Written by Andrew Alexander, Founder of VeganHealthPack.com
Before going Vegan I had some serious concerns if my dietary changes were going to negatively impact my health. How will I get enough protein when I give up meat? What are my chances of developing iron deficiency and anemia? What am I going to do about calcium if I give up dairy?
After being vegan for three years now, I finally decided to get lab tests done and the results were in:
- My vitamin D and B12 levels were extremely low
- Iron was borderline low, and
- My LDL cholesterol and triglycerides were through the roof!
The last part confused me a little because I was told as a vegan we don’t have cholesterol in the foods we eat. At one point, I remember writing about it and how vegans experience the benefits of switching to a diet where they don’t have to worry about cholesterol (which is only in foods produced by animals).
I saw more and more people posting on social media about having the same problems as me. Many of them have high cholesterol and triglycerides after spending years being vegan. A lot of them supplemented their diet with pills. The most common form of vitamin D supplements come from sheep wool (which is not vegan).
As a result, I began to ask the question:
“Can we really get adequate nutritional intake through plants alone?”
Lowering Cholesterol on a Plant-Based Diet
First, I began researching how to lower cholesterol and triglycerides through a plant-based diet. I discovered that although the foods we consume don’t contain cholesterol in themselves, our liver turns these foods into cholesterol that gets released into our system.
Different vegan foods that may raise cholesterol and triglycerides:
- Simple carbohydrates: white flour, pasta, pizza, breads, pastries
- Sugar: candy, cookies, ice cream, soda, and other desserts
- Processed foods: be on the watch for hydrogenated oils and saturated fats
- Coconut Oil
At the time, I just started a Hangover Cure business that contained Artichoke Leaf Extract as one of the ingredients. After doing some research around the other benefits of it, I discovered that Artichoke Leaf Extract has been clinically studied to reduce cholesterol by 22.9% versus only 6.3% for those taking a placebo. It’s a good thing I had 100 pounds of it on hand! So I decided to switch up the labeling and help fellow vegans out with the cholesterol side of things.
That’s around the time when I began getting more interested in the health benefits of plants and medicinal herbs.
I want to add a disclaimer here that I’m not a medical professional or doctor of any kind. These are my own observations on my journey and my research into medical studies. Everybody’s health situation is unique and there are many things about the body that I don’t know about. Please ask your doctor if dietary changes, getting blood tests done, or medication is right for you.
What Nutrients Do Vegans Go Deficient In?
The second part of my journey was addressing my nutrient levels. It’s a scary thing when you begin looking at all the side effects ranging from excess tiredness, tingling in the extremities, all the way to organ failure and death.
As a person who hates taking pills, I primarily decided to search for natural food sources of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 fatty acids
I opened up an Excel spreadsheet, went on Google, and began making a list of all the different plant-based sources of those nutrients and their content levels.
I discovered that our bodies produce vitamin D naturally when exposed to the sun. When absorbing the UV light from the sun, mushrooms do the same thing. Although not all mushrooms you buy in the supermarket have the levels of Vitamin D we need to stay healthy. I found a mushroom jerky (and kelp jerky) that provides high levels of Vitamin D intake.
In addition to supplements and fortified vegan foods, duckweed (water lentils) is a natural form of vitamin B12. Studies haven’t been conducted yet about how our bodies absorb and process this B12 compared to other sources, but it helped me learn that B12 actually isn’t produced by animals but instead by the bacteria in their stomachs. Many factory farms provide the animals with B12 supplements to raise the levels in them.
Chia seeds and flax provide you with omega-3s and they say our body absorbs them better when they are crushed. I began eating edamame pasta as a way to remove the cholesterol-increasing white flour from my diet and still enjoy the pasta dishes I love. At the same time, it provides me with calcium, zinc, and iron.
Then I loaded up on the beans and discovered sprouted lentils as a way to get more protein. Sprouting helps break down sugars and increase the nutrient levels in the foods we eat such as legumes.
A Vegan Meal Subscription Box Filled With Plants
Holding true to my entrepreneurial spirit, I enjoy helping others through the same problems I faced myself on this journey through life.
In addition to the Artichoke Leaf Extract Powder, I decided to create a business to help remove one of the main objections people have when switching fully to veganism: ensuring they get proper nutrition.
While I hired some health coaches to write articles for me, I am actively seeking out teams of doctors and medical professionals to help guide my customers on this journey to a long and healthy life.
Until that time, I created a Monthly Vegan Subscription Box that contains all-natural foods that are designed by nature, and never in a lab. Selling them online, keeping the foods shelf-stable, and delicious too helps make eating plant-based foods not only healthy but fun and tasty too!
My goal is to help millions of people transition to a healthier lifestyle by removing the fear of not getting these nutrients in their diet.
Our first box contains all-natural sources of:
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you’d like to save 10% on your first purchase use the coupon code VEGANSISTERS10 at VeganHealthPack.com
Thank you for hearing my story.
Andrew Alexander, Founder of Vegan Health Pack