Is being a Vegan for me?
I have been a die-hard meat eater all my life. I grew up as my father was a hunter and we had meat, fish/seafood, or poultry on our table every meal. However, I recently under went weight loss surgery. I think during that time of only being allowed liquids, my body has detox or something! Now that I am back to eating 'normal' (just smaller and healthier meals) I have a hard time tolerating meats and poultry. I think it has to do with all the antibiotics and steroids and whatever other crap they feed to animals. I started then to try the organic meats and poultry as well as eating only fresh caught fish and seafood (even though I am tolerating that just fine) but still it makes me feel a little "yucky." My sister bought me The Skinny Bitch Cookbook for Christmas (not even realizing it was a vegan cookbook). I started reading it and it starting me thinking that maybe this is why I am having a hard time digesting meats. So for a few weeks now I have been eating about 2 completely non-meat and usually even completely vegan days per week. Those days I feel so much better! You would think I would have my answer right there but my concern is when I got my last blood tests results back my protein levels are still low and my vitamin D was extremely low. I'm worried if I go vegan I won't have enough protein or certain vitamins. I already take 2 multivitamins, 1 B-12, and 1 calcium pill a day (and now I have to add vitamin D too). I don't know what to do.
It sounds like you are on the right track. I would suggest looking over the vegan food pyramid to get an idea of what a balanced diet might look like:
You can definitely get everything that you need, and more. If you are eating enough calories and a balanced, healthy diet, you will most definitely get enough/more than needed protein. Protein is in so many foods!
You might also want to look into some more books such as The China Study, Being Vegan, and the Vegan Sourcebook.
Vegweb has lots of great recipes, and there are a ton of great vegan cookbooks!
your levels might be low because you're simply not eating enough. there is plenty of protein in a vegan diet. and you have the proof right there, you feel better when you eat vegan. so why would you keep feeling bad for any longer? as with any dietary change, you have to make sure you're eating enough.
get our in the sun for vitamin d... in terms of protein levels, i'm not convinced they should be as high as the markers are.
You should be able to get everything you need from a balanced vegan diet, and I think it's okay to take vitamins just to feel safe. You can also eat vitamin fortified vegan milks and cereals if you want, and use nutritional yeast like Red Star for B12. But if you're feeling great when you eat vegan, then that's your body telling you right there that it's what it wants. Hesp said to go in the sun for vitamin D, but be careful- you don't want to get skin cancer. I hope you love veganism as much as we do here!
I think with any diet you need to do your research. It depends on what weight loss surgery you did have. It sounds like your levels are low because of that.
With weight loss surgeries you need to be sure to get the protein you need first and foremost, many people take protein shakes. There are many many many vegan protein sources and protein powders to help with that.
Another thing to think about is tolerance. Will you tolerate adequate amounts of protein/veggies/fruits. Weight loss surgery inhibits your body's digestion and absorption. Will beans and peas cause too much bloating for you?
My biggest recommendation is to read read read read read. Find out what works for you.
Being a vegan is for anyone. You just need to know how to eat (just like any diet!).
About protein, how much do you weigh? The average recommendation is 1g per kg body weight. So, if you're 120lbs, you need 55g.
Aggplanta's worng on the nut milks- for example, almond milk usually only has 1g per cup- but spot on about soy products, grains, and quinoa. In my opinion, pulses- beans, lentils, and peas- should be a big part of a healthy veg*n diet- they've got protein, fiber, antioxidants, everyting. And there's so many ways you can use them :) curries, burritos, stir-fries, soups, casseroles, etc.
What vitamins are you worried about?
Obviously calcium- fortified foods are great, and things like 4oz calcium-set tofu, 3/4 c collard greens, or 1oz whole sesame seeds (~3tbsp) all have as much calcium as a glass of milk. Things like almonds and broccoli also contain small amounts.
There are several good vegan food pyramids out there, but here's the one I use:
I'd recommend tracking what you eat on something like SparkPeople- its very useful and its free- I use it. It gives you carb, protein, fat, calcium, iron- and you can choose to track other nutrients.
Even if you don't keep it up, just doing it for a few days can let you see how much you're eating, where the nutrients you do get are coming from, what you need to work on, etc. It really does help me.