Chewing on someone else’s muscle tissue is so last century. With more and more people becoming curious about plant-based lifestyles, as a vegan company, we couldn’t be more hopeful! Our higher purpose at Simris is saving and protecting endangered marine habitats by producing ingredients from farmed microalgae, instead of sacrificing fish or other marine animals. Part of our mission is also to inspire more people to take that important and magical step into the plant-based world. Are you vegan-curious but feel a little insecure about it? Here are the ABCs of a vegan diet that every beginner should pay attention to.
“A” IS FOR “ADD MORE TO YOUR PLATE”
“Less is more” is not always apt, and in the context of a vegan diet, more is definitely more. Take your pick from all the colorful, whole food sources, such as fruits of all kinds: kiwis, raspberries, figs, bananas, you name it. Legumes in the form of lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans and peanuts. All the fantastic vegetables from bok choi to fennel, carrots to kale, cauliflower to brussel sprouts. Funk it up with fungi: mushrooms, chanterelles, shiitake and portobellos. Add seeds, nuts and grains. Drizzle olive oil over your plate and spice it up with some flavours (go hard on ginger, garlic or red hot chili peppers). Make sure to “eat the rainbow” every day. This way, you’ll be sure to get all the important vitamins and nutrients like folic acid, selenium, calcium and zinc that you need.
“B” IS FOR “B12, IRON, AND MARINE OMEGA-3S"
If there is one thing to pay attention to when going vegan, that would be vitamin B12, which is sometimes tricky to obtain since it is made by beneficial bacteria and not by plants. These days, a lot of vegan products are fortified with B12 so read the labels, peeps! Check that non-dairy milk, that falafel pack or vegan hot dog. In many cases, you’ll see they come with B12, extra protein and iron. However, if you are not a B12 mathematician and want to know for sure you’re getting enough, a B12 supplement can come in handy.
As far as iron is concerned, that can be found in abundance in the plant-based kitchen kingdom: leafy greens, cashews, dried apricots and beans or lentils are excellent sources, just to name a few. The great thing about iron-rich plants is that they already come packed with the extra vitamin C needed for increased iron absorption. And as the algae-lovers we are, we must give an extra shout-out to the algae-duo Spirulina and Chlorella, two mega-potent superfoods! Both are high in protein and iron, and they come with an abundance of nutritious goodies. Chlorella is rich in chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals, such as iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and thiamine. Spirulina is packed with vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene and antioxidants! They both have a high protein content with a well-balanced composition of all the essential amino acids.
Lastly, don’t forget to include a rich source of omega-3 EPA & DHA in your day-to-day. If you have recently turned plant-based or do not eat large amounts of fatty fish, there are good reasons to opt for an algae-based supplement. So just why are omega-3s important? Omega-3 essential fatty acids are involved in so many functions on a cellular level and are something of a cornerstone of a healthy, immune-supporting diet. While plant-based, omega-3-rich foods such as flaxseed oil, walnuts or chia seeds are great for a healthy omega-6 to omega-3 balance, they only contain omega-3 ALA, a precursor to the important omega-3s EPA and DHA (which can only be obtained from marine sources). Ensuring sufficient direct intake of EPA and DHA is something you want to do, and algae are the only plants that produce marine omega-3 EPA and DHA with the same health benefits that fish or krill oil tout. In fact, the original source of all marine omega-3 is microalgae, not fish at all! Go straight to the plant-based source.
“C” IS FOR “COMPLETE PROTEIN SOURCES”
Protein is not a problem for vegans, so let’s put that idea to rest first, once and for all. However, it’s good to understand what protein is, and how to make the most of it. Proteins are made of 22 different amino acids, nine of which are the so-called “essential amino acids”, which means you need to obtain them through your diet as your body cannot produce them by itself. Plant-based protein options such as spirulina or soy in the form of tempeh or tofu are so-called “complete protein,” meaning they provide all nine essential amino acids in adequate amounts. Other plant proteins are sometimes called “incomplete protein,” meaning some of the nine essential amino acids are not present in sufficient amounts in relation to each other. Here is where the beautiful “Eat the rainbow” part comes into play again: the key to protein success is to combine protein-rich legumes with grains, and in that way obtain all nine essential amino acids in sufficient amounts, aka complete protein. Think combos like black beans and rice, peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, hummus and whole-wheat pita, beans and nuts or seeds, and so on. You don’t actually have to eat them at the same time, but make sure you get some legumes and grains on a daily basis. Also, plant-based foods in general have more protein than they are usually given credit for, and those amounts add up over the day. Leafy greens are actually packed with protein per calorie, just sayin’…
EPILOGUE: “A” AS IN “ANIMAL FARMING IS ‘B’-BAD”
Maybe you’re convinced that “A” is for “Annoying” when talking about vegan ABC’s? The self-righteousness, the weirdo plant-based foods, the fake fur and the endless care for all animals. Well…
Here is the real T for truth (especially now, in pandemic-times): we know that new viruses are transmitted from animals to humans, mainly via livestock such as chicken, cattle, and pigs. The animal farming industry provides almost perfect conditions for the spread of infections, with often large numbers of animals crowded into small areas, poor hygiene and a weakened immune system due to the overuse of antibiotics. Animal foods themselves are also problematic in terms of our own resistance to pandemics. Fish is the largest food source of PFAS, environmental toxins that, among other things, inhibit our ability to form antibodies to viruses and thus affect the immune system. Consuming animals contributes to a world of pandemics as well as causes mass pain and suffering among living, sentient creatures.
Still pondering the vegan lifestyle? That’s okay, when you’re ready – we have cookies.