/ Healthy Menu Options, Nutrition

Nourish to Flourish: A Vegan’s Perspective

by: Shelly Beck, RD

Usually the first question regarding going plant-based is along the lines of “Where do you get all your protein?” According to the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, the average American adult Male gets more than the recommended amount of protein needed, while the average American Female is right on target, with both groups exceeding their recommended meat/protein intake. [1] It is completely possible to get the necessary protein and beyond with a plant-based diet, with many other benefits to add to it. To name a few: lower cholesterol – which leads to greater heart health, an increase in fiber intake along with an increase of many beneficial vitamins and minerals, and a more environmentally sustainable diet. Not to mention, you will have the opportunity to try several different fun and delicious recipes.

As far as concerns go – I know what you are thinking. “Shelly, I cannot live without cheese!” This is just an example, whether it is dairy, meat, or another non-vegan item. Do you have to go completely vegan to enjoy all those benefits listed above? Absolutely not! Even by making small changes, substitutions and swaps for plant-based items, you can start to see the health benefits!  

Let me just give you an example of how to incorporate small changes in one day: 

Breakfast: Switch out the scrambled eggs for a chickpea scramble, and be sure to load it up with lots of other veggies. Think peppers, onions, mushrooms and spinach!  

Lunch: Instead of the standard turkey sandwich, opt for a veggie wrap, and be sure to smear hummus on there! 

Snack: You can still have that trail mix! Simply grab one that has dark chocolate, rather than milk chocolate. 

Dinner: Instead of a huge plate of spaghetti and meatballs, look up recipes for a red sauce primavera pasta (it can still be a huge plate!) with maybe just one meatball for now or maybe hold the cheese every once in a while.

Dessert: If you are feeling adventurous, you can save the water from the can of chickpeas you used for breakfast – which is called aquafaba, and use it to replace eggs in a batch of brownies. Admittedly, this is pretty expert level vegan tricks I’m sharing with you. 

Photo by: Sweet Simple Vegan

Obviously this is just one example of a day, but there are plenty of ways to make smaller or bigger changes to make your diet more plant-based! Don’t let it be a pain either, it can be fun too. Finding new recipes and different cooking methods can become a really enjoyable experience. After all, releasing endorphins IS healthy. 

These days, there are so many new products like plant milks, plant-based “meat” substitutes (Beyond, Impossible, Gardein, Morningstar, etc.), and even dairy free ice cream (a personal favorite of mine – many major brands are experimenting with recipes, too!). There are several options to give plant-based options a try, while enjoying your healthy heart, a body full of fiber, an abundance of vitamins and minerals, and the knowledge/comfort that you are eating a little bit more sustainably. 

And of course – if you are a company with vegan products, feel free to reach out to us to become Vegan Verified! 

DISCLAIMER: You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional (preferably a dietitian)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hello! My name is Shelly Beck, I am a registered dietitian, OnSite manager at MenuTrinfo and a proud vegan! By that statement alone, it is obvious that food and the nutrition it provides is something I am very passionate about, so I’m very excited to share a bit about it with you all! As a dietitian, I am passionate about nutrition, intuitive eating, and creating ways of finding joy in food and its preparation.

I chose dietetics because of a very intense interest in the diet culture-inspired arena of nutrition. Not an ideal start, but then one of my very favorite professors, Dr. Mary Wilson at Eastern Kentucky University, had us read an intuitive eating and Health At Every Size (HAES) aligned book that changed my life – it gave me a love for food. It also gave me the passion to show people that you can live to eat rather than just eating to live. 

I became vegan because of a documentary that inspired me to choose to learn more about plant based life, as I carried on the lifestyle. It has remained very important to me to not make veganism a restrictive way of eating, but rather a way of finding new, exciting and beneficial ways of food. 

SOURCES: [1] https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf – Page 100