Category Archives: Nutrition

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 27 – Eat Less, Move More

Understanding Weight Loss: Calorie Reduction and Calorie Expenditure 

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feI don’t see veganism as a diet.

If we don’t have time to be sick, we have to make time to be healthy.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 27 is about weight loss and its relationship to veganism. While it is not a topic I am particularly interested in, I get that it is important. Personally, I am overweight and should pay my weight more attention. Yet, I have lost on a mostly wholefood plant-based diet without even really trying; no idea how much, but I did have to buy new pants for work that were a couple of sizes smaller, because the trousers I had were starting to look clownish – not the professional look I am going for!

Colleen emphasises on Day 27 that going vegan does not in and of itself mean anything in relation to weight loss. As she points out, there are “a million ways to be vegan”. It still matters what you eat and how much you exercise.

Choose to get your fat and calories from wholefood nutrient rich sources rather than high calorie nutrient 'empty' ones.
Choose to get your fat and calories from wholefood nutrient rich sources rather than high calorie nutrient ’empty’ ones.

The reason people like myself lose weight on a (mostly) wholefood, plant-based diet is because we are now eating less fat or fewer calories, For the most part we eat a lot more vegetables and whole grains which just happen to have fewer calories than things like cheese, eggs, meat etc. However, if a plant-based diet is high in fat from nuts, avocados, oil, deep-fried or calorie dense processed food don’t expect to be lean. While it is infinity better to get your calories from nuts rather than deep-fried chips from a nutrient point-of-view, if you are playing the numbers game, calories are still calories.

Colleen’s advice, which I agree with, is to get your calories from the best nutrition rich roods you can. Plants have more nutrients and fibre than commercial potato chips, plus they also come with additives and the types of fats that cause damage.  As well, you usually have to eat a lot more of some foods to get the same number of calories. For example, 100 grams of avocado has 160 calories, 10 grams of fat and 6 grams of fibre. Meanwhile, 100 grams of salted potato chips has 542 calories, 36 grams of fat and 4.4 grams of fibre. Your average avocado weights about 170 grams, and your average bags of chips is around 150 grams.

Day 27 also reminds me that I really do need to get more physical activity into my day. I am very sedentary, so in my off hours I should be out there getting some exercise. A sedentary lifestyle like mine is not a good long-term health plan, no matter how great my diet is.

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 22 – Eat Plants, Eat Fibre

Keep Things Moving With Fibre: Only in Plants Never in Animals

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feFibre exists only in plants. There is no fibre in meat, dairy or eggs. Zero. Zilch. Zip.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

If you are eating a wholefood, plant-based diet you are probably eating around the recommended daily intake of fibre (about 30 grams) or more. I think there is nobody who disagrees that a fibre rich diet is essential for long term good health, yet surprisingly few people appear to get even the recommended daily amount.

There isn’t really a lot to say about Day 22. We need a fibre-rich diet to maintain good health. I eat a reasonably varied wholefood (most of the time) plant-based, vegan diet. and this gives me more daily fibre than I need. (I know I checked on Cronometer.)

Oatmeal and blueberries are high in soluble fibre.
Oatmeal and blueberries are high in soluble fibre.

I have definitely noticed a difference since moving to a completely plant-based diet. And that is all I am going to say about it. My grandmother would be relieved to know that at least some of her pointless Victorian-era etiquette lecturing on lady-like behaviour somehow managed to stick.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 22 – Eat Plants, Eat Fibre

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 21 – Take Vitamin B 12

B12: A Bacteria-Based (Not Meat Based) Vitamin

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fe“If those on plant-based diets don’t get enough vitamin B12, levels of an artery-damaging compound called homocysteine can start to rise in the bloodstream and may counteract some of the benefits of healthy eating.”

Dr Michael Greger M.D., The Vitamin Everyone on a Plant-Based Diet Needs,

Dr Greger has a lot to say about how essential it is to get enough B12. The good doctor is such an enthusiastic cheerleader for the plant-based lifestyle that when he starts talking about a potential problem with the diet it is worth taking notes. Colleen is equally serious about the need to supplement with B12.

What is B12, why does it matter, how much do we need, and where does it come from?

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 21 – Take Vitamin B 12

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 20 – Get Omega 3 from Plants

Skipping the Middle Fish: Getting our Omega 3s Directly From the Source

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feWe can stop going through the fish to get to the nutrients that the fish get from eating plants.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

You would have to be living under a rock these days not to have heard about omega-3 and that we are supposed to be eating it. But what exactly is it, why do we need it, and where does it come from?

According to Wikipedia, omega-3s are “polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) with a double bond (C=C) at the third carbon atom from the end of the carbon chain,” and there are three types involved in human physiology: ALA, EPA, DHA.  While the Wikipedia article is falling over itself to promote animal consumption, the information supporting Colleen’s contention that you don’t need to consume fish to get omega-3 requirements is in there, it just requires a less superficial reading.  Some examples are given below.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 20 – Get Omega 3 from Plants

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 19 – Absorb Iron

Strong Like Popeye: Increase Your Iron Absorption 

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feStudies show little difference in the incidence of iron deficiency between vegans and non-vegetarians in developed countries. In fact, the amount of iron in vegan diets tends to be higher than or at least equal to, that in non-vegetarian diets. Why? Because almost everything that crosses a vegan’s lips contains iron: beans, nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables and fruit.

There are two different types of iron in food: heme iron and nonheme iron, Heme iron is found in animal products; nonheme iron is found in both plants foods and animal products. After being absorbed and reaching our cells for building hemoglobin and other purposes, our body doesn’t care whether the iron was originally heme or nonheme. So, when people assert that our bodies need heme iron from meat. It’s simply not true. The body needs to absorb iron, but it ultimately doesn’t matter where it originated.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

A cup of cooked lentils has 30 grams of iron.
A cup of cooked lentils has 30 grams of iron.

It is not even the amount of iron we ingest, but our ability to absorb and use it. The key to the bioavailability of iron is Vitamin C, so eat food rich in Vitamin C at the same time as foods rich in iron. An adult menstruating woman like myself requires 18 milligrams of iron per day. Plenty of plant foods are high in iron.

Iron Deficiency Led Me to Veganism

My doctor rang me the night of my blood test. “Let me put it this way,” she explained, “your haemoglobin is a few points away from you in a coma, I don’t know how you are still standing.”  I didn’t really know either. I was beyond exhausted and barely functioning. It was all I could do to get through a day at work. For more than six weeks straight I had been bleeding heavily and constantly. People were worriedly inquiring about my health.  Apparently, I looked grey.  In the past week, I had started to  feel disassociated from my body; like I was moving through a thick fog. Sometimes I could feel the pulse in my neck racing so fast, I started worrying I might be due for a heart attack.  Yet, it took my boss kicking me out the door one afternoon and ordering me to the doctor’s office to finally take action.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 19 – Absorb Iron

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 18 – Don’t Worry About the Protein

Putting to Rest the Great Protein Myth

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feUnfortunately we are never taught that broccoli, oats and carrots have protein, but just think for a moment about the largest, strongest, land animals on the planet: giraffes, elephants, bulls and bison. They’re all vegetarian animals, and they get plenty of protein – from the plants.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge


What do giraffes eat?

Ah, protein! It seems laughable now, but I too had protein on my list of things to worry about when I went vegan. However Dr Gregor soon put me right with this short, very useful video.  We are asking the wrong question. It is not, where do I get my protein? The much more important question should be, where do I get my fibre?

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 18 – Don’t Worry About the Protein

It had to happen eventually …

Vegan diets a "terrible idea"? Not for us.
Vegan diets a “terrible idea”? Not for us.

Someone I know sent me an article from the Waikato Times – Five Reasons Why Vegan Diets are Terrible  (dated September).

Knowing that the next time I see them in person I’m going to get a somewhat smug, “Did you read that article I sent you?”, I would like to be able to counterpoint this dick move with a little self-righteous smugness of my own.

Not only did I read your article, I also traced it back to its source, and then some.

Continue reading It had to happen eventually …

Reading the Fine Print

When I made the decision to go vegan, I decided that I would aim to make it a healthy change.  If I was going to put in the effort to change habits I might as well replace my old ‘bad’ habits with healthy new ones.  I don’t want to replace one unhealthy lifestyle that includes the use of animals as products with another unhealthy vegan one.

Along with working to live a cruelty-free life for the sake of my fellow earthlings, I want to live a healthy life – for me.  I have started with my diet.

Continue reading Reading the Fine Print