The Hemp Connection + vitamin D

Checklist for healthy vegetarian eating

Source: Uploaded by user via Monika on Pinterest

I was asked by one of our readers (who happens to also be my dear cousin Susan), if there was anywhere on the Internet, a checklist for vegetarians to follow to be sure their diet is complete. Her pretty exhaustive research found nothing really practical for meal planning.

So in response to that, and knowing that a very high percentage of our own readers are vegetarian, I put something together. Please let us know if it needs refining or detail, so that we can make this as practical as it can possibly be.

There are five main things to attend to. All of them are important, but I ordered them in the way I look at them when planning a vegetarian meal for myself.

1. What is my protein source and how much of it do I need to truly give me enough protein?

Here are your goals based on the number of calories you eat. This will make 30% of your calories protein, which will help to fight insulin resistance.

1200 calories 90 grams
1300 calories 93 grams
1400 calories 95 grams
1500 calories 98 grams
1600 calories 100 grams
1700 calories 103 grams
1800 calories 105 grams
1900 calories 108 grams
2000 calories 110 grams

2. Where is my vitamin D coming from, and have I had enough? You will have to make a very conscious effort to get enough of this vitamin. With regard to whole foods, mushrooms are pretty much the only vitamin D-containing food. With regard to vegan milk alternatives, beware. Most are so low in protein, they are more accurately thought of as juices rather than milks. If you choose to drink them you will need to find other ways to meet criteria nu,ber one above. I blogged about
this in detail not too long ago.

3. Are my fats healthy? If your definition of vegan is primarily not eating meat, and you are eating a lot of packaged, processed, prepared, or baked food…be extra sure you are not inadvertently letting the pro-inflammatory fats sneak in. Remember, they tend to begin with the letters"s" and" c" — soybean, safflower, sunflower, sesame, corn, cottonseed. (Canola is the exception.). Vegans are often blindsided here with salad dressings, baked goods, cookies, and chops. Read your labels--as much as I love Whole Foods, their entire snack food aisle only has a handful of choices you can bring home if you follow this rule! Good fats include olive and organic canola.

4. Am I getting DHA and EPA (marine omega-3)? Yes, flax, green veggies, and other foods contain omega-3, but the conversion rate is not high. You will need to find a marine algae supplement to be sure your intake of these two essential fatty acids is adequate. InCYSTer Chris Marquette found one that is not genetically modified; look for it next time you shop.

5. Am I getting enough fruits and vegetables? Ideally, these should be the vast majority of what you eat. I am surprised at how many vegans I know who do not like vegetables! You should be aiming for 2-3 1/2 cup servings PER MEAL. Beware of juicing; it is a great way to get in large volumes of fruits and vegetables…BUT…the carbohydrate to protein ratio is not going to help reduce insulin resistance. Make a smoothie out of your juice with your favorite protein powder.

Of course, you can take supplements to make up many of these deficiencies…but if your solution in more than one of these categories is a supplement, I challenge you to consider why you do what you do. The true definition of a vegan is someone WHO MEETS THEIR DAILY NUTRITIONAL NEEDS without using animal-based food to make it happen. If all you have done is remove animals from your diet, you are simply a picky or misinformed eater.

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Checklist for healthy vegetarian eating + vitamin D