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Can You Really Get What You Need From A Vegan Diet?

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Can you get enough protein on a plant-only diet?  What about calcium?  Iron?”  Etc.

I am often asked these types of questions and, as always, I am happy to answer them. I want to clear up any concerns as I believe a plant-based diet, when done right, is the healthiest, easiest, least expensive and most sustainable diet there is.

Before continuing, let me preface this by saying a few things in general…

  • Cows are huge and strong. They’re on a plant based diet
  • Gorillas are huge and strong. They’re on a plant based diet
  • No other mammal in nature consumes the milk of other mammals. (It’s not natural to consume milk after the weaning process, especially from other animals.)
  • While there’s a right way to be vegan, there is also a wrong way to be vegan.  I would never claim that you could get all you needed from a diet loaded with vegan cookies, donuts, chips and sodas (all vegan but little to no health value).
  • The countries with the highest dairy consumption (France, Sweden, and the Netherlands) also have the highest rates of osteoporosis.  Dairy milk for strong bones is propaganda, not science.  This is easily validated.

All that said, let’s look at some facts.  The chart below compares the following 5 foods:

  • 1.2 ounces of beef sirloin (about the size of your thumb)
  • 6.5 ounces of 2% dairy milk (a small cup)
  • 16 ounces of spinach (one of those large plastic boxes)
  • 21 ounces of Romaine lettuce (a large head)
  • 7 ounces of kale (and average-size head)

Nutrients

Beef sirloin

1.2 oz.

2% milk

6.5 oz.

Spinach

16 oz.

Romaine

21 oz.

Kale

7oz.

Calories 101.38 101.54 99.79 95.26 99.23
Protein grams 8.51 6.97 13.15 9.53 6.55
Fat grams 7.21 3.78 1.81 1.19 1.39
Carbohydrates grams 0 9.95 15.88 14.29 19.85
Sodium mg 20.75

104.33

358.34

47.63 85.33
Vitamin A IU 0 406.15 30459.24 15479.1 17662.05
Vitamin C mg 0 1.99 127.46 142.88 238.14
Saturated Fat grams 2.91 2.39 0.27 0.18 0.18
Cholesterol mg 28.24

15.93

0 0

0

Water % 52.8 88.9 91.6 94.9 84.5
Total Dietary Fiber grams 0 0 12.25 14.29 3.97
Calcium mg 2.72 254.84 449.06 214.33 267.91
Phosphorus mg 62.6 199.1 222.26 267.91 111.13
Iron mg 0.92 0.2 12.25 6.55 3.37
Potassium mg 120.77 322.73 2531.09 1726.52 887.07
Thiamin mg 0.03 0.08 0.35 0.6 0.22
Riboflavin mg 0.07 0.34 0.86 0.6 0.26

Niacin mg

1.39 0.18 3.27 2.98

1.98

The reason that these amounts were chosen was to get each food to 100 calorie portions.  This is not to say that you should consume that amount— it’s just to be fair when comparing them.  When you look at this chart, think in terms of, “How much nutrition do I get per 100 calories?”  Check out the protein, calcium, iron, vitamin c, etc.  The only area that the animal products take lead is in FAT (and not the good kind).  This doesn’t account for the fact that animal products tend to carry more disease, bacteria, etc., and are also normally more difficult to digest.  If you need to get a lot of nutrition without consuming COPIOUS amounts of calories, plants are for sure the way to go!

 

Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease.  It does not take the place of a health care practitioner.  It is for educational purposes only.
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