Going from Veganish to Vegan

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These are the non-vegan foods that I still eat:

- Cheese
- Products with dairy or egg ingredients such as non-vegan baked goods

The latter is easy for me to give up. Vegan cookies are delicious. Logistics can come into play though (traveling, hungry, low on options). That's usually the issue. I'm working on being better prepared and avoiding that situation.

Cheese is addictive. I struggle with it because of the taste and its convenient nutritional value. I'm not a fan of fake meat and fake cheese. I want to swap it out for vegan foods with similar nutritional value (peanut sauce? peanut butter?).

I want to make sure I'm getting enough B vitamins, iron, and calcium. Last time I tried going completely vegan, I felt weak and low on nutrients after a few weeks. It wasn't the best time to be doing it, though. I guess that this time, if I feel that way, I should ask my doctor to run tests to find out what nutrient I might be lacking. And find healthy vegan ways to correct that.

I'm interested to hear from people who went from the "just cheese and cookies" type of vegetarian to full vegan. Have you felt better since? How much?

Positive stories would be great, and would help with motivation. I know cheese is scary, as is the dairy industry. I don't really want to be eating that stuff. I just need to get there.
 

PTree15

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Cheese was the last thing I finally gave up when I went vegan. I loved it, but when I gave it up, it was for the animals, and for me, that was the motivation. I just couldn't abide contributing anymore to the horror that is the dairy industry.

I waited a long time to try vegan cheese because I knew it would be disappointing. In the interim, I found that olives (like a good tapenade), hummus (which I'd eaten for decades anyway) and avocados helped ease the cheese cravings. I occasionally treat myself to some vegan cheeses when I get that craving, and really, the only thing I miss from my cheese days is a really good and greasy cheesy pizza with veggies. I've taken to making flatbread ones, though, with pesto and olives and veggies. They are delicious, and sometimes, I'll put vegan cheese on them, but many times, I don't. It's really a mindset. Anything that comes from an animal is just not food to me.
 

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I feel the same way. I'm grossed out by animal products. I just need to change a few habits. Olives are a great suggestion! Thank you!
 
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silva

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This is the most comprehensive, and easy, way to get a days nutrition-

I used to love cheese- I would say it was my favorite food from childhood on. I carried a picture of a calf and it's mom when I would get the craving.
I think it really set in for me when I rescued a cat with her older kittens. I found she was pregnant already, and her two kittens were still only half grown. When she gave birth, I'd see her nurse and it just finally connected with why taking another mammals milk is just so horrific. Everything from thinking about how they're raped, caged, only to have their baby, the only reason for them to make milk, is stolen.

There is no reason to think you need to directly sub nutrients. We get all the protein, calcium and vitamins from eating a wide variety of foods. A meal of beans and greens more than makes up for what you'd get out of cheese, but is without all the saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

I do really like the vegan cheeses- Daiya blocks, Follow your Heart parm and some slices. I'm also a big fan of olives.Olives were really my go to before I started to like the vegan cheese.
Nutritional yeast , raw cashews, lemon juice, miso, dijon mustard and some vegan mayo do the trick for me when it comes to sauces
 

Lou

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I never felt any different after becoming vegan. Not better. Not worse.
I attribute this to the fact that it took me 10 years to transition. So maybe any changes were so gradual I couldn't notice.

The one thing I tell novice vegans who worry about nutrients is to start using Cronometer. Getting blood tests are a good idea but it gets expensive and some of the blood tests are not covered by health insurance.

Iron is the easiest blood test to come by. Just go to your blood bank and give blood. They test for iron first thing. And if for some reason you can't do this, there are home kits that cost less than $10. BTW, I'm almost always borderline anemic. And my diet contains plenty of iron. Of course, vegans only get non-heme iron which is not as absorbable. There are also other factors that contribute to anemia (age, sex, general health). So just checking chronometer may not be sufficient for iron - but with testing so easily available - it's easy to keep track of. You can also take a multivitamin that contains iron. But I don't recommend an iron supplement. Iron is not water-soluble and can be toxic. your body will excrete excess iron in your stools. if you notice that your stools have turned black and are hard as rocks - you are getting too much iron.

there are factors involved with calcium absorption so Cronometer can't tell you the whole story. There are blood tests for calcium as well, and if you are really worried about it you can ask your doctor to order one. Calcium supplements should only be taken if your doctor recommends them because you can get too much calcium, too.

The B's are all water-soluble. So if you worry about them you can just take a supplement. I'm from the school of thought that a multi is a cheap form of insurance. And I've been taking a cheap one for quite a while. Deva tiny tablets cost like 5¢ a day and contain 100% of every B vitamin.

You said, "Last time I tried going completely vegan, I felt weak and low on nutrients after a few weeks." Most new vegans make the same mistake: they don't eat enough calories. Calories = energy. if you feel weak - chances are you are not getting enough calories. Also if you are not getting enough calories - dollars to donuts - you are not getting enough of something else, too. Oh, and vitamin deficiencies take weeks to take effect.

A side benefit of using a Cronometer is that it is a good way to not just monitor your nutrients but to also modify your diet. For instance if you see that most days you don't get enough ____ you can look for foods that contain a lot of ____ and include them in your meal plans more often.
 

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Hi NYC Gardener,

Among those following a whole foods vegan diet, simple lack of calories is a potential cause of fatigue. Whole plant foods (beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) tend to be low in calories, especially compared to high-fat cheeses:

100 grams of jack cheese contains 373 calories:

100 grams of boiled lentils contains 116 calories:

100 grams of boiled rice contains 130 calories:

1 large peach contains 68 calories:

100 grams of boiled spinach contains 23 calories:


An easy way to boost calorie intake (and thereby increase energy) is to eat more nuts, nut butters, and seeds (as you suggested in your first post). Nuts and seeds contain 650 to 1000 calories per cup, depending on type of nut/seed.

An easy way to boost calcium intake is by consuming calcium-fortified orange juice or calcium-fortified plant milks. In the United States, even regular supermarkets sell calcium-fortified orange juice.
.
 

silva

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I absolutely love vegan processed foods--but--I have followed a wfpb diet, and THAT is so far superior.
People are so obessed about whether or not they're getting proper nutrition with a vegan diet not so much compared to perfect nutrition, but compared to the nutrition and feelings they've had from eating they typical omnivorous diet.
Realize just how many vitamins and minerals the average persons diet lacks. They get protein--far far too much. Potassium-most are dangerously low. Other vitamins and minerals are formulated from animals which aren't really the best kind
B vitamins- vegans need B12, which will be pee'd out if we get too much. Take too much of the other B's (which are plentiful on a varied diet) and they interact with each other,.

Nutritionfacts.org
How Not to Die-- Dr Michael Greger
How Not to Diet (not really a weight loss book as much as general diet)

The book Whole by Colin Campbell
those have been the best for understanding how nutrition works for us, and why the simplest diet is in fact the best
 

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Thank you all for the resources and suggestions!

I'm treating myself to really good vegan food as I make the switch. I'll keep posting pictures in the What Are You Eating threads.
 
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We also loved cheese, in fact, pasta was just an excuse to pile on the parmesan.

We do eat a small amount of Earth Balance shreds, mozz on pizza and cheddar on tacos, burritos etc.

When we first switched I made my own parmesan from cashews etc and now we just use lots of nutritional yeast, aka nooch, on our pasta and don't worry about the cashews.

The other option which has helped me a lot is drizzling tahini on some foods. I do not need the extra calories so I try to limit it but it is amazing on noodle dishes, hearty soups, some pastas and there are great recipes out there for salad and stir fry dressings made with tahini. It gives you the mouth feel of cheese and the bite also. Simnett Nutrition has a ton of great sauce recipes on his YouTube channel with tahini.

Wishing you all the best with your switch, Emma JC

VEGAN PARMESAN

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, raw almonds, raw cashews or nut of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, garlic powder and onion powder
  • sprinkle of cayenne (optional)
ASSEMBLY

  • Pretty simple really - place all ingredients in a bullet blender and blend. Stopping occasionally to shake the container to move any unblended nuts to the bottom. (Use the flatter blades if you have more than one)
  • Do not overblend or you will turn it into nut butter, pulsing may be a better option than running it outright. The end product should resemble bread crumbs.
  • Sprinkle on as you would parmesan cheeze.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container, in the fridge, and use on your next pasta meal.
 
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On cravings, I did some online research once and it seems that cravings (of animal products or in general) are probably mostly psychnological rather than a nutrition issue, as many of you may already know. So you can probably get past them.

I kept my notes and (I may have posted this before) but I am going to copy and paste dump this here incase it's useful for anyone.

It's mostly not specific to cheese.

Not all these sources agree with each other. I don't have any agenda here, just sharing what I found.

To be honest this might not be that relevant to the OP, and it's only loosely related to the thread, but hope it's useful to someone.

_______________________________________________________________

Creatine and carnitine comes fully formed in meat, but vegans have to produce these, therefore could be a reason for cravings as vegans struggle to produce these if they are used to an animal-based diet as an “acquired dependency” This is from a Dr Michael Klaper video.I've deleted the linke to stop is showing a preview of the video here, but let me know if you need it.

What Meat Cravings (all, actually) REALLY Mean & 20 Recipes to Get In That Iron ~ The Vegan Zebra is a good article.

Are food cravings the body's way of telling us that we are lacking certain nutrients? suggests scientific research shows that food cravings are not linked to nutrition.

Related articles: 5 Reasons Why Some Vegans Go Back To Eating Meat | LIVEKINDLY “Often your body gives you cravings as a sign it’s needing a certain nutrient, so try eating something high in iron, fat or sodium” [cravings = nutrition seems to probably be only true a minority of the time, but maybe sometimes it is.]

Get enough calories.You might not crave certain foods as much if you're full.

Do Food Cravings Mean You're Nutrient Deficient? “Your hankering for certain foods is more likely caused by a mixture of social, psychosocial, cultural, and environmental cues rather than nutritional ones.”

5 Ways to Battle Those Cheese Cravings After You Go Vegan Milk contains a protein called casein that breaks apart during digestion and releases opiates called casomorphins. Cheese also contains phenylethylamine, which is an amphetamine-like chemical. These compounds are responsible for many of our cravings, including that feeling of not being able to live without cheese. It’s a real physical addiction, which means we can really suffer from withdrawal when we stop eating cheese. The good news is that those cravings will lessen over time.

What are you actually craving? Replacing animal products in a vegan diet | Vegan Yoga Life | Plant-based vegan recipes, tips and inspiration for going vegan. “my cravings were really always for certain textures and flavors”.

Why you shouldn't trust your food cravings - Cravings are mostly psychological, and if we eat a food less, we crave it less.
 

Lou

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On cravings, I did some online research once and it seems that cravings (of animal products or in general) are probably mostly psychnological rather than a nutrition issue, as many of you may already know. So you can probably get past them.

I kept my notes and (I may have posted this before) but I am going to copy and paste dump this here incase it's useful for anyone.

It's mostly not specific to cheese.

Not all these sources agree with each other. I don't have any agenda here, just sharing what I found.

To be honest this might not be that relevant to the OP, and it's only loosely related to the thread, but hope it's useful to someone.

_______________________________________________________________

Creatine and carnitine comes fully formed in meat, but vegans have to produce these, therefore could be a reason for cravings as vegans struggle to produce these if they are used to an animal-based diet as an “acquired dependency” This is from a Dr Michael Klaper video.I've deleted the linke to stop is showing a preview of the video here, but let me know if you need it.

What Meat Cravings (all, actually) REALLY Mean & 20 Recipes to Get In That Iron ~ The Vegan Zebra is a good article.

Are food cravings the body's way of telling us that we are lacking certain nutrients? suggests scientific research shows that food cravings are not linked to nutrition.

Related articles: 5 Reasons Why Some Vegans Go Back To Eating Meat | LIVEKINDLY “Often your body gives you cravings as a sign it’s needing a certain nutrient, so try eating something high in iron, fat or sodium” [cravings = nutrition seems to probably be only true a minority of the time, but maybe sometimes it is.]

Get enough calories.You might not crave certain foods as much if you're full.

Do Food Cravings Mean You're Nutrient Deficient? “Your hankering for certain foods is more likely caused by a mixture of social, psychosocial, cultural, and environmental cues rather than nutritional ones.”

5 Ways to Battle Those Cheese Cravings After You Go Vegan Milk contains a protein called casein that breaks apart during digestion and releases opiates called casomorphins. Cheese also contains phenylethylamine, which is an amphetamine-like chemical. These compounds are responsible for many of our cravings, including that feeling of not being able to live without cheese. It’s a real physical addiction, which means we can really suffer from withdrawal when we stop eating cheese. The good news is that those cravings will lessen over time.

What are you actually craving? Replacing animal products in a vegan diet | Vegan Yoga Life | Plant-based vegan recipes, tips and inspiration for going vegan. “my cravings were really always for certain textures and flavors”.

Why you shouldn't trust your food cravings - Cravings are mostly psychological, and if we eat a food less, we crave it less.

Yeah, I've read some of that stuff and some other stuff on cravings.

My take is that MOST of the time cravings are psychological. Like you are thinking of your mom and then you want one of the dishes she used to make. Or you are sad and you want some comfort food.

But just because they are just in your head doesn't make them easy to ignore.

there are also, as some of your links explore, some cravings that are due to real things. not necearily deficiencies but other stuff. Like how cheese is addicting. Or how your body may want salt, sugar or fat. or how your gut bacteria sends messages to your brain.
 

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I've experienced a mix of psychological cravings and ones that seem to be nutrient-related (throughout life, not just when changing my diet). I think it can go both ways.

I noticed that when I gave up meat, my meat cravings were replaced with cravings for beans, which are kind of similar nutritionally.
 

silva

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I can't say I've had meat cravings, but I have craved memories. As the years go by they morph into memories of their vegan versions.
Like when I first had Beyond sausage--OMG--I didn't even realize how much I had loved Italian sausage like that!
(I'm craving that so badly now. :rofl: . I made a Quorn chik'n sandwich with vegan mozz and it was thoroughly disappointing :sigh:)

I don't know, sometimes it's like ending a bad relationship. You know you need to, you know you're miserable, but then you'll think of a good time and you miss it... Leave already! You'll get over it and be so much happier :lol:
 

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Growing up, I hated all meat except for red meat and fried chicken. But I ate meat once or twice a day because we had a SAD, "clean your plate," type of household.

I gave up meat for the first time when I was 13. I knew it was right for the sake of the animals and our planet as a whole, but I missed burgers, fried chicken, and steak. I craved those things when I needed protein.

My body went through an adjustment phase where I didn't seem to be getting the same nutritional value from plant sources. I felt my digestive system adapt to it over time. After the adjustment phase, I felt healthier and craved beans instead.

Now I crave amazing things like tofu drenched in peanut sauce!
 
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Yes I think these comments above are about right, some nutrition and some pysch cravings. But when I did the detailed research of reading through those articles I think majority are probably pyschological. But...I can keep an open mind.
 
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The main thing I struggle with is that when I try to go completely vegan, I get depression and joint pain. It's partly a "low blood sugar," type of feeling like you get when you reduce your caloric intake. But it sends my body into a yucky negative spiral where I feel too depressed to eat and then it gets worse.

I want to work with a nutritionist and develop a solid plan for transitioning in a healthy way so as to avoid this pitfall. I probably just need to plan meals rich in all the nutrients one could accidentally miss, including enough calories.
 
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