Virginia Messina

A common concern many people have about being vegan is how to be sure you are getting the proper nutrition. Here to shed light on this topic, and more, is none other than The Vegan RD herself, Virginia Messina.

Virginia is a registered dietician and vegan (hence her nickname and brand, The Vegan RD) who has been a lifelong animal lover. She devotes her career to giving people the tools and the knowledge they need to adopt a healthy vegan diet for the long-term. She does this through her blog, books and presentations and three books: Vegan For Life, Vegan For Her, and Never Too Late to Go Vegan.

On this episode of The Raw Chef, Virginia and I discuss how to make sure you are getting the right nutrition as a vegan, what to do when you first adopt the vegan lifestyle, and why eating vegan isn’t simply about removing meat and dairy from your food sources.

In this episode you’ll also hear:

  • When and why Virginia went from vegetarian to vegan.
  • What is one of the myths in eating vegan foods?
  • Why B12 isn’t just an issue for vegans.
  • Did plant foods play a big role in our ancestors’ diets?
  • The possible connections between raw food and fertility in women.
  • And so much more!

More About This Show

Virginia has always had a soft spot for animals, even as a child. She was the little girl who was saved injured birds, and rescued kittens. After becoming a registered dietician, she began experimenting with vegetarianism in the 1980s. She enjoyed trying new foods and had fun learning about different food choices. Not long after, she learned about factory farming and quickly became a vegan.

Today she coaches her clients on being healthy as vegans and staying with the lifestyle for life. Initially when someone wants to go vegan she has some recommendations. Her first suggestion is that the person understands there’s a learning curve when they get started.

Most people aren’t aware they can get things like calcium and protein from non-animal sources, so they have to start looking at plant foods in a different way. When they do that, they can see how plants provide all the nutrients we need with the exception of B12. Virginia explains that B12 is the one nutrient that vegans can’t get from plant foods, so they must take supplements or get it from B12 fortified foods.

But even people with animal products in their diets still need to be concerned with getting enough B12. People who eat meat in small quantities or are over the age of 50 can have difficulty getting enough B12 in their diets. They would also benefit from supplements and/or fortified foods.

She also explains that many vegans will need to supplement with Vitamin D too (as do many people who eat meat and dairy). Depending on where they live they may or may not get enough sunlight. If they do not, they must look to fortified foods and or supplements to increase their levels of the vitamin.

Virginia and and I also dive into why vegan eating isn’t just removing meat and dairy from someone’s diet, it’s about adding foods in place of the meat and dairy products. She recommends staples like beans, soy products like tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and peanuts. She encourages vegans to experiment with different cultural ways of eating these foods, and to look to  Japanese, Chinese and Indian cultures for how to use these plant-based foods in meals.

As far as veggie meat substitutes are concerned, Virginia says to do so in moderation and to use them as condiments in your meal, rather than the focal point. In general, as long as you focus on eating the majority of your diet from whole plant foods you’re on the right track.

Also on today’s show, Virginia and I talk about how much (if any) resistance there is to veganism within the nutrition community, plus the first steps to take if your vegan diet no longer seems to be working for you and how she recommends making the transition from eating meat to veganism.

We wrap up with a discussion on female health concerns and how going raw and/or vegan can address those. There’s all of that and so much more on this edition of The Raw Chef with The Vegan RD, Virginia Messina!

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