Ok, let’s jump right in!! These are the questions I am asked most often since I began living a vegan lifestyle. If there are any questions you have that I haven’t answered, please leave them in the comment section and I will consider answering them in a future blog post! Here we go!!!! (Make sure your read Part 1 first!!!)
1. Where do you get your protein from?
This is ALWAYS the first question I get once someone learns I’m vegan. It’s so funny because it seems that this is the case with every vegan! Don’t feel bad… I didn’t know either, so I did a bit of research while being mindful of using credible sources. Protein is in pretty much everything. Did you know that most vegans actually exceed their daily protein requirements? Research shows that you only need 5-10% of your daily calories to come from protein sources. There are countless fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, pastas, powders, and breads that contain protein. Rice and beans alone is a complete protein! I posted a couple of pictures below to give you a better idea of the different sources it can be obtained from and how much they contain.
2. Where do you get your calcium?
This is also another common one… I mean it’s been drilled in us since birth that you get your calcium from milk and dairy products, duh!!! But what if I told you that milk and dairy products actually cause your body to lose calcium?! I’m not going to go into details about the horrors of milk consumption but if you like you can check them out here. Don’t worry, it isn’t scary! It’s actually a kid’s video! Some of my personal favorite sources of calcium that I consume quite often are plant milks (Almond, mostly), kale and collard greens (which are grown in my garden), broccoli, bok choy, and avocado.
3. No meat or dairy? What do you eat, lettuce??
* Rolls eyes* This one is pretty annoying… I mean really, did you come up with that one all by yourself, lol? My favorite is when I’m out with friends and they tell the waitress that I’ll have the bowl of lettuce! (Shout out to Rossi, lol) I promise you, a vegan is not deprived! I feel like my food options have quadrupled! I’ll show some of my favorite go to dishes in the next post. I eat good!!!
4. What about your B-12, where do you get that? (Longest answer!!)
Before I answer, here is a definition of B12 from Health101.org incase you were wondering!
“B12 is a water-soluble B vitamin that’s vital for carbohydrate metabolism and energy production, also playing an important role in the formation of healthy red blood cells, and in all neurological functions. B12 is made by a microbe – a bacteria; it is produced by microorganisms. B12 is the only nutrient that contains a trace element – cobalt – which gives it its chemical name of cobalamin. We require cobalt, although it is utilized only in the form of B12. And if you want to get technical, B12 is not really a vitamin; we just call it that for the sake of convenience; this is why from this point forward you’ll see me calling it just “B12” (same for “vitamin” D). And by-the-way, since your body needs cobalt to make B12, if there’s not enough in the foods you eat because of the way they are grown, your body won’t be able to make enough B12, and this is one of the contributing factors to why raw foodists have B12 deficiencies.”
If you want to go more in depth, they have a great article all about it here!
Back to the answer! I found myself in a conversation not to long ago about this very subject with a person I will refer to as Her. There were 3 others in the convo (Who just added to the comments made by Person 3 and myself) but Person 3, who is also vegan, had the most relevant additions to our convo and will be mentioned in the recap of said conversation…
Her: Just a word to all vegans: B12.
Me: Very true but many people don’t get enough b12, not just vegans 🙂 We all must keep an eye on it!
Person 3: B12 is made from naturally occuring bacterias in the soil. Over time, the quality of the soil has gotten worse because of farming and it’s use of pesticides. Because of this we wash our produce thouroughly and the result is we dont get enough B12. Animals are also deficient in this vitamin and are injected with B12 supplements. A lot of vegans get their B12 from nutritional yeast and other sources.
Her: What is nutritional yeast?
Person 3: A product that is very “cheesy” in flavor and is used in many recipes that would normally use cheese.
*Side Note* I like to use nutritional Yeast to make “Nacho Cheese” or what I like to call Not Yo Cheeze, lol. I also use it in vegan macaroni dishes! Wikipedia defines nutritional yeast as follows:
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold commercially as a food product. It is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. It is popular with vegans and vegetarians and may be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a condiment.
While it contains trace amounts of several vitamins and minerals, it is only a significant source of some B-complex vitamins. Sometimes nutritional yeast is fortified with Vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese. It can be used in many recipes in place of cheese, such as in mashed and fried potatoes, and atop scrambled tofu. *End Side Note*
Her: I think that we are supposed to eat meat rather than nutritional yeast, and I am more informed now, because it has low B12 quantities and is mostly produced in an industrialized way… I don’t think cavemen took their B12 by making nutritional yeast.
Me: (After chuckling internally) Or instead of eating the b12 injected meat, buy the pill, the injection, or the sublingual liquid at your local pharmacy and take it yourself to make sure you are getting adequate amounts! 🙂
Person 3: Also, Cavemen had better soil quality and didn’t wash their plants as much as we do, so they were getting enough B12 from the soil. Now, the quality of the soil is worse so we often need a supplement!
Her: We didn’t go through years of evolution to get B12 from pills…
Me: (Still amused at all the shade she was unnecessarily throwing) I was just stating other alternatives to get the vitamin outside of meat, nutritional yeast, or any other fortified source for those who may not eat it. We get it how we choose to get it and some may prefer pill form. To further clarify my point, as P3 stated, the meat you eat is supplemented… It’s not naturally occurring! I mainly pointed out that you could take the supplement yourself instead of getting it from the already supplemented sources that were mentioned. One way or another, you’re taking a pill/supplement, whether it be yourself or through a 3rd party…
*Her went on with her defensive answers that ultimately put words in everyone else mouths. Gist, she was saying that our diets shouldn’t be rich in supplements (No one said that it should…) because that’s not good for you and that milk (Cow or plant), dairy, and meat are all supplemented (contradicting her argument) and that’s how we should get the vitamins…
Me: (Ends the entire conversation with this) But the plant milks, meat, and dairy are all fortified with the same supplements! What’s the difference between taking them in pill, injection, or liquid form as opposed to eating or drinking the SUPPLEMENTED food or drink, lol? That’s all I, and everyone else, was getting at. I don’t believe one is worse than the other. We went from getting B12 from different sources to a diet based in supplements… I don’t think anyone said to base your diet on supplements, not sure where that came from… As a vegan, you really have no reason to supplement anything if you’re eating a diet rich in a variety of organic whole foods.
Moral of this quick and random story… If you’re going to call out vegans, be ready to defend your point with factual information that makes sense and definitely don’t get defensive while contradicting your own argument! Was that mean? lol. I hope not.
In conclusion, we get our B12 from either supplements in pill, injection, or sublingual form or from fortified foods you can purchase at your local health food store which include plant milks, nutritional yeast, and breakfast cereals!
5. Isn’t it expensive?
It depends on the person… It can get expensive but it can also be very affordable. Having a plan will absolutely keep you on the more affordable side of the scale. I don’t find that it is to expensive in my case. Organic produce and gluten free alternatives were already on my shopping list. Now, I just buy more of it. It ends up canceling itself out though because I’m no longer purchasing as much meat and dairy (Hubby still eats them) as I once did. I just replace what would have been my portion with vegan options. You will, however, spend a bit more if you try stocking up on all things vegan at once. I just add the vegan pantry staples little by little as I research recipes that I add into my meal plans. Planning out what you are going to eat, especially if it’s whole foods heavy, will help you spend your coins wisely. You’ll buy exactly what you need for the week and it will prevent you from buying more than you can eat in that time frame. Nothing is worse than seeing your beautiful organic fruits and veggies spoil before you could devour them! Two words. Meal. Prep. If you always have something ready to eat you will never be hungry! If I’m going to be out and I’m not sure if where I end up will be friendly to my diet, I’ll grab one of the prepped meals and some fresh fruit to bring with me just in case. I also prepare them and haul them in a cooler when I’m headed out of town!!
4. Isn’t it tough?
Yes and no. Yes because change isn’t easy. Especially big change. To completely cut out staple foods in my former diet and our cultures diet is huge! I literally went cold turkey right before dinner. I had chicken that I planned to cook thawing out in the kitchen! I ended up just eating brown rice, beans, avocado, and tomatoes (Huge fave!) and I started researching vegan meals to prepare for the next week while I enjoyed my first. Going to a restaurant now is an adventure! Almost EVERYTHING on EVERY menu contains either meat OR dairy or meat AND dairy! It’s crazy!!! It’s like a food monopoly!! It doesn’t make eating out impossible though. This is where the no comes in.
I’ve learned that most restaurants have vegan menus and if not you can email or call ahead and the staff or the chef is usually good about telling you what to say to the waiter to make certain items on the menu vegan. Order this with out this and this and add this… I had one chef pretty much write out how to make the majority of his menu vegan and email it to me! Google is also your bestie! Just type in “Vegan *Your restaurant of choice* Menu.” Some amazing vegan out there or the actual restaurant decided to make your life easier and posted what to order online!! I promise you won’t be deprived especially when you plan ahead! There will inevitably be a place or two that have super slim pickings (Miller’s Ale House is one of them), if anything. In these cases, I’ll order like 2 servings of sweet potato or regular fries and chow down on my mono meal or I’ll have something small and eat something else later!
Youtube is a God send! Recipes upon delicious recipes! My palette is more well traveled now than it has ever been! Some of my favorite vegan food channels are HotForFood, EdgyVeg, & FabLunch.
My biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you eat ENOUGH! That will absolutely make your transition easier and keep you from relapsing and choosing animal products. I’ll list some of my favorite recipes and how I eat throughout the day in the next post!
5. How am I supposed to eat meat around you now??
Ummm… just do it! Like I said in my previous post. I’m not here to judge you for your choice to eat meat. I won’t be staring you down with contempt, lol. Enjoy your food. I do however, hope my veganism peaks your interest and you do a little research and possibly consider a change… but I’m not going to force it on you. Just don’t tell me you thought about becoming vegan once upon a time if you don’t want me to go in! Cause I will.
6. What if you were stranded on a deserted island… would you eat fish/animals then?
I’m pretty sure this would never happen so why should I bother answering? lol. However, there’s probably a plethora of edible plants, fruits, coconuts, and seaweed on islands… I should be good!
Whelp, that concludes my FAQ! I’ve had several more questions asked but I don’t want to make this post too long! Plus, it gives me a reason to write another post on my life as a vegan! Stay tuned for part 3 of this series and as always, be well!!!
Love, Nevelyn Pearl