Vegan and Loving It- Asha Shares Her Hot Tips For Health And Vitality

By Ange & Asha

This week we welcome a guest post from our Trainer, Asha Khan, who shares her hot tips for being vegan!

Slowly but surely veganism is gaining a foothold in public consciousness. It is a very popular, sometimes vilified way of living and with its rise in popularity comes an increase in questions about what exactly it requires to be vegan. I am going to do my best to explain exactly why I am vegan and how I go about it.

Why did I become vegan?
It started out as an experiment. Over the course of November and December 2017 I cut meat out completely. Prior to that I was consuming meat maximum once a fortnight, it just wasn’t a big part of what we ate as a family. Until the end of January 2018 I was still eating dairy products – I really really really loved cheese.

I have actually pin pointed the exact moment in time when I swapped from vegetarian to full blown vegan. It was on a rainy car ride home from Airey’s Inlet. We decided to get a coffee to have on the way and I thought that I may as well try one with soy milk, turns out soy milk in coffee is bloody delicious.

Now its February 2019 and I have been vegan for just over a year. I have slipped up a couple of times, accidently eating something with egg white or whey protein (one time I was absent minded snacking on honey soy chicken chips before thinking to myself that this definitely isn’t vegan and I should probably stop) but I didn’t beat myself up about it – it takes a while to wrap your head around all the products with sneaky animal or dairy based ingredients.

All protein, even that found in meat and dairy, originally came from plants. The protein we get from eating animal and dairy products exists because the herbivore it came from had the ability to breakdown tough proteins found in plant cells which we then consume by eating their meat.

You can meet your protein requirement on a plant-based diet, but it usually requires the consumption of a higher volume of food (yay!). For example, 100g of chicken breast has around 20g of protein, 100g of broccoli has only 2g. To combat this, I eat a variety of things that have higher protein contents such as kidney beans, cannellini beans, home made hummus, tofu and edamame to name a few. I also look out for protein-fortified milks (oat, almond, soy) and snacks just to bump up my intake. Eating lots of different foods also guarantees I am getting all the 9 essential amino acids (the ones we can’t make ourselves) as dairy and meat products contain these in higher quantities than plant based foods. I try to plan out my dinners a few nights in advance, that way I am not rushing around and thinking ‘I won’t bother adding tofu’ because that’s 18g of protein I will have missed out on. I am not going to lie and say its super easy, but it is doable. Some days I forget to take lunch to work or I don’t have much of an appetite and I will miss my protein intake but a day here and there as long as it isn’t a habit, won’t affect your ability to train.

I was taking iron tablets well before I was vegetarian and vegan, like a lot of women I am anaemic regardless of what I eat.

Vitamin B12 is a supplement that I encourage all vegetarians and vegans to take regularly as animals and plants do not naturally make B12. Animal and dairy products contain B12 as the animals consume the microorganisms (bacteria, fungi etc) that produce it and then concentrate it in their flesh, plants do not. The only way as a vegan to have sufficient B12 is to consume fortified foods multiple times a day or take a supplement.

I take a daily calcium tablet because even though my diet included heaps of veggies and products that contained calcium, my nails were still brittle and my hair was still thinning. I take the calcium tablet as a simple way to make sure I reach the recommended daily intake of 1000mg/day. With any calcium supplement you should take one that also contains vitamin D either separately or within the calcium tablet – your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium properly.

Protein powder
I am a big fan of using protein powder to hit your required daily intake! I have two different protein powders that I use regularly.
Firstly, I use this unflavoured pea protein. Not going to lie, it tastes horrible on its own, like eating a mouthful of dirt. But! It works really well with coconut milk so I add it in any time I cook with coconut milk or coconut cream.

I also use Bondi Protein Co protein powder, chocolate flavour. This is a recent addition as I found I have been getting too busy to shop and have been running out of everything except potatoes.

Food diary:
Breakfast – Avocado, tomato and vegemite toasty and some steamed vegies on the side because..

1. I like the taste and

2. I have a large appetite so it helps keep me satiated.

Lunch – brown rice, spinach, carrot, tomato, pine nuts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, avocado, kidney beans.

Dinner – Roast vegie bowl with white and sweet potato, mushrooms, zucchini, carrot and tofu with a coconut milk sauce (contains turmeric, cumin, mixed diced vegies and cannellini beans). Sometimes I will add brown rice if I am feeling especially hungry.

Snacks – Throughout the day I may have a muesli bar (see the pic), carrots and hummus and some cannellini beans to nibble. I am also a big fan of natural peanut butter on apple and celery and just with a spoon, sadly my boyfriend is allergic and has the nose of a blood hound when it comes to peanut butter so I can’t have it in the house!

Treats – I practice intuitive eating. I don’t track macros (I do check on grams of protein though), count calories or intermittent fast and if I want a treat I will have it. I have fallen into the terrible diet pit so many times (even battled an eating disorder in year 10) and finally took a step back and reminded myself that my body knows what it needs to work properly so I should trust it and listen to it. It also knows what it wants and if it yells loud enough, we go buy ice cream (Cocofrio iced coffee flavour!) and instead of beating myself up about it, I will just enjoy it. Doing this has meant that my unhealthy snacks (hot chips and ice cream) are naturally capped at a level that won’t impact my overall nutrition or training, by listening to my body I know when it’s a boredom craving VS an ‘it has been a little while since I had a treat’ craving. I make the healthier ice cream choices when available e.g. dairy
free halo top, Cocofrio and dark chocolate but sometimes its Ben and Jerry’s or nothing.

Having said that, I am a supporter of tracking macro’s and calorie counting when you know that’s what works for your body and your mental health. Personally I do not like being bogged down with numbers because I know that I get obsessive, I haven’t weighed myself in over a year. However, I appreciate that macro counting can be an amazing tool for gaining muscle or losing weight!

My Favourite Cookbook

Isa Chandra Moskowitz has amazing cook books, recipes range from super healthy to occasional treats. Her food is colourful and tasty – my favourite cookbook is Isa Does It.

If you enjoyed learning from Asha, let us know. You can reach out to her direct too on Instagram @asharoise_khan.

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Our founder

Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.

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