Tag Archives: vitamins

Vegan on a Budget

Brent and I have been entertaining the idea of trying a food stamp challenge: that is living on what the average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP recipient does. This is partly because rising food costs affect us all and are particularly hard on the most vulnerable among us. We’re also interested in demonstrating that being vegan on a budget isn’t impossible or torturous.

The average food stamp recipient gets just $31.50 per week. I realize how much money that is when I think about my favorite oatmeal costing just a few dollars for a supply that will last several weeks. Add the raisins and agave nectar (that will last a little longer than the oats) and you’ve got a nutritious tasty breakfast for a week, for example. I also realize how little money it is when I think about how much Brent and I can spend at a Starbucks.

We’re planning to present you with receipts and nutritional profiles for our meals. I suspect that meeting nutritional requirements will be the most challenging part but I’m prepared for some creative solutions to these problems. We’ll be following B12 and the intake of zinc most closely (since vegans can have trouble getting these nutrients) but iron, calcium and protein will be among the nutrients we follow (for those skeptical carnists among us). Vitamins C, A and D are easy to get if you eat vegetables and leave your house once a day for a few minutes so we’re not too concerned about those but we’ll be watching them anyways.

We’re curious about what you’d like to see as we undertake this challenge. What should our rules reasonably include? Are fruit from local trees and condiments from take-out fair game as ‘free food’ or should we stick to our budgeted foods? Would supplements be cheating if we can budget them? We want to hear from you because you’re the ones we do all this stuff for.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Let’s Talk About Menstrual Cramps

I apologize to all the fellas out there, but this post will be about menstrual cramps. Why in the world do I want to talk about cramps? Because I had the worst cramps ever just this morning, that’s why! This post might be a little TMI and I do feel some embarrassment and shame in sharing this with you, but it was a learning experience for me that I wanted to share.

Before changing my diet, I would have a bad day here and there with my period. After the change in my diet, I didn’t have anything beyond minor discomfort and annoyance. Oh, nature, you scamp! Today, though, I thought I was going to die. I was brushing my teeth when all of a sudden, I broke out in a cold sweat, my legs started to ache, my hands got numb, and let’s not even talk about my uterus. Now, I suppose it’s possible that something else was going on with my body, but I’m 99% sure that this was a total menstrual issue.

I managed to get into bed and thought weird things like, “Ugh, this is punishment for eating non-vegan holiday desserts!” and “Maybe I need a steak!” and “Am I hungover? But I’m never hungover…” and “I wish I would just pass out.” and “I’m glad I’m at Mom’s house and I hope she gets home soon because I need my mommy!” Mostly, I was moaning in pain and whispering, “Help me!” but only the dog was home so I was out of luck for awhile. Mom finally did come to the rescue. She put a hot water bottle on my abdomen and I was relieved and resting almost instantly.

After more snooze time and some buttered toast, I hopped on the computer and quickly googled “vegan menstrual cramps” thinking that there might be some sort of vegan explanation for my sudden issue. I should have know that a vegan diet has actually been found to reduce pain and menstrual cramps. It is related to the amount of estrogen in our bodies: more estrogen in the body will likely result in more painful cramping and PMS symptoms. Vegan diets, because they are low in fat and high in fiber, help reduce estrogen levels and also helps promote estrogen elimination. Not only can this help reduce menstrual cramps and pain, it may also reduce cancer risk: estrogen helps promote the growth of cancer cells.

Next, I googled “vegan iron deficiency” just for some peace of mind even though I’m aware that one does not need to eat steak for iron. Spinach is an outstanding iron source and far better for you in every way than beef. You would need 1700 calories of a sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron that’s in one cup of spinach. I’m usually really good about eating spinach regularly, but I’ve been bad about it lately. In general, I’ve been eating a lot of carbs, so I won’t surprised if I’m running low on iron at the moment.

On a somewhat related note, I’d like to talk about multivitamins. A month or two ago, I switched to a vitamin that is marketed as being vegan. It was kind of expensive, though, so I bought a bottle of the generic drug store vitamins that I used to take which I believe to be vegan even though it doesn’t specifically say so on the bottle. Anyway, I was surprised this morning to see that the vegan vitamin only had only a 10% daily value of iron while the other vitamin had 100%. The vegan vitamin was also comparatively low in calcium and a handful of other minerals. Hmmm.

Thanks for reading and tell me, vegans: what has been your experience with menstrual pain and cramps since changing your diet? And what are your thoughts on iron deficiency and multivitamins? What do you think caused my episode this morning? Lemme know in the comments! –Melissa

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Great big raw green dinner!

I am getting ready to go out of town and I wanted to make sure nothing in my kitchen spoiled. I had some weird foods: Spinach, kumquats, yellow zucchini and avocado. What am I supposed to do with that!? Because this was an experiment I didn’t take as many pictures as I would normally like but it was good I decided to share.

I decided to julienne the zucchini and mixed that with some sun dried tomato and mixed it with 1/3 of my avocado as a binding agent. I also added a pinch of sea salt and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.

I mooshed it into a mold and put it into the freezer while I did the next part. I chopped up the kumquats, a big bunch of mint leaves, and again mixed that with 1/3 of my avocado.

Next I took the rest of the herbs in my fridge (parsley, basil, and dill) and put the stems and leaves into my blender with a generous tablespoon of tahini, the remaining 1/3 of the avocado, juice from 2 lemons and 1 lime, and a little bit of almond milk until the flavor was balanced as a dressing. I blended it until it came out nice and creamy.

I covered a plate in spinach, put my chilled zucchini mixture onto that and then spooned the kumquat mint relish onto the sides. I added a quick drizzle of my tahini herb dressing and sat down to a healthy raw vegan dinner.

The mellow flavors of the zucchini and sun dried tomato were a good base for the tangy, sweet mint kumquat relish. The herb tahini dressing was really good but I think it brought too many flavors into the dish. The avocado brought the whole thing together as a common element in all the parts and the spinach helped me get it into my mouth. I think if I do this again, I might try adding some raw garlic to the zucchini and save the herb tahini dressing for plain spinach salads.

Experimenting is probably my favorite part of being vegan. I hope you get to experiment a little. The more you do it, the more things will ‘work out’ instead of being composted. Good luck!


This is Christie, signing off.

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