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Who’da thunk it?

You’ve all seen this meme more times than you can count, right? I know I have. Today though I saw it and wanted to write some things down about it; more specifically on how not only am I surviving but how I am flourishing while being vegan.

Now, I’m not going to boast about how awesome I eat, because to be honest, I’m a junk food vegan a fair share of the time. That said, having cut out animal products from my food my body has done some amazing things. At 43 I’m doing things I didn’t think were possible.

When I first started this I had really high cholesterol issues. In the first year alone I dropped my overall cholesterol by just under 70 points. I did not take any medications, I just ate better. I started exercising and started completing events I never dreamed of.

I was a smoker for nearly 25 years! I quit after my first year vegan and my lungs are healing rapidly. I run all the time and have no breathing issues. Sometimes if I run a bit to hard I do get wheezy but that’s what 25 years of tar and chemicals will do to you.

Don’t smoke kids!

About 6 months ago I started a weight training program. Throughout my entire life I have always had issues putting weight on and keeping it on; my metabolism is like a teens even in my forties! My goal was to get to 150lbs (I started at 142lbs). I’m not that tall ok, 5′ 5″ and 150 was a lofty goal for me. I presently weight just under 160lbs!

I didn’t do it with any animal protein or products.
Let me repeat, I did not consume any animal protein!

How am I still here?

Plant based foods have all the nutrition you need, including the ever elusive protein! Typically in a day I have oatmeal for breakfast. 1/2 cup of dry quick oats has 5g of protein, 27g carbs and 3g fat. That’s pretty decent, it’s not an abundance but you can add stuff to it like hemp seeds which have an additional 10g of protein in three tablespoons. Even adding 1/4 cup of soy milk add 2g more. That’s nearly 20g of protein, whoah!

I prep my lunches for the work week. Some examples of prepped meal are Jerk Tofu & Rice, Lemongrass Chickpeas w/ Quinoa, Miso Tempeh Chili, Andouille Sausage Jambalaya and much more. The protein in most of those are 20g or more. Dinners have a similar profile and at least 20-30g of protein.

Here’s a typical day (on the left, click for a larger version) when I was on the program and eating to gain. You will see a protein shake, and I did that to supplement what I couldn’t eat while at work. I work ten hours a day in my work-van, it’s helpful to supplement for me, not everyone has to do that. I also take a multi-vitamin in the morning and again, while lifting, was taking creatine.

If you look past that stuff I was still getting over 2,000 calories a day from food.

The point is, I’m alive and kicking. I’m smashing my goals and gaining, not losing.

Right now my training has changed and I’m on a running program so I’m not looking to add any more muscle; if anything I’m looking to trim down some of the weight while keeping the muscle. I do have two days I still use weights but 5 days a week are now spent running.

The awesome thing about being vegan is that I can tweak the foods I eat to reflect the training I’m on. For instance, my oatmeal every day now has 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of turmeric for inflammation. While I still use a protein shake for recovery, most of the other foods I eat will be to benefit the training. Can you do that and eat animals? Sure but you are eating animals and there’s a whole host of issues with that health wise and more importantly, with ethics.

No animals need to die for you to thrive.

You can get the nutritional needs your body requires being vegan.

Do your research and “eat like you give a f*ck!”

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.