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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.

Semantics: Tom-AY-to / Tom-AH-to

This is an argument as old as when each term was defined; which is better, vegan or plant based? It’s a rant if ever there were one, just warning ya!

The other day I was checking out different articles and stumbled on one at Happy Herbivore appropriately titled “What is a Plant-Based Diet? (The Difference Between “Plant-Based” and “Vegan”).” I love what Lindsay Nixon is doing over there at Happy Herbovire and her story / success are amazing. That said, I found the article to be a catalyst for divisiveness and was based on nothing more than semantics.

I don’t want to waste time to much on this but I felt like it was necessary to write something up real quick. In a world that is so polarized, for a movement that is trying to be extremely inclusive, drawing a line in the sand bothers the sh*t out of me. The article makes it sound like you can’t be one and the other or that one is better than the other.

Some of the comments I read on Facebook post were just as provocative as I thought they would be. One reading, “I refuse to refer to myself as vegan as most people who refer to themselves as vegan are generally crazy.”

There was also this comment, I am not a vegan, I am plant-based. Calling it “vegan” has turned off so many people to the plant based way of eating, and it’s something that they can do for their health.”

I easily could have found myself saying the same things a few years ago, it was one of the reasons that turned me off to veganism: militants. I started off as a “plant-based” person as well thinking somehow I could never call myself a vegan. But, like one comment implied, my aversion to animal products of any kind emerged and my veganism exposed itself. I will go into militant veganism in another post sometime, I have quite a bit to say about it now that I understand the reasoning behind it. We are not here today to talk about that though.

There really is no major difference between someone who is plant-based and someone who is vegan, BUUUUTTT… if we were to cross that line and draw a distinction it wouldn’t be based on whether one is a noun, verb, adjective or whatever. It certainly wouldn’t be a variation that Wikipedia could derive. The most solid difference is one is a lifestyle and one is a diet. Call it what you want though, the fact of the matter is:

Both are great for your health!

Both are great for the environment!

BOTH are great for animals!

Whatever you want to call it, however you want to package it, the one thing they all have in common is compassion. Whether that is compassion for yourself or for animals, it is still compassion. That is the common thread and is the driving force behind both movements. Well at least that’s what I think.

Do you draw a distinction in your life? If so, why?

Stepped Up Rice & Beans Casserole

Over the years I’ve made a variety of rice and bean dishes. More often then not, they are somewhat bland. I thought I would try my hand at a new recipe and had great success. My wife is not a very big bean eater. Tonight, she went back for seconds. Both my kids liked and my sons friend, who is over for a sleepover, devoured his. That’s a bit of a compliment seeing as his father is Ecuadorian and he eats a lot of rice and beans, or at least that’s what he tells me. I will take it though!

riceandbeanIngredients

2 cups brown rice
2 cups water
2 cups veg stock
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup frozen spinach
1 cup frozen onion and pepper mix
1 package Gardein Chik’n Strips
10oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies
15oz can kidney beans
1 cup Go Veggie Vegan Cheese

Cook rice and liquids per package instructions (add chili, chipotle chili powder & turmeric to rice/ water mix)

Once rice is cooked go ahead and add the can of kidney beans (strained and rinsed), the diced tomatoes with green chilies (drain liquid in can), spinach, onion with green peppers and Gardein Chik’n Strips.

Mix well in the pot rice was cooking in and spread evenly in a casserole dish.

Sprinkle the Go Veggie Vegan cheese on top and cook at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Serve!!

 

Book Review: Thug Kitchen Party Grub

thugkitchenCooking good plant based/ vegan food can be a chore sometimes. You have to hunt down all sorts of exotic ingredients, teach yourself some technical cooking proficiencies and HOPE that the end result is something you, your family and friends might enjoy. I know I’ve made some bomb meals; those bombs were not “da bomb”, they were explosive both before and after!

This fine folks over at Thug Kitchen bring you part two to the pinnacle of palatable plant based profanity. Thug Kitchen: Party Grub is filled with a plethora of new recipes tested and approved for “social mother-f*ckers!” These 100 new recipes are delectable dishes of prestigious perfection.  Bah, enough of the platitudes…

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Recipe: Basic Vegan Chili

chiliThe Autumn flavors are pouring in. Apples, pumpkins for pumpkin pie, squashes and roasted root veggies. I love Spring with all it’s clean flavors and stuff, but Autumn is comfort food time. And what better thing to eat than chili.

Last year I made a chili, and while it was good, it had more ingredients than it needed. Today I wanted just a chili, no frills. I didn’t want to have to heat up oil. Heck, I didn’t even want to use oil. I just wanted chili. So here’s how I made it.

Ingredients:

1 lb of dry kidney beans
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
12 oz tomato paste
4 diced (not chopped) potatoes
1 cup of frozen corn
1 bag of meatless crumbles
1/2 an onion (chopped finely)
2 tablespoons of chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

That’s it!!

Put all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, or your Fagor 3-in-1, add water until it is 2″-3″ above the ingredients and put on high for 6 hours! Yay, CHILI! 🙂

Recipe: Kale Soup

Here we are a couple days into Fall 2015 and the first soup has been made!

AND IT BEGINS!

I have been craving a good kale soup lately, especially the spice of soyrizo and some nice soft, warm potatoes. I went down to the basement, dusted off the Fagor 3-in-1 and started whipping up some good food.

Here’s what you need:
vegan kale soup4 cups (one bunch) of fresh Kale (chopped)
6-8 medium red potatoes (chopped)
1 package of Trader Joe’s Soyrizo
1 cup of broccoli slaw (add more if you like)
3 celery stalks (chopped)
1 garlic clove (pressed and minced)
4 cups of vegetable stock
4 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste

Now the easy part…
Put it all in the Fagor…
Slow cook it for 6 hours and serve.

Wait! Don’t get rid of that grill!!

It was quite ironic that I saw this post on Fix.com the other day because my wife, and my sons, got me a new grill for Fathers Day. We recently bought a new home after moving around and around more times than I am willing to admit. So, needless to say, it’s been a while since I had a grill to cook on. And, to be honest, I think the last times I cooked on one was when I was still eating meat.

If you have recently made the transition to a plant based/ vegan diet you do not have to give up your grill. Even when I was eating meat, I do remember cooking a plethora of veggies on the grill. Fire roasted summer squash and zucchini? Yes please! Don’t give that grill away, dust it off and get it ready. Heck it should be ready to go, it’s summah (as we say here in the Northeast).

July 4th just passed and while it not the official date that summers starts, at least not the season, it’s said it is a kick-off to the summer. On July 4th, and foreseeable future (or at least until Labor Day), BBQ’s are an almost daily event. Whether it grilling at a get together, or nightly for your family, these are some great tips to get the most out of your grill and your veggies.

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