person holding sliced vegetable
Nutrition and Food, Personal Care

New Course Alert!

I’m so excited to announce that my first educational course, Getting Started on a Plant-based Diet, is here!

I designed this course with you in mind. It’s designed for everyone because everyone can benefit from adding more plants to their diet. As a Registered Dietitian you know I’m passionate about evidence-based practice and this course has been designed to be equivalent to a 1:1 session with me. It covers macro and micronutrients, supplementation, and so much more!

So what are you waiting for? Check out my Teachable content and let me know what you think! What should my next course be? Comment below or send me a message!

Nutrition and Food, Product Reviews

Is Creatine Worth Supplementing?

I’ve always been very choosy with my supplements both for safety and quality reasons but also for financial. There are many supplements on the market that can be overkill when someone is eating a balanced diet that result in creating expensive urine.

Why would I spend extra money on something that I’m already getting plenty of in my dietary habits? Additionally being picky has meant that many supplements just didn’t appeal to me since they didn’t have the third- party certifications I look for.

Except that I’m probably not getting plenty of creatine because of my choice of diet. I follow a vegan diet, and as I’ll explain later this means I would likely benefit from supplementation of creatine. It’s also worth noting here that creatine monohydrate is vegan-friendly. If you follow a vegetarian diet of any type you’ll also want to keep reading.

If you’re new to supplements or don’t really know the quality/safety specifics I recommend checking out my previous post Let’s Chat: Supplements to learn more.

Some Science

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance. Your body makes creatine in the liver, kidneys and pancreas and converts it into creatine phosphate (or phosphocreatine) and stored in your muscles where it can be used for energy. When you engage in short duration, high intensity bursts of activity (think HIIT, sprinting, weight lifting) phosphocreatine is used in your body.

Despite there being numerous studies looking at creatine’s ability to improve athletic performance, not all bodies are the same and therefore not everyone’s body responds to creatine the same way. Dietary intake of creatine can also influence your body’s response to supplementation. Some individuals may have more naturally occurring creatine in their body from their diet and therefore not see the same benefit from supplementation as someone who has a lower storage amount.

Vegans and vegetarians are a population who tend to have lower overall creatine stores; likely because of the omission of meat and fish from their diets. It has been demonstrated that increasing creatine through supplementation may be more beneficial for vegetarians (all types who avoid meat and fish) when compared to non-vegetarians.

Some studies have demonstrated that creatine supplementation can be helpful for people with muscle weakness due to illness. However, the majority of people interested in taking creatine are here because they want to improve their athletic performance.

It’s important to reiterate that creatine has been demonstrated to improve exercise associated with high bursts of energy in short durations and not necessarily in endurance based exercise. Study results looking into its ability to improve endurance based activity performance has been mixed.

My Experience

My first time trying creatine was honestly because Vitalura Labs released one. I immediately bought theirs to try, one because I practice what I preach and I want to support this amazing company, but two because I knew it would be top quality. Every product in their product line has been top notch with NSF certification so I knew their creatine would be no different.

Scoop size next to a coffee cup for reference.

I started taking it about 7 weeks ago. Honestly, at first I didn’t notice much. It was easy to mix into just about anything since it’s a small amount of powder.

But like any change it takes time to notice anything, good or bad. I kept with it and have now been taking it regularly for a little over a month. By about week 5 of taking 5g creatine daily I noticed a significant development that kept me going on the creatine train.

What I Found

While doing my usual lower body routine one day I decided to try increasing the weight stack, just to see if I could complete a rep or 2 at the higher weight. To my surprise, not only was I able to complete 2 reps, I was able to do my entire planned set at that higher weight. The weight isn’t a lot when compared to body builders and hardcore weight lifters, but it was a weight level that I have never successfully been able to lift for more than 1 set of 3 reps. Let me tell you, I was so excited that I immediately checked the weight stack again just to be sure that I wasn’t hallucinating.

Of course there’s a bit to unpack here. Obviously I’ve been very consistently working out and working toward a specific goal. I’m not belittling the effect that consistent strength work can have on your ability to lift more weight. What I think is important to share here is that I didn’t experience the expected and usual fatigue that would set in so quickly whenever I had previously tried to lift the same amount of weight. That ability to push more is where I give the creatine credit.

Another side effect that I did notice was a slight increase in my body weight, very likely due to water retention. This is a known creatine side effect and not one to fear. Water weight gain isn’t real mass and will leave when you stop using it. My own experience of stopping creatine to see if the water retention disappeared worked and I was at my “normal” weight within a week.

It’s important to note that the amount of water retention someone experiences is also relative and different for everyone. The water retention level that someone experiences will depend on their muscle mass and the type of muscle. The majority of creatine is found in your type II (aka fast twitch) muscle. Logically this makes sense as creatine has been found to improve athletic performance for shorter bursts of power. So if you’re someone who is powerful for shorter bursts of time you may find that you also retain a little more water.

As always I want to disclose that I’m an affiliate with Vitalura Labs. I was super excited to find that they sent me my own bag of creatine to try about a week after I bought mine. Thank you to everyone who shops through my links; if you missed it this post might help you understand how important you are.

Are you ready to try creatine with me? You can shop all things Vitalura Labs and even set up subscriptions of their products so you never run out. Use code “SARAHMILLER” for free shipping.

Nutrition and Food

Vegan on a Budget

Food budgeting is a common household need, regardless of what type of diet you follow. There is a common misconception that eating vegan or plant-based is inherently more expensive. This post is here to help you navigate your local grocery store and show you that eating more plant-based doesn’t have to mean eating more expensive.

Beans

Beans are one of the most inexpensive sources of protein you will find at your local grocery store. I recommend purchasing dried beans in bulk to prepare as needed, or canned with no added sodium. Dried beans also have a long shelf life so you’re likely to reduce your total food waste.

Nutritional Yeast

A common way to impart umami flavoring for savory dishes, nutritional yeast is a vegan source of protein that is also a great source of vitamin B12. You can find this at most grocery stores and even online.

Not sure what nutritional yeast is or how to use it? Read more about this awesome product and why you should consume it while following a vegan diet.

Lentils

Tired of beans? Lentils are an excellent source of plant-based protein that can be used in a myriad of ways. If you have a Trader Joe’s (TJ’s) near you, they also sell ready-to-use lentils to save you time. You can find them in the refrigerated section near the produce at most TJ’s locations.

Seitan

This meatless alternative is super versatile and has a similar texture to meat. It is made from wheat gluten so if you have celiac this is NOT a product for you. For individuals who don’t have a wheat allergy this is an excellent and inexpensive source of protein. You can even find many different recipes to make your own seitan using a few items you may already have in your pantry.

Tofu

Tofu is probably one of my favorite foods. Tofu is made using soy beans which have all 9 essential amino acids, so it is classified as a complete protein. Depending on the type of tofu you buy the protein content may vary. Many Asian markets sell tofu for much less than a traditional grocery store, too, so I recommend seeing what shops are in your area and comparing prices.

Many people who don’t care for tofu have honestly not had it prepared correctly or in a way that they like yet. The texture and ways to best prepare tofu are determined by the type that you choose to purchase. For “beginner” tofu eaters I generally recommend eating the firmer varieties as the squish of softer, silken tofu may put some people off to its mouth-feel.

Note: tofu is similar to chicken, meaning that it has practically no taste on its own. Eating plain tofu is another behavior I would consider more “advanced” and not recommended for newbies. Most people who enjoy tofu will tell you that marinating and sauces go a long way with this versatile protein source.

Fruits/Vegetables

There’s a common misconception that fresh fruits/vegetables are always the most superior form, when compared to frozen or canned. However, frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested and processed at their peak meaning that many times they are better tasting and at peak nutritional value when compared to fresh produce.

Like any food product there are some options that are more healthful than others. I generally recommend avoiding frozen produce that has large amounts of added sodium and/or added sauces. This way you still have control over the spices and additives in your fruits/vegetables.

If canned is your preferred or only available option, try to choose varieties of fruits/vegetables that have no or minimal added sodium as well as avoiding fruits in added syrups. This will help limit your intake of added salt and sugars. I also recommend rinsing canned vegetables and beans to help remove some of the sodium that may have been added.

Shop the Sales

Another great way to stay within your weekly grocery budget is to try and make meals based on the items on sale that week at your local grocer. This strategy can sometimes be a bit difficult for fresh items, but definitely one you want to use when shopping for pantry staples and shelf stable food items.

Happy Shopping

Hope you found this information helpful! Check out this previous blog post for tips on transitioning to a plant-based diet.

Personal Care

An End to Ads, 1 Click at a Time

This morning I decided I wanted to find a recipe for an easy, vegan caramel date sauce. A friend had sent me one a few months ago, but alas I couldn’t remember where it was or which site she had sent. Of course there are a million recipes online, so like most people I simply clicked on the first one from my Google search. That’s when my frustration began.

Ads. Every site you visit is so over run with advertisements that it’s almost impossible to actually read or use the content the person created. Eventually I gave up with that first Google hit and went back to select the next. And you know what? More of the same. So many advertisements and pop-ups that I couldn’t even read the recipe.

Rather than having this be a purely negative post, I decided I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you. I understand that I’m in a privileged position choosing to avoid pop-up ads and other annoyances that help monetize a site so that the creator can get paid. A big part of why I can do this is because of you.

Every time you “buy me a coffee”, make a purchase through one of my affiliate links, pass along my promo code(s), or refer a friend to me for Dietitian services I get paid. Some of these options obviously return more than others, but ALL of them are ways to help me keep this site advertisement and tracker free. And YOU make that possible.

So thank you; from the bottom of my heart. I truly appreciate your contribution to keeping this site and my brand how I envision it to be: a safe space where people can come to find evidence-based, credible information from a professional who is truly passionate about nutrition for health.

Nutrition and Food, Product Reviews

Meal kit face-off Hello Fresh vs. Purple Carrot

Meal delivery services and kits are one of the greatest ideas to have evolved in the last decade; especially for people who have a super busy schedule. Not only do these services take care of the grocery shopping but the mental fatigue involved with deciding, “what should we have for dinner” is also happily handed off.

I’ve always been curious about meal kit services but never tried one. Since I follow a pretty specific diet I wasn’t able to find a service that would meet my dietary requirements when they first came out. Luckily most delivery kits have some sort of plant-based option(s) available making cooking for me in my multi picky eater household a little easier. There are many out there to choose from but I decided to give Hello Fresh and Purple Carrot a chance.

Hello Fresh

I decided to try Hello Fresh when a friend of mine passed along a discounted trial coupon.

Pros of Hello Fresh

  1. No grocery shopping- huge time saver
  2. App was easy to use to modify and make changes to my delivery
  3. Meals designed to be crowd pleasers 
  4. Priced well
     

Cons of Hello Fresh

  1. Not enough vegan options 
  2. Menu was a bit boring and repetitive

Ultimately the deal breaker for me was the lack of vegan options. This meant I had to micromanage our delivery every week to make sure I was either choosing things I could later veganize, were already vegan, or needed to skip. Their menu options of plant-based items usually involved dairy, which is great for some people but a no for me. Price point was pretty good and I did feel that Hello Fresh is one of the best priced options available. If you follow a lacto-ovo or lactovegetarian diet then Hello Fresh might work better for you than it did for me. 


Purple Carrot

I can’t even remember anymore where I first heard of Purple Carrot. The decision to try came from a random day of me looking up new recipes to cook at home. One of the recipes was from the Purple Carrot website and next thing I knew I was signing up for a trial box.

Pros of Purple Carrot

  1. Entirely plant-based vegan menu- no need to micromanage delivery
  2. Exciting recipes and variable flavor profiles
  3. High quality ingredients
  4. Also offers a pre-made meal option and “plantry”

Cons of Purple Carrot

  1. A bit more expensive than Hello Fresh

The only con I’ve experienced is that Purple Carrot is a tad more expensive than Hello Fresh. However, the price point is on par with what you would pay at the grocery store for the week’s worth of groceries. And you didn’t have to go to the store, plan the menu, or micromanage the meals arriving in the box. Purple Carrot even offers pre-made meals and a “plantry” so you can include extras you would’ve picked up at the store.

Winner: Purple Carrot

If you’re vegan or vegan curious, or follow a mostly plant-based diet  I highly recommend Purple Carrot. The menu selection is huge- and it’s all vegan. All of it. There’s no need to micromanage or worry that you’re accidentally forgetting to swap an ingredient. The recipes range from easy to more advanced both in flavor profile and cooking skill. They even started including some produce items pre-chopped making it even quicker for you to make dinner on a busy night. Purple Carrot is great for people who like to taste new flavors- every meal I’ve made has been delicious. The recipe developers are amazing. 

 

Nutrition and Food, Product Reviews

Vitalura Labs Whey Protein Isolate Review

The product in this review was gifted to me by Vitalura Labs. My professional opinion and analysis in this article are my own.

Vitalura Labs is the new kid on the block in the protein supplement world, but they are definitely here to stay.  Their plant-based vanilla gelato flavor is, in my professional opinion, one of the best on the market. So when they reached out to me about their new whey protein powder, I couldn’t wait to try it even though it’s not vegan.

If you are vegan, you can read my previous review of their vegan protein powder.

Yes, I identify as vegan but…

The Registered Dietitian side of me recognizes that not everyone can or has an interest in following a vegan or plant-based only diet.  For that reason I like to stay informed about non-vegan products in addition to vegan products. Honestly, how is anyone supposed to know what’s out there on the market if they aren’t checking for it or reading about it? This is true for Dietitians, too. Staying informed helps me better serve my clients, no matter where they are in their health journey.

As a Registered Dietitian I also recognize that not every product is of high quality. There are oodles of supplements on the market that don’t have any third party testing or certifications to validate and back-up their label’s statements. The supplement industry is a lot like the wild wild west that way in that the burden is on the consumer to find a product that is what it claims to be. The scary part is many consumers don’t know that supplements aren’t required to go through testing or forced to prove that they are safe before they are sold on store shelves. 

TLDR; The new Vitalura Labs whey protein supplement has the quality we have come to expect from Anna Victoria’s brands and has the taste, nutrition quality and third-party testing that makes it an unstoppable new comer with the power to take on big name brands who have been around for a while. 

Product breakdown

1. Taste- I tend to prefer vanilla flavored protein powders, simply because the chocolate ones usually have this strange protein after taste that sort of coats your tongue. I’m sure many of you know what I’m trying to describe. I wasn’t always vegan so I have tried many whey based protein drinks and powders in my past and they all had this weird, lingering smell and taste. Not Vitalura Labs. The two flavors for their whey protein powder are chocolate gelato and vanilla gelato. I personally preferred the chocolate gelato flavor for the first time in probably a decade. 

Upon opening the package and taking my first whiff, I legit felt like I was transported back to Italy in one of the many gelato shops my husband and I stopped inside of to snack. The powder is uniformly smooth, free of any visible clumping, making it appealing to your eyes, too. There is no unpleasant aftertaste and there definitely is no weird smell or coating on my tongue after eating or drinking. 

The chocolate is so good that I’ve been using it nightly to make banana chocolate nice-cream and meet my protein goals. It actually feels like I’m eating an Americanized chocolate gelato. I know what you’re all thinking, “What?! A protein powder so good that you’re making it into desserts?! No way.”  Believe it. I also made black bean brownies using this powder and was not disappointed.  The taste is unbeatable compared to competitors currently on the market. 

2. Quality- Vitalura Labs whey protein is NSF certified just like their plant-based protein powder. You may remember from my previous review that NSF certified means you can fully trust the label on the product. Vitalura Labs has paid to have their product tested by a third company who is in no way affiliated with them, to test and determine if their product has exactly what they claim it has and nothing more or less. 

Real talk- many protein powders, especially of the whey variety, can cause bloating. This usually speaks to the quality (or lack of) in the whey used, or the additives. I fully prepared myself for possible whey bloat considering I also haven’t consumed dairy in a few years now. The bloat never came. I was shocked to have consumed a whey protein product that didn’t upset my stomach even in the slightest. 

3. Nutrition (vanilla gelato flavor)- In 1 scoop of powder there is 110 calories with 0g fat, 0g saturated fat (hello heart health), 0g sugar and 0g added sugar, 25g of protein and only 90mg of sodium. I don’t know if I’m more impressed with the 0g added sugar or the 90mg sodium. Both are incredible considering that they didn’t use a million sugar alcohols (there is monk fruit, stevia leaf extract and natural flavors) to give it a delicious, truly gelato reminiscent flavor and they somehow only have 90mg of sodium in the product. 

The clinical side of my dietitian brain is so excited for what this protein powder might mean for individuals who have a medical need for higher protein, such as a patient undergoing dialysis, because many people in that situation also need to monitor their sodium intake, sugar intake, and/or total calories. If I were still working in peritoneal dialysis, I can tell you this is a product I would be telling my patients about. In my opinion, this product would be beneficial for both the general, healthy population AND would likely be beneficial for patients who have specific nutrient needs makes this a true industry disrupting product. As a reminder- nothing I say here is medical advice and you should always discuss any supplements with your Doctor and your Registered Dietitian. The thoughts contained here are not meant to be taken as individual medical or dietary advice.

4. Cost- According to their website, the new whey protein isolate will be priced at $59.99, same as their plant-based protein powder.  There are 30 servings in each container, making it less than $2/serving. For 25g of high quality protein. That’s a steal.

Whey protein isolate vs whey protein concentrate

The whey protein has pure whey protein isolate- this is different than whey protein concentrate. Whey protein isolate has had more processing, which sounds scary but is actually a good thing in this situation. More processing of the whey means that more fat and carbs have been removed while retaining that higher protein content, ie you get high quality, purer protein with less “stuff” you don’t want. Whey protein isolate is also more expensive to use as an ingredient. The amino acid (think protein) content of whey concentrate and isolate are similar, however if you have any dairy intolerance you are more likely to tolerate whey protein isolate because it is a purer form of the milk protein. So yes, cost is higher but so is quality! Vitalura Labs is definitely proving that you don’t need to compromise on quality to have an affordable whey protein product.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re looking for a high-quality vegan or whey based protein powder, Vitalura Labs products do not disappoint. Go shop their products and see for yourself! While you’re there use promo code SARAHMILLER for free shipping!

Stay tuned for a follow-up blog post where I share all of the different recipes and ways that I tried their protein powders.

Nutrition and Food, Product Reviews

Vitalura Labs plant-based protein powder review

I love to workout, but I have always struggled with consuming enough food post-workout to optimize my recovery. I’m a dietitian, I know how important it is, and yet more often than not I’m either skipping my post workout fuel or struggling to make sure I’ve consumed enough to give my body the fuel it needs to rebuild.

Part of the problem for me has always been the taste of protein supplements. Most of them are gross. Especially vegan protein supplements. They’re usually chalky, taste like dirt, or have way too much stevia to try and trick you into thinking you’re eating something that tastes like a dessert.

Enter Vitalura Labs

Anna Victoria, CEO of Fit Body Love Group and NASM certified personal trainer, released a plant-based vegan protein powder this week and being an FBG girl and dietitian, I had to try it. The thoughts below are my own, I paid for my own product.

I did my hamstrings and glutes workout today and for the first time ever I was looking forward to my post workout protein. Not just thinking about what I’d eat to refuel, I was legit looking forward to it. Let me tell you why.

Product breakdown

  1. Taste- it honestly tastes like the name. I ordered the vanilla gelato flavor and I have never tasted a protein supplement, plant-based or whey, that tastes as good as this flavor tastes. I blended mine with some frozen banana and unsweetened soy milk and topped with rainbow sprinkles. It’s like drinking a vanilla shake post workout. I have a huge sweet tooth and am still shocked that this product has somehow hit that craving for me AND provided nutrition. There are currently two flavors available: vanilla gelato and chocolate gelato.
  2. Quality- this protein powder is the “cleanest” I’ve seen on the market to date. The ingredients list is short and they’re NSF certified so you know that their product doesn’t have hidden ingredients or missing ingredients. They use organic pea protein and include rice and pumpkin seed protein to make sure you’re getting an optimal amino acid profile. I was nervous when I saw that it has stevia leaf extract, simply because I generally detest the aftertaste of stevia, but this protein powder doesn’t have that weird after taste I’ve come to expect with stevia sweetened products. 
  3. Nutrition- they nailed it. In 1 scoop of powder, you get 100 calories, 0g saturated fat, only 20mg sodium (this is amazing!), 0g added sugar and a whopping 25g protein. Read that sentence again and let it sink in for a moment. That is truly a magical recipe that they’ve created. The majority of protein powders don’t hold a candle to the nutrition punch the new Vitalura Labs protein powder gives you. It’s also plant-based making it acceptable to a wide audience, and when compared to many whey protein products on the market it still reigns supreme in its nutrition profile.
  4. Cost- some may think that $60 is a lot for a protein supplement. And yes, if it was one of the other brands currently on the market I’d agree with you. But this protein powder is of a superior quality, flavor, texture, and NSF certified. It is 100% worth that $60 price tag. Especially if you consider that there’s 30 servings in every container. That’s $2/serving. I can’t even get a gallon of gas for that cheap. 

Final thoughts

If you’re interested in trying Vitalura Labs new plant-based protein powder for yourself, here’s a link to purchase, use code SARAHMILLER for free shipping!

I would definitely recommend this product to anyone looking for a good post workout protein supplement or anyone who has higher protein needs than they’re able to meet through their diet. 

bottles in refrigerator
Nutrition and Food

Dairy Dilemma

If you are converting to a plant-based diet, you might find it difficult to decide which animal products to continue consuming, if any. Dairy products, which are among my husband’s favorites (????????????) can be among the hardest to navigate, in part because of the valuable nutrition they provide, but also the way that dairy cows are treated in modern agriculture. Let’s take a closer look.

Nutrition

Dairy can be a part of a balanced diet. Nutritionally dairy products can be a good source of protein, vitamins/minerals, and carbohydrates. Choosing low or non-fat dairy provides all of the benefits of dairy products while minimizing the saturated fat you’re consuming. You can read more about the nutrient and health benefits of dairy products here. Within the dairy category there is organic and conventional. Nutritionally they provide almost exactly the same- for reference, 1c of low fat (2%) milk contains about 100calories, 8g protein, 107mg sodium, 13g sugar (naturally occurring as lactose), 366mg potassium, calcium and vitamin D.

The spectrum of dairy substitutes such as vegan cheeses or plant-based milks makes it difficult to lump them all into one category. Within the dairy substitutions category there are numerous differences in their nutrition profiles. For our purposes we’ll compare using the non-dairy option Ripple Milk (amazon link). Ripple milk is a pea protein based milk substitute. The unsweetened original flavor provides 8g of protein, 0g sugar, calcium, vitamin D, DHA omega-3s all while being lactose-, nut-, and gluten-free. Ripple as a brand is also concerned about sustainability and how their business practices affect the world.

Looking only at the nutrition content of dairy and comparing it to non-dairy substitutions, you can see there are now more options on the market with food makers creating alternatives that rival their dairy counterparts. Therefore, deciding based on nutrition alone you can see that dairy isn’t inherently “bad” for you but can provide a lot of essential nutrients in your diet. The non-dairy options on the market are not all nutritionally equal, but there are products available that provide a comparable nutritional profile to dairy.

Organic vs Conventional Dairy

The organic label on milk/dairy tells you about the practices and how the cows are cared for- nothing about nutritional content. But even with the organic farm requirements, according to a study conducted at Oregon State University, “many organic and conventional dairies in the study did not meet standards set by three commonly used cattle welfare programs.” Additionally they found that the overall health outcomes for the cows were similar in both organic and conventional dairy farms even though the standards for how the cows were treated are different.

Vegan Lifestyle

Veganism is a lifestyle. Vegans avoid all animal foods, dairy, eggs, honey and any animal derived materials. Following veganism beliefs also means that any products tested on animals or products made from animals are not acceptable. The Vegan Society has a great history and thorough explanation on veganism available to review.

Many people choose to avoid dairy because they’re vegan- they both eat vegan and follow vegan ethical beliefs. Vegans believe that exploitation of animals for any purpose is unacceptable. In addition to the mistreatment of cows, dairy farming is considered a form of animal exploitation. Choosing to avoid dairy products tends to be more about beliefs and ethics rather than the nutrition provided by dairy products.

As with anything in life there will be caveats. Being vegan isn’t black and white, but has a lot of gray. For example, many medications use gel capsules which contain gelatin. Gelatin is not a vegan-friendly ingredient. Assuming there is no other substitution and an individual is prescribed a potentially life-saving medication that contains gelatin, I think we can all agree that the individual should take the medication. Individuals following veganism would likely ask their Pharmacist or their Doctor if there’s an alternative or another form of the medication that does not contain animal products, but sometimes there is no substitute available. In that case, The Vegan Society and Vegans around the world would agree that this is an exception to the rule. This is one of many examples of the shades of gray within the vegan belief system.

The decision of whether or not to consume dairy has multiple factors. There are also environmental impacts to consider, but we’ll discuss those another time. As you can see there is no clear right or wrong answer, but there are tradeoffs. It really depends on what your personal belief system is about the consumption of dairy products and whether or not you are okay with those decisions. This is not a place for judgement, but instead a place for you to find credible information to help you make the most informed decision possible. I hope that this was helpful in your decision making process! ????

items organized on shelves
Nutrition and Food

Let’s Talk About Diet Quality

Many foods have a health halo thanks to wonderful marketing teams. We’ve all seen the phrases like “super food” pasted all over the front of the food’s packaging, as if that phrase has any scientific meaning (it doesn’t). Having the “vegan” label on foods is also sometimes given that same health halo. It’s as if you are to believe that as long as a food product is free from animal products that it is inherently better for you.

Let’s talk about food deserts (???????? not ????????)

Living in the US, it’s pretty easy to have a nutrition-lacking diet. Many packaged/convenience foods are full of calories but void of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients our bodies need. Unfortunately some Americans live in what we call “food deserts” where access to fresh, whole foods is scarce. Hopefully that doesn’t apply to you, dear reader, but the reality is that many Americans only have liquor stores and quick stop shops to purchase the food they need. It is likely that individuals living in food deserts have a diet filled with processed, packaged foods and only minimal intake of nutritious fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods. (If you can’t stop thinking about desserts, then I have you covered).

For some of us, we don’t live in a food desert, but we still choose to consume highly processed fast foods for other reasons. My point today is that you can’t decide to start a plant-based diet assuming that it will “fix” the way that you eat. It’s very easy to eat a plant-based diet that is full of non-nutritious foods (like vegan protein bars), just like it’s easy to have a flexitarian diet full of overly processed foods (like cheez-its and cheetos). There are a ton of foods that are vegan that don’t provide a lot of nutrition (like oreos and vegan toaster pastries). If the bulk of your diet is filled with highly processed foods, it doesn’t matter what type of eating style you choose. Your body is starving for more nutrition.

What’s my point?

The take-away for going plant-based with your diet is that you should bring an awareness of the type of fuel you are putting into your body. I like to think of the human body as a high-end luxury car- because it is! Our bodies do amazing things every day and deserve to be treated well! You don’t want to put the cheap gas in a Ferrari, right? So then why would you put anything less than the best fuel into your body? Respecting yourself and your body enough to fuel it properly is a good foundation for any diet, whether you continue to include meat or exclude it completely (and you can eat healthy either way!)

So the next time you’re grocery shopping, take a moment to inventory your cart. Are the foods you’ve selected mostly whole and minimally processed? Are they something that someone from another culture would recognize as food? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably on the right track with your plant-based journey.

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flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate
Nutrition and Food

World’s Healthiest Diet?

Once again scientists have agreed that a diet rich in plant foods with minimal processed foods, some fish, and minimal red meat is the healthiest choice for humans! Check out this article authored by Jessica Stillman on Apple News for the full story.

There’s no big news to announce but the reminder that eating more plants and whole foods is better for our bodies. Eating plant-based doesn’t mean you have to be vegan, so feel free to experiment with what works for you! Just remember to always include those veggies.