Before making the switch to a vegan diet, people will rightfully have questions as they take the leap. There are conflicting messages on social media about the benefits and risks, as well as uncertainty of how to actually start and still get required nutrients.
International culinary expert Mariko Amekodommo tells ET Panache, “Over the past 6 months, I’ve been inundated with messages from people wanting to switch to a vegan diet. As an international culinary expert who studied vegan diets and recipes around the world and owned a vegan catering company in Los Angeles serving celebrity clients and brands – I’ve seen and heard everything when it comes to vegan food.”
Here she busts some common myths about going vegan.
I’ll lose weight
Vegan food can actually make you gain weight when you are eating packaged foods. Most are high in carbohydrates and sugar, without the added protein to stabilize your blood sugar. You’ll have an easy time finding vegan breads, sweets and snacks. “Over the years I’ve received messages from people wondering why they are gaining weight on a vegan diet, so I told them to journal everything they ate (and the quantities) and get back to me in a week. As I suspected, they found delicious vegan snacks at the stores and were eating tons of sweets and potato crisps,” says Amekodommo.
If you are choosing a vegan diet to lose weight, then stick to whole unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies and legumes. If you have a sweet tooth, then make your own fruit based vegan ice cream or chocolate date truffles.
Vegan food doesn’t contain protein
People are always concerned that they won’t get enough protein when switching to a vegan diet. Amekodommo says that’s far from the truth. “For most vegans, the go-to source of protein will be pulses and legumes. You’ll soon find these the cornerstone of a vegan diet, but don’t worry that you’ll be eating dal and rajma chawal for the rest of your life. I love making chips and crackers from lentils, and making incredible chocolate cake with besan flour. If you are open to experimenting in the kitchen, you’ll have no trouble making delicious (and unique) vegan recipes high in protein,” shares Amekodommo.
Vegan food is healthier than animal counterparts
Have you read the labels of those ‘faux meat’ products? Scrolling down the label of 20 ingredients that’s supposed to replace a chicken burger (which has 1 ingredient) you’ll find genetically engineered soy and highly processed additives to name a few. With higher sodium levels, saturated fat and calories than traditional chicken, you might be eating vegan – but at what cost? “If you can’t live without a nice juicy burger, I’ve made fantastic versions that involve grains, vegetables and spices. The texture and taste will stand up against those pre-packaged products and you’ll be able to pronounce the actual ingredients in what you are eating,” advises Amekodommo.
And finally…should I make the switch
“Whether you want to switch to vegan food or continue non-veg….my advice is the same. Be diligent about reading the labels of what you eat and understand the ingredients you are putting into your body,” say Amekodommo. Fresh prepared at home will always be a preferred option and if you do decide to indulge in sweets and packaged snacks, keep it in moderation. “There are plenty of benefits to vegan diets such as increased energy, boosted immunity, losing weight and fighting disease. If you want to give it a try, make sure you are eating whole foods, getting proper nutrition, testing out new recipes at home and enjoying the process,” adds Amekodommo.
Vegan Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream Recipe
This is one of the quickest and most indulgent vegan dessert recipes without the guilt. Experiment by adding in other flavors such as fresh chopped mint, coconut, roasted almonds or chocolate chips.
This is one of the quickest and most-indulgent vegan dessert recipes, without the guilt.
2 cups ripe avocado, chopped and frozen
2 tbsp nut butter. Try cashew, almond or peanut
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp liquid sweetener. Try honey, agave or date syrup for best results.
Blend all ingredients in a blender or mixer grinder until smooth. Freeze for 20 minutes before serving.