How do I get 100% targets on a vegan diet (with meal plans please)?

I’m a new vegan 14 year old, and have realized I’m not getting 100% targets, but only 50%. I take two supplements (one for Vitamin D and Calcium, the other has 60% Iron, 8% Calcium, close to 100 or more of Vitamin A, C, B12, and Folate, other vitamins too, 100% Zinc, Selenium, Manganese, and a little bit of copper). However, I’m having trouble getting protein (I eat very little protein), and some other minerals. I want to get a good amount of protein, but I don’t want to eat tofu too much because I’m afraid of having really big breasts even though I’m a girl lol. Sorry for the rant, but I need help.

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Answers

  • Beans and pulses are the usual sources of protein to substitute for all animal products. Chick peas and kidney beans are used in a lot of recipes.

    (I'm not vegan and don't have any vegan meal plans, but thought that my answer would break the silence here.)

  • Cronometer seems to have extremely high "requirements" for protein. I recommend Googling how many grams of protein you really need. If you're looking for suggestions on what to eat, try beans, quinoa, spirulina, hemp seeds, nuts (soak them for a while before eating them for better absorbtion" or even protein powder added to a smoothie. Tempeh is surprisingly high in protein.

  • @Vegan568

    If you're vegan for ethical reasons, I would highly recommend tweaking your ethics to accommodate at least some animal foods. If your approach is going to be nutritional, and less supplement oriented there are some nutrients you simply cannot get from plant foods, beyond vitamin D and B12. Actually, some of them aren't found as supplements either. Some of these nutrients are well studied, some aren't. But, I take the attitude that it is better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. So I eat a mix that is usually 50/50 plant foods and animal foods by calories. 50% carbs, 20% fat, and 30% protein usually.


    Honestly, the DRI for protein is probably too low. Protein is costly, so it was assessed with a slightly different attitude when the DRI was formulated. For fat and carbs, the attitude was centered around what we could get away with having, because fat and carbs are cheap. Protein is expensive, so the attitude was centered around assessing the bare minimum. Personally I eat at least 2.4g of protein per kg of lean mass. For me that ends up being about 150g of protein per day. I often exceed 180g of protein because I also incorporate collagen. So far as I can tell from the literature, this level of protein intake is optimal for nitrogen balance.


    Honestly, I have not encountered a single vegan whose ethics would actually warrant strict abstinence from animal foods. Once they distill down their core principles, there are always some animal foods they can incorporate. For example, I have not heard a single persuasive ethical argument against eating bivalves. If you're worried about getting zinc or B12, bivalves are great. If you ate them a couple times a week you'd be more resistant to deficiency than you are now. The only difference is you wouldn't be able to call yourself a vegan. So, if you refuse on the basis that bivalves aren't vegan, you'd have to ask yourself if your diet had more to do with adequate nutrition or more to do with pride or prestige.

  • Waffles, I'm curious to hear your rationale for that much protein. Do you have a link to a study or anything? Regarding vitamins, a b-12 supplement is cheap and easy. And regarding zinc I've actually been really thankful to Cronometer for showing me that I'm getting plenty in my diet (99% vegan) without supplementation. Iron too.

  • I think the better question is, can you point to any literature suggesting that less protein (<1g/kg LBM) as opposed to more protein (>2g/kg LBM) is optimal for muscle anabolism and nitrogen balance? To my knowledge there is none. Pretty much universally in clinical trials more protein is favourable to less protein. Virtually without exception (seriously, type "protein intake LBM anabolic randomized" into PubMed and try to find a study wherein the lower protein group did better). Personally, I know I don't make gains well on <100g per day. Closer to 200g per day, and bulking becomes pretty effortless.


    I'd be curious to know what your sources of zinc and iron are. To my knowledge the vegan foods most abundant in zinc and iron are legumes and seeds. But according to the literature, depending on the legume or seed, bioavailability can be as low as 1% in the case of iron in black beans, and as high as 18% in the case of chickpeas. Similar story for zinc. But 18% bioavailability at a dose delivering, like, 10% of the RDA would have me worried, personally. In my opinion those minerals are best delivered through animal foods because the bioavailability is nearly 100% for both and only limited by absorption caps set by your body. Personally I'd rather not have to worry about phytate, oxalates, or other chelating compounds when I can just eat a steak and a chunk of cheese.

  • Don't you find it a little odd that vegan diets must be supplemented and certain RDAs inflated to compensate for mineral-chelating compounds in plants? Doesn't that in fact mean that the vegan diet itself is actually displacing healthier choices in the form of animal foods? If you didn't have access to supplements, you'd have to admit that an omnivorous diet is healthier, because it would provide those missing or more difficult-to-get nutrients.

    Unless you're in effect suggesting that animal foods are in fact nutritious, but are so uniquely risky and/or damaging for other reasons that they aren't worth the nutrition they provide. In which case we'd just have to agree to disagree. I am firmly of the opinion that a plate of beef liver and bacon is nutritionally superior per gram or calorie to a plate of mixed fruit.

  • I just want to preface this by saying this is my personal opinion (as I try to answer questions as objectively as possible).

    I think where we might agree to disagree is on our view of supplements; I can acknowledge that a vegan diet does not meet 100% of all RDAs, while simultaneously recognizing that those RDAs may not be relevant to vegans (which means approaching them as conservatively as possible). From a population standpoint, we should be promoting a diet that does the most good for the greatest number of people and has the lowest impact on global warming. With regard to the latter, it's difficult to dispute that any other diet, other than plant-based, is the solution.

    With regard to nutrition, I tend to look at foods and diets as net positives vs. net negatives. For example, a plant-based diet can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, and provided it's unprocessed, tends to be protective against obesity and cancer. Yet, it needs to be supplemented. In this view, I feel like the benefits outweigh the negatives.

    With more animal-centric diets, I tend to consider if those animal products displace other, more nutritious foods and if there are any negative (measurable) effects of such a diet (which includes a consideration of the environmental impact of our food choices - all dietitians should be considering this IMO). While I do think small amounts of animal products have negligible impacts, we tend to struggle with moderation as a society. So my opinion on omnivore diets and the overall healthfullness and environmental benefit comes down to the specific type of diet that is followed.

    All this to say, I think there are many ways that humans can eat and be healthy but based on research (most recently the EAT Lancet report), I do think a more plant-centric diet has the greatest positive impact on both human and environmental health.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • "I think where we might agree to disagree is on our view of supplements; I can acknowledge that a vegan diet does not meet 100% of all RDAs, while simultaneously recognizing that those RDAs may not be relevant to vegans (which means approaching them as conservatively as possible)"

    That would be a BOLD assumption, and so far there is no evidence upon which to make it. In fact, some of the most robust prospective data on veganism consistently reveal poorer status of several nutrients, in addition to poorer health endpoints for women. As of yet, there is virtually no reason to believe that a vegan diet modulates the needs for different nutrients. Especially nutrients most likely to be problematic on a vegan diet: B12, vitamin D, zinc, iron, etc. I realize that you prefaced your statement by saying it was just an opinion. But, personally I'm actually shocked that an RD would even hold such an opinion. No offense.

    "With regard to nutrition, I tend to look at foods and diets as net positives vs. net negatives. For example, a plant-based diet can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, and provided it's unprocessed, tends to be protective against obesity and cancer. Yet, it needs to be supplemented. In this view, I feel like the benefits outweigh the negatives."

    Yes, a supplemented whole foods vegan diet is more nutritionally robust and more likely to be hypo- or eucaloric than the standard American diet. I agree. But a whole foods omnivorous diet is still superior to that by nearly every metric that is relevant. I don't particularly care about nutritional epidemiology or prospective cohort data. I mean, sure we MIGHT have to reckon with it, and if it is robust enough we have to integrate it. But the data suggesting animal foods are bad for health are consistently shaky and often equally powered, contradictory data can be found. These sorts of studies are used to inform hypotheses about nutrition and health. They're not in and of themselves answers, and it's incorrect to treat them like answers or imply they act as stand-ins for the truth in the absence of experimental data. We have plenty of natural experiments demonstrating that animal foods pose no obvious health risk in many traditional cultures around the world, even when eaten in abundance or even to the exclusion of most plant foods.

    "All this to say, I think there are many ways that humans can eat and be healthy but based on research (most recently the EAT Lancet report), I do think a more plant-centric diet has the greatest positive impact on both human and environmental health."

    As far as environmental considerations go, I don't see changes in consumer behaviour as a durable strategy to preventing environmental catastrophe. Personally, I'm fully persuaded that simply having fewer children is the least destructive path forward. Is eating meat bad for the planet? It depends on whether you're trying to feed 9 billion people or 1 billion people. Where you might choose veganism to meet your goals, I simply choose to not reproduce. Statistically, a vegan with solar panels on his roof and an electric car in his garage would have a greater carbon footprint than me if he had one child and I had none. Even if I ate an omnivorous diet, drove a normal car, and got my electricity from a hydroelectric dam.

  • But, I'm curious to know more about how you determine whether or not a dietary pattern is a net negative or a net positive, if not by measuring the nutrition the diet or foods provide. If an animal food is providing more nutrition than the plant food it may be displacing, how could that be a net negative nutritionally? If you can weigh the net positive vs net negative impact of different foods or dietary patterns reliably, perhaps you could tell me whether or not my diet is a net positive or net negative to my health. Here's a diary entry from a typical day for me. Just how much damage are these animal foods doing?


  • First, that post from BRBWaffles is very useful.

    On the issue of the impact of a vegan diet for the environment, one should bear in mind that many of the studies are based on the world as a whole. In the majority of places in the world, an end to animal agriculture can be achieved and would reduce climate change significantly. This is not the case in every area of the world though. If you live on an island off the coast of Scotland, eating the fish caught around your island has a lower carbon footprint than importing beans and pulses from thousands of miles away. You've probably read that land currently used for animals can be used more efficiently to grow fruit, vegetables, beans, etc. that can feed more people. That is not true all the time. In parts of Africa, there are areas where land is used for grazing cattle and cannot be used for growing anything. Even here in Britain, there are hilly areas used for grazing sheep that cannot be used for anything else.

    I can't fault vegans and greens for their concern for our planet, but I find it annoying when they don't consider the local situation of where they are. I can often tell that vegan groups are using text and statistics from their friends in North America. Their leaflets never mention lamb, which is not a common meat in the USA but is common in much of Europe. Factory farming cannot work for lamb meat. If you're serious about your impact on the ecosystem, you need to think about exactly which bit of the ecosystem is affected by you.

  • Very good post by BBWaffles.

    On the point about environmentalism, you should bear in mind that it depends on exactly where you live. When the UN make recommendations, they are general principles for the whole world, but they don't apply in every single place. If you live on a Scottish island, eating the fish caught off the coast has a lower carbon footprint than eating beans and pulses from thousands of miles away. When the UN says that land used for animal agriculture could be put to better use with plant-based food, they are not talking about 100% of animal-grazing land in the world. The most obvious examples here are desert areas where animals can be grazed but nothing can be grown. A very different example would be cold hilly areas. Even here in Britain, there are upland areas used for sheep grazing where the land could not be used for much else.

  • Hi @BRBWaffles

    We actually do have pretty good evidence to show that the body's ability to absorb iron improves on a plant-based diet. And you also bring up some good points:

    1. We can't make assumptions about diets unless we have rigorous and conclusive evidence to support our hypotheses. As such, we don't know how vegans adapt to absorbing nutrients since the trials don't exist or are small/short-lived. Just to reiterate, I'm not saying that vegans do absorb nutrients differently, rather that it's possible and we don't know yet.

    2. Research studies are always flawed (or biased. As a tangent, when I went to do my MSc, I couldn't find a research project that interested me AND wasn't supported by industry!). When it comes to any diet, we need to know a lot more details about the types of foods that are consumed. Nowadays, it's a lot more important to distinguish "whole-foods, plant-based" from "vegan" as there is a lot of processed food that has become the mainstay of vegan diets over the past 10 years; a processed diet is a processed diet at the end of the day. Similarly, when looking at omnivorous diets, we need to know the quality of food that was consumed. Doing this adds in a whole bunch of confounders that can often limit findings.

      From a nutritional standpoint, I don't believe in one superior diet (although, I do like to look to the Blue Zones for guidance). Even when someone is eating the "perfect" diet, there are other factors that influence health outcomes, such as mental health and loneliness. I also sometimes see people's pursuit of the perfect diet have a negative impact on social and emotional functioning.

    In terms of net positive vs. negative of nutrition, I tend to look beyond just measurable nutrients to things like inflammatory status, carbiometabolic profile and fitness, mental and emotional well-being, etc. The best research to date demonstrates that eating a predominantly plant-based and unprocessed diet can meet these outcomes. This doesn't necessarily mean that someone needs to eat vegan...but neither it suggest that vegans are suffering as a result. Of course, with better research, this can change.

    And I agree with the comment above; a local diet is also important for the environment.

    P.S. Do I get extra points for eating plant-based AND not having kids? LOL ;). But you are right, kids are adorable but our growing population is a problem.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • First, you don't need to hit 100% every day. Everyone needs varying amounts of each nutrient, depending on their individual bodies. The FDA set these "recommended daily values" high enough so that 95% of people would get what they needed.

    That said, I like to see that 100% on cronometer, just to see that it can be done. It's not something I aim for every day (that wouldn't be healthy because variety is very important as well) but JUST for fun.... I did it. I hit 100% of my daily values on everything except vitamin D (which I can supplement with pills or with the sun) and it's vegan.

    Be careful taking supplements, because some nutrients (like folate) are fine if you have large amounts from whole plant foods, but are DANGEROUS if you take too much via supplement.

    Try some variation of this:
    Breakfast: Smoothie with avocado, blueberries, spinach (at least 2 cups), and some high-calcium plant milk. (I added a serving of vegan protein powder to this, but I don't think it was necessary, since my protein was at 158% at the end of the day)

    Snack: Chocolate Chex, also with plant milk (small bowl as a snack for when the smoothie wears off, or as a sweet snack after dinner)

    Lunch: hummus with red bell pepper, baby carrots, plus a few dried figs and 2 oz raw almonds

    Dinner: chili with sweet potato, brown rice, pinto beans, diced tomatoes, chia seeds, salt

    Mine added up to about 1900 calories, but I'm very big and need a lot of calories. You can play with the portion sizes based on what you think you can/should eat.

  • I get worried when a 14yo wants to be vegan. I've a lot of medical friends, and they tell me that every anorexic at some point claims veganism - along with various food intolerances - as it gives them an excuse not to eat. And adolescence is a peak risk time for eating disorders.

  • @Kiashu

    You bring up a good point! One of my main research interests is the intersection between eating disorders and veganism. What the research says is that veganism is unlikely to lead to an eating disorder (i.e. no greater risk than any other eating pattern) but someone with underlying disordered eating is likely to be attracted to veganism as it's a means to restrict under the guise of ethics or environmentalism. Whenever a teen tells me they want to be vegan, I always ask about their motivations in addition to reviewing their diet. The great thing about eating vegan today is that there are a lot of fun foods (burgers, cakes, cookies, etc.) that can be veganized. If these are overly restricted or there is fear related to consuming these foods, my flag goes up.

    Happy to answer any other questions on this topic!

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • http://bit.do/aerovegan
    About 2500 calorie weekly plant-based meal preps (at least four weeks), perfected with Cronometer.

    http://calculatedvegan.wordpress.com
    All meta-analyses, reviews and systematic reviews from PubMed.gov in chronological order, self-summarized, having searched vegan, plant-based and strict vegetarian diet (including useful tidbits).

  • @Susan_RD_101

    I'm a vegan dietitian (12 years vegan, 8 years RD) and can reassure you that soy products will not cause breast tissue growth, or any other issues for that matter.

    Google this article: An unusual case of gynecomastia associated with soy product consumption, Jorge Martinez 1, Jack E Lewi (2008)

    Personally, I eat 2.5 servings of tofu per day. I wish there was more clarity on this issue though.

  • Here's what Harvard School of Public Health says:

    Ethnicity. Soy may be broken down and used by the body differently in different ethnic groups, which is why individuals from some countries who eat a lot of soy appear to benefit from the food.

    Hormone levels. Because soy can have estrogenic properties, its effects can vary depending on the existing level of hormones in the body. Premenopausal women have much higher circulating levels of estradiol—the major form of estrogen in the human body—than postmenopausal women. In this context soy may act like an anti-estrogen, but among postmenopausal women soy may act more like an estrogen.

    (Being a White male, maybe I should reconsider tofu ...)

  • @maxb

    I know that case report very well since it's the only example of breast tissue growth from soy consumption.

    Apparently this man was drinking 3 quarts (or 12 cups!) of soy milk per day.

    Other than this case, there aren't any other issues with soy causing breast tissue growth in males or females.

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • edited August 9

    @maxb

    Hormone levels. Because soy can have estrogenic properties, its effects can vary depending on the existing level of hormones in the body. Premenopausal women have much higher circulating levels of estradiol—the major form of estrogen in the human body—than postmenopausal women. In this context soy may act like an anti-estrogen, but among postmenopausal women soy may act more like an estrogen. Also, women with breast cancer are classified into hormone type—either hormone positive (ER+/PR+) or hormone negative (ER-/PR-) breast cancer—and these tumors respond differently to estrogens

    The website you mention is referencing this research:

    Baglia ML, et. al. The association of soy food consumption with the risk of subtype of breast cancers defined by hormone receptor and HER2 status. International journal of cancer. 2016 Aug 15;139(4):742-8.

    That's why the last sentence of that paragraph is talking about cancer. It's from a study about cancer. It appears the real concern about soy consumption is cancer rate (not adversely affecting hormone levels).

    It's a bit peculiar when people make such a fuss about soy, when dairy milk and concentrated dairy (e.g., cheese) has actual mammalian estrogen (opposed to plant estrogen from soy). Of course, I don't mean to equate the two, as they both have different effects in the body. But it is still ironic the emphasis put on soy products.

    2009
    Effects of soy protein and isoflavones on circulating hormone concentrations in pre- and post-menopausal women: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    forty-seven studies (11 of pre-, 35 of post- and 1 of perimenopausal women)

    isoflavones – soy phytoestrogen (which mimics estrogen in the body, beneficial in combating symptoms and conditions caused by estrogen deficiency)

    To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to compare the endocrine effects of different soy products on hormonal status in women at different lifecycle stages. It provides weak evidence that soy and isoflavones decrease FSH and LH in premenopausal women, and a suggestion that they may increase estradiol [estrogen steroid hormone and the major female sex hormone] in post-menopausal women.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2691652/
    ^ Letters to the Editor

    These estrone levels are important because in the meta-analysis of Hooper et al. (2009) […] evidence indicates that isoflavones will not increase breast cancer risk in healthy women or worsen the survival of breast cancer patients.

    https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/16/1/110/709455

  • @Susan_RD_101

    That case report directly contradicts what you wrote:

    I'm a vegan dietitian (12 years vegan, 8 years RD) and can reassure you that soy products will not cause breast tissue growth, or any other issues for that matter.

    You claimed, without reservations, that it could not happen.

    BTW, there are studies that show a positive association between soy consumption and breast size, but since almost no one does randomized controlled trials in nutrition, a mere "association" is not very informative.

    @share

    So are there cases of men who developed gyno from too much diary?

    ...

    FWIW I personally appreciate women with larger breasts, so I find the whole pursuit of smaller breasts borderline offensive.

  • lol three quarts

    drink three quarts of cow's milk a day and you'll get breasts, too - man boobs from being overweight.

    Soy milk is dumb, because soy is a bean, and milk is milk, let's not use chemistry to pretend one is another. But it's not harmful. God, this is like being on the Starting Strength forums again.

  • Impossible without supplements.

  • It’s totally possible. This guy does it all the time. So does Mic the Vegan.


    https://youtu.be/DnVzjRugKKU

  • edited August 16

    Nope, it's literally impossible to get Vitamin B12, Vitamin K2, Vitamin D3, Creatine, Carnosine, Docosahexaenoic acid, Heme iron and Taurine. There are also many other nutrients that are more bioavailable in animal-based food (especially in meat) than in plants.

  • Fortunately, the human body doesn’t need all of the things you just listed.

  • The human body needs vitamin B12 to make DNA and red blood cells, Docosahexaenoic acid for normal brain development and function. Heme iron is more well absorbed than non-heme iron, so you need less of it. Some people can't make Taurine and need to get it through diet to be able to grow nerves. Vitamin D is also very important because it's literally a hormone. You're clearly not very educated in nutrition or how the hman body works or what the human body needs, please educate yourself.

  • edited August 17

    maxb, I don't know what you're asking nor why you're asking me that question.

    quititz, most of those are not essential nutrients. (Your body creates/synthesizes non-essential nutrients.) In other words, your whole comment is a moot point. As for your second remark, yes--even B12 can be acquired "naturally" via nori seaweed. (It's just a bit funny, imo, to eat basically vegan sushi everyday because you don't want to drink B12 fortified soymilk, nutritional yeast or take a daily vegan multi.) DHA is gotten through ALA usually by eating the RDA amount of fat quantity (not from junk food though). Heme iron is more well absorbed, correct. So you need less of it than non-heme iron, incorrect. The body utilizes a lower quantity more efficiently...

    For the other nutrients, look up foods rich in whatever it is you strive to believe is so hard to get on a plant-based diet. Then enter the meals in Cronometer, and you'll see the day may need minor tweaking here and there just like any other diet. More often, it will exceed the RDAs. And for vitamin D hormone, take a 10-20 min walk or whatever for direct sunlight exposure. In college, I meditated with my back exposed. These days, I do this for my warm-up or cool-down run a part of daily exercise. Diet isn't everything!

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