Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Welcome to the 2nd part of how to become vegan series. Today we are tackling carbs! Carbohydrates are essential to all meals, even for vegans. Yes, vegans eat more than just vegetables and lentils. A carbohydrate, also known as saccharides or carbs, are sugars or starches. Think rice, bread, pasta but also think vegetables, fruits, most proteins and even fats. More than likely, if you can eat it it has carbs in it. So “no carb” diets are actually impossible to truly do because 99% of food has carbs.
Carbohydrates are broken down into two different categories: complex and simple carbs. Simple carbs, or simple sugars, are short chains of carbs that can be broken down easily for immediate use. Examples of simple carbs are fruits, naturally occurring sugars and refined sugars. Complex carbs are starches, are formed with longer strains of carbohydrates. These carbs take more time to break down but it holds a lot more energy. Examples of complex carbs are bread, pasta and rice. Luckily all these foods are usually vegan, (most pieces of bread are made without eggs, and box pasta has no eggs.) Here is a quick list of complex vegan carbs and what to ask to ensure it’s vegan.
The most common mistake people make when going vegan or vegetarian is overloading their meals with carbs. Because a lot of people aren’t well versed in how to consume a healthy ratio of carbs, proteins and fats, they tend to front-load their meals with carbs because they know for sure it’s vegan. While you do need to get a healthy serving of carbs in, neglecting the other food groups will only cause harm in the long run. Vegans usually are more susceptible to Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, Omega-3 and protein deficiencies which are nutrients you cannot get from carbohydrates alone. 50% of your calories a day should be from carbs (unless you are trying to gain weight.) As a vegan, carbohydrates were the easiest to tackle because very little changed. Always make sure you are choosing the whole wheat option but more than likely, carbohydrates won't be an issue when you transition to veganism.
Be sure to check back in for the next “How to become vegan” series where we talk about proteins.