Starting A Vegan Diet…Any Advice?

I’m going vegan.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time now, but I can first remember considering it when I learned of Daniel’s challenge to the king to eat a vegan diet. I recently thought of it again because of my renewed vigor for the spiritual, enlightenment, and harmony…how could I live in harmony with the world when I ate the life in it, especially such tortured life that goes on in our slaughterhouses? Certainly, I would be much more comfortable hunting my own meat, because I could at least ensure that the animal doesn’t live a life of suffering, and that honor and thanks would be given for the life instead of just an electrical zap to the brain and into a vat of boiling water.

What really pushed me over the edge is a book I bought dealing with the diet of people who have fibromyalgia (FM), a syndrome I developed in the Marine Corps. It doesn’t advocate vegetarianism specifically (it mentions fish and also has recipes with meat), but does speak of vegetarian, vegan, and raw diets tested on FM patients, with the greatest results coming from the vegan and raw diets.

So that’s the back story. I have a few questions for you experienced vegans out there…keep in mind that I will not only be on a vegan diet, but a natural diet, so pre-packaged, over-processed, additive-filled animal-free products are off-limits to me.

1. What are any tricks, tips, etc. that you’ve learned/discovered?

2. Do you grow your own food? Where do you live that you do this, and how hard is it? I usually end up killing plants…I don’t have a green thumb. I have heard of little communes where people come together and have a patch of garden, would this be advocated?

3. I come from a bodybuilding background. It died with my diagnosis, but I like to maintain as much muscle as possible. I have already made the switch to soy protein from whey for my post-workout protein shakes. Are there any other ways to ensure that I am getting complete protein? I do know that grain + legume = complete protein.

4. Do you take any supplements? I hear that vitamin B12 is an animal-only supplement. How do you ensure that your supplements are vegan?

5. What does your daily diet look like?

6. I am not specifically looking to lose weight, but especially considering my concern with muscle mass, how much weight am I anticipating to lose? I exercise several times a week (cardio, weights, yoga).

Thank you in advance. Namaste.
cin2win: I should probably have also stated that I will be eating an extremely varied diet that will be rice in various enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Do I still need to worry about hair loss and whatnot?
Thanks, tmkt, for reminding me of my delicious sushi. 🙁

However, I would prefer specific answers to the questions from everyone who answers. Thanks.
Hypertrophy: It's funny you mentioned that. I am a huge fan of Indian food, especially admiring how tasty it is without adding a bunch of junk. I have some pre-packaged Indian cuisine for convenience…it's kosher, vegan, and more, while also providing whole food with no added crap.

Written By Soniamiller

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • live2run211 March 29, 2009, 7:13 pm

    1. My vegan journey has been a process. One of the biggest things I learned is to read labels carefully. You never know where dairy/milk derivatives show up. The next piece of advice I can give is to not to be discouraged when you first start out. After being veg for so long and then eliminating cheese, I panicked. I was like, “WHAT can I eat?!” Invest in some good vegan cookbooks for ideas or even borrow them from the library. That’s always a good start.

    2. I don’t grow my own food. (I can kill a cactus!) But I do buy it from a small fruit and vegetable mart that buys from local farmers (as opposed to buying from a big grocery chain). It’s nice b/c the fruit and veggies don’t have that “water bath” and there’s still dirt on the produce. I love that.

    3. I’m a total gym rat and wanna-be meat head. (LOL). I’m more muscular as a vegan than when I was as an omni. Post-lifting, I drink about 2 soy protein shakes and I eat a high-protein diet during the day (beans, nuts, Clif Bars for snacks, etc.). I’ve been told that soy protein will not get the same results as whey, but I’m rolling right along. The proof is in the pudding. 🙂 I have no problem building muscle. As a matter of fact, I’m trying to lose some…for you, maintaining should be no problem.

    4. The only pills I take are two vitamin E pills daily. I sometimes take a calcium pill but that’s about all. I drink rice milk and eat cereals that are fortified with B-12. The human body only needs small traces of it to begin with and it would take our bodies years to become deficient in it. Eating veg-friendly foods that have B-12 added should be okay.

    5. I wake up at 5 am and grab a banana. I drink some water and head to the gym. I come home and eat steel cut oats/oatmeal/cold cereal or whathaveyou and sprinkle ground up flax seeds on top (good source of Omega-3 fatty acids). I have a snack around 10 – baby carrots, an apple, veggie slices and hummus, handful of raw cashews (or Mrs. May’s nut snacks…vegan and SO good!). I eat lunch next and I usually have a large salad, veggie soup or leftovers and a piece of fruit. I have another mid-afternoon snack along the same lines as what I listed above. For dinner I might have black bean and brown rice burritos, spaghetti with tons of garlic, soup and salad, baked sweet potato with quinoa and sauteed veggies, stuffed green peppers, seitan loaf and mashed potatoes, etc. etc. I love food and I’ll try anything at least once.

    6. I have been a vegetarian for a few years, but didn’t go vegan until this past January. I had apparently been on a long plateau b/c once I turned vegan, I started losing weight again. I think I’ve lost about 15-20 pounds. I exercise 5-6 days a week – and like you, I do a variety of activities: cardio, weight lifting, yoga/pilates, etc. In January I was probably a 7/8 and now I’m about from a 5/6. It doesn’t sound like much, but none of my clothes fit me. It’s a drastic contrast. Everyone is different…but I do think it’s natural for a vegan to lose some weight. The foods we eat are low-fat, low-cal, high fibre. That is the perfect combination for keeping weight off.
    I hope that helps!

  • Moshe October 28, 2010, 3:10 am

    Also viruses get a mention, but an excellent diet that promotes the immune mechanism will be able to handle these.

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