Frequently asked questions
Since I got so many questions about veganism when I talk to people and this topic comes up I want to share some of the most common issues about veganism and a plant-based diet with you. Bring to mind that these answers are all based on my own experience.
Eating plant based is oh so expensive for me and I need to buy my food in special stores.
Fruits and vegetables are generally more expensive than sweets or salty snacks. That’s true. But that is not a vegan choice but rather a health choice in general. Generally, I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and I love trying new foods. I sometimes buy in special stores (e.g. whole food shops) and wherever possible I buy organic food. This may be connected with eating a plant-based diet as I care more about what I buy and eat than I did before I went vegan but still it is something I would most likely enjoy as well if I wasn’t vegan. I love to buy organic food and I love to buy something different (and eat of course). Of course, you can live without all these “special” food. Pasta, rice, bread and many other staple foods are plant based and keen. If you leave the meat and cheese you can already save a whole lot of money.
Buying organic is too expensive.
If you can’t buy everything organic or if you simply don’t want to spend that much on food I would suggest checking out this page: www.ewg.org/foodnews/. They have two lists called “Dirty dozen (Dirty 12)” and “Clean 15”. Every year they issue these lists regarding the fruits and vegetables which are worth to buy organic because they use a lot of pesticide and the ones who are grown with the least pesticide.
On the other hand, I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, makeup or clubbing to name a few. However, I enjoy spending money on food, restaurants or traveling. In the end, for most people, it is a decision on your preferences. Where do I set my priorities? So many people spent so much money on cigarettes. Do you think they all have the money for that? Realistically seen probably not. But this is their set priority. And they get what they want. I guess what I really try to say is that if you feel like you don’t have the money for good quality food (or as well other things) you may have to consider and rethink what is most important for you and then you can set your priorities, change your habits and invest there.
What about deficiency symptoms?
One point worth considering when changing to a vegan diet is the amount of food you eat. Plant-based food has generally a much smaller density in calories than meat or dairy products. So if you replace the meat with greens you won’t eat enough calories and therefore you run the risk of getting deficiency symptoms. But what can you do about that? The answer is simple but not so simple to implement. You have to eat more! Larger portions, more in between meals, snacks… I am not saying you should replace it with sugar and fat but rather healthy options. This can be tough, especially if you are coming from a restricting diet where you were not used to eating big portions. I would recommend using sometimes a calorie counter (I love cronometer.com) to make sure that you eat enough and to get a feeling for a “normal” portion. It is essential to eat enough and to get in your calories. But to be honest: Isn’t that good news?
* That’s also the reason why the portions of the recipes may be (slightly) bigger than in other recipes.
How do I get my vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is actually the only thing I have to take extra. The reason is that you will tell a lack of vitamin B12 only after years and it can damage your body.
What is 80/10/10 0r hclf(v)?
80/10/10 describes the proportions of the nutrients carbohydrates, protein and fat in this order. So it means that your caloric intake should come at least 80% from carbohydrates and each 10% from protein and fat. This idea comes from Dr. Douglas N. Graham which explains it simply with the human body and how we are designed. For example, we can see so many colours to distinguish ripe from unripe fruit, we have a stomach designed for fast digesting food or our brain only runs on carbohydrates. HCLF(V) stands for high carb low fat (vegan). That means actually more or less the same as 80/10/10. Both approaches are not meant as a nutritional regimen but more as a lifestyle, meaning you can stick to it forever as you get all the nutrients, vitamins etc. you need and you can eat as much as you want. That’s certainly one reason why more and more people change to an alimentation looking pretty much like this. When I started eating a plant based diet I read about hclf and 80/10/10 and quickly changed to this diet as I got so much energy and just felt energetic. I certainly benefited the most changing to 80/10/10. For me, it’s a good reference point but I am for sure not eating every day exactly like that. I just feel most powerful and healthy by eating this way.
But everyone is different. To some people, a plant-based diet may be the best but others certainly need meat.
Have you ever seen a lion to live on kale? No? Me neither. I totally agree that every person has other preferences and slightly different eating approaches. As I answered the question before some people may eat 80/10/10 and others may eat 70/20/10. However, I don’t believe that humans are designed to thrive best on meat.
Why do you eat less salt, sugar or oil?
Salt is very dehydrating for our body and thus not really recommendable. I cut out salt wherever I can and try to replace it with herbs to remain the flavor. For example, when I make pasta I usually don’t use salt as I make kind of a “salty” sauce with it. This is something I noticed when eating out or with friends. I easily find something over salted.
Whenever possible I avoid white sugar as it has no minerals or nutrients at all. Mostly I replace it with maple syrup, agave syrup or coconut sugar which are all healthy options and stuffed with flavor. I made the same experience as with salt. The less you use the less you need. And your taste buds will adjust fast, believe me.
What are you eating with friends or in restaurants?
With friends I always eat vegan, it’s just not an option anymore to eat not vegan for me. All my friends know that I’m vegan and respect that. In the beginning, I was afraid that I would bother them because they have to make something extra for me or that I am a burden for them when they invite me. On the other side, I wouldn’t serve lasagna if my guest doesn’t like that. Would you? However, I fully appreciate it that my friends have regards for me. Whenever possible I try to bring a vegan dish alone, especially when I eat with people I don’t know too good and they are not aware that I am vegan. That works best for me.
When eating out I obviously eat vegan as well. However, I am not strict with eating “low fat” or “no salt”. Generally, I am very happy if they have vegan options which thankfully isn’t a big deal nowadays. Although I know I won’t feel my best after eating a very salty or fatty meal I just stick to the vegan options they have as I am only eating out every now and then. And the less salt and oil the better. But that’s just a plus.When going out somewhere I am not familiar with I usually check TripAdvisor or HappyCow.
But organic meat is ok, isn’t it?
Still, so many people have the idea of cows grazing on lush fields with their baby calf beside. First point: organic farms are only a vanishing little section in the world industry. Second: organic farms are certainly better for the animals though it looks different for our environment. Organic farms need much more land for their animals and the animals itself need tons considerably more resources (water, food). Why? Animals on these farms got to live much longer which is surely better than on standard farms. But still, they need so many resources we could directly use for humans. In the end, you have to ask yourself: Can slaughtering an animal be human?
Isn’t soy destroying the rainforest?
Yes, totally. Not soy for humans but rather soy for animals. We use it to feed the cattle who lives in the cleared rainforest (the second thing we destroy the rainforest for) and for the farm animals around the world. Usually, soy products you buy in stores, which is for humans, is coming from countries nearby or even your own country. So, in the end, humans destroy the biggest part of the rainforest due to the desire for meat.
Why are you still wearing leather shoes?
Occasionally I wear clothes made from animal products just because I think it won’t bring the animal back to live by throwing the items away that still work and do its job. Certainly, I won’t buy new stuff based on animal products.
You alone won’t make any difference!
Yes, of course! You don’t vote for something you are actually convinced about just because you think you won’t make any difference? Your choice matters, your voice matters! I can’t point this out enough. And the best part is you may have an influence on other people as well. Many friends of mine started eating less meat, going vegetarian/vegan or are simply more aware of their food choices and may consider trying a vegan dish. These changes are so huge, I can tell you. And these people may affect others and so on…
I’ve learned that I can’t push my beliefs on others (although it was a hard lesson). Instead, I am lucky about the little achievements like eating in a vegan restaurant or cooking a vegan dish for someone or even if someone is looking at my food and saying that it looks delicious.
The answer to the given statement above is one close to my heart and I hope you are reinforced, inspired and confident to do what you are convinced about.
Can you recommend any movies or books?
See at the end of the Why vegan? page.