Vegan Grandma

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Be A Healthy Vegan-Pay Attention to These Nutrients.

Whatever your reasons for adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet, staying healthy is important. An unhealthy vegan is not a good advertisement for veganism. Potato chips and Twinkies just won’t do. There are certain nutrients that vegetarians and vegans need to pay attention to. (Meat-eaters, by the way, are deficient in even more nutrients.).

For more detailed information about the following nutrients, please visit my old blog:

Eat your PROTEIN. Some good sources of protein are lentils, chickpeas, beans, tempeh, tofu, and other legumes, as well as nuts, seeds. I eat some of these at every meal. For example, I might put walnuts on my oatmeal for breakfast, have hummus (made from chick peas) on pita bread for lunch, and tofu, tempeh, or a bean dish for dinner.

Be sure to take your VITAMIN B-12. You absolutely need a reliable source of Vitamin B12. I take a 500 mcg, sublingual (under the tongue) form of B-12 every-other day. The sublingual form is absorbed best. B-12 is very important because a deficiency can cause serious damage. Do not rely on seaweed (e.g., algae, nori, spirulina), brewer's yeast, tempeh, or "living" vitamin supplement that uses plants as a source of B12. Do not rely solely on one type of fortified food such as Red Star Nutritional Yeast.

You need a good source of OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS every day. Good sources include ground flax seed (and it must be ground), walnuts, hemp seed products (such as veggie burgers or cheese made from hemp), canola oil or soybean. Every day, I grind 2 tablespoons of flaxseed in a small coffee grinder and mix it with my oatmeal, or I mix it with peanut butter.Be sure to drink a full glass of water after you eat flax seeds, and don’t eat more that 4 tablespoons of flax seed in one day. Two tablespoons are plenty, anyway.

You need CALCIUM. Sources of well-absorbed calcium for vegans include calcium-fortified soy milk and juice, calcium-set tofu, soybeans and soynuts, bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens, and okra "

Get some sunshine for VITAMIN D. In the summer I spend 20 minutes a day in the sun before I put on my sun screen. The rest of the year I take a supplement. Since most of us wisely use sun screen, we need daily vitamin D sources in our diet year round. Sources include vitamin D fortified foods, vitamin D supplements (400 IU a day) and dried shiitake mushrooms.

You need your IODINE. I take ½ of a Kelp supplement (containing 225 mcg per tablet) each day. Vegetarians who don't eat sea vegetables or use iodized salt should supplement their diet with iodine. Be careful not to get too much iodine. Adults need 100 to 300 mcg of iodine a day, but no more than1000 mcg.

Eat your veggies. You need TRACE MINERALS. Eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, root vegetables and fruits. It is not enough to eat the minerals – you must absorb them. So, break up the plant fibers by chewing your foods well or prepare foods in ways to break up the fibers, such as cooking (e.g. soups or stews), grinding, juicing, grating or pureeing

ZINC is easy on a vegan diet. Vegan diets can provide zinc at levels close to or even higher than the RDA. Zinc is found in grains, legumes, and nuts. I eat all of these most days.

EXERCISE is very important if you are to stay healthy. I take a brisk half-hour walk every day and I never miss a day (that would make it too easy to miss it the next day and then the next). Try to get 20 to 30 minutes of active, weight-bearing exercise at least every other day, but every day is best.

And most important, develop a POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE. Laugh often, love as much as you can, find meaningful ways to be of service , and dare to follow your dreams.


Welcome to my new blog. I will be writing about my experiences as a vegan, recipes, information, inspiration and advice that I hope will help you a happy, healthy, compassionate, earth-friendly life style.

What is a vegan? A vegan is a person who, as much as is possible, does not eat, wear, or use any animal products-no eggs, dairy products, leather, fur, etc. More than a way of eating, it's a total life style. Many, maybe most, vegans adopt this life style out of compassion.

Although I always considered myself an animal lover and a compassionate person, I did not adopt a vegan lifestyle until I was old enough to be a grandmother. I grew up with a house full of animals-cats,dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits. They were all part of our family, and we loved them dearly, but it was years before I made that connection between the animals I loved and the meat I was eating. I saw a pamphlet about modern factory farming, and I was absolutely horrified! I stopped eating all meat and fish. Shortly after adopting a vegetarian diet, I went to Summerfest in Johnstown, and there I learned about the horrors of dairy and egg farming, and became vegan..

I soon found that the most compassionate diet is also the most healthy diet. I lost weight with little effort, my cholesterol is great, and I have more energy than I ever did. I have been having fun discovering new foods, and researching vegan nutrition, and I have met wonderful, compassionate people.

Since I live in a small, conservative Pennsylvania city in the United States, in a big dairy farming area, I thought I was the only vegetarian in town. I wanted to get the word out. so I starting holding tabling events at a local shopping center to give out information about factory farming and vegetarianism. I had to give an organization name to be allowed to do this, so I made up the name of a veg club. I was, of course, the only member of the club.

Eventually, I decided to try to form a real vegetarian club. I signed up for the use of a community room at a local library to hold a tofu cooking demonstration, and advertised this by posting fliers at the local health food store. Public speaking scares me, but I fooled my self by advertising the event long before the day of the presentation so that I wasn’t yet nervous about it. As the time approached, I was very scared, but the event had been advertised, and it was too late to back out.

The day of the cooking demo, as I loaded the car with my supplies, I kept thinking that I was out of my mind to do this. I figured, though, that maybe three people would show up. Well, twenty people came to the presentation, and it actually went well. Most of those original twenty are still club members, eight years later.

We now have about 110 members, which I think is great for a small, conservative Pennsylvania city, in a big dairy farming area. Some of our club activities include restaurant outings (we have no veg restaurants nearby, but we get restaurants to make special vegan meals for us), pot lucks, movie nights (just for fun), speakers, bus trips to larger cities for veg friendly shopping, and book discussions. I edit our monthly newsletter for the club, and I really enjoy doing that. We have been interviewed for newspapers and a local TV station (although, I not sure anyone actually watched the program). We still hold tabling events at the local shopping center, now with a real club behind us.

I often get asked if I feel deprived as a vegan. Most definitely not, I feel blessed.