What a vegan nutritionist REALLY eats (hint: it’s not all birdseed!)
Ever wondered what a vegan nutritionist actually eats? Is it all green smoothies and activated almonds? We sat down with Activated Nutrients’ Nutrition Scientist (and Accredited Nutritionist) to get the scoop.
Hi, I’m Lucy! I’ve been vegan for 5 years for ethical and health reasons. I describe my diet as ‘whole food, plant-based’ rather than ‘vegan’, because I prefer to focus on whole plant foods, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and minimising processed foods. When I initially went vegan, I definitely relied too heavily on veggie sausages and other processed foods, but over time I’ve learned about to prepare delicious and nourishing dishes using beans, lentils, vegetables, and grains. So, now I’ve nailed it, here’s how I go about my delicious vegan day!
I start the day with a pot of caffeine-free herbal tea, which I sip as I’m getting ready for work.
Through winter, I usually make oat and flaxseed porridge for breakfast, which I cook with water and a splash of soy milk to make it creamy. I top my porridge with a heaped spoonful of ground flaxseed, sliced banana or berries, and a dollop of almond butter, or a small handful of walnuts. This is one of my favourite breakfasts, as it’s packed with soluble fibre, which keeps me going through the morning without needing to snack. I’m a big fan of ground flaxseed - it’s packed with plant-based omega-3 fats, and is rich in phytonutrients, so I make sure to include it every day.
My summer brekky is usually a big smoothie bowl made with frozen berries and banana, soy milk and chia seeds, topped with muesli and some sliced fresh fruit.
A strong soy latte. Many of my clients tell me their daily coffee is one of their ‘bad habits’ or ‘guilty pleasures’, but the idea that coffee is unhealthy is not supported by the scientific evidence. In fact, a large review published last year in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that the consumption of 3-4 cups of coffee per day was actually associated with a wide range of health benefits, relating to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties . I thoroughly enjoy my daily coffee (or two) and never feel guilty about it! Keep in mind that if you are prone to low iron levels, avoid drinking coffee with main meals, as it can inhibit dietary iron absorption.
For easy weekday work lunches, I usually just just throw together a cold bean salad in the morning, which I load up with salad veggies (usually cherry tomatoes, cucumber, baby spinach and capsicum). I also make a quick lemon and tahini dressing, add a spoonful of sauerkraut, and top it with a sprinkle of seeds for a bit of crunch. For a bit of extra carbohydrate, I’ll take a slice or two of rye sourdough bread to have on the side.
To combat the 3pm energy slump, I’ll usually snack on some fresh berries and have a kombucha, or a matcha latte if I’m out and about.
I go straight to boxing training after work, so by the time I get home I’m usually pretty hungry, so I prefer to have something pre-cooked that’s ready to reheat and go. Twice a week I’ll batch-cook a bean or lentil dish, such as a chickpea and pumpkin curry, or a lentil dahl, which I serve with brown rice, or a lentil bolognese with whole grain pasta. I make sure I’ve got fresh green vegetables in the fridge to have as a side dish, such as broccoli or Asian greens, which I’ll steam and have with some lemon juice and tahini.
A small cup of herbal tea, and maybe something sweet, such as a bliss ball or some dried fruit.
So there you have it - I’ve ticked all my nutritional boxes and enjoyed plenty of delicious food along the way. And remember, you don’t need to be a vegan to enjoy plant-based food - anyone can take a part-time approach and mix in a meat-free day here and there. Your body will thank you!
- Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes | The BMJ [Internet]. [cited 2018 Oct 3].