Category Archives: General Vegan

THE GREATEST VEGAN GIFT

I received an amazing and inspiring e-mail the day after Christmas from a Veggie Grettie reader.  A while back Melissa contacted me through the website and she and I  have become cyber-friends.  I really enjoy hearing from her about her progress.  Melissa has agreed to allow me to share her e-mail with all of you.

As a quick side-note, I have been wanting to share the photo above with all of you for a long time now and was just waiting for the right post.  A few months ago I was shopping at Mother’s Market and came across this heart-shaped potato…you would have thought I happened upon a real gem because I was so excited…Isn’t Mother Nature amazing?!?!?!?!

Gretchen:

Couldn’t wait to let you know what a wonderful Christmas gift my husband (the meat eating/hunter) gave to me. He sat down and watched Forks over Knifes with me. I had been telling him how my lifestyle change was not me becoming a PETA spokesperson (even though I really like a lot of what they stand for) but it was about becoming a healthier/happier and more compassionate person.

Anyway, after the movie he turned to me and said “Okay” and I asked him what he was talking about and he said “Okay, I’ll do it, I’ll give up meat and dairy too”. It was WONDERFUL!!!!!.

Last night we got out all of my Vegan cookbooks and I showed him excerpts from the Kind Diet and Eating Animals and we started making a list of things he would like to try.

I am so excited and so grateful!! Please encourage those who are struggling with family to at least watch “Forks over Knifes” with them… I would have never believed it would make such an impact.

Here is to a wonderfully blessed and animal product free NEW YEAR!!!! Yea!!

I will keep you posted as Jerry and I embark on this journey together.

Melissa

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HEALTHY TASTE OF LA 2 – Recap

I attended the 2nd annual Healthy Taste of LA for the first time last month and was very impressed!  The keynote speaker at this year’s event was T. Colin Campbell.  Being the nutrition geek that I am, I will forever be indebted to T. Colin Campbell for the work he has done in the field of nutrition and the discoveries he has made throughout his career pertaining to nutrition and its role in cancer and other diseases of affluence.  It was great to have a few minutes to chat with him about nutrition in general and the plans he has with regards to evolving the Plant-Based Nutrition Certification courses at Cornell.

It was a packed day of amazing healthy cooking demonstrations (NO OIL, SUGAR, OR SALT) by Chef Ramses Bravo of True North, Chef Eric Tucker of Millenium, a live taping of The Chef and The Dietitian, a motivation speech by fitness guru John Pierre (Ellen’s Personal Trainer), more cooking demonstrations by Ann Gentry (pictured with me above) who is the founder of Real Food Daily, Chef Eric LeChasseur of Seed Bistro, and Lindsay Nixon the author of the Happy Herbivore.

Fortunately for us we also had three breaks throughout the day where we were given the opportunity to sample all of the wonderful food that the Chefs demonstrated making.  Another exciting aspect of the day was the fact that the event organizers were short one staff photographer and asked me to fill in which basically gave me an all-access pass to move around and take pictures to my heart’s content!

The first recipe that was demonstrated at the event was Chef Ramses Bravo’s Coconut Vanilla Granola, which is the Granola that they serve at the True North Health Center.   After the event I went home and made the granola and was really impressed with the result.  I had never made granola without oil before and love that I now know how.  Click HERE for the recipe.

At the end of the event Chef AJ announced that the keynote speaker at next year’s Healthy Taste of LA 3 will be Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, the man who has figured out the formula to be heart attack proof (Did you all see Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special by the same name highlighting Dr. Esselstyn?)!!!

I definitely plan on being there at the event next year (November 4, 2012).  I HIGHLY recommend purchasing your tickets in advance.  This year they had to turn people away from the event because the interest was so high.  Do yourself a favor and purchase your tickets ahead of time.

For more information about 2012’s Healthy Taste of LA3 and to purchase tickets click here.

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Filed under Cancer, Cooking Demonstration, Education, Events, General Vegan, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Urinary Tract Health

My latest column for Chic Vegan…

One of the topics I get asked about often is urinary tract health.  Many people (mostly women) experienceUrinary Tract Infections (UTIs) from time to time and they want to know if there is anything they can do naturally to keep a bladder infection at bay.

A few years back I was suffering from recurrent bladder infections (3+ in one year!) and hated having to take antibiotics.  When you truly need antibiotics they can literally be a lifesaver, however it is well known that antibiotics are vastly over prescribed in the United States and the overuse is detrimental for individuals and the public at large.

After drowning myself in jugs and jugs of cranberry juice (I even resorted to the unsweetened 100% cranberry juice), my UTI’s persisted.  In an effort to avoid another UTI and avoid the antibiotics that oftentimes accompany such an infection, I began researching the issue and discovered that there are steps we can take as well as an amazingly safe natural product we can use when needed to ensure our urinary tract health and avoid infections.  As a result of my findings, I have not had a UTI since!

MY MIRACLE

Thankfully my research brought me to Dr. Jonathon Wright.  I stumbled upon this post from his Tahoma Clinic blog which discussed the benefits of the simple sugar D-Mannose in the fight against UTIs.  With regards to the safety of D-Mannose, Dr. Wright states:

“D-mannose is very safe, even for long term use.   D-mannose is a simple sugar, very little of it is metabolized. It doesn’t interfere with blood sugar regulation, even for diabetics. It creates no disruption or imbalance in normal body microflora. It’s safe even for pregnant women and very small children. In the less than 10% of cases where the infection is a bacteria other than E. coli, antibiotics can be started in plenty of time. (Many physicians will likely advise collecting a urine specimen for culture, if possible just before starting D-mannose, so that the bacteria can be identified as rapidly as possible in the few cases when D-mannose doesn’t work.)

WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT WORKS

As mentioned above, D-Mannose is a simple sugar that occurs naturally in both cranberries and pineapples.  Since very little of the sugar is metabolized by our bodies, most of it is excreted through our urine.

So what does this have to do with UTIs and how can it help cure them?  The bacterium that causes most UTIs is called Escherichia coli (“E. coli”).  When we become infected with a UTI most often it is caused by bacteria called Escherichia coli (“E. coli”).  This E. coli likes to attach itself to the walls of our bladder which causes a multitude of problems.  Fortunately for us E. Coli LOVES D-Mannose.  When we drink water that has been mixed with D-Mannose, the D-Mannose makes its way to our bladder and the E. Coli lets go of our bladder wall and grabs on to the D-Mannose.  When we urinate the E. Coli leaves our body.  I am amazed by how simple and effective this remedy is.

Whenever I feel that I may be coming down with a UTI, I drink water with D-Mannose and I do not get one!  I travel with D-Mannose…I am that big of a believer.

D-MANNOSE DOSING

The usual dose for D-Mannose powder is 1/2 teaspoonful (2 1/2 grams) stirred into water every 2 to 4 hours. If the infection is not substantially better within 24 hours, it is probably not being caused by E.coli. in which case it is recommended that you contact your regular physician.

My favorite brand of D-mannose is by pure encapsulations (click here for more information).  I always keep a container or two in my home.

ADDITIONAL PREVENTATIVE MEASURES

In addition to Dr. Wright’s suggestion to utilize D-Mannose, Dr. Joseph Mercola suggests that there are simple steps you can take to help promote a healthy urinary tract:

  • Drink plenty of water every day – this dilutes your urine and helps you regularly flush your system.
  • Urinate when you feel the need.  Don’t resist the urge to go.
  • For women, wipe from front to back and use unscented and unbleached toilet paper as many young women react to the dyes and chemicals in other toilet papers.
  • Take showers instead of baths.
  • Cleanse your genital area prior to and after sexual intercourse.
  • Urinate after intercourse to flush out your urinary tract.
  • Avoid feminine deodorant sprays, douches, and powders that can lead to irritation of the urethra and genitals.
  • Only use cotton sanitary napkins and tampons.  97% of women believe they are made of cotton, but the truth is LESS THAN one percent actually is.

I hope these tips are as helpful to you as they have been for me.  Bladder infections are no fun!

Here’s to health!

Gretchen

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Urinary Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

NATIONAL VEGETARIAN MONTH

I thought I would let you know about an infographic RetailMeNot.com has created to celebrate animal-friendly veggie lovers. RetailMeNot wanted to shed a little light on vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.

In the graphic you’ll find great information on the different types of vegetarians and vegans, what foods do and don’t fit into these diets and some of the health benefits of choosing to live meat-free. For instance, did you know that the average vegetarian’s cholesterol is nearly 50 points lower than their meat-eating counterparts? Imagine how much lower a vegan’s average cholesterol is!

What Type of Vegetarian Are You?
Infographic from Vegan vs. Vegetarian

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HEALTHY LIFESTYLE EXPO – MENU

As I mentioned, while at the Healthy Lifestyle Expo we had the opportunity to purchase vegan buffet-style lunches and dinners designed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman which meant that the meals were very lowfat (oil free), salt free, and vegan.  The picture above is my lunch meal on Sunday which was the last day of the conference.

I know that many of you may be thinking that the above description does not sound appetizing, but it was really tasty and satisfying (Just check out the Wild Apple Crunch pictured above!!!…Seriously amazing!).  When we fuel our bodies with good quality plant-based food that is packed with nutrients it is really filling!  I had zero desire to snack between meals because I just wasn’t hungry.  It was such a treat to go to a buffet knowing that EVERYTHING on the menu was health inducing and vegan.

I have always been confused with regards to added fats…are they good for you or detrimental???  After attending this conference and hearing first-hand what the experts have found through solid research and experience I am convinced that we need to remove most added fats from our diet and that oil is NOT a health food  (another post about that later…I promise to explain in detail…TEASER: It is not the olive oil that makes the Mediterranean Diet “healthy.”).

Below you will find the menu from our conference.

Friday night dinner (Recipes by Mary McDougall):

Mexican Bean Soup
Fiesta Mexican Salad
Tofu Tacos with Cabbage, Cilantro-Garli Aioli and Soft Corn Tortillas
Tamale Casserole with Enchilada Sauce
Brownies with Raspberry Sauce
Iced Tea and Water
(Oil-free and no added fat meal) Served 6pm in the main ballroom before Dr. Barnard’s kenote address

Saturday lunch (Recipes by Joel Fuhrman MD)

Special Low-fat Vegan Buffet:
French Minted Pea Soup
Mixed Grees Salad with Vegan Miso Dressing
Corn and Arugula Salad
Butternut Squash with Caramelized Onion
Couscous with Vegetables and Low Salt Olives
Grilled Seasoned Vegetables
Sesame Tofu
Chocolate Oat Clusters
Iced Tea and Water
(Oil-free and no added fat meal) 

Saturday dinner (Recipes by Joel Fuhrman MD)

Special Low-fat Vegan Buffet:
Golden Austrian Cauliflower Cream Soup
Sesame Sugar Snap Peas
Raw Kale Salad
Corn and Arugula Salad
Lemon Cranberry Quinoa
Sesame Tofu
Grilled Seasoned Vegetables
Wild Apple Crunch
(Oil-free and no added fat meal) 

Sunday lunch (Recipes by Joel Fuhrman MD)

Special Low-fat Vegan Buffet:
Creamy Lentil Soup
Mixed Greens Salad with Vegan Miso Dressing
Sesame Sugar Snap Peas
Raw Kale Salad
Grilled Seasoned Vegetables
Lemon Cranberry Quinoa
Sesame Tofu
Wild Apple Crunch
(Oil-free and no added fat meal) 

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Filed under Education, Events, Food Journal, General Vegan, Tradeshows, Vegan, Vegetarian

HEALTHY TASTE OF LA – Sunday Nov. 6th

Chef AJ has organized and amazing event that will take place next Sunday, November 6th from 9 – 5 at the South Bay Redondo Seventh Day Adventist Church.  I highly recommend this event…Just look at the list of celebrity chefs and experts that will be there…AMAZING!!!

Interested in sampling delicious plant-based recipes from some of the best chefs in the world of Plant-based nutrition like Chefs Ramses BravoEric TuckerAnn GentryEric LechasseurLindsay Nixon and Chef AJ?  How about listening to lectures from experts in the field like T. Colin Campbell and Julieanna Hever?  Healthy Taste of LA II is Sunday, November 6th from 9 – 5 at the South Bay Redondo Seventh Day Adventist Church.

South Bay Redondo Seventh Day Adventist Church 
401 S. Prospect Avenue
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

For more information and to register for this one of a kind event visit: http://healthytasteofla.com/

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THE CHEF AJ EXPERIENCE – Cooking Class and GIVEAWAY

Chef AJ and Julieanna Hever recently contributed a Guest Blog for Veggie Grettie where they showed us how to make Chef AJ’s Hail to the Kale dressing (click here to view the post).  Earlier this month I was contacted by Chef AJ and invited to attend one of her cooking classes.  It was great fun to meet Chef AJ in person.  She is wacky, zany, full of life, passionate, knowledgeable, friendly, and kind.  Interesting fact – Chef AJ was once on Johnny Carson playing two flutes with her nose while standing on her head and blowing bubbles out of her nose (I told you she is wacky)!!!

Chef AJ has been a vegan for over 30 years, but has only been a “healthy” vegan for the last 7 years.  During the class Chef AJ took a moment to tell her story and explain why she is so passionate about eating a whole foods unprocessed plant-based diet.  She explained that her typical day was filled with big gulp slurpies (embellished with 8 pumps of vanilla syrup), Dr. Pepper, sugar, pastries, and other forms of JUNK with the occasional serving of steamed broccoli on the side.  Eventually it caught-up with her and her health suffered in a major way.

In January of 2003 (There is no way to say this delicately) she went in to the bathroom to have a bowel movement and ended-up with a toilet filled with blood.  With a strong family history of colon cancer and bowel obstructions she finally woke-up after finding out that she had multiple nasty adenomatous pre-cancerous polyps in her sigmoid colon.  Her colon was so ill that they were not even safely able to remove the polyps.  This was her official wake-up call.

Chef AJ sent herself to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego (Their organic gardens pictured above) for a total body overhaul.  She ate a 100% organic raw diet while there and it wasn’t easy as she suffered mass withdrawal symptoms within the first 3days .  Despite the discomfort of withdrawing from sugar, oil, and salt (what she deems the “Evil Trinity”) she committed to the program and 6 months later she had the colon of a newborn baby without having surgery or taking meds…what a testament to this way of life!

Chef AJ knew that this was the lifestyle for her and enrolled in culinary school at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in order to learn how to make health promoting food as palatable as possible.

The class she that I attended focused on just that.  Chef AJ teaches classes out of her home in Sherman Oaks with the goal of teaching her health promoting ways to as many people as possible.  In the picture below she is channeling her Johnny Carson days while performing a song about health (her sous chefs are also back-up singers / dancers).

During the 3 hour class I attended she made:

It’s Easy Being Green Smoothies loaded with kale and mint…my new favorite green smoothie ingredient

Nutrient Rich Chocolate Smoothies,  fresh almond milk (forgot to take a picture!)…

Nutrient Rich Smoky Black Bean Soup where she added all the veggies WHOLE to a pot of water and then just used the immersion blender at the end (Why didn’t I ever think of that???…MAJOR time saver!)

Raw Dream of Tomato Soup

One of my favorites…Hail to the Kale Salad

Fresh Banana Ice Cream in her Champion Juicer that was so creamy and amazing (I need to get me one of those!).  I have made this in my food processor and it is really good, but NOTHING like what the Champion Juicer makes.  It was crazy good.

Chocolate FUNdue…so good.  I make this regularly and keep it in my freezer in single serve cups otherwise I will eat it all in one sitting!  The picture below is the FUNdue in the processing stage.  It is such a great dip for fruit, truffle filling,  or sauce for desserts.

And last but not least, her version of a very popular Starbucks drink, a Caramel “Fake”iatto (I also forgot to take a picture of this!)

I was also sent home with a giant slice of her German Chocolate Cake that was eaten before I even had a chance to take a picture of it!

To learn more about classes with Chef AJ click here.  I believe she does not have any classes on the schedule at the moment because she is traveling to promote her new book, however you can check back regularly for updated class listings.

* GIVEAWAY * GIVEAWAY * GIVEAWAY *

Chef AJ’s Book Unprocessed

Chef AJ generously provided me with a signed copy of her book Unprocessed as a giveaway.  To enter the giveaway simple leave a comment at the end of this post about either of the following topics.  One entry per comment, so you have LOTS of chances to win…enter as many times as you’d like.

1.  What was your own personal health wake-up call?

2.  Ask me a question for my Ask Grettie column on Chic Vegan.  You never know…your question might be featured!

BONUS ENTRY

If you are not an e-mail subscriber of Veggie Grettie, become a subscriber, leave a comment in the comment section that you are now a subscriber, and that will count as an additional entry.

The giveaway winner will be announced Sunday, October 9th.

Organic garden picture courtesy of Optimum Health Institute

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Filed under Books, Contests, Cooking Demonstration, Education, General Vegan, Giveaways, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Digesting the Vegan Diet

 

Here is my latest Ask Grettie column for Chic Vegan.

Does the stomach ever get accustomed to eating a plant-based diet and no longer have GI distress? I am afraid of getting bloated and windy (gassy). I have IBS. Thanks!

~Dolores

Hi Dolores!

I am sorry to hear that you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and have been experiencing intestinal irritation.  Yes, I can assure you that the stomach does in fact adjust very nicely to eating a vegan diet.  As with many things in life, one has to give themselves time to adjust to this new way of life.  For example, I wouldn’t recommend that a person who is not accustomed to eating vegetables and legumes start eating 2 cups of beans in one sitting.

I also recommend digestive enzymes.  Raw food contains many enzymes on its own which are highly beneficial.  However, most people primarily consume cooked food and the enzymes are destroyed during the cooking process.  As a result the pancreas needs to secrete digestive enzymes to assist in the breakdown of our food.  When our pancreas becomes over-taxed, over time it is not able to secrete as many digestive enzymes.

“Eighty percent of our body’s energy is expended by the digestive process. If you are run down, under stress, living in a very hot or very cold climate, pregnant or a frequent traveler, then enormous quantities of extra enzymes are required by your body. Because our entire system functions through enzymatic action, we must supplement our enzymes. Aging deprives us of our ability to produce necessary enzymes. The medical profession tells us that all disease is due to a lack or imbalance of enzymes. Our very lives are dependent upon them!”

– Dr. DicQie Fuller, The Healing Power of Enzymes

We can assist our bodies by eating as many raw foods as possible and by taking digestive enzymes.  I personally take digestive enzymes.  I have had great results with Life Extension’s Enhanced Super Digestive Enzymes and Hippocrates Health Institute’s LifeGive Digestive Enzymes.

One other solution to keep in mind is the addition of probiotics into your daily regimen.  Read a past Ask Grettie column about probiotics.

If the above solutions do not solve your GI issues, you may have a food intolerance or allergy which may be causing some of the uncomfortable inflammation in your digestive tract.  Keep a food log and see if you notice any patterns with regards to when you experience your GI issues and whether it is related to the consumption of certain foods.  A great way to determine the offending food is to put yourself on an elimination diet.  Basically you remove possible food triggers for a week and then slowly add them back one at a time to see if your symptoms return.  If the symptoms return after adding back a particular food, then you have found your culprit (some people have more than one).  I used an elimination diet to determine my gluten intolerance.

According to Dr. McDougall, the six leading causes of food allergies are dairy, eggs, chocolate, nuts, shellfish, and fish.  Becoming vegan will automatically remove four of the six most common food allergens from your diet…yet another reason to praise vegan diets!  If nuts and chocolate are not your triggers, then it is time to move on to the elimination of the following potential allergens from the vegetable kingdom, wheat (and/or gluten in general), corn, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Please keep in touch and let me know if the above recommendations help solve your GI distress.

Here’s to health!

Gretchen

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/wakingphotolife/

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Gut Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

NATIONAL CELIAC DISEASE AWARENESS DAY

Today is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day.  I know gluten-free has become a fad diet for some, but for those who suffer from Celiac Disease, a gluten-free diet is absolutely essential.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten. – National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

My daughter has a wheat and gluten allergy, but does not have Celiac Disease for which I am grateful.

Living gluten-free now is soooooooo much easier than it used to be, however there are still challenges (B-Day parties, school functions, family parties, restaurants).  So many times kids/people who need to avoid gluten are not able to eat the same fun treats other people are and it leaves them feeling like a bit of an outsider.  For this very reason, my heart leapt when we were in Orlando recently.  I knew that Downtown Disney had recently welcomed Babycakes Bakery (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, & Kosher).  It was with such joy that I was able to tell my daughter, “You can have ANYTHING you want from this bakery!”  She looked at me like I was on crack and then quickly became mesmerized by the goodies in the glass cases.  We ended-up buying a cupcake, donut, and chocolate chip cookie sandwich.  Great memories!  Babycakes also has bakeries in NYC and Los Angeles.  I also love my Babycakes cookbook and I hear Erin just came out with another cookbook, Babycakes Covers the Classics, that I am sure is fab.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you some of my favorite gluten-free resources:

Are there any blogs or gluten-free resources that you use frequently and don’t see listed above?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Filed under Books, Education, General Vegan, Gluten Free, Gluten-Free Baking, Gut Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Fat Soluble Vitamins by the Vegan RD

Virginia “Ginny” Messina is a dietitian and public health specialist who has co-authored a textbook on vegetarian nutrition that is aimed at medical and nutrition professionals, has also twice co-authored the American Dietetic Association’s Position on Vegetarian Diets, has authored countless books (Vegan for Life is the most recent), and helped develop a food guide for vegetarians and vegans.

Ginny has also been a nutrition instructor at Central Michigan University, where she taught principles of public health education to dietetics students. She was the director of nutrition services in a medical center serving more than 50,000 patients, and has developed nutrition education materials for many organizations including the U.S. government’s national cholesterol program.   

Ginny is an authority when it comes to nutrition and the nuances of a vegan lifestyle.  Many people contact me with questions regarding vitamins as they pertain to the vegan diet.  Below Ginny will discuss in detail fat soluble vitamins as they relate to vegan nutrition.

Ginny has a wonderful blog that I follow.  To learn more click here.

To read an interesting interview of Ginny , click here.

For a complete listing of Ginny’s books, click here.

Fat Soluble Vitamins: Do They Stand Between Vegans and Health?

by GINNY MESSINA

This month, I’m working on a couple of responses to recently published criticisms of vegan diets. Among the issues that are frequently raised is one that focuses on fat-soluble vitamins. Some of the concerns are based on legitimate questions about active forms of these vitamins and their absorption from plant foods, and others aren’t. Regardless of those questions, though, plant foods can and do provide enough of the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K. (Vitamin E, which is also fat-soluble, is not involved in the controversy since it’s found in a very wide variety of foods.)

Vitamin A: It’s true that the preformed active type of this vitamin is found only in animal foods. But plants are abundant in vitamin A precursors like beta-carotene. In fact, these provitamin A compounds are important enough that the USDA measures vitamin A content of foods as “retinol activity equivalents (RAE),” which includes both preformed vitamin A and the compounds that the body turns into vitamin A. There is no separate RDA or recommendation for animal-derived pre-formed vitamin A.

You can meet your vitamin A requirement for the day by drinking just one-quarter cup of carrot juice or eating a cup of kale or spinach. Other foods that make significant contributions are sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and dark orange winter squashes, including pumpkin. A word of caution though: Earlier assessments of retinol activity equivalents in plant foods over-estimated amounts. This is because more recent data show that conversion rates of the vitamin A precursors are lower than previously believed. As a result, vitamin A is a nutrient that deserves some attention in vegan diets. This doesn’t mean you can’t get enough; it does mean that it’s a good idea to make sure you eat vitamin A rich foods every day.

Vitamin D: This vitamin occurs naturally in only a few foods—fatty fish, eggs from chickens who were fed vitamin D, and mushrooms treated with ultraviolet light. With such limited dietary availability, humans wouldn’t have gotten very far if not for the fact that we can make all the vitamin D we need when skin is exposed to sunlight.  As humans have moved farther from equatorial zones—and spend less time outdoors—it’s become harder to make enough, though, so vitamin D-fortified foods have become important.

Although people can get adequate vitamin D from fatty fish, most—omnivore or not—rely on fortified foods and sun exposure, two options that are as easily available to vegans as to omnivores.

The vegan form of vitamin D, which is called ergocalciferol or vitamin D2, has been shown to be as effective in raising blood levels of this nutrient as animal-derived vitamin D3 when it’s taken at a usual daily dose (1) (The RDA is 600 IUs; some experts recommend 1,000.) At megadoses, however, vitamin D2 may need to be taken more often.(2) But no one should be megadosing on vitamin D unless they are working with a doctor to correct a deficiency. And vitamin D2 has been used to effectively raise blood levels in people with deficiencies. (3, 4)

Vitamin K: Best sources of this nutrient are leafy green vegetables and canola, soy and olive oils. One form of vitamin K, called vitamin K2 or menaquinone, is found in animal products but in only one lone plant food—natto, a fermented soy product that isn’t a usual part of most western vegan diets. This isn’t a problem, though, because humans have no requirement for vitamin K2. We also have bacteria in our gut that produce this form of vitamin K—so we’re covered either way. Since vitamin K is essential for blood clotting we’d see some evidence of a deficiency if vegans weren’t getting enough. But a study that compared clotting rates between vegans and meat eaters found no difference. (5)

Getting Enough of the Fat Soluble Vitamins: The best way to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of the fat soluble vitamins is to eat plenty of leafy green and dark orange vegetables and to take a vitamin D supplement if you don’t get adequate sun exposure. Gentle cooking improves the absorption of some vitamin A precursors, and cooking foods in small amounts of olive or canola oil can give you a vitamin boost while improving absorption of these vitamins.

1.            Holick MF, Biancuzzo RM, Chen TC, et al. Vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008;93:677-81.
2.            Romagnoli E, Mascia ML, Cipriani C, et al. Short and Long Term Variations in Serum Calciotrophic Hormones after a Single Very Large Dose of Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2) or Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) in the Elderly. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
3.            Thacher TD, Obadofin MO, O’Brien KO, Abrams SA. The effect of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 on intestinal calcium absorption in Nigerian children with rickets. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:3314-21.
4.            Gordon CM, Williams AL, Feldman HA, et al. Treatment of Hypovitaminosis D in Infants and Toddlers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
5.            Sanders TA, Roshanai F. Platelet phospholipid fatty acid composition and function in vegans compared with age- and sex-matched omnivore controls. Eur J Clin Nutr 1992;46:823-31.

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Filed under Books, Education, General Vegan, Guest Blog, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vitamins