vegan mofo day 1: 5 things to look out for on a plant-based diet.

ftgu vegan mofo banner 2014It's time for Vegan MoFo* 2014! Are you stoked?! I sure am. I'm thrilled to be contributing all September long to this international blogging event, featuring all things plant-based, ethical and vegan-tastic.

*Don't be offended. MoFo = Month of Food. ;)

In addition to the hundreds of other blogs you can check out via Vegan MoFo, here's a little of what you can expect on the From the Ground Up blog in the next month:

  • Easy vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free recipes - as always - with a fun seasonal theme, using local produce, plant-proteins and different combinations of nuts, seeds and whole grains. 
    Highlights to get excited about: Vegan Purple Cream of Mushroom Soup, Eggplant Roll-ups with Basil Hemp Pesto and Balsamic Shiitake Mushrooms, Egg-free Potato Salad, Squash Tacos, Homemade Za'tar and more... {Want these delivered straight to your inbox on Saturdays? Have a free eBook and jump on the newsletter list - how convenient!} 
  • Reviews of some newly-released vegan cookbooks, along with featured recipes, including Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw and Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero 
  • Ideas for eating vegan while traveling (including the airport!)
  • A sweet giveaway
  • ... and some surprises, just for fun! 

To give a little preface to this month of plant-based deliciousness, let's touch on a few things you should be aware of when eating an exclusively vegan diet. 

I am proponent of this way of eating for many reasons. Environmentally, nutritionally, ethically, economically... there are a lot of reasons I choose to eat this way and a lot of reasons I encourage my clients to work as many veggies into every day as possible. It's absolutely possible to get what you need from a vegan diet - if you do it right and you pay attention to your choices. Isn't that true of most things in life, though? Things are better when we're present and actively involved in the process. Which leads me to 'to look out for' thing #1:

1. Vegan carte blanche does not exist. Just because something says 'vegan' on it - or it's vegan by technicality - doesn't mean it's good for you. Oreos are vegan. Some brands of cheese puffs are vegan (I know. What?!). Margarine and Splenda are also vegan (and if you take nothing else away from this post, get both of those out of your life right now, please). Instead, focus on real foods that also happen to be vegan and consider how nutritious they actually are for you. Veggies? Whole grains? Legumes? Nuts, seeds, fruit? Good options. Isolated proteins, sugars and hydrogenated oils? Not great. Read labels and eat label-less whenever possible. Try this yummy homemade no-processed-ingredients-needed granola. Beats the boxed stuff. ;)

2. Watch your sugar intake. It's actually worse for you to eat sugar and not be eating meat, according to Anne Marie Colbin of the Natural Gourmet Institute. Energetically, sugar is expansive [big, open, flighty energy], whereas animal products are much more contractive [slow, lumbering, lethargic]. Eating too far to one end of the spectrum without the balance of the other can throw your entire system into chaos. Interestingly, too much protein can be harmful to the body, and so can too much sugar. We're better off eating from the mid-range of the energy spectrum... see veggies, whole grains, etc. above. :) Read a little more about the I Quit Sugar experience -- it's been 20+ months for me at this point. #Lifechanging. 

3. Iron. Especially for women between 13-55, getting enough iron is essential. In omnivorous diets, iron tends to come from animal sources. We can get ample iron - especially when we pair it with Vitamin C for better absorption - from plant sources including prunes, raisins, figs, peanuts and peanut butter; black, kidney, lima and pinto beans; lentils, chickpeas and hummus, tofu and tempeh, oats and leafy greens like chard, kale and broccoli. Great Vitamin C sources to pair with include bell peppers, citrus (including lemon), tomatoes and peas. Try this hummus recipe out at home. If you're looking to supplement, I like plant-based food-grade supplements like Floradix. It tastes like drinking blood, but if you can chase it with something yummy, it's a lot more tolerable. ;)

4. Zinc. Another one that we can be low in without a little extra attention to what's coming into our bodies. The above foods are also great sources of zinc, as are almonds, walnuts, pistachios and pecans. Here's a simple way to get in both greens AND walnuts. Yum.

5. Vitamin B. Most animal foods that are touted as being great sources of Vitamin B are great sources less because they're from animals and more so because of the bacteria present in those animals. The bacteria breaks down into Vitamin B precursors during digestion, so we can focus on getting in more of those delightful bugs from plant sources,  including mushrooms and nutritional yeast. That being said, Vitamin B should be supplemented just to ensure you're getting everything you need. Look for a full B-complex (a supplement with B1, B2, B6 and B12); liquid form is often best absorbed into the bloodstream. 

A lot of the work I do with my one-on-one nutrition clients is to find balance in their diets, which includes ensuring these nutrients are well-represented. Have questions about your own food situation? Send me a note. Everyone's needs are a little different, so it can be helpful to see your whole food profile before making recommendations tailored to you. These guidelines above can be a helpful place to start, and when you look at the foods, they're options that can be beneficial for most eaters. Hazelnut Crusted Portobello Mushrooms (with nutritional yeast thrown in for good measure).

What's something new you could work in today?

To your most thriving plant-tastic body! Stay tuned for more Vegan MoFo fun... thanks for stopping by!

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3 comments on “vegan mofo day 1: 5 things to look out for on a plant-based diet.
  1. Ok, I’m already excited for the eggplant rollups, and the za’tar! Happy Vegan MoFo!

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