Vegetarian to Vegan

Pontoon

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Hello everyone, I'm Leah. I'm new here.

I have been a strict vegetarian for over 10 years now, and I want to go vegan.

The reasons are both moral, and I the way my body reacts to dairy when I eat it is telling me I need to stop.

I actually tried veganism for a week in January but two people at work (A physio and an osteo) told me they didn't recommend it as:

a) where am I getting my calcium
b) I can't breastfeed when vegan

Now having thought about this, I don't think it's natural for us to drink and consume another animals milk, and we are so lucky to have access to food from around the world we can get our calcium elsewhere.

My questions are:

For someone like me, who isn't the best cook, are there any good vegan calcium suppliments I can take?

And obviously when the time comes for me to have children, how can I ensure when I do breastfeed they are getting all they need?

Thank you!
 

Damo

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where am I getting my calcium

Let me guess, they thought you could only obtain calcium from milk right?

There's actually quite a lot of vegetables that contain calcium for example broccoli, I'm a pretty bad cook myself sometimes I find myself just eating a bowl of vegetables but that's only when I'm extremely lazy, you don't need to be a professional chef to be vegan ;)

As for breastfeeding... Not something I've looked up but I can't imagine why not.
 
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winter.frost

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OK, well your physiotherapist and osteopath don't know a lot about veganism that's for sure!

There is a useful discussion on the forum about vegan pregnancy and breastfeeding here. The vegan diet is safe for all stages of life, even the USDA can agree to this, and this includes breastfeeding. It may require a little extra thought, but there are plenty of vegan-born babies - now grown up - that are testament to being able to thrive as a vegan from the first.

As for calcium, this is a really useful leaflet. It illustrates that plant sources of calcium are - by far - superior. This is because milk is acidifying, i.e. it will tip the body's pH towards being more acidic. This causes the body to leech metals from the bones in order to neutralise this. So, although milk contains calcium, because of the acidifying nature of milk it actually has a negative overall effect - it will take more calcium out of the bones that it puts in. The dairy industry neglects to mention this. You can read about this at Save Our Bones.

As for taking a calcium supplement, you do need to be careful since most calcium supplements are vegetarian and not vegan. This is not because they contain dairy, most don't, but because they tend to contain lanolin as a source of vitamin D3. Vitamin D increases calcium absorption, and there's something of a debate between which type is better (D2 or D3). There is only one known vegan source of D3, however, and the most common source (lanolin) is colloquially called 'wool grease' - it is sheep sweat so not vegan. I once carefully considered supplementing my diet with lanolin-based D3 as 'sheep sweat' sounds innocuous, but I could not find a single instance where wool farms do not send their flocks, at some point, to slaughter. There is also the fact that wild sheep don't need shearing because they have evolved to take care of their own skins - it's only domesticated breeds that need shearing and the excessive wool and skin ripples is a genetic disadvantage that leads to poor health and a greater risk of infection. So, not quite as innocuous as it sounds.

Moreover a recent breakthrough has led to the world's first and only vegetal source of vitamin D3, derived from lichen: www.vitashine-d3.com This was not available two years ago when I transitioned so I am thrilled to see this progress. In short, I would say to you buy any vegan calcium supplement that contains vitamin D, but if it's D3 then make sure you get it from vitashine.

There are many who lament the fact that there is no vegan baby formula that exists for a post-breast diet. Some come very close, but they supplement lanolin into the powders. We can hope that with vitashine's recent breakthrough that further formulas will follow suit. I am also aware of vegan parents who choose to use the lanolin formulas anyway, as they treat their medicinal care for themselves and their children on a case-by-case basis.

In short, you'll do fine!
 
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Pontoon

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I'm thinking of going mainly vegan but ordering regular ahisma yoghurt - it's a company who are cruelty free. Sadly they're milk is not available but the yoghurt and halloumi is in which case that'd help calcium :)
 

Pontoon

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Oh thank you winter frost. What a helpful post!!!!
 
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winter.frost

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I'm thinking of going mainly vegan but ordering regular ahisma yoghurt - it's a company who are cruelty free. Sadly they're milk is not available but the yoghurt and halloumi is in which case that'd help calcium :)

You're not the only vegan who supplements with a little diary through Ahimsa. I actually do too, and you can read about my very hard decision to do so here if you like. But I do treat it strictly medicinally and not a part of my diet. If the reason you are entertaining the idea is for calcium, then I'd say you're making a mistake (see above). I'm experimenting with what minimum amount of dairy I can use for my dental health and for other more complicated and severe symptoms (see the thread). One block per month did not eliminate my symptoms well enough (although I noticed immediate improvement), so I'm moving up to two blocks and will take it from there.

I'd just say - see how *little* dairy you can get away with (preferably none) and work from there. I always call the vegan diet the Gold Standard we should at least aspire to be closest to. But I am finding your journey really interesting since it sounds quite similar to mine so feel free to send me a PM and we'll get chatting! Medicinal dairy sounds very controversial, I know, but I always advocate the Gold Standard versus listening to your body at some stage. I always remind users of this site that veganism improves the health in the vast, vast majority of others - and it did for me too, up to a point. So I am careful not to lose sight of the ethics, careful not to be a hypocrite, but also careful to support others and learn from ethical vegans who also found that their compassion for others was actually harming themselves, no matter how hard they tried to make it work. I have been criticised for not trying hard enough, or not being precise enough, but it's simply not true... so I'm something of a vanguard in this respect. 100% vegan advocate, but also 100% open to medicinal supplementation case-by-case. I am still vegan because I am doing what is most practicable and possible to eliminate animal exploitation from my life. The actual definition of veganism is not militant, and carrying on the way I was did not qualify as 'practicable' because I was getting ill.

It is worth remembering, however, the Ahimsa is not AI-free. This is my biggest contention with the company - the fact that they still use artificial insemination. They do intend to switch to bull insemination but they have been saying so since 2008 now... I hope they do make the switch. I also sponsor one of their cows, which is a good thing to do regardless.
 
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Soyabean

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I too have been a veggie for around 10 years. After a few years of making excuses, I finally made the change to vegan two days ago!
When I first went veggie I went to McDonald's and had two double cheese burgers as my last meal and never looked back. I decided to do the same when going vegan. I had a veggie blow out for one week on an all inclusive holiday and then a week at home going to my favourite places having pizza, paneer curry, chocolate desserts etc!
Now I'm on day three and I've realised I haven't eaten that much differently :)

Monday
Breakfast - toast, beans, hash browns (at uni)
Lunch - potato wedges and beans (at uni)
Dinner - toast with vegan cheese, onions and tomato purée (had to improvise until my shopping came!)
Dessert - pomegranate seeds

Tuesday
Brunch - Beans on toast with vegan butter
Snack - soya caramel latte from Costa
Dinner - chickpea curry with rice
Dessert - alpro chocolate yogurt

Today
Breakfast - bran flakes with soya milk
Lunch - falafel wrap with veggies and chilli Doritos (at uni)
Snack - hot chocolate with soya milk from Costa
Dinner - leftover chickpea curry, rice, onion bhajis

Not the healthiest but it's been okay!! :)
You can do it!!