General Diet Plans and Questions - Considering Transitioning to Veganism

02-01-2011, 06:02 PM
I want to start eating vegan a day or two a week and potentially switching over completely but I'm not really sure if I can afford it or if it will hurt my weightloss. I live on a very fixed budget and meat substitutes look pretty expensive. I also eat semi low carb and my diet usually contains lots of high protein lean meats. Does any one have any tips or advice on things that could make things easier and cheaper? Has anyone tried it? If so was it difficult? What health problems could it cause and what should I look out for if I take it long term?

02-01-2011, 06:18 PM
I haven't been a vegan but a vegetarian for 20 years. I am "recovering" now and I must say I wouldn't go back to being a vegetarian. I feel waaaay better as a meat eater. And is it ever yummy!
Anyways, I just read this blog post recently and I thought you might want to read it before going vegan: (in case I can't post links, google "a vegan no more" --- the homepage is voraciouseats dot com)

It was at least an interesting read.
I think her experience was quite drastic but I can relate to some of the symptoms even as a vegetarian eating eggs and dairy!

02-01-2011, 06:28 PM
I agree with josey124... I was a vegetarian for about 6 years and I don't know that I could ever go back. I feel so much more energetic now (I only eat meat 1 or 2 times a week tops right now, but I like the balance it gives). I was also a vegan for about 2 months of that time, but I was attempting to do it on a low budget, as you want to attempt... I would say unless you can successfully balance a vegan diet on your budget, don't try it! Wait until it's possible... I ended up looking sickly and feeling malnutritioned because I couldn't quite figure out how to balance it out. (My experience is obviously not a 100% prediction of you, though).

I do sort of want to give it a shot again (either full veganism or vegetarianism), but I'm going to wait it out until I'm in a stable enough place financially to do it... not getting enough protein does terrible things for a person.

This definitely came out more negative than I was aiming to be (I actually did enjoy vegetarianism!). I would say as long as you are confident you can fit in all the nutrients you need while remaining within your budget, give it a shot! I'm not the best at planning, but I'm sure if you get creative and organize well you can find a way to fit everything in!

02-01-2011, 06:28 PM
I, too, feel much better now that meat is a regular part of my diet.

My history is that of a long-time "near" vegetarian, by which I mean that I did eat meat, but many, if not most, of my meals were vegetarian. I probably went 2-3 weeks without eating meat at times though I did eat eggs and dairy. I ate a lot of beans, brown rice, vegetables of course, and more - not a lot of fake meat except for a Boca burger here and there. I began to up my meat a couple years ago when I realized I needed more protein. Now I am full-blown paleo/primal, so I eat meat nearly every day now --I focus on grass fed/ free range when I can get it/afford it. I fill in with seafood and a fair amount of venison from my dad.

I have a huge amount of respect for the vegan way of life from an ethical standpoint and can understand the choice for that reason. However, I don't necessarily think it's the best for losing weight or necessarily even for optimal health.

So, I would say go for vegan if you are passionate and have strong feelings about not killing animals for any reason. If your decision is more weight loss related, I think you would be better off eating some meat, preferably from humanely killed animals.

02-01-2011, 06:51 PM
I'm going to go against the seemingly popular vote here.

I've been a vegetarian for 15 years, and have been mostly vegan for the last 2 years. I've been a fat vegetarian and a skinny vegetarian, but always a healthy vegetarian.

My total cholesterol is 146, my blood pressure is 115/76, my triglycerides are 112, my LDL is 95, and my HDL is 62.

I eat whole grains, a ton of veggies and beans. I do eat tofu, but try to limit it because of fat content. My food is not boring, gross, or expensive. I think I spent $60 at the grocery last week, for 2 of us, and that included toilet paper.

I have a lot more energy than most meat-eaters I know. I don't feel sluggish, I'm very (TMI) regular, my skin/hair/nails are strong and healthy.

If you're planning on swapping out meat for substitutes, then be prepared for a very high grocery bill. However, if you swap out meat for beans and tofu, you'll probably spend less - particularly if you're willing to spend a bit of time every once in a while soaking and preparing dried beans (which freeze well, by the way).

02-01-2011, 07:30 PM
I'm not a vegan although I eat vegan most of the time. I eat meat maybe once a month, although I do eat eggs 1-2x week. I used to be an absolute cheese-aholic and decided to try to cut down my dairy to help with my psoriasis since that's a trigger for some and one thing I noticed right away was that I felt so much lighter and had a lot more energy! Meat doesn't bog me down like that, but dairy does for some reason.

Not eating meat (or meat substitutes since they're not great and expensive too!) makes my grocery bill really cheap compared to most people. We probably spend $40-50/week for two people although my SO eats lunch out most of the time which artificially lowers the grocery bill. We stick to seasonal/sale fruit, fresh and frozen veggies, lentils/beans, oats, nuts, a little tofu, a lot of almond milk, and some other random stuff like quinoa, couscous, and these really fabulous flax tortillas I found.

I was a little worried about not getting the right nutrients so I tracked everything I ate in sparkpeople for a few weeks and found that I really only consistently come up short in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D (the site allows you to track most micronutrients). Almost everything else - iron, calcium, protein was pretty much always on target, which honestly sort of surprised me. You have to eat healthy though - I have known vegetarians who subsist largely on starches and processed food, both of which can be pretty nutritionally poor.

There are a few things to watch for though. Most vegans and many vegetarians risk vitamin B12 deficiency because you can really only get B12 from animal products unless you can handle nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese whiz to me - not a fan!). Many people regardless of diet have vitamin D deficiency so that's a big one too. Iron and calcium are the other two that I might be concerned about if your diet isn't really balanced, so you have to choose foods that have those in them - for example, leafy greens and sesame seed have quite a bit of calcium which I didn't really realize until I tracked my nutrients.

Protein isn't as much of a problem as you would imagine. Between whole grains, lentils and beans, soy, nuts, and the small amounts in veggies, I am pretty much always over the recommended daily amount of protein.

02-01-2011, 07:47 PM
Oh I forgot to mention I'm mildly anemic. Didn't realize that could be a major factor. Any one who is anemic have experience with veganism or know what I have to do special?

02-01-2011, 09:26 PM
You are going to get mixed replies because one diet does NOT fit everyone. There are metabolic types that need meat, and some that do better on no meat. It depends on your personal metabolic type. I did vegan for nine months in an attempt to help control my blood sugar issues. ( I am diabetic) I found it easy to do. I am unable to eat eggs anyway, and finding milk substitutes was pretty easy. I don't like eating much soy as it is not good for the thyroid, so I only ate some tofu and soy protein type products. I ate tons of beans, fresh vegetables and some whole grains and fruit. There are a lot of good resources available online for vegan recipes, and tips for substituting vegan stuff for non vegan. I did lose weight on the vegan diet, but very slowly.

Before you commit to going vegan, why not explore some of the information available on metabolic typing and see if it is a good fit for you? Mercola's site has a free test you can take to find out what your type is. There are also books on it. The Metabolic Type Diet I think is the title of the one I have. Its has a test you can take to find your type that is much more involved than Mercola's. I was the same on both tests- mixed- so I have gone back to eating chicken and fish, but I may go back to vegan some as I did feel pretty good eating that way.

As for budget, I found it pretty easy to eat cheaply. My husband is a protein type and wanted meat at every meal, so I ended up cooking something for us both and a piece of chicken or fish for him. If you have a pressure cooker, and like Indian food, you can eat fabulous vegan foods from that cuisine. (lots of recipes are available online)

02-02-2011, 02:00 PM
Ive beem vegan in the past. Felt good, lost a ton of weight. You dont need all those meat subs. Isnt that the whole reason for going vegan, to get away from the meat? Ive used tofu, legumes, starches, veggies, grains and lost weight. Make your meals simple. Baked potato with a salad with lots of veggie fixins mixed in.

Im thinking of going back to this way of eating. After seeing Oprah yesterday and the slaughtering of cattle, it just made me sick. There are videos on that subject if you can handle to view them. If that doesnt make you want to give up meat, I dont know what will.

02-02-2011, 02:12 PM
I have been a vegetarian for years and I think it's absolutely tantamount for health. I just had full blood work done and my results were incredible. My bp is perfect and my bad choloestrol was only 88. That's right 88! Good cholesterol 116. Boo yah! And that with the extra weight I carry. Just five days ago i switched to vegan and I feel the beat o have in my life. I'm waking up full of energy before my alarm goes off and in 4 days I went from 176 to 171.2 pounds. I eat lentils quinoa beans at least three pieces of fruit every morning and two HUGE salads full of greena and raw veggies every day.

You can be a healthy vegetarian and an unhealthy one. In spite of years abstaining from meat I still ate ALOT of junk. Otherwise I wouldn't have gained up to 186. But being a healthy vegetarian I believe can be incredibly healthy. And if your making the change for the animals it's emotionally rewarding also.

02-02-2011, 02:15 PM
You don't need meat substitutes. Go on veg website and het recipes for bean dishes and tofu dishes. Tofu is cheaper than meat and beans are very cheap. I like lentils best. They have the most protien. Vegetarian times website is a great place. And I just throw stuff in slow cookers leave for the day and have warm hearty food waiting when I get home. Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

02-02-2011, 02:20 PM
Like cheryl26 said supplement can be important. I take a multivitamin and B12. Also recently added vit D. My doc feels everyone should take vit. D. It's been found to help prevent breast cancer. And is a very common deficiency apparently.

02-02-2011, 02:39 PM
I have been a vegetarian for 15 years and on/off vegan (had two children and had to drink milk and eggs.)
Personally I love this lifestyle but it does take planning. I cook meat for my family and let me tell you their grocery bill versus mine is much higher. I cannot consume meat substitutes as I have IBS and they kill me.
However, I do cook many bean, lentil type dishes. I usually go to the local Mexican store and buy cannellini beans or large lima beans. For the cannellini beans I soak them overnight and then simply boil them with celery, carrots and onions and then make a salad with lemon juice and olive oil dressing. Large lima beans are great too, you can soak them overnight then drain them and cook them. A great way is to simply boil them till tender. In another dish sautee onions, garlic and fresh dill with a little olive oil and then add tomato juice,let boil for about ten minutes then add the beans and transfer to the oven for 25 min. Lentils are great too, you can make soups or rice dishes.
Vegetables are getting expensive but I currently buy frozen because I don't have a local farmers market and don't have a choice. Nuts, seeds and dry fruit are great to make granola with natural honey. OMG I can go on and on there are so many options. The key is to make your meal ahead of time and always plan your grocery list. I am a little extreme though for example I read all the labels especially on things you never imagine like gum. They use gelatin in gum and I can't stomach the thought of where that comes from. But it is a way of life and it agrees with me.

Like you I am border line anemic and found that dark leafy vegetables are high in iron as are beans which by the way lower on calories than meat. I buy swiss chard and steam it with a little lemon juice, I eat spinach often too. As you will see I add lemon juice to my veggies because iron is better absorbed by the body when consumed with vitamin C. I do take a multivitamin everyday.
Let me know if you need anything or help!

02-02-2011, 04:30 PM
i have been vegan for about 3 months now. The first four days i felt AWFUL. This told me my body was full of crap from the way i was eating. Since then, i have felt fine.

However though-i have to watch my carbs and be SURE to eat healthy, whole foods. Saying you are vegan isn't a magic pill. If i eat too many carbs or processed foods i will not lose weight.

However, when i am eating good whole foods, and exercising, my cravings vanish and i feel wonderful :)

i do take vitamins-a daily multi, vit D, b-12 (very reasonably priced at Sam's), calcium-but really think about how much whole food you eat now. Most of the time the vegan you will eat so much better than you do now.

On cost, it may be fair to say it is a little more expensive, but i don't think it's that bad. i haven't shopped at a "health" or "specialty" store yet (ie, whole foods, trader joes). Not to say i never will, but you can see it isn't necessary, and i live in a part of the country where veganism is considered crazy ;)

A package of veggie chicken nuggets is about 3.95, same for 4 burgers or 6 sausage patties. Remember, i limit myself to one fake meat per day. So that really isn't too bad. Remember also, you are probably NOT buying expensive meat, soda's, whole milk, creams, butter, cookies, desserts, pastries......

Also remember that even if it *is* a little more expensive we buy junk food, fast food, outfits for our dogs, computers, smart phones-we have to be OK with making our food a priority.

One more a little research in the animal rights side of veganism. Once you learn how animals are killed and how they live, you may not WANT these foods, and it also gives you an additional reason not to eat them besides weight loss-this really helps me when my motivation is low.

BEST OF LUCK TO YOU! No matter what you decide....


02-03-2011, 02:27 AM
I lost 60lbs before by going mostly vegan and it was the healthiest I have ever felt. I started down that road after I read a book called "Eat to Live"....without knowing it supported a vegan lifestyle. It changed my view on food and I still can't look at food without seeing essentially what it can do for my body.

I took vitamin b12, but everything else you can pretty much get from vegan foods. If you are anemic, dark leafy greens are high in iron.

I would consider doing it again, but right now I am happy where I'm at and I don't want to change too much at once.

As far as budget goes, fruits and veggies can add up quickly, but if you have a farmers market around (or a co-op) you can find some good deals. Beans are super cheap but provide a great source of fiber....combine beans and rice (also super cheap) and you have just created a complete protein.

Start small, there is no need to jump into it unless you have a moral reason for wanting to. Feel out vegan options, try out recipes, and then see if you want to make it a lifestyle choice.

02-07-2011, 06:05 AM
Hi niafabo!

Some of this may be a repeat of previous comments, but I'll share my experiences just in case it's helpful.

I've been vegetarian for 10 years now and was vegan for 3 months (with the intention of only being vegan for 3 months as an experiment) a few years ago. Here are my thoughts:

1> I love the vegetarian diet. I can't really remember what it was like when I ate meat since I was just a teenager then, but I love the mental and physical 'lightness' that eating a plant-based diet brings. I don't think I'll ever eat meat again. As long as you avoid the vegetarian downfall of replacing meat with pastas and cheese (very easy to do!), you could have a wonderfully healthy diet as a vegetarian. I enjoyed the challenge of veganism, but the marginal benefit from going from vegetarian to vegan wasn't big enough to keep me there.

2> Veganism/Vegetarianism doesn't have to be costly. If you plan your diet around fruits and vegetables, you don't have to fork out money for the soy cheeses and fake meats. With a little creativity, you can turn most vegetarian or even meat recipes into vegan. Examples: cooking eggplant marinara for meat lasagna, cauliflower puree soup- with a potato standing in for cream- instead of a meatball or chicken noodle soup, veg/lentil chili with a dollop of low-fat yogurt (sometimes you can't even taste a difference between that and meat chili!), grilled veggie kabobs instead of hamburgers, etc. Often websites like AllRecipes will have reviewers posting ideas for turning recipes into veg/vegan- I used that a lot. By ensuring veggies are the main focus of the meal, and using lots of seasonings, you can have a very affordable diet.

(Note- if you do want inexpensive meat substitutes, Trader Joe's- if there is one near you- is a great place for inexpensive products. Their soy chorizo is amazing.)

3> Asian foods are the BEST way to get creative with veg/vegan diets. Indian food offers loads of vegetarian/vegan options such as channa masala, palak paneer (for which you can use tofu), daal (lentils), etc. Just reduce the amount of oil a bit when cooking. Japanese food too- vegetable sushi, miso soup, veg stir fries. Thai and Korean food with their glorious chili pastes and seasonings can be great inspirations for spicing up vegetables, tofu, rice, etc. So many of my homecooked meals are vegan: masoor dal, Vietnamese fresh veg spring rolls with rice paper, veg sushi, Thai panang curry with low-fat coconut milk, Korean bibimbap with Sriracha sauce, yum!

(As if you already couldn't tell my affection for Asian food by my avatar! :))

Whatever you choose, good luck, keep us posted.

02-07-2011, 12:24 PM
I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, but most of the food I cook for myself is! I live alone (well, with two pit bulls!) and I have a small fridge/ freezer. Meat just isn't very convenient for me to cook, cheese tends to go bad before I use it all (or I overeat it!)

I cook a lot of beans (cheap cheap cheap!!) and A LOT of veggies. Pasta I love, but now avoid at home because I always eat 1/2 the box at one "meal!" This winter has been great for making big pots of soups and stews, which just happen to be vegan.

I do eat tofu occasionally, and more often tempeh. But no meat or cheese "subs"- I like real food. (and I do eat meat and cheese at times, just not regularly at home)

I recently stumbled across this website, which I like a lot and use it for recipe ideas. It's not a holier-than-thou vegan site, and the recipes are pretty straight forward. The soups I've tried have been delicious.

(despite the name, it's more "added fat" free vegan. she uses nuts, avocados, coconut milk, etc.)

Suzanne 3FC
02-10-2011, 06:45 PM
Niafabo, I think you are doing the right thing by dipping your toes in and seeing how your body and mind react to the change in your diet. Making a dramatic change in your diet can be difficult and even set you up for failure. Take your time and if you are inclined, you'll probably naturally and gradually progress further in that direction :)

Food Matters, by Mark Bittman, suggests Vegan Before 6 (VB6) as a healthier way to eat. All meals and snacks prior to dinner are vegan. Dinner can include animal products (eggs, dairy, or meat) if you desire. If you do include meat, he suggests very small amounts. He suggests treating it as a garnish and not a focal point of your dinner.

His book explains why it's healthier not only for our bodies, but also for the environment. The book includes some pretty staggering statistics on both aspects if you are interested.

Personally, I prefer a mostly plant based diet and feel better when I eliminate animal products. I don't like labels and the restrictions they impose, implying that our needs or choices never change. I'm not a vegan. I'm not a vegetarian. I'm a person :lol: I might on a rare occasion eat seafood, or dairy product. I take fish oil capsules. But 98 or 99% of the time I eat plants.

As Michael Pollan said "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

If you haven't already checked out our Vegetarian forum (, please do :)

Good luck!