When someone makes the choice to go -or is even thinking about going- vegan/plant-based, they’re inevitably met with a slew of questions. They usually start out, “Hey, where do you get your…”
Never fear! Nutrition Ninja Robin is here! Whether you have any of these questions yourself, or struggle to answer them when asked, Robin has you covered.
Robin, reporting for duty! *Tries not to make a joke about plant-based diets and ‘duty.’*
I sure do get a lot of questions! A lot of the same questions… If you’re in a similar boat, don’t be afraid to mix in a little humor with your facts! Let’s dig in.
What if you were stranded on an island with only a pig? (Yes, I really have been asked this more than once.)
*ahem* I would likely eat whatever the pig chooses to eat, such as fruit from the likely fruit trees, berries, nuts, maybe mushrooms if we get lucky, and of course anything else we can survive on until we build a raft, grab our volleyball, and hit the waves. But for real, in this highly unlikely scenario, a person stranded on an island could kill and eat the pig, sure, but how long will that last? What next? The real answer to this is to return the question to the asker: what would you do if stranded on an island with only a pig?
You'll find me here, with Wilbur & Wilson.
Where do you get your protein?
Probably the most commonly asked question to those newly vegan or plant-based and probably the easiest to answer. Plants. Plants have protein. Plants have protein without cholesterol, fat, preservatives, added ingredients, and more. Plants also contain fiber, which animal-based meats do not. Similar to the previous question, when asked about protein, feel free to return the question about fiber.
Did you know that 97% of Americans are deficient in fiber (source)?
And that’s based on arguably low standards (25g per day for women; 38g for men). The idea that only vegans need to be nutritionally aware is dangerous. Everyone who eats food should have a basic understanding of nutrients, food groups, and more.
"Where do you get your protein". "It's on your fork right now, Claire."
Do you take a lot of supplements?
Did you know vegans fund 87% of the supplement industry? I kid I kid.. but not really. Similar to my thoughts above, whether you eat plant-based, vegan, or any variety of food - you should always keep an eye on your vitamins and make sure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients.
I’m often asked about B12, which is something everyone should be aware of - not just those who choose to eat only plant-based foods. B12 is a vitamin that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy, helps make DNA, and helps prevent megaloblastic anemia. So yes, it’s very important for our health, but you don’t need to consume animals to get an adequate amount. In fact, even if you do eat meat, you should be aware of your levels. If you’ve ever seen The Game Changers (and if you haven’t, stop everything and go watch it! Or maybe finish this post first), up to 39% of people, including meat eaters, are low in Vitamin B12 (source).
Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria, not animals or plants.
Many animal foods contain high amounts of vitamin B12 because they accumulate this bacterial product during their lives, and livestock are often supplemented with vitamin B12 in their feed. (source)
Plant-based eaters can easily find enough B12 in certain fortified foods like nutritional yeast, some cereals, non-dairy milks, and more. As always, we suggest you check with your primary care team to evaluate your levels.
Red pill or Blue?
Have you gone broke supporting your vegetable habit?
Far from it! So many pantry staples are not only affordable, they’re incredibly versatile, too! I love using Thrive Market to save money on bulk items. (If you use our affiliate link, you can get 25% off your first order and choose a free gift!)
Robin's latest Thrive Market haul!
Now I’m going to call in budget hacker Jules to elaborate.
Thanks, Robin! Ooh, I love this question! Back when I was saving every penny in preparation to quit my corporate job, I decided to see just how low I could get my grocery budget.
I shopped at Trader Joe’s and was able to eat all week (at least 5 days, leaving some wiggle room for meals with friends and family) for $25! I did that for months!
I loaded up on their inexpensive produce and staples like potatoes, onions, rice, beans, apples, bananas, tomatoes, and lentils. I’d buy scallions and other herbs for 99 cents and was able to jazz up meals with spices and splurges like nuts and seeds. Let me tell you, I ate well!
A few of my "budget" meals.
You’ll often hear me say, whether you’re plant-based or not: your grocery budget can be as lean or as luxurious as you make it. You have the powder to decide. If you rely heavily on packaged goods and eating out, you'll definitely find it harder to keep your balance sheet -and probably waistline- in check!
Hate to cook? Trader Joe's also has great deals on things like whole wheat pita and I went to town making all kinds of creative pita pizzas that involved zero cooking (aside from placing my creations in the toaster oven for 10 minutes).
So there you have it folks, next time you're hit with any of these questions, feel free to direct your interrogator to us! Also, let us know what other questions you have (or are commonly asked) and we'll tackle them here!