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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Going Veggie - Part 2

Ok, at the end of yesterday’s post, I left off with some FAQs about veganism. Here they are along with my responses:

What do vegans eat?
Lots of things! They eat grains (like oats, barley, brown and wild rice, whole wheat and rye…), fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and legumes, potatoes, vegetable oils, soy milk and yogurt made from soy milk vs. cow’s milk, and plant-based proteins like veggie burgers and tofu. There’s a lot more to eat on a vegan diet then you might think. Here’s a sample 1 day menu:

2 whole grain oat waffles (or oatmeal) topped with mixed berries, sprinkled with chopped walnuts
A glass of vanilla soy milk

A veggie burger on a toasted whole grain bun dressed with spicy brown mustard, red onions, sliced tomato, and crisp Romaine
A side of baby greens drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
A tangerine
Water or brewed green or black tea

2 dried figs
1/4 cup almonds

Grilled red and green peppers, onions, and mushrooms, with a side of brown rice and a side of black beans topped with fresh guacamole
A small bowl of red grapes
Water or brewed green or black tea

A smoothie made with frozen blueberries, vanilla soy milk, and flax oil

How do vegans get protein or calcium?
Protein is found in soy milk, nuts, beans, tofu and veggie burgers, and there is also some protein in whole grains.

Non-dairy sources of calcium include tofu, dark greens, sesame seeds, figs, almonds, broccoli, and calcium fortified soy milk (a stir-fry with broccoli, tofu and sesame seeds with brown rice and other colorful veggies is another great vegan dinner).

Isn’t it dangerous to not eat any animal foods?
No. There are no foods we need, only nutrients, and every nutrient the human body needs can be obtained through a vegan diet (if you do it right). Some vegans aren't careful, and don't eat the foods that provide key nutrients. When that happens, they may get sick. But, this can just as easily happen to an omnivore. Many omnivores never touch a fruit or veggie and only eat refined grains - while they may be fine with protein, calcium or iron, there's a whole host of nutrients they're missing out on. In fact, the latest Dietary Guidelines found that most American adults are short on calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E! In many cases, vegans meet their nutrient needs much better than omnivores do.

Ok, I guess that's it for the day. If you're interested in learning more about going veg, I recommend the following resources:
-The book Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Milina, M.S., R.D. (you can get this on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.)
-The American Dietetic Association's position paper on vegetarian nutrition
-The Vegetarian Resource Group
-Vegetarian Times magazine
-Veg News magazine

As I mentioned yesterday, only 1-2% of the U.S. population follows a vegan diet, but regardless of whether you're a vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian or omnivore, the most important thing is that you're meeting your body's nutrient needs and feeling great. Have a wonderful day!

photo courtesy of National Cancer Institute
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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