Although our first post of the year included a behind the scenes look at our little vegan Christmas celebration, I feel that the post I’m sharing today is going to be the official kickstart that will get our new year into gear. At the beginning of every year, I always like to focus on new beginnings and getting our bodies and minds as healthy and as happy as possible. Crossing new thresholds has always naturally made people think of changes they want to make, the things they want to improve in their lives, and very frequently this includes a promise to yourself in the health department. We all do it! Birthdays, anniversaries, returning from a trip, and especially the start of a new year always bring about this need in us to recap and reset. We all promise to get healthy, be more active, live less sedentary lives and be more present.
For some of you, the new year will bring the brand new and exciting, maybe even scary task of going vegan or at least giving it a try. In fact, the new year was actually the threshold I chose between my pre-vegan days and giving veganism a try when I made the change. If this is the case for you, or if you are already vegan and are looking for a way to rekindle that super healthy flame inside you after a season of too many naughty goodies, the two amazing gals we’re featuring today as our rockstars will definitely give you a push in the right direction. Before we dive in, remember that our Going Veggie section is choc full of amazing posts covering anything and everything you need to know when embarking on a healthy vegan journey. From why this is such an important change, to what to eat, to the social aspects of being vegan, getting your nutrients, cooking and lifestyle tips and so much more.
You may be asking yourself, ‘Did I read that correctly?’ ‘What do you mean a ‘healthy’ vegan journey?’ ‘Isn’t veganism a healthy diet no matter what?’. Well, the answer to that question is a bit tricky, and also as easy as pie to understand: it depends on what you eat. A diet of potato chips, soda, and vegan cupcakes is vegan, so is a diet made up of only fruits and broccoli, neither of which is a well balanced diet. The truth is, we need to stop looking at the word diet as an easy fix or equation (if I follow this path I’ll be healthy and fit for sure!), and start looking at what we eat and giving our meal planning some thought. That’s where the amazing and talented registered dietitian Ginny Messina and vegan cook, lifestyle coach and educator JL Fields come to save the day! Out of all the vegan nutrition books I’ve read, nothing comes close to the amazing work these women have compiled in their book Vegan For Her, a massive resource guide for women that tells us everything we need to know to be healthy and fit on a plant-based diet. Although we’re focusing on women’s health today, don’t worry male readers! We’ll have a little treat for you at the end of this post!
Reading Ginny and JL’s book confirmed what I had initially and instinctively thought, even though I was going vegan to reduce animal exploitation and abuse, I wanted to be healthy. I wanted my body to shine on a plant-based diet as countless research studies have shown is possible. I also knew however, that I couldn’t just pile the plate with veggies and call it a day. I wanted to know why, how, what and how much I needed to eat, for my body to work and be super healthy.
Their book, turned out to be my favorite resource for everything related to nutrition. Especially, because once you understand the basics, it becomes so easy to create a well-balanced plate and get all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet.
Their book contains everything from the supplements all vegans should take, the ones you might want to take if you’re not getting enough of some veggies in your regular meals. It includes calorie intake and meal planning for every single stage in a woman’s life, from childhood, to puberty, to pregnancy, lactation and menopause. It even includes extensive information on the latest research in prevention of the main diseases that affect women, all through a well planned plant-based diet.
All of this doesn’t even come close however, to what I believe is the little gem hidden inside the pages of this book. One that hangs proud and framed in a wall in my kitchen for easy referral: The Plant Plate.
This very simple illustration, which you can download and print from their website and find a full description and explanation for in the book, tells you at a glance, what your plant plate throughout the day should look like.
I’ve told you before, that the second question I get asked more frequently right after ‘Why are you Vegan?’ is ‘What do you eat?’. The answer to that question is an easy one to give, since you can easily describe to a person what your lunch looked like. What about an even more important question: ‘What should I eat?‘ or even better, ‘What do I need to pay attention to, when planning my yummy vegan meals?‘. This little illustration says it all, from supplements to debunking myths about things like the nutritional value of some plant-based milks, actual protein requirements, the need for calcium rich foods in our daily meals and realizing what foods are extras and which we have an actual nutritional need for. In the book the illustration is followed by an in-depth explanation of how to read it, and what a portion of each food should be. With flexibility and easy to understand tips, it is as simple and at the same time as complete an explanation I’ve read. I have it hanging on my kitchen wall, but it’s been months since I’ve had to glance at it since it really becomes so simple and automatic at the time of meal planning, once you get to know the basics.
Before you start thinking, ‘hold on a minute, I have to go through the challenge of going vegan and then I also have to worry about how to plan my meals?’, let me tell you, I’m about to burst your bubble. If we want to thrive and be healthy, we HAVE to start putting a little thought into our food prep and planning, whether we are vegan, vegan curious, vegetarian, dipping our toes in vegan waters or full on meat eaters trying to incorporate more healthy foods into our diets. Once we read and understand the basics, it’s done, we become awesome-nutrition info-packed meal planners!
This book is also incredibly helpful at the start of a new year when some people are trying to be at a healthy weight. It has one of the most comprehensive and helpful chapters on weight loss I’ve seen in any vegan book. With a realistic approach to weight loss based on actual scientific research, these ladies will take you by the hand while they help you understand why perhaps weight loss has been so challenging in the past. In this area, these ladies are truly rockstars. Ginny will guide you through the health aspects and scientific information and research behind weight control, and the amazing JL will help you with the social and emotional aspects of the way we view our bodies. JL is the creator of an amazing contributor supported website “Stop Chasing Skinny“, the ultimate guide to feeling happy and healthy at any weight and keeping health as the goal. Don’t you just love them?!
As if the tons of nutritional and medical information in this book weren’t enough, it is filled with lifestyle tips and a myriad of amazing finger-licking-good yet healthy recipes and meal plans. Their recipes include countless salads, and a special and unique focus on salad dressings, breakfast smoothies and other yummies, casseroles, chillies, soups, delicious sandwiches, scrumptious burgers, pizzas, pastas, hearty entrees even meat eaters will love, and of course, desserts.
Now boys, I know I told you I had a little something for you too! Ginny’s first book on vegan nutrition ‘Vegan for Life‘ co-written with nutritionist Jack Norris is also a wonderful resource filled with information on plant-based nutrition for both men and women. We’ll be talking about this book soon, as Jack Norris is a rockstar too and as such deserves his own special recognition.
Enjoy some of Ginny and JL’s online resources, and if you’re a woman, this book is an absolute must have. A true reference guide you’ll be coming back to again and again for guidance.
Thank you Ginny and JL for such an amazing resource for women!
You are definitely rockstars in our book.
Website: Vegan for Her
Ginny’s vegan nutrition website: The Vegan RD
JL’s blog: JL Goes Vegan
JL’s groundbreaking website for self acceptance: Stop Chasing Skinny