Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians: Eating

I get a little tired of hearing that fasting isn't good for you health-wise. Well, actually, in the case of the person saying it that might be true, because chances are good that said person is doing this very, very wrong. The truth is that it's healthier than the average American diet (what isn't?) and good not just for mind and spirit but body as well. So let's just jump right in and count a few myths I've heard:

1. "Humans are supposed to eat meat. That's why they have canine teeth." Yes, massively underdeveloped ones. My counter is that humans also have super-long intestines that are great for absorbing every last vitamin out of vegetables but tend to cause meat to rot. Ewww. Let's move on.
2. "You can't get enough protein." Two counters: 1) Americans get too much protein from meat anyway, and 2) yes you can. More on that later.
3. "Make sure and take vitamins so you get enough protein." Whu?! Vitamins don't have protein--your food will. But you ought to take your vitamins--more on that later.

Onward!

First and most important is getting enough protein. You will eventually waste away eating white bread, white pasta, and potatoes. The combination of whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and legumes (beans, peas, lentils, and even the dreaded tofu) creates a lovely matching set of essential amino acids and makes--TA DA!--a complete protein. I've heard both that you must eat them together at every meal and that you can eat them separately and it'll add up at the end of the day, but I'm no scientist. Do what seems right to you. See? Annunciation and Palm Sunday aren't the only two days you'll get protein!

Best sources of protein? Among legumes, that oh-so annoying soy. Among grains, quinoa and amaranth. They have the closest to complete protein of all plants.

Vegan diets tend to be deficient in B12, so unless you love nutritional yeast or eat mushrooms like a mushroom-eating fiend, you should have some kind of one-a-day vitamin. Nutritional yeast, I should add, is not what gets put in bread: It's a cheesy-flavored, bright yellow stuff (clearly words fail me) that's insanely good for you. Ideally you'll eat delicious veggies to help with most of the vitamins you need.

Chances are good that you have plenty of extra fat hanging around, so you needn't suffer as a result of the fact that you can only have oil on specific days. After scientists said that fat isn't as bad for us as we thought and that olive oil is particularly good for you, we've practically been drinking the stuff. Check out a food pyramid sometime: If it isn't sponsored by McDonald's and claims that Chicken McNuggets are part of a healthy and balanced meal, then you'll see that oil takes up a tiny nubbin of the pyramid.

Next time I'll do a little bit on cooking.

1 comment:

bre said...

ezekiel bread is great and a perfect protein as well. We typically fast a few times a year (daniel fast and regular) and always feel so much better after. A daniel fast is so good for your body and I really believe it detoxes your body. Its so nice because you don't crave the refined stuff afterwards as badly. Does that make sense? Although I did cry when I ate pizza after a 21 day fast. It was just so good I teared up. LOL

Good for you Chandler! I am proud of you. You can do it!