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Transitioning To Veganism: Protein Shakes/ Supplements

This is the fourth article in this series. While the first three compared milks, beefless crumbles and jerky; this one is a little different.

We could go on and on about the need to supplement protein, the fact of the matter is that most people who are active, ie. runners, weightlifters or cross-fitters need to supplement. Can you get enough protein from just food? Absolutely!

Most people do not have the time to sit around eating all day or preparing meals or counting every single macro. I enter as much as I can into https://www.myfitnesspal.com/ to track what I’m eating. I do minor amounts of prepping, you’ve seen the mason jar recipes, right? As a cable guy those are super simple to pop into my lunchbox along with some fruit and veggies and I’m off to work. If you want an example of calculating macros and consider yourself a macro geek check out http://www.nomeatathlete.com/calculations/

If I trained hard, or ran, the day before I will also pack a shake to supplement some of the protein I couldn’t ingest during the day. Again, if I had the time or wasn’t stuck in a van all day could I reach my protein needs? Sure, but I don’t have the time and this article is for those that don’t. This article is also for those that need more protein, those heavy lifters who are needing extra to build and maintain muscle health.

With the samples I received, I’m going to break them down super simple like. I will list the basic macros, taste, consistency and price comparison. I want to thank those companies that sent samples, I appreciate the support and you helping me to put this article together. I was not paid to write this, I approached each company for a sample; so my opinion is completely unbiased.

If you run a company and would like to be added, I will happily create an addendum to this post; just head to the “Contact” tab and send me a message.

Orgain – I tried the creamy chocolate flavor. This product took two scoops per serving which made the shake a bit thicker, but also, more flavorful. With water it was tasty but when I mixed it with soymilk it was like having a chocolate milkshake. As you can imagine, the macros change with whatever milk-alternative you use. I didn’t need to pull out my immersion blender, it mixed very well with about 10-15 good shakes in the shaker cup. I usually mix powders with at least 16oz of liquid.

Taste wise it was one of my favorites of the powders tested; so much so that I’ve placed many orders to restock since. I not only like the macros but I feel like I stay more full longer. The price point below is the price from their website, if you shop around you will find it cheaper than that. I order mine from Amazon. The consistency is not gritty at all; it’s fairly smooth. My only complaint is I’d rather it be a 30 serving tub and not 20; it would make the monthly subscription from Amazon worth it.

Orgain is not a completely vegan company and does offer products that have whey in them. Make sure you check the nutrition facts before purchasing.

Macros per serving

  • 13g of carbohydrates
  • 4g of fat
  • 21g of protein

20 servings per 2lb tub priced at $40

Ai Nutrition – Chocolate is the only flavor available for this, as far I could see from their website that is. The powder is pretty thin and you only need one scoop per serving. Within a couple shakes of your shaker it’s blended well, although it does seem to settle a bit between sips, so make sure you shake before each one. It’s not gritty, just seems that it doesn’t dissolve as good as others.

I like the taste, it’s certainly not a milkshake; the consistency is more like a chocolate milk. That said, the benefit of it being less viscous is it is more drinkable if you feel the need to slam your protein shakes. I prefer to sip it for a bit. I don’t remember where I read it but a while back I read something about sipping having more benefits to absorption. It also help to have a snack too. But anyway… I liked this one, liked it even better with vanilla soy milk.

Ai Nutrition is not an exclusively vegan company, they are a sports supplement company that sells all sorts of products. If order this powder make sure it is the “No Whey” kind.

Macros per serving

  • 7.1g of carbohydrates
  • .6g of fat
  • 22g of protein

20 servings per 1.6lb tub priced $35

About Time – For the longest time, this was my go to protein powder. I’ve tried all three flavors currently listed on the site: vanilla, chocolate and  cinnamon spice. The flavors were all tasty but I really preferred the vanilla though. It mixed super easy and was similar in texture to the Orgain powder, but a little less dense; this only used one scoop compared to two. After a few shaker shakes it was good to go and didn’t seem to settle too much, although I’ve gotten in the habit of shaking before a sip of any powder at this point.

As the macros will reiterate below, the nutritional profile of this powder not only makes it on par with some of the others, but outshines most of them. The cost per serving is also amazing, especially if you order on Amazon. We have a local place here on Cape Cod that I go to if I need a tub of this and it’s roughly $30. That is less than $1 per serving! Ya, that’s pretty damned amazing if you ask me. The only thing I really don’t like about this is the sweetness, sometimes it can be too much. Maybe it’s the stevia? I’m not sure but sometimes stevia can be hit or miss for me.

About Time is not a strict vegan company and offers other whey protein powders. They do offer a vegan protein brownie mix that I have yet to try. If ordering from them make sure to choose the vegan powder.

Macros per serving

  • 1g of carbohydrates
  • 2.5g of fat
  • 22g of protein

32 servings per 2lb tub priced at $45

Plantfusion –  For this test I tried the vanilla flavor. This powder is super soft, reminds me of baby powder in a way. Being so soft it is likely to make a mess so be careful with it, the particulates can get everywhere is you have a window open and a breeze comes in. Yeah, that happened to me. It shakes and mixes extremely well.

To be honest, maybe too well. What I mean by that is if you are to vigorous in your shaking skill the shake gets very frothy and I feel like you drink more foam than actual protein shake. Literally you only need maybe 5-6 good shakes, anymore than that and you are swirling it around quite a bit to try to get it to liquefy again. The flavor is nice, but similar to About Time, I can tell there’s a fair share of stevia in this.

I really hate to keep doing this, but the price I have listed below is directly from their site. If you go to Amazon it is much cheaper and has a great cost per serving.

Plantfusion is a vegan exclusive company. Rest assured that what you buy is ethically sourced and does not harm animals, or the planet, in any way.

Macros per serving

  • 4g of carbohydrates
  • 2g of fat
  • 21g of protein

30 servings per 2lb tub at $52

Evolve – I tried both flavors of Evolve, the chocolate and vanilla. It’s hard to choose which one was better as they both had a very pleasant flavor and texture. Evolve does require two scoops, so we go back to a substantial shake reminiscent or Orgain. It mixes well after about ten shakes and again, because of its thickness it is a sip type of shake, Comparatively speaking, the taste was good and the texture was not gritty or foamy.

The cost per serving is decent but we have another 20 serving tub here. I don’t know why that gets to me but I think protein companies should try to get at least 30 in there. It helps to stay with a workout cycle, and honestly, I think it would help to see if the powder if truly effective for the goal the person has.

The macros are decent, the carbs are higher than others but there’s not enough to make this something to stay away from. Actually, they add stevia but for once I did not really notice it. They have just enough to give it some sweetness but not too much to make it taste overly processed.

Cytosport is the parent company of Evolve and is not a vegan company. They are the makers of Muscle Milk and a variety of whey/ dairy based supplements. If Evolve interests you, the link I supplied at the beginning goes directly to the Evolve site and has no interaction with Cytopsport so you don’t order anything accidentally.

Macros per serving

  • 15g of carbohydrates
  • 3g of fat
  • 20g of protein

20 servings per 2lb tub at $25

Sotru – I lucked out and tried all three flavors (vanilla, chocolate and chai) as well as the super-food shake. There is an absolute difference between this powder and the rest. It is minimally processed and you can tell. It’s gritty and at times can get “chewy”, but not necessarily in a bad way. I’ve had shakes in the past from other companies that were gritty and truly felt like you were chewing on dirt. That’s not that case here and that grit is actual whole food. Remember that whole sipping for absorption benefits and eating something? They are just multi-tasking is all, I guess.

The taste is good but due to the fact the ingredients are as real as they get, it can get a bit earthy. That could be because of a couple other factors too. They use medicinal mushrooms as an ingredient as well as amaranth and quinoa, that could explain some of it. Or, it could be the fact that they ferment their products to help with digestion. Either way, it’s very unique and I don’t think it’d be for everyone. I like fermented foods though so it has this strange draw to want to drink more for me.

Sotru is a plant based company and believes in feeding the body good foods. The powders do not contain soy, so if you are not into soy you can try this out. Cost wise this is the most expensive of the bunch based on servings and macro breakdown.

Macros per serving

  • 4g of carbohydrates
  • 1.5g of fat
  • 18g of protein

21 servings per 1.3lb tub at $50

CONCLUSION

There are some serious options out there folks to support your health. There is a powder for everyone. If I can answer any more specific questions, please drop me a line in the contact tab above.

The prices I found are all from the company’s website. Most of them are sold on Amazon and are drastically cheaper. I recommend you shop around for a good price.

My favorite? Our of the one’s I tested for this article, hands down I love Orgain and have now incorporated it into new workout plan I am on. I not only use it in shakes but I make chia pudding with it as well and it’s got a great creaminess to it.

Again, if you didn’t see your company listed, I would be happy to create an addendum post or amend this one. To contact me go to the tab at the top of the page that says contact.

Transitioning To Veganism: Jerky

One thing I loved when I was not vegan was jerky. It wasn’t the fact that it was meat, it was all about the flavor and texture. I think a good reason behind it as well was the portability. Jerky was good for hikes, long runs and when I started running OCR races; I always had jerky with me. Like those frozen, funky vegan burger patties back in the day, jerky has come a long way and has become oh so glorious. It’s not just for omnivores anymore!

There are tons of companies doing their own thing and offering a variety of flavors and textures. Vegan jerky is becoming more of a niche market and is exploding. Ask companies like Louisville, their product is far from a novelty and is sought after by vegans all over. Believe me though, none of them are similar to the other and stand out on their own. I’m going break down 4 of my favorites and explain to you why they are better than eating animals; besides the obvious of course. So here we go…

Since I’ve already mentioned them, let’s talk about Louisville Vegan Jerky.  I was able to first try Louisville at this past years Ragnar Relay in the Adirondacks. They were a sponsor of the team I ran with, Strong Hearts Vegan Power. Teammates in my van can attest, after opening a bag (and completely finishing it) my reaction was a phrase I don’t know where it came from nor do I know what it meant. I exclaimed, “Jesus jumped up!” The jubilation and joy I felt overwhelmed me I guess. I missed jerky and this stuff had the texture and flavor I remembered so well. While it didn’t have that pull that some jerky has, the chewiness and seasoning of Louisville was amazing. At this point I’ve tried nearly every flavor minus a few of the small batches. If I had to choose a favorite flavor, I couldn’t. Can I recommend a few? Sure! The black pepper is amazing and is a bit more dry, which I prefer, it gave it more of that pull I spoke of before. The South Carolina BBQ is tasty as heck and is extremely moist, there’s a nice zip at the end as well. If you twisted my arm, I could pick my absolute favorite Louisville Jerky and that is the Buffalo Dill. My wife got some for me on my birthday and I was in heaven. Amazing! So far I have only been able to get Louisville by mail order, check them out at http://www.lvjco.com.

Next up we have the most accessible of all vegan jerky companies, Primal Spirit Foods. I say that because you have probably seen these at any major grocer or even in quite a few convenience stores; they seem to have a good handle on marketing and getting the name out. Another thing that helps them stand out is their incredible array of flavors. Lets not stop there though, the hits keep coming; they also offer a variety of textures based on ingredients. Most of their jerky strips are made from seitan, but they do also have some made from soy and my favorite; the spicy one was made from shiitake mushrooms as a base and was the most jerky like of all of them. The flavors are fantastic and are based on real ingredients. Being packaged singularly, Primal’s jerky is super simple to thrown in a backpack, ruck or even your fancy lil fanny pack! Minus the spicy flavor which was closest to jerky texture, the other have a similar chew to them. My only complaint, and I stress the ONLY is the fact they are somewhat difficult to open and you always end up with stick hands. I’m not sure there is much that can be done to the packaging to make that easier though. If for some strange reason you have yet to try these, you absolutely should; I eat these all the time now. For more info in Primal Spirit Foods vegan jerky check out http://www.primalspiritfoods.com.

For a while now, this next jerky company has been on my radar big time. Chris from the Vegan Zombie is always cooking up/ talking about Maywah Veg Market. He rants and raves about their products so I had to reach out and see about getting some jerky samples. What started as a small niche shop in Chinatown (downtown NYC), Maywah now not only services customers in the state of New York, but anywhere UPS can deliver too. I got the opportunity to try three of their products; the Roasted BBQ, Beef Jerky and the Bacon Jerky. As with the other two companies already reviewed, their products had their own distinct character and texture that carried throughout each flavor. The Roasted BBQ eerily looked a lot like meat jerky as it was a good piece that you bit and tore off pieces from. This had the most authentic texture to “real” jerky than most. I remember nearly 20 years ago being at a small general store in New Hampshire and seeing jerky in jars on the counter that had been smoked and roasted. Maywah’s jerky reminded me of that. The beef jerky had a similar texture, but was kind of pre-shredded you might call it; so it was easier to grab just a bit at a time and not have to tear into it. Again, the flavor was amazing and the texture couldn’t get any closer to the “real” thing. The bacon jerky was similar to what Primal is doing as it was more of a strip, but had the distinct Maywah flavor profile and texture. It had a real nice smokiness to it and as I’ve said a bunch, the texture was fantastic. It is not bacon, but bacon jerky. If you’ve had no experience with Maywah I highly recommend you order from them. The jerky is super inexpensive and they ship all over. I can’t wait to place a bulk order as they carry all sorts of substitutes. You can find them on the web at www.maywahnyc.com.

Last but certainly not least, is Lightlife. One of the first meat alternative companies, Lightlife has been at the forefront of veg movement for over 30+ years. I’d like say I’ve tried all of their products but at this point there are so many I can’t say I have. Their jerky is something new I’ve tried and it’s distinct from the others. They come in strips, similar to Primal but not as moist. Lightlife jerky has more of a dryness and chew like smoked/ dried jerky does. The only complaint is they only have two flavors. Having a wide range of products, I don’t expect that they will offer many more; they don’t need to. I’ve read other reviews online that say these are sweet; I don’t agree at all as I found them to be quite savory and smoky like jerky is supposed to taste. You can find these at most grocery stores as their distribution is pretty big in the major stores. Another solid jerky that you can just throw in your back pack or lunch bag for the matter. Find out more about Lightlife Jerky at https://lightlife.com/products/jerky

Every day more and more vegan foods & meat alternatives are hitting the market. Whether it’s faux hot dogs, sausages OR jerky, the fact is these products can stand up to, and maybe even push meat off the market. Once people realize they can enjoy the flavors and textures they love, without all the cholesterol and garbage that is in processed meats; they will be better off. I am so excited to have jerky in my life and thank all the companies involved in this article for sending samples to be part of it. If you are part of a company that was not written about here, e-mail me at vegancableguy@gmail.com and I’d be happy to create an addendum piece or add to this one.

What’s your favorite vegan jerky?

 

 

Transitioning to Veganism: Milk

milk_alternativesFollowing up on my first post in this series, Transitioning to Veganism: Beef Crumbles, it’s my hope that this subsequent post will help you on your way to living a life without the need for cow’s milk. I could go on and tell you why you don’t need cows milk, besides that fact that it’s not meant for human consumption, but there are a variety of other sites that will gladly tell you that. Preaching is not the point of these posts. This series is attempting to help new vegetarians/ vegans adapt to the new lifestyle.

Here’s a couple of links to help with that:

http://freefromharm.org/dairyfacts/
http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-health/10-fascinating-facts-about-cows-milk/

As kids we ate a lot of cereal; well I did at least. Whether it was Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles or what ever the heck else my Mom had picked up, I would crush a bowl or two every morning before school. I loved Shredded Wheat with brown sugar, that was my favorite. Anyway, just because you are transitioning doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your sugar cereal.

You’ll also start veganizing a good amount of dishes too. Tonight, for instance, I made a broccoli and rice casserole with a cheese like sauce. My wife makes a slammin’ Mac & Cheese that has no dairy in it. The point? Like cereal, you do not have to stop eating your favorite foods, just substitute with nut or soy based milks.

As you try them, you’ll find what works best based on your tastes. For me, I personally prefer cashew milks. I find that they are creamier and mix awesome in coffee. Silk makes a great cashew milk product that comes in a few different flavors: unsweetened, vanilla and chocolate. I use the vanilla as it adds a little sweetness to my coffee; I stopped adding sugar a couple of years ago.

As you can imagine, using a sweetened vanilla milk can make a dish taste weird, especially something a little more savory. Some of the unsweetened almond milks work great for that, or  if you are not averse to them, soy milk works great for cooking. Not everyone is into soy though and are freaked out by all the false data and estrogen scares.

I keep some shelf stable almond milks on hand in case I run out, or am cooking something that needs them. Trader Joe’s makes and awesome shelf stable product. It doesn’t mix well in coffee, but it’s great for cooking. Coconut milk is yummy too, but to be honest, I find it to be too much at times. It’s hard to take the coconut flavor out, so I prefer to use this in cereals and sweeter things as well.

If you are worried about calcium and nutrition, don’t be. Most companies fortify their nut milks to meet, or exceed the “benefits” of cows milk. Most nut milks have a relatively low protein content, but again, are fortified with all sorts of other vitamins and minerals.

The one milk I did not mention here is hemp. I have yet to try it so I didn’t want to add an opinion about something I could not justify one for. Have you tried hemp milk? What do you think?

 

Transitioning to Veganism: Beefless Crumbles

crumblesNot everyone can wake up one morning, decide to go vegan and start eating vegetables alone. Leaving animal products in the rear-view mirror is a hard thing to do. I know for me, that substitutes, or alternatives, have been a lifesaver. It’s my hope to share a lot of the foods, or similar one’s, that I have used in transitioning from animal flesh to plant-based products.

Besides veggie burgers, beefless crumbles are one of the biggest selling alternatives. It seems like every major company is coming out with their own, or buying up an already established one. Such as Gardein which was recently acquired by Pinnacle Foods, which is known for its Birds Eye product line. The CEO of Pinnacle was quoted as saying that “plant-based protein is at the tipping point of becoming mainstream, making Gardein an exciting new growth platform for the Birds Eye business.” Gardein has been at the forefront for a while now and I haven’t had a products of theirs that I don’t like. Their beefless ground is not overly powerful tasting and is great for flavoring up yourself. I’ve used in a shepherd’s pie and it worked out fantastically.

Trader Joe’s has always done a great job coming up with their own in-house products, and their Beef-less Ground Beef stands apart from most. It’s great in just about every recipe that calls for from tacos to stuffed peppers (pictured on their packaging) but I’ve made them and they are great. I’ve used them in a variety of other dishes as they are pretty flavorful in and of themselves. They are great in mini-“meat”loaves.

The guys that are really pushing the envelope though are Beyond Meat. The mission statement on their site says: “We believe there is a better way to feed the planet. Our mission is to create mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein. We are dedicated to improving human health, positively impacting climate change, conserving natural resources and respecting animal welfare. At Beyond Meat, we want to make the world a better place and we’re starting one delicious meal at a time.” Not only do they sell their basic crumbles, which are fabulously flavored and are awesome in sauces, but they have a flavored crumble called “Feisty” which is for spicier dishes like tacos, quesadillas, etc.

The downside to all these products is that they are massively processed. And because of that, you need to pay close attention to the ingredients. Not only do you need to read it for overly processed ingredients but also for non-vegan additives. For instance, there is a crumble made by Morningstar that is NOT vegan. If you scan the ingredients list it says egg whites. You may prefer to stay away from soy, or it doesn’t matter, either way check the label. You also need to make sure that when you see “natural flavorings” that the product has been certified as vegan by a legit source.

The best thing I can tell you is to try them all. Some are more chewy than others, some are less flavorful. But, we all have different palates so what I say is great you might think is horrible. Again, my biggest warning is to check out the ingredients before buying.

Next time we will talk chik’n strips!

Do you have a favorite crumble?