Category Archives: Veganism

Protein Hierarchy: Tofu, Seitan, Beans … Which Is Best?

Paleo dieters tell me not to eat beans. Gluten free fanatics say “no” to seitan. Clean eaters suggest staying away from processed foods, such as imitation meat products. Others are saying soy, and thus tofu and tempeh, are not good.

But I’m a vegan. I won’t eat meat or dairy so these other, plant-based proteins are my main options for creating a protein-heavy diet to support my athletic lifestyle.

I know that everything has protein in it — spinach has 5 grams per cup and pasta can have 12 — but which veg source is best? Here are my thoughts on what to eat and what to avoid of several different vegan protein-dense foods. The numbers included are their average ratio of calories to grams of protein:



Eat lots because: Contains all of the essential amino acids.



Eat lots because: On top of being easy to find, they are protein dense and full of fiber. Prepare dried beans for the best option. If you go for cans, rinse them to get rid of excess sodium and lower your risks of gas.


12.5: 1

Eat lots because: They aren’t just cheap, they are also fast and easy to prepare and a good veggie source of iron.



Eat some because: Soy is controversial, with adamant defenders on both sides, but it’s high protein content is a great source for vegans, especially athletes looking to eat a high-protein diet.



Eat some because: It’s also a soy product, but because it is fermented it is easier to digest. And because it’s closer to whole bean form, it has higher fiber and vitamin levels.

Almonds (and other nuts)


Eat some because: They are quick, easy, readily available, very nutritious … but also very high in fat.



Eat some because: It’s the most protein-dense food on my list here and is lower in fat than the rest as well. Sodium content, however, is higher than the rest.

Processed “Fake Meats”


Eat as a special treat only: They aren’t the devil, but they are definitely no angel either … and I think you know why. Enjoy occasionally as a splurge.



Filed under Nutrition, Veganism

Channel “Betty” and Workout Like a Champ

Next time you head to the gym, I want you to channel my new personal training client who we’ll call “Betty.”

Betty is 60. She can run 8 miles and does so a couple times a week. She’s crazy strong: she can hold a plank and a wall sit for well over a minute with no struggle at all.

Betty doesn’t know she is as strong as she is, she just knows how to work hard and loves being in the gym.

Did I mention that Betty just happens to be vegan, too?

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Filed under General Fitness, Veganism

No Whey Protein Powders

Since my mom asked (by means of a comment on my post about what I eat throughout the day), here are my favorite protein powders …


In the last 20 years, protein powders have soared in popularity among athletes, especially weight lifters, body builders and those trying to build muscle. Whey protein, a dairy derivative, has become one of the most common forms of protein supplement. It is available in powders, beverages and bars, and is added to many processed foods to give an added boost of protein.

Many people, however, have reason to avoid whey. As a dairy product it can trigger existing or new allergies. Vegans don’t consume it as it is an animal product and the production of it does cause animal suffering.

If you have allergy concern, are vegan, or just want to try something different, work protein powder into your workout diet without relying on whey with any of these great options.

Raw Power! Protein Superfood Blend, $29.95 for 16 oz, 16 servings

Raw Power’s protein and superfood powder doesn’t just claim to be all natural; it is certified organic, vegan and 100% raw. Flavor choices are original, chocolate, vanilla or green, and all combine natural protein sources such as brazil nut and hemp with other strength and endurance boosting powders including maca, goji berry and mesquite. Raw Power proudly boasts that their protein powder is safe for everyone – children and elders, men and women, athletes and less active people.

Rainbow Light Protein Energizer, $21.99 for 14.6-17 oz, 16-18 servings

Pulling its protein from rice, Rainbow Light’s protein powders are gluten-free, easy-to-digest, low-fat, low-carb, vegan and contain a complete amino acid profile. Rainbow Light also contains 5 grams of fiber per serving and a wide range of plant enzymes that aid in digestion. These powders are a great choice for people that have gas or other digestive issues from other protein powders. The acai berry flavor provides an added antioxidant bonus. The chocolate and vanilla flavors include spirulina, a blue-green algae that contains protein, essential fatty acids, a range of B vitamins and many other nutritious minerals.

TwinLab Vege Fuel 100% Soy Protein, $21.99 for 18.88 oz, 15 servings

For fitness buffs that don’t want anything but protein, Vege Fuel is a perfect option. While it does contain other nutrients such as calcium and folate, there are no energy, flavor or endurance boosters added to the formula. It is pure and simple protein to promote muscle growth and improve nitrogen retention.

NutriBiotic Rice Protein, $19.95 for 21 oz., 40 servings

For athletes that desire pure protein powders, but want to avoid controversial sources such as soy, NutriBiotic has a powder with one ingredient: enzymatically processed whole grain brown rice. If you like this product, but want to add a little something it also comes in organic; plus flax seed or antioxidants; and chocolate, vanilla or mixed berry flavors.

Vega Shake & Go Smoothie, $23.95 for 10.6 oz, 10 servings

Created by vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier, Vega is a favorite among vegan athletes. The Vega Sport protein powder combines a variety of plant-based protein source including sprouted brown rice, green pea, hemp, alfalfa and spirulina. In addition to improving muscle growth and performance, Vega Sport also helps to reduce post-workout inflammation and enhances recovery. I, however, cannot acquire the taste for this product. Instead, I prefer Vega’s Shake & Go Smoothies. I love all the flavors, but vanilla almond (shown here) is phenomenal. The protein is still soy and other allergen free and is blended with greens, Omegas, probiotics and more.


This was originally published in Philly Fit Magazine. All of these can still be found regularly in my pantry. Right now, I even have every flavor of Vega Shake and Go Smoothies!

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Filed under Nutrition, Veganism

A Day on My Plate: What I Ate from Breakfast to Dessert

Since I talked about breakfast yesterday morning, let’s talk about the rest of the day in food, too.

Did you get hungry before lunch? I did. I made myself a smoothie with a blend of fruits, spinach, flax seeds, water and a little protein powder.

You should be hungry for a good lunch about 4 hours after breakfast. As a runner, I need lots of carbs and try to get them in earlier in the day so that I’m not going to sleep with a belly full of pasta. For lunch, I had whole wheat pasta with sauteed veggies, topped with a little olive oil and spices, including the must-taste, very good for you nutritional yeast.

Afternoon snack comes right before or after my afternoon workout and is always a Clif Bar.

Dinner for me comes after a good workout, so I refuel with more protein. I try to avoid frozen, processed “fake meats” so usually this means beans or high-protein veggies like broccoli. Yesterday I made tofu scramble for dinner, crumbling and sauteing tofu with peppers, spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and some other spices.

I needed a little more before going to bed so I had peanut butter, banana, dark chocolate chips and a little almond milk. Usually I’d blend these ingredients with ice for dessert, but since it was so cold, I ate them like cereal.

Eat up! Remember that eating too little can be just as bad as eating too much, and it’s all about quality over quantity. When you fill up on vegetables and fruits, you can eat more than if you waste calories on pastries and cheese.


Filed under Nutrition, Veganism

The Week That Was

Taking a note from fellow blogger and runner, The Motivated Runner, I am going to wrap up my week with a few “of the week” selections.

Article of the week: “Vegans Muscle Their Way Into Bodybuilding” in the New York Times!

Personal training moment of the week: One of my new clients brought his out-of-town guests to the gym and treated them to a half hour workout with me as a gift.

My fitness moment of the week: Being told by my lawyer (from when I was hit by a car on my bike) that he would consider me a professional athlete.

My non-fitness moment of the week: In my free time, I rescue and re-home small animals. This week I placed an over-the-top amazing bunny into the most perfect home for her. It was very bittersweet.

Motivation pic of the week: I couldn’t choose between these two. So how about one fitness motivator and one nutritional one? Both came to me from one of my favorite pages on Facebook, MotivateHopeStrength.

My pic of the week: This pic shows off a lot of my favorite things: PopBooth, my fave new iPhone app; my fave new workout jacket from lululemon; and a puppy. And who wouldn’t love a puppy?

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Filed under Equipment and Gear, General Fitness, Highlights of the Week, Nutrition, Veganism

A Quick Point to Ponder

The largest meat-eater that ever lived was the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Where is he today?

The only athlete to win the Ironman triathlon more than twice was Dave Scott. He won the competition six times and followed a vegan diet while training and competing.

Who would you rather live — and survive — like?

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Filed under Veganism

Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?

“Is a vegan diet healthy?” is a common question, particularly amongst people contemplating a change. Here are answers from three popular, non-vegan, Q&A Web sites, columns, and health resources.

CNN diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis says:
“Overall, vegan diets (diets containing no animal products) can be very healthy. They are generally much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than animal-based diets, which include meat, eggs and dairy. Research suggests that replacing a percentage of the saturated fat in your diet with plant-based proteins such as beans, tofu, and nuts can significantly reduce a number of heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In addition, several studies have found that very low meat consumption is associated with a significantly lower risk of death. …”

The Mayo Clinic says:
“A well-planned vegetarian diet is a healthy way to meet your nutritional needs. … Adopting a healthy vegetarian diet isn’t as simple as scraping meat off your plate and eating what’s left. You need to take extra steps to ensure you’re meeting your daily nutritional needs. …”

Healthline says:
“… A well-planned vegan diet can be nutritionally adequate, even for children and pregnant and lactating women. However, it is important that wise food selections are made. …”

For the most part these sum up my thoughts. Simply following vegan guidelines of leaving out animal products will not constitute a healthy, nutritious diet. There are plenty of junk foods that are vegan. But, a healthy vegan diet has been proven to have more health benefits and less related problems than a healthy meat-based one.

To help grasp what constitutes a “healthy” vegan diet, here is a vegan food pyramid from the Vegan Coach.

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