Thursday September 20th, 2018
Switching to a Vegan Diet – Your Questions & My Answers (Part 1)

vegane Ernährung

This blogpost is also available in German / auf Deutsch

A few weeks ago I started a huge wave. Quite naively, in Instagram Stories I ask the question: what keeps you from eating and living more vegan?

I thought I would receive 5-10 answers, but I had over a hundred questions and other types of feedback from you in my Instagram mailbox! Since I did not want to and could not answer everyone individually, I have prepared this blogpost with all of my answers. Find part 2 here!

A few background infos about me:

I’ve already talked about my reasons for eating vegan here, and shared some tips on eating out vegan here. I’ve been eating vegan for over 7 years now, started when it was not a trend, lived in a small town, and had no friends who lived vegan. And then to top it all off I have a Serbian family. Nevertheless, changing to a vegan diet worked out very well and it was even fun despite the challenges!

More quick info:

Before I start with my answers, I wanted to remind you: reading and informing yourself is the key. When I became vegan all those years ago, having just read a lot of books and peer review studies helped me make the change with conviction no matter what others said because I knew what I was doing. If you do not feel like reading then you should at least watch some informative videos or documentaries or listen to podcasts. Do not get all of your information from bloggers like me. That shouldn’t sound negative. What I mean is that I am not a nutritionist, but I share my experiences and inspiration, and talk about my favorite research sources. I always think scientific thinking is important. You do not have to go to university for that. This means collecting information from different sources to get a comprehensive picture of a topic, including all facets of the topic, fact-based thinking, being critical, etc. My recommendations for books, docs, and YouTube channels with experts can be found below!

As I said, I am not a nutrition expert and am not giving any health tips! I am just trying to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge, to give you inspiration and to take away “the fear” of trying it out. This blog post is not a substitute for medical advice or medical treatment. I have researched all statements to the best of my knowledge, and I give the source, which you should read yourself, for all of my recommendations. This post is also not sponsored / paid and the blog post does not contain any affiliate links. If you want to support my work, follow me on Instagram or YouTube!

On the subject of veganism:

My goal here is not to try to convince you all to be vegan right now! How about a vegan day? Or vegan on the weekend? Or vegan during the week? You will see, with the right recipes and ingredients your kitchen will be so much more colorful and diverse!!!

So I asked on Instagram what’s stopping you from eating vegan food (today I focus only on the topic of nutrition, not the entire, vegan lifestyle). These were your answers and my feedback:

 

First big topic: proteins
  • “Need eggs for protein when I do a lot of sports.”
  • “Since I’m still young and growing up my parents say I have to have some form of protein”
  • “Not enough choice, and I need a lot of variety, for example proteins.”

Proteins are very important for our body. But according to all the studies, experts, and books that I’ve read (All sources below), it is almost impossible to have a protein deficiency with a healthy calorie intake. Actually, all plant foods contain proteins (source), but always in different proportions. Even broccoli has proteins. And, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, you also do not need to follow a complex combination of vegan proteins as long as you eat a balanced and varied diet (source). More about variety in part 2!

No idea why we are all so obsessed with animal proteins. Maybe from the big meat and dairy lobbies, who for years wanted to make it clear to us through advertising and paid studies that we can only “survive” with animal proteins? More about such studies and lobbying in the documentary “What The Health”, in the book “Whole” or in the book “The China Study”.

I’ve learned that a balanced diet and enough calories are important. Simply leaving out meat, milk and eggs to eat vegan, without adjusting the rest of your diet is of course not conducive and does not lead to good results. I heard from a few people that they lost too much weight in the transition to eat vegan. This is probably due to the reduced calorie intake. Caloric dense foods such as beans, peanuts, peas, lentils, soy products, e.g. Organic tofu or tempeh, seitan and quinoa are very good sources of protein for vegans. It is best to eat these several times a day, according to Vegan Health (source).

On the other hand, animal proteins are suspected of increasing the risk of developing diseases, such as Heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and kidney stones. See also the books How Not To Die and The China Study.

Here’s a sample calculation from The Vegetarian Resource Group on vegan proteins:

Screenshot by The Vegetarian Ressource Group

They do not even list all the foods that you should eat every day (fruits, greens, etc.). A diet consisting only of fruits, sugar, fats and alcohol of course does not provide enough protein. Therefore, as always, a balanced and healthy diet is important. And never before have I met a vegan who lives only on bananas, sweets, margarine and beer. You will find more about a balanced diet and what that means for me in Part 2!

PS: one more thing – by the way, the vegan Patrik Baboumian received the title “The Strongest Man in Germany 2011”.

Second even BIGGER topic: Cheese!

Here are your answers, so you can see how big this topic is for some of you:

  • “I like to eat cheese, but I’m partially vegan.”
  • “Cheese”
  • “Cheese”
  • “Actually only cheese”
  • “Intuitive need for cheese z.T. the flavor habituation of milk “
  • “Cheese”
  • “I try to cook vegan more and more often. But I love cheese. Do you have any tips to replace it? “
  • “There are still some foods like cheese and eggs that I can not quit eating.”
  • “I love cheese – and I am not a fan of vegan ‘fake’ products they are full of artificial ingredients.”
  • “I love cheese too much and it’s hard to find vegan food in restaurants”
  • “Cheese definitely, I would not consider living a life without it, even if I am ashamed of it”
  • “Cheese, I know, there is a great alternative, but …”
  • “Whats a good substitute for parmesan?”

 

Ooooh, I understand you! Cheese is, sorry for the choice of words, F*****G AMAZING. BUT – why your inability to quit cheese is not necessarily the taste. Some studies have shown that cheese is actually addictive – supposedly almost as strong as heroin due to casomorphine (source, source). No wonder it’s so hard for many. Here I can recommend a challenge (just to get used to it) while “veganizing” cheesy favorite recipes. For this I can WARMLY recommend the book “The Uncheese Cookbook” by Joanne Stepaniak (either search online, or support your local bookstore and order the book there!). This book has a vegan recipe for almost every cheesy dish, and is actually super easy and mostly cheap to cook (for example, with white beans, tahini or roux as a base) with a few special products that you will only use in moderation.

What I’ve already successfully “veganized”:

  • Mac’n Cheese
  • lasagne
  • Pizza
  • Parmesan
  • Creamy sauces
  • Baked vegetables
  • Baked Camembert (jepp, homemade! No substitute product)
  • Goat’s cheese (ditto)
  • And much more!

 

Here’s a recipe for a simple cheese sauce and here’s a recipe from me for a simple cashew sauce. Both are also meant as a base, which you can modify as you like. Parmesan I make with ground almonds, nutritional yeast and salt! Other bloggers, such as Valerie with her mozzarella recipe, also show how varied the vegan cuisine can be! Let me know in the comments which recipes you would like to veganise, then I will write you some tips!

The third VERY big topic: Family / friends / partner are against a vegan diet
  • “I think it’s hard at family reunions etc and when you go out to eat with someone”
  • “At the moment, I still live at home, so you just adapt to the rest. Therefore “only” vegetarian. “
  • “Family in the way, as well as not eating vegan restaurants and such”
  • “Being in a relationship with a meat eater”
  • “For me it’s family and friends, not all friends, but most”
  • “My parents, I am 15 and I live at home”
  • “Always an extra sausage with friends and family”
  • “Still living at home and my family is not interested in it. But we eat together. “
  • “I find it difficult when out and when invited to family / friends”
  • “It’s hard for my family to understand why I do not want to eat meat.”
  • “Difficult with family and friends and tempting when eating out”
  • “Eating out or even with the family, they find vegetarian difficult”

 

Here’s just my tip: Be patient, lead with a positive example and always be prepared to answer questions about why you are doing it. This means:

Give them time, they have known a specific diet for years, they only mean well, and / or they just have their own views. In the family, do not take it too much to heart if you do not get enough support. Sometimes it just takes time.
Lead by example: Do not engage in heated arguments about the topic, do not turn the subject of “vegan diet” into a negative one by pointing your finger at others, criticizing others, etc. Always be calm, conscious and positive, always explain why you, personally, follow a vegan diet and why it makes you happiest. I know that this is sometimes easier said than done. But just take a deep breath and then just talk and explain facts. Leading by example is really my personal recommendation!
Another tip: Be informed – The more you read and know, the easier it is to respond to criticism (of course, as always, calm and considerate).

So my tip: If you are criticized or get “stupid” comments, do not meet them negatively or “aggressively”, but have well informed answers ready. Research and read a lot. If you do not have the answers to criticisms or questions yourself, then find them! Education always strengthens! Below, I list a few sources that have helped me a lot. Of course, take the list only as inspiration, not as the ultimate research list!

With friends and partners I’m just stricter and think that if they make fun of me after I have explained and continue to make life difficult for me just because I’m vegan, or just don’t accept me because I don’t eating meat or milk, then we have to have a serious conversation…with friends and my partner, I would just want more support when it comes to such a positive lifestyle change. But that’s just my personal opinion. Luckily I always had that with my boyfriend and I am very grateful about that!

Back to family: I’ve often cooked myself or brought vegan dishes to events and parties. Since many people found these super delicious, it became more and more common for others to cook something vegan and there was always a small alternative that was vegan. But if you are reluctant to cook and help in the kitchen, it will be a little harder. But cooking is so much fun!! You know what you are putting into your food and you can be creative and experiment a lot !!!

Serbian family: I come from a family that cooks VERY meaty. Of course, I was not taken seriously at first, and my diet is still considered “unhealthy” for the most part. Since it was not just a phase with me, I always had solid information and they just see how healthy I am, after a while they accepted it. But I also have a lot of luck with my family, because they support me in a special way, are open to dialogue, like to cook an extra dish for me and also like to try vegetarian dishes, e.g. my granny! And my parents are vegetarian now. I am very grateful for that and I know that not everybody has that!

 

My parents are “Dairy and Meat Farmers”:

Colin Campbell, author of “The China Study,” grew up on a Dairy Farms and talks about how he was in conflict, between his upbringing, the tradition in his family, but also his research and the results that he simply could not ignore. Super exciting, just read his book!

 

Deficiencies???
  • “Fear of nutrient deficiency and too much restriction on eating (eating out or with friends)”
  • “Family sees vegan diet as unhealthy, does not want to burden other people”
  • “How do you avoid a lack of iron and B12?”
  • “Do you take supplements? B12? “

 

Just a little thought game: Has the whole vitamin pill and supplement industry really grown so big only because of the 1.6% of Germany that are vegan? I do not think so … no matter how you feed yourself, I have heard from all different types of people of a lack of vitamins. This should only be thought-games for you, so that you may question the whole topic of “nutritional deficiency in vegans”. But I can not give any medical advice, etc. Therefore, read the new book by Niko Rittenau “Vegan cliché Adé” with all the necessary information on the subject! Order it in your local bookstore!

Yes, I personally take supplements, mainly B12 and Vitamin D with Vitamin K2. And if you say, that’s unnatural then I ask yourself: Where does the B12 come from in the meat? This is fed to cows and chickens in the form of supplements (source) – mind game number 2! Personally, I prefer to take high quality B12 directly rather than indirectly through meat, which also comes with other “side effects” that are described in the books “The China Study” or in “How Not To Die”. Incidentally, the majority of people with B12 deficiency are meat eaters, according to Thomas Klein, author of “Common Deficiency Vitamin B12” (source). If you are very interested in this topic, feel free to visit Veganhealth.org, where you will find the most important information about all the important nutrients.

How do I answer stupid comments regarding my vegan diet?

By just reading a lot of books on the subject, I always give facts as an answer. I like to talk about the topic if it is a constructive discussion. But if the other person has no interest in a real exchange, and does not really want to hear my point of view, then I do not get into the subject anymore and just explain that since I eat vegan I personally just feel much healthier and fitter, less sick and at the same time I am doing something good for the environment and animals.

Since this has become a much too long blog post, I will continue it in a second part. There I will I focus on balanced nutrition, vegan friends, social situations (work & Co.), travel, costs, time and habits. For some points I want to write separate blog posts about because I just have so much to say and share, but adding it all here would make the post blow up 🙂 Let me know, if you already have questions here!

Sources, Book, Documentary- and Video tips:

Some books about the subject that I can recommend (these include numerous studies on the topics I mentioned above, order them from your local bookstore):

  • The China Study, T. Colin Campbell
  • Whole, T. Colin Campbell
  • Skinny Bitch, Rory Freedman
  • How Not To Die, Michael Greger M.D.
  • Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Vegan Klischee Ade, Niko Rittenau
  • The UnCheese Cookbook, Joanne Stepaniak (cookbook)
  • The Vegetarian Kitchen, Melissa Bushby (total recommendation, cookbook)
  • Ohsheglows Cookbook, Angela Liddon (cookbook)
  • Vegan Yum Yum, Lauren Ulm (cookbook)

 

documentaries:

  • What the Health – Netflix or via Vimeo
  • Forks over Knives – Netflix or Online
  • Earthlings – also on Vimeo

 

YouTube Channels:

  • Niko Rittenau – scientifically founded information (German)
  • Vegan ist Ungesund – also scientifically sound, but very entertaining in comedy format (German)
  • Unnatural Vegan – in English, also questions vegan nutrition trends etc.
  • Ellen Fisher – super inspiring family with delicious recipes

 

Blogs that post super simple and quick recipes:

 

Add your reading and video tips! Part 2 is now online!! PS: This post is not sponsored / paid and the blog post does not contain any affiliate links. If you want to support my work, follow me on Instagram or YouTube!

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Ich stimme zu.

9 Comments

  • Hallo Lila
    Danke für diesen ausführlichen, super interessanten Beitrag, dass du die Antworten so ernstnimmst und ausführlich Stellung beziehst!
    LG Jasmin

  • Aline says:

    Hallo liebe Mia,
    vielen Dank für diesen tollen Beitrag! Ich versuche auch immer mehr vegan zu kochen, aber falle immer wieder in meine alten Gewohnheiten zurück, auch vor allem wenn es um Käse geht. Ich wusste nicht, dass er tatsächlich abhängig macht!! Und dass es “uncheese”-Bücher gibt 🙂
    Toll auch, dass du berichtest, wie du es selbst geschafft hast, andere von deiner Ernährungsweise zu überzeugen und das tust du hier auf diesem Blog ja auch.
    Gab es für dich damals einen ausschlaggebenden Punkt, an dem du gesagt hast, dass du ab sofort nur noch vegan isst oder hast du dich mehr oder weniger reingetastet?
    Und von welcher Firma verwendest du deine Nahrungsergänzungsmittel?
    Wie sieht es mit Eisen aus? (ich bin noch nicht so tief in der Materie drin, aber lese auch gerade “How not to die”)
    Also mach weiter so und noch mal vielen Dank! Ich bin gespannt und freue mich auf Teil 2 🙂
    Aline

    • Mia says:

      Das Uncheese Buch wird dir dann auf jeden Fall gefallen! Es ist nicht “hübsch”, das hatte ich vergessen, dazuzusagen, aber die Rezepte sind top!
      Ich habe da mal einen Blogpost dazu verfasst, wie und warum ich vegan geworden bin, zu allererst war es die Milch, die ich weggelassen habe und das ziemlich radikal: https://heylilahey.com/why-i-started-eating-vegan/
      Ich kaufe meine z.B. von Sunday Natural sowie aus einem Health Shop in den USA. Eisen supplementiere ich nicht gezielt, hin und wieder vielleicht mit Nahrungsergänzung Womans One (aus den USA), gezielt supplementiere ich Vitamin D mit K2 sowie B12. B12 weil ich es direkt aufnehmen möchte und nicht indirekt über Tierprodukte und Vitamin D, weil fast alle Vitamin D Mangel in Deutschland haben, gerade im Winter.

    • Mia says:

      Oh und danke dir für deinen lieben Kommentar! Cool, dass du dich da herantastest und bereits viel ausprobierst, das ist doch prima!!!!

  • Paula says:

    Ich schau mir super gerne die Videos von kudokii bei YouTube an 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey Mia, zwar lebe ich selber schon seit einiger Zeit überwiegend vegan, aber ich wollte dir trotzdem nochmal dafür danken, dass du dir die Mühe machst, das Thema so anschaulich und trotzdem fundiert aufzubereiten 🙂