Is the Vegan Diet Optimal?

Science is filled with bias, and this is why I am not sure that a vegan diet is optimal or more healthy than an omnivore diet with small amounts of meat. There are many peer reviewed studies showing that higher intakes of non-animal food such as vegetables and fruit will increase longevity, but this does not mean that a diet without any meat is optimal.

Regardless, based on the totality of what I’ve read, a vegan diet looks safe and healthy (it is approved by the American Dietetic Association) and I choose to go vegan because of morality and because I have not seen any evidence to convince me that a vegan diet is unhealthy.

Many point to populations such as the Okinawans in Japan who have legendary longevity but who eat small amounts of fish. While it is true that the traditional Okinawan diet had small amounts of fish (one teaspoon per day), this does not prove that we should eat fish today because our oceans today are polluted with heavy metals, microplastics, and other toxic chemicals. Our oceans were less polluted in the past.

Forget About Incomplete Protein

There are many myths flying around that plant proteins are missing essential amino acids. This is not true. Just about all protein from food (with the exception of gelatin) contain all essential amino acids.

However, even though all plant protein has all essential amino acids, some plant protein has low amounts of some amino acids.

The number one rule I recommend to those experimenting with veganism is not to spend the whole day eating salads. Rather, replace meat with high-protein plant food.

The plant I rely on for protein is beans.

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However, there is an important fact to remember about the amino acid profile of beans. Although protein in beans have all essential amino acids, beans tend to contain low amounts of the amino acid methionine.

However, for me, this is nothing to worry about since, like most people, beans do not comprise 100 percent of my diet. If you eat other food, there will be protein in other food, and protein from other plant food, e.g. tofu, seitan, and even bread, contain higher levels of methionine.

Furthermore, there is a significant amount of scientific evidence that shows that a low-methionine diet will reduce your risk of cancer and make you live longer. The problem most people have is that they eat too much methionine (due to high consumption of animal protein), which causes oxidative stress, which causes rapid ageing. Methionine may also feed some cancers.

The bottom line is to eat beans for protein. Beans are not only high in protein but are also extremely cheap (see Meat Eater Won’t Turn Vegan? Give them Beans). Where I live, you can buy 500 grams of beans (containing 100 grams of protein) for only A$1.80 (US$1.30). Don’t be afraid to get protein from other vegan sources as well, such as tofu, seitan, and even vegan meat and vegan protein powder.

Low-Carb Diet = Low Testosterone

High protein diets are very popular now. There is a belief among many that they must eat protein in every single meal and that they cannot have too much protein.

However, a high-protein diet may lower testosterone levels, especially if the calories from protein replace calories that would otherwise have come from carbohydrates.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which is the hormone that basically starts the whole cascade of events that eventually leads to testosterone synthesis, adjusts its pulsation rate according to the glucose levels of the body. When there’s high amount of glucose present, the hypothalamus inside our brains releases more GnRH, and thus your body synthesizes more testosterone. And when there’s low amounts of glucose present in the body, the brain releases less GnRH, which slows down testosterone synthesis.

http://www.anabolicmen.com/carbohydrates-testosterone/

Research consistently shows that people who exercise regularly need to eat enough carbs or their testosterone will fall while their cortisol levels rise. This is a sure-fire recipe for losing muscle and gaining fat. Incidentally, it’s also a marker for excessive training stress. In a study in Life Sciences, men who ate a high carbohydrate versus a low carbohydrate diet for 10 days had higher levels of testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin, and lower levels of cortisol.

A few years later, another study took this research a step further. This time the subjects included men and women who exercised regularly. And in addition to considering the effect of their diet on hormones, researchers put them through some performance tests. Once again, when the subjects ate a low carb diet, their testosterone (and other anabolic hormones) went down, while their cortisol went up. And, after following a low carb diet for just three days, only two of the six participants were able to complete the cycling test! Meanwhile, when following the higher carb diet for three days, all six participants were able to complete the test.

In 2010, researchers reconsidered the same question — this time in relation to intense exercise. In this particular study, subjects eating the low carb diet (where 30% of their calories came from carbs) saw a drop of 43% in their testosterone to cortisol ratio. Not good. Meanwhile, the control group (who got 60% of their calories from carbs) saw no change in their testosterone/ cortisol ratios.

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/low-carb-diets

That being said, protein is important, but consumption of protein shouldn’t distract you from consumption of carbs and fat. All three macronutrients have important roles to play.

How much protein is recommended? Aim to consume between 1 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Thanks to smartphone technology, counting protein is fairly simple. Simply do Google searches to see how much protein is in certain food, e.g. Google “protein in chickpeas” or “protein in pumpkin seeds.” Otherwise, you can read how much protein there is on the nutrition label of most food.

 

Converting A Restaurant Vegan

I’ve been reading a BBC article about how many people in Israel are converting to veganism. This article describes how an owner of a pub that serves a significant amount of animal food decided to go vegan, and business has been really good:

Until a few years ago, Nanuchka was just a conventional Georgian pub serving traditional food like khachapuri, a cheesy bread, and khinkali, a meat-stuffed dumpling.

But then Nana Shrier, the flamboyant owner of the venue, where the walls are adorned with erotic art, became a strict vegan – in what is said to be the most vegan country in the world per capita.

She decided to convert her entire restaurant to a meatless and dairy-free establishment despite being advised against it by friends and business colleagues.

Israelis are flocking to it – and business is more successful than ever.

All this made me wonder whether it would be a lucrative business to buy existing restaurants and then veganize them.

Veganism is not only popular in Israel. Interest in the lifestyle seems to be rising in many countries. Google Trends shows that the search term “vegan” and especially “vegan protein” has been rising significantly.

Buying up a restaurant business (or starting one) and veganizing it would not be difficult. For any animal product, there is a vegan alternative. For example, if a restaurant served chicken, simply replace the chicken with vegan chicken. If there is a recipe that uses cheese, replace with vegan cheese. If there a recipe that uses dairy milk, replace it with almond milk.

Given the high quality of vegan meat and dairy alternatives nowadays, most meat eaters will not even notice any difference. Most meat eaters simply eat meat because that’s what’s available. Those meat eaters who really care that their meat comes from an animal and that it must be e.g. grass-fed, are few in number.

A vegan restaurant that sells mainstream food including vegan meat and dairy should not lose much business to meat eaters. However, the benefit of having a vegan restaurant is that vegans will actively search for your restaurant online.

When being a vegan, it is much easier to go to a dedicated vegan restaurant where you can order anything and know for sure that it is vegan. This saves having to tell the waiter to e.g. replace the chicken with tofu, remove all the cheese, remove all the egg, and usually after all this you end up looking weird and different.

If it is true that veganizing a restaurant will attract many vegans while scaring off few meat eaters, overall vegan restaurants should be a great business. I have always wanted to invest my money ethically, so it may be a good idea to borrow money from the bank to start a vegan restaurant or buy an existing restaurant and veganize it.