7 things that you have to know before you go vegan

Legumes are a good source of vitamin and minerals

This is the most important thing for you if you are at the beginning of your vegan diet. Why? Because legumes are a very good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Of course if you want, you can procure all this nutrition from other sources, but there is one problem – legumes include lysine – an exogenic amino acid, which you can find mainly in meat, eggs and other non-vegan products. Lysine is one of the essential amino acids, which means you need to get it from food. Your body is not able to synthesize it.

How much lysine do you need to eat?

It depends on your age, physiology and so on. You need to eat a specific amount of lysine per day.

You can also find lysine in nuts. Then, if you want to eat lysine only from nuts (without legumes), you need to eat more nuts per day. I’m not sure if this will be good for you because of the large portion of fat which you will eat from nuts then 🙂 Of course, nuts are great and you should eat them, but not all day long 🙂 Try to eat beans, lentils and some sprouts instead.

I’ve noticed that sometimes pregnant vegans do not eat lysine as much as they should.

How many legumes do you need to eat?

One portion of legumes is one half cup of cooked beans. Adult should eat at least 1 cup of cooked beans, so 2 portions every day. Sometimes some people need to eat more of them, its depends on physical activity too. It doesn’t mean that you need to eat only cooked beans, of course you can get them from spreads, burgers, sauces, soups or even cake 🙂

Legumes have to be soaked before cooking

I recommend soaking legumes. Beans are full of anti nutrition substances, which can provoke colon problems and even be poisonous. Of course, not all of legumes need to be soaked. We don’t need to soak lentils or small yellow peas. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t soak them if you want to do it.

How do you soak legumes? The best way is to soak them in warm (bot not boiled) water, in a proportion of water:beans 3:1 for at least 12 hours (but longer can be even better). Before cooking change the water.

What do you do with bloating?

Do not salt beans during the cooking, because in this case probably they will never be soft 🙂 You can add some spices instead, good choices are savory, marjoram, caraway seeds, asafoetida, and fennel.

If you still have problems with bloating, try to eat only small and soft legumes like lentils, mung beans or tofu. Try to mix them into spread or sauces, then they will be more digestible.

Remember, sometimes bloating stops after 2-3 weeks of regular bean consumption. Try to reduce the portion of beans and eat them frequently in small portions per day.

You don’t need to eat all of the beans If you don’t want to

It will be good (or even very good), if your meal plan is diverse but don’t try to eat all of the species of beans if you don’t like some. If you are not feeling good after consuming some legumes, probably you don’t tolerate them for some reason and you can’t eat them. In your traditional diet (when you ate meat, eggs, cheese), you didn’t eat all of the meat or cheese products, did you?

I f you realize that you don’t tolerate most of the beans, don’t be worried again – sometimes it happens. Amino acids can be obtained by mixing beans with other good protein source. The best way for you is to talk with a dietician about your diet, that person can help you balance your meal plan.

Legumes include anti nutrition substances

Of course, they include them, its normall! They include for e.g. poliphenols, lektyns, tripsin inhibitors, saponin and so on. Most of all are reduced during soaking and cooking. So adequate pretreatment is very important. The second important thing is what we will eat with our beans in the same meal and also vitamin C, because that vitamin can significantly improve your nutrition absorption from food.

Are you sure that eating legumes is the reason for your digestive problems?

You need to check, if eating legumes is the reason for your digestive problems. Consider including probiotics in your diet.

It is possible that you suffer on IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or other diseases. If you have the same colon problems all the time, contact to your doctor and dietician.

Iwona Kibil
Dyplomowana dietetyczka. Prowadzi własną praktykę dietetyczną skierowaną głównie do osób na diecie bezmięsnej. Pracuje z wegańskimi rodzinami, kobietami w ciąży, małymi dziećmi oraz osobami stosującymi dietę roślinną jako profilaktykę chorób cywilizacyjnych. Swoją praktykę opiera na „evidence-based medicine”. Jest autorką artykułów, warsztatów i wykładów związanych z różnymi aspektami zdrowotnymi diety roślinnej. Jest autorką książek „Wege. Dieta roślinna w praktyce” i "Wege rodzina. Dieta roślinna w praktyce". Sama od lat jstosuje dietę roślinną opartą na produktach nieprzetworzonych.