Can you guess what the most asked question to a vegan is? If you said: where do you get your protein? then you’d be right. There is this constant concern over people getting adequate protein. Anytime someone starts to train or lose weight or transitions to veganism, there is always this mass inquiry into protein. We automatically assume that if someone is in shape then they must be super high protein, or if they are vegan the assumption changes to concern over getting enough. What’s the one question that nobody ever asks anyone though? Chances are Where do you get your fiber? didn’t even cross your mind, but it should.
Here’s a scary thought: Studies show that the majority of North Americans are consuming what’s called a Standard American Diet (SAD). Those who follow this lifestyle consume on average only 10-15 grams of fiber per day, the minimum daily requirement is approximately 31.5 grams per day. This means that the majority of people don’t even reach the halfway mark of their minimum fiber intake. Those who consume a plant-based diet can easily get to 80 grams per day and then some. It’s pretty intense. (For more info: check out this article).
Fiber is only found in plant foods; there is none in meat, dairy or eggs. Why is fiber so important? It helps control blood sugar levels, aids in weight loss and management, it lowers cholesterol, and it is essential for your colon to function. What you eat gets digested and eventually your colon will rid itself of the excess waste that your body can’t use, via bowel movements (sorry for the TMI). If you’re not getting enough fiber, then your colon can’t function properly, leading to excess waste in your body which leads to a whole slew of potential health problems. I’m not just talking constipation here (again, sorry for the TMI), I mean diverticular disease, hemorrhoids, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Maybe you’ve noticed the increase in these health issues and diseases in recent years. The truth is that a high fiber diet will reduce the risk of all of these debilitating things. (For more info: check out this article).
As I mentioned, fiber only comes from plant sources so be sure to include fruit and veg into your diet each day. Aim for around 4-5 cups of non-starchy veg per day and 1-2 fruits per day. If you’re not vegan, then try swapping out a couple of animal protein sources with beans and legumes instead… Meatless Monday anyone? Whole grains are also awesome here, so try to include a few servings each day too; ½ cup oatmeal at breakfast with some berries or brown rice at lunch with your salad along with some chickpeas, and maybe a spelt pasta at dinner in a nice veggie sauce with some grilled tofu. These are all great solutions to helping you get to your fiber needs each day, not to mention that they are all super hearty and filling. Don’t bother with fiber supplements unless your doctor advises you otherwise; you can easily get a good amount in through your diet alone, so save those pennies and opt for veg instead.
Bringing this back to the whole protein thing, I’m betting you probably haven’t heard of Kwashiorkor’s Disease (protein deficiency) and that’s because it’s pretty much non-existent in developed countries. The average protein requirement is about 42 grams per day and most people get far more than that on a daily basis, even vegans who get on average 70% more than that each day. Just a little food for thought for the next time you encounter a vegan and ask them about their protein. Trust me when I say that we appreciate the concern, but we’re good.
Just remember that your body is always trying to work with you to be as healthy as possible. Chances are that it’s trying to send you signals saying: help me, help you by giving me more fiber! Load on up, your colon will thank you for it. If you’re not sure where to start or need some recipe inspiration, then check out this e-book with 25 delicious and super high fiber recipes that are guaranteed to keep you both healthy and satisfied.