What does this featured meal have to do with today’s blog post? It is vegan, gluten free, and relatively low in calories, but packed with nutrients and will give you zero dietary cholesterol as an added bonus 🙂
Shawn Brokke, a friend, and plant-based foodie sat through the most frequently asked questions about veganism and answered them with delight. To contact Shawn, find him at @palegoon + @nutritious_goon on Instagram! He really knows how to get the conversation started! I have compiled some questions regarding his experience and life as a vegan.
Let’s start with the million dollar question(s): How long have you been a vegan? Why did you convert?
I’ve been a vegan for almost two years. I had been dieting before and was not happy with the food I was eating and the density of that food. I had been eating the stereotypical “bodybuilding” diet [consisting of chicken and rice and the occasional vegetable]. I wasn’t satisfied. The reason I looked into veganism was because of my mom’s chronic illnesses including thyroid issues. I discovered the vegan diet, and I’ve never thought twice about it!
Wow, just like that! How did you transition? How did you know what to do? That’s a drastic change!
Overnight, actually. I strongly considered have that “one last meal” of all my favorites that are not part of the vegan diet, but I decided not to. I figured if I did that, it would just prolong the process of transitioning. I gave my food to my brother and the rest was history. However, because I did this overnight, it didn’t come without challenges. I relied on YouTubers and trial and error. The key was not to get mad at myself if I ate something that wasn’t vegan friendly and I wasn’t aware of it. It’s a process and you learn as you go.
Now that you’ve been a vegan for a while now, what do you eat?
“My go-to is stir fry with all the vegetables – rice noodles, soy sauce or usually tamari.”(pictured above) others include:
- soy milk.
- low-sodium pasta sauce with noodles.
- flax oats
- Vega protein shakes
- canned beans – low sodium (more cost effective!)
The most commonly asked question for vegans (or so it seems), is getting adequate protein. Most people believe it simply isn’t possible to get enough protein from plants alone. You’ll see things on the internet regarding vegan bodybuilding and it is indeed possible to achieve physical goals with a vegan diet. If you are eating enough calories (based on individual dietary needs), you should not need to supplement protein or make any extra effort to meet the RDA for protein. It’s fairly simple! 🙂 Especially knowing foods like broccoli and snap peas [green vegetables] have “bonus” protein in them. Most people think of vegetables to fit in the “vegetable” food group, and fail to recognize that there are other either macronutrients or micronutrients that may be contained in that vegetable.
Do you take any supplements since your food is not sourced from animals anymore?
Yes! Vitamin B12 (a necessary supplement for those who follow a vegan diet). By taking it, I have noticed increased energy, and a better sleep cycle, and a decrease in symptoms of seasonal depression. I also take a vitamin D3 supplement.
Your experience sounds phenomenal so far. Have you had any challenges with this lifestyle?
Yes, of course. The major problem I have is that food I eat is so good. It is definitely possible to gain weight if you enjoy the vegan “junk” food such as cookies, cakes, sweets, and other indulgences too much. Though this can be seen as a negative, eating this so-called “comfort” food, can help you transition to eating more plant-based; as long as one is aware of this and can practice self-control while transitioning!
What about eating out? What would you tell someone who wants to go eat with friends?
It’s not as hard as one may think!
- Noodles & Company: Japanese Pan Noodles with tofu.
- Paradiso (in Grand Forks): offers burritos with vegan chicken and beef.
- Olive Garden: minostrone soup!
- Qdoba: no meat, and all the black beans.
- Chipotle: Sofritas.
- Little Bangkok (Grand Forks): I really do miss sushi, but get the sweet potato rolls!!!
Chains usually have better options and are more aware of their ingredients than some of the smaller, locally-owned restaurants. Always ask!
You seem to like tofu and soy protein! What about people who tell you soy isn’t “good?”
Bodybuilders are often against the concept of soy protein because literature has stated that soy can mimic estrogen in the body and decrease your strength capacity. I feel that soy is the scapegoat in the world of veganism; people are so apt to believe that you can look and feel well when adapting this diet. It is interesting because mammalian estrogen is found in dairy milk and isn’t as accounted for as the plant phytochemicals that mimic estrogen (isoflavonoids) in soy.
Most bodybuilders follow diets that are high in chicken, beef, eggs, and other protein-rich animals sources. However, just because they are buff and look good on the outside does not mean that their arteries are not going to pose a health risk down the road.
What are your favorite vegan products?
- Gardein chick’n – teriyaki chicken is the best!!
- Beyond Meat beef and chicken
- Banza (chickpea) pasta – high protein!
- Clif bars
- Better Oats
What would you tell someone who wants to start adopting a vegan diet?
- BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. Don’t get discouraged. It isn’t a transition that can’t usually [successfully] happen overnight.
- Do not be mad at the world with concerns of ethics, frustrations with how food is produced, or people who just don’t listen. This will get you nowhere and nearly defeat the purpose of being that “one person” who is doing good for the world! The
- You’ll need to eat a lot more. Plants are less calorie-dense than animal products; you will need to eat more, yes more, to maintain a calorie input and stay healthy. Perhaps download an app to help track calories to ensure your intake is adequate.
- Any step is a step in the right direction. If you start narrowing things down, you’re making progress. If you have a slip-up and your intentions are still good, you’re still moving in the right direction! The ball is in your court!
And with that, I conclude my questions for Shawn. I personally learned a lot about the overall vegan diet and some of the resources that are available. If you considering adopting a vegan diet and need a resource, again, check out Shawn’s instagram or message him or myself with any questions you might have.
Thank YOU for reading, thank you to Shawn for sitting through an interview, and thank you to those who are considering eating more plants! Your body will thank you!
“Veganism is the least you can do for animals.”