I’ve been a bit confused by the number of high profile celebrities, such as Jaden Smith, Serena Williams and Anne Hathaway, who developed health issues on a vegan diet. I will admit, you do have to know what you are doing when beginning a vegan diet… but that is not different than Keto, Atkins, Paleo or any other specific diet that is different than what you are accustomed to.
I do recommend that you consult a doctor before you begin eating vegan, to make sure you understand what physical condition you are working with. For example, I knew I was anemic before I became a vegan… so I knew I needed make sure that iron rich foods were are key part of my diet.
So just how do you achieve nutritional success on a vegan diet? I consulted Afya Ibomu, a certified Holistic Nutritionist who has worked who’s VIP clients include Erykah Badu, Common, Dead Prez and Talib Kweli among others.
🌱VSC: Is it possible to get the vitamins and nutrients you need on a vegan diet?
Afya: Yes, definitely… if you are mindful of what you eat, how much you eat and you are open to trying what works for your body. Focusing on balanced meals including green vegetables, cars (whole grains or root vegetables) and protein, you are able to get the nutrients you need.
🌱VSC: What nutritional mistakes do most people make on a vegan diet?
Afya: They don’t have a plan. They just take everything out and don’t add anything back. They say I’m vegan, but don’t know where to start so they end up eating bread, pasta and vegan junk food. They are not clear on meal planning, balanced meals, etc. Then they say the vegan diet didn’t work for them.
🌱VSC: Research is key before beginning a vegan diet. What resources do you recommend for true beginners.
Afya: 1. The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy-it’s my soul food cookbook and guide. I’ve attempted to answer all of the questions I’ve gotten over the past 25+ years. Where to shop? What to buy when you get to the grocery store? Where to eat out anywhere in the world? Where do you get needed nutrients? This book also contains simpler, tasty soul food recipes without white rice, white flour or white sugar. 2. Plant Based on a budget-this is a great resource for being vegan without spending a lot of money.
🌱VSC: What advice would you give to people who say they are always hungry when eating vegan?
Afya: They need to consume more calories. Plan meals making sure they are eating nutrient dense meals full of fat, protein, and carbs. Have snacks on hand if you feel hungry in between meals so you won’t be in a scenario where you can’t find anything to eat. Also drink the amount of water needed per day (half your body weight in ounces). Many times we may think we are hungry, but we are actually thirsty. Drinking water keeps you fuller in between meals and helps you to metabolize nutrients to reduce cravings.
🌱VSC: How important are Superfoods in a vegan diet?
Afya: Very. These foods have a high nutrient content so it’s like you are eating a multivitamin in a real food form. Examples-sea veggies/algae-such as sea moss, spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, herbal teas, etc.
🌱VSC: You are a healthy vegan, but you don’t take supplements. How do you make sure ou are getting the nutrients and vitamins you need?
Afya: It’s not that i don’t ever take supplements, but I don’t rely on them. Processed vitamins and prescription drugs can tax the liver. So taking pills daily is unnecessary unless you have a health issue and are taking them as medicine. I use food. I eat full balanced meals with snacks. I consume Superfoods and I eat fortified foods that have added B12 and calcium like non dairy milk, nutritional yeast and cereal.
🌱VSC: As vegans, what key vitamins and nutrients do we need, and how much?
Afya: Here are the basics vegans need to make sure they get from food first.
B12-we need about 2.4 mag/day. Any excess you take is stored in the liver for 3-5 years. Sources-fortified foods like nondairy milk, nutritional yeast and cereal.
Calcium-1000 mg/day. Sources-green vegetables, soy, beans and peas, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin D-400 IU/daily. Sources-up to 30 minutes of sun on arms and face 2 times a week minimum, mushrooms, and fortified foods. Vitamin D can be stored in body fat for up to 2 months.
A word about protein-As you see, I did not mention protein because it’s super easy to get all the protein you need from a balanced vegan diet. Just make sure you are eating high protein foods with every meal.
(Here is an earlier post I wrote about protein sources)
You can learn more from Afya and find her books about RGBfitclub.COM. You can also follow her on social media at @Afyalbomu or @RBGfitclub.
Feature photo credit: Victoria Shes via Unsplash.com