the Calcium (vitamin D3 improves your calcium absorption, and vitamin K2 allocates where that calcium can be used in the body). Vitamin D is fat soluble, so don’t forget to take it with some fats, either with your meal or with a small spoon of coconut oil or tahini.
Did you know that Vitamin B12 is essential for our nervous system? It is tricky since there are more forms of it. I prefer the natural forms such as methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin, they are less stable so you need to take higher doses and if you are on a strict vegan diet or eating little dairy products – it’s a good idea to get the tests done to make sure you are not vitamin B12 deficient. You can start with a dose of 1000 mcg per day for Methylcobalamin or Adenokobalamyn. (Cyanocobalamin contains a molecule of cyanide, which makes it a more stable form. If you decide to take this one, the dose is around 250mcg a day). If you decide on the natural form, you can also try a supplement combining Adenocobalamin and Methylcobalamin.
Avoid taking Vitamin B12 together with Vitamin C, Copper, Chlorella, Spirulina, Wake, Miso, or Nori!
Omegas help us to have healthy hearts, eyes, and brains. If you eat no or very little fish, consider taking a supplement. For adding plant-based Omega to your include Micro-algae oil in capsules or liquid form. The dose is 350-450 mg per day and you can also add grained chia seeds and linen seeds, a small spoon of each.
Calcium is essential for your bones and teeth. Many people take calcium supplements, but I would suggest adding Calcium-rich foods since it’s many of them. Vegans should consider this part about Calcium the most. However, some vegetarians eat fewer dairy products as well. If you are vegetarian, by eating 2-3 portions of dairy foods you should be covered with a sufficient amount of Calcium in your body. Add foods high in Calcium such as broccoli, kale, edamame, bok choy, tofu, broccoli, spinach, curly kale, fortified soy milk, figs, oranges, and beans. If you suspect not having enough calcium, get the test and consider taking a high-quality supplement.
Iron is an essential mineral. Plant-based sources rich in iron are spinach, legumes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, broccoli, tofu, diet chocolate, sweet potatoes, peas, kale, chard, cereal, dates, figs, prunes, dried apricots, dried peaches, beans, tomatoes, lentils.
Protein is important to keep strength, and good levels of energy in your body, increase muscle mass, can help with weight loss, and more. Consider adding plant-based protein to your daily meals. Plant-based protein is less complete that’s why you need to combine complementary proteins and eat higher amounts.
Plant-based protein is rich in these foods: tofu, spirulina, tempeh, seitan, different beans, legumes, quinoa, hemp seeds, peanut butter, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, broccoli, lentils, beans, etc.
Tip: Include powdered plant-based proteins such as hemp protein powder, pea protein powder, rice protein powder, or pumpkin seed protein.
Recipe: Add a mix of favorite fruits and vegetables (frozen or fresh), almond or rice milk, add the daily dose of protein powder and blend and enjoy.
Iodine’s recommended dose is around 200 UQ daily. Iodine-rich sources are for example seaweed, kelp, and dulse. Some supplements might have much more than that, so be careful not to take too much, take half a tablet of kelp.
To sum up: Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and Omega-3 are more difficult to get from food sources on a plant-based diet, so I would recommend supplementing these three. For the rest of the nutrients, I would suggest eating in the form of food if you can. It is beneficial to even get yourself tested especially for B12, Omega-3, and Vitamin D if you are on a long-term vegan diet. It is highly recommended if you have some health issues.
4. What Are Your Emotional Needs That Are Connected With Eating Meat?
This can be for struggling with weight, eating too many sweets, as well as overeating meat. What are the emotions, feelings, and thought when I crave meat 3 times a day? You can decide to explore the conditioning of your family as well.
5. It’s Not a Race
It’s not about achieving to stop eating meat and labeling yourself as a vegan or vegetarian. Rather try it, test it, feel your body, eat healthily, and supplement well, if it doesn’t work, you don’t feel good, ask for advice or get the tests done. Also knowing why you decided to make the change is helpful. For me, it was mainly ethical reasons, what is being done to the animals, the suffering that is behind the taste, the energy that I am willing to feed myself, and also specimenism.
6. Try to find your favorite meat dish in a plant-based version and cook it with your friends.