What do vegans eat?
On a plant-based diet, meat, dairy and other animal by-products are off-limits. Here’s what vegans eat insteadBy Katharine Watts
Brendan Brazier is a former Ironman, an Ultra Marathon Champion, an author and the creator of an award-winning nutritional product line. He can lift heavy things, run long distances, and has a killer abs. Oh yeah—and he’s vegan.
Thanks to him, vegans (like me) don’t need to explain that avoiding animal products is a healthy lifestyle choice. All I need to do is show people a photo of his 8-pack (seriously, Google it), and say “that’s how healthy veganism can be.”
Of course, I understand that people have questions. A diet that eschews meat and dairy isn’t exactly the norm. That being said, I’ve been asked the same questions (What do you eat? How do you get protein?) since I was 8-years-old and became vegetarian. When I went vegan two years ago, it only escalated (Do you have an iron deficiency? Are you going to die?!)
My standard response to these questions has become increasingly sarcastic over the years, and I fear it’s starting to put people off.
So I’ve decided to actually share the answers to questions people have about plant-based diets. And because people probably don’t care what I, personally, eat, I decided to ask the super-fit, extremely muscular vegan athlete, Brendan Brazier, what he eats.
Without further ado, here are some of the most common questions people ask vegans, and the answers Brendan Brazier has for them.
Best Health: What do you eat? How do you get your protein?
Brendan Brazier: Legumes, beans, peas, seeds in general, hemp, chia, flax, greens, chlorella.
What’s your favourite homemade meal?
I really like the pizza recipes from The Thrive Diet, which have beans, lentils, sunflower, seeds and beets as the crust, so the protein is actually in the crust. Then you put vegetables on top and bake them.
What do you eat when you’re on the road?
I like lots of different types of smoothies. I have VEGA (his line of whole food nutritional products) chocolate protein powder with almond butter, banana and blueberries. That’s really good. It’s like a creamy chocolate almond smoothie.
What do you eat on an average day?
I usually run in the morning. So I’ll wake up and have a pre-workout energizer, go out for a run, come back and have a smoothie. I eat quite a lot of fruit, nuts and seeds. And I like sprouted bread quite a lot. I put avocado, sprouts and salsa on it as well.
For dinner, I usually have a big salad, with all different types of greens; spring mix, kale, avocado, sprouts. I tear up nori (seaweed) sheets, and add carrots, beets and cucumber as well.
What do you eat for dessert?
Usually I just have fruit or whatever, but I’ve had some really good raw pie. The crusts are made from dates and walnuts and coconut. They’re really good.
What are your favourite restaurants?
I like Live (Organic Raw, in Toronto) a lot. Of course Thrive Juice Bar in Kitchener Waterloo. In L.A. there’s Real Food daily and Café gratitude. In NY there’s Jivamukti Café and Candle 79.
What do you eat at restaurants?
I go through stages. I love big bowls like the ones at Live (which have either a grain or noodle base, with tempeh or tofu and steamed greens, chickpeas, black beans and sauce).
Do you avoid any foods that aren’t animal-derived?
White flour, any kind of flour really. Any kind of isolates, soy, whey isolates. Anything that’s highly processed and oils that are processed. Refined carbs.
Do you ever “cheat” on your vegan diet?
I stick to it, I have no desire to eat any other stuff. I don’t crave meat or dairy at all, I don’t even like it. My palate is just so used to what I eat.
What’s the point of this whole veganism thing?
I feel really good, have lots of energy, don’t need to sleep a lot, recover quickly from exercise, I’m able to do what I want, really, as far as performance. Not being dependent on stimulants like coffee or sugar; all those things are really good. I also have greater mental clarity and the ability to do more.
Want to try some planet-based recipes? Check out Brendan’s favourite: Sunflower Seed Beet Pizza, and head over to Best Health’s blog for weekly Meatless Monday recipes.
Katharine isn't just a web editor here at Best Health, she also blogs about healthy baking at Pastry Addict.
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