Vegan Daily Protein Combination #1

The eternal question: where do you get your proteins?

A question I never even asked myself before I changed my diet. It never occurred to me to check how many grams of protein I was eating: apart from fats and sugars and total calories, the rest seemed taken for granted. I became a little obsessed at the beginning of my transition to meet all my goals perfectly, every day, as if my body activated an imaginary reset button at midnight, each day a lonely, self-sufficient item. It is true that protein deficiency in Western societies is pretty rare, it doesn’t mean though that we can overlook the importance of what comes in, especially as years go by and nutrition starts to have a noticeable effect on your stamina and general health.

Nowadays I’m a bit more relaxed about this stuff, even though I do try to plan my meals around a variety of sources that lead to a good-enough score. I decided to archive staple daily combinations of proteins, equations that I could easily reproduce without thinking too much about what I’m doing. I do not prepare my meals around recipes most of the time, but around what my body needs. I thought these combinations might help other people starting on this plant-based eating journey, so I’ve decided to adapt them to a general, 2000 calories diet, based on 50 gram daily intake of proteins, which is north of what most women need and south of what most men need. Of course, if you’re a 6’4 man running ultramarthons or a breastfeeding mom, adjust accordingly. These will be guidelines of combinations that will help you reach a good balance of proteins, but the quantities will need to be adjusted to your specific needs. And let’s remember that there is no reset button at midnight, so even if you don’t score your lysine one day, you can always make up for it the next! The idea is to not accumulate any deficit. Bare in mind as well that the rest of what we eat does add proteins to our daily intake: fruits and vegetables and other grains will add up in the end, even though individually each item is not necessarily considered as a source of proteins. I also try to follow a rule of thumb that the amount of calories I get from proteins do not exceed 30% of my daily needs. I never really calculate this, beyond these combinations, because I eat a pretty balanced diet anyway (not keto, paleo or any-o)

The targets have been determined with the help of WebMd and the Health Canada. If you think the chosen general targets are not appropriate, please let me know in the comments! The combinations were analysed with Cron-o-meter, a super helpful and free platform to analyse your food intake.

And for the last time, these are just guidelines that have helped me plan my daily meals, and I though that if they help me they might help other people. I have been a full time vegan for more than a year and a closeted vegan for two years prior to that, so I have a good amount of personal experience in making my own vegan meals. And my blood tests are more than fine! The thing is, I don’t cook very much on a daily basis: I prepare food, I prepare meals, so usually I’ll combine vegetables beans and grains and call it a meal. That’s why these combinations work for me, I just need to add the fruits and veggies and cook everything and that’s it! It works for me and if it can help other people, I’m happy.

So here is the first combination I chose, that include what I would eat for breakfast (oatmeal and milk), snack (peanut butter) and lunch and supper (beans, lentils and quinoa). We’ll see how pattern emerge in the next combinations…

So from these sources of proteins, here are a few recipes that I could follow that combine these ingredients. Then again, I usually don’t do that but know some people can’t function without a recipe!

Basic quick steel cut oats recipe (replace water with milk or just make yourself a nice soy milk latte like I do!)

or something fancy….

Steel Cut Oats with Roasted Berries replace the cow milk with the soy milk

I’m always a fan of the Minimalist Baker and I love her cookie and snack balls recipe, so here is one with a bit of peanut butter and some oats:

5-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cup Energy Bites but if you want to be super minimalist, just dip your apple slices in some PB!

And now for the lunch and supper ideas:

One Pot Italian Quinoa and Lentils

Vegan Quinoa and Black Beans

If you’re like me, just make cook everything, throw in some frozen veggies with the lentils and a can of tomatoes and avocado with the black beans and basta!

And here are the results when it comes to the protein goals, for 1130 calories:

So that’s good actually! The quinoa can be used for both meals, the lentils cook quickly, the black beans can come from a can. It’s all good!

Ethical eating

In the past few years, thinking more globally about my life and my actions has become an interesting topic of cogitation for me. It has led to decisions such as leaving my old job, going vegan, meditating somewhat daily and consciously trying to become a less judgemental person as a whole (the most difficult part of my journey!).

Some define ethics as a branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and the motives that support said actions. Unofficially, we tend to add a little thing called reflection, reinforcing the fact that ethics is mostly a process, a verb, constant and continuous.

My journey into veganism and onward is built on this idea that there isn’t a set of rules but the one I impose upon myself, and that reflection and thought should guide me, day after day, on how I should consume food and goods. The best solution one day may not always be the best one the next. I want to generate the most positive impact on the world from my actions and my intentions: I am not a religious person, and spirituality is still an uninteresting topic for me, but I clearly see it as my duty as a human being, for my fellow conspecifics, to be the best version of myself at all times. What I eat three times a day, 365 days a year seemed like an easy way to make a big change towards that goal.

It has been said and demonstrated with supporting data that the way we consume animal products in North America would not be sustainable if the whole planet joined in: even though meat production is more «efficient» in developed countries, we are still currently eating animal products at a rate that monopolises a third of our soft water and that generates one of the biggest amount of pollution. The rest of the world is catching up: according to the World Health Organization, meat and milk consumption in developing countries has more than doubled since the 1960’s. The numbers are growing for the industrialised country as well. The steaks are just getting bigger! Not only that, but animal cruelty has become the most bizarre topic of conversation ever in our western societies: on one side you are not allowed to hit a dog (meaning, it is illegal!), but shooting a veal in the head is considered okay. People carry spiders on a sheet of paper bringing them to safety outside, but grinding male chicks alive because they won’t produce eggs is considered completely normal. I find it very incoherent to say on one hand that this not acceptable and on the other whisk an omelet. I couldn’t just do that.

It came to a point where the pleasure of my taste buds was not a justification anymore to participate in that industry, especially since I am lucky enough to have the resources available, the money and the time to eat and consume differently. It came to a point where my belief that a human life is above all else was not a justification anymore to make other beings suffer, especially if said human life does not necessitate others constant suffering. And the more I studied animal cognition and behaviour, the more it seemed unjustifiable to eat some of them and be amazed by others. I’ll admit, these conclusions are clearly oriented by my situation and the opportunity that I have to make conscious decisions for most of the things I do. There are very few things that I choose out of necessity, and this privilege that I have needs to be used in the best way possible. It is not sacrifice, and it has nothing to do with self-discipline, it is deciding what values are more important to me and making the changes in my life that will express these values. It is taking the time, every time, to think things through.

What fascinates me is that a lot of people who go vegan for ethical consideration go back to eating animal products in greater numbers than the ones who make the change for health reasons. I don’t know how scientific these research and results are, but it does concur with the fact that most of us will easily adapt to a change for our own benefit more than for the benefit of others. Another argument that the articles linked above mention is that people who make the change for ethical reasons may not embrace the whole «eat whole foods» type of dogma that the other type may follow. Switching from meat to faux meat and cheezes made of 100% plant fat is not the healthiest choice ever and in the long run, it may have an adverse effect on one’s health. I try to not fall into that trap: the motive behind my diet is an ethical one, but what drives how I prepare the food I eat is, I hope, a health conscious one.

In the end, I’ll say that this has been both an easy and a difficult decision. Easy because it ended up being a very instinctive decision, and difficult because you do start to present yourself as different from the rest and people treat you differently for it. It is amazing how people can mock or judge this lifestyle change, as if you were doing something illegal or immoral when you are on the contrary trying to live a better life. The majority of my entourage are curious, interested and supportive, and I guess this also is a relfection of the goodness I try to express with a more ethical way of living.

I would love to hear about your reasons for eating and consuming goods the way you do, whether you have reached the same conclusions as me or not. This is and should be an on-going discussion, not a dogma.

Quand on n’a rien perdu – The Year of Magical Thinking Goodread’s review

The Year of Magical ThinkingThe Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe 3.5. It’s Goodreads fault… 🙂

Okay, I might sound ungrateful, shallow, a brat, insert english words my francophone self would not think of…. but I can’t say I fell in love with this book, as I expected. I expected to be deeply moved, and I was, but also kept a proper emotional distance with Didion’s emotional journey captured in The Year of Magical Thinking.

Just like the small number of deaths I have witnessed in my life, the end of this book was painful, redundant, never ending, but obviously she didn’t write this essay on grief to please me, or readers in general. I have never actually grieved, and in this instance I am very fortunate. People around me who have passed away never had this quality of pillars in my life, people without whom I couldn’t see myself. My reaction to this book is exactly the one from someone who has never gone through this and pushes people to overcome it, and as she points out at the beginning of chapter 17 (quote below), someone who will never know what to expect, as everyone else, never quite prepared.

I can understand I’m just not ready for this book. She writes beautifully. Even though she talks about death, religion, afterlife and all that, do not appear as main characters of this essay, which I appreciated. I could, eventually, connect with her, on an emotional level. For now, this collection of bite-size life stories, philosophical reflection and recollections of daily, on-going routines felt very disconnected, and therefore I disconnected for the last 50 pages.

I will open a little drawer in my mind and insert this essay for future reference, for a time when I will call myself fortunate anymore. It is a dreadful thought, but it will surely happen.

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.”
― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

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Je suis féministe!

We Should All Be FeministsWe Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, I gave it 4 stars because I agree with the statement and I think I should encourage the dissemination of this message. Nevertheless, it is a very simple essay and its purpose is mostly to remind us that the goal is not yet reached, and that nations and populations are not at the same level of equity either. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table (hence the non-5 star), it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its value (hence the 4 star).

She talks from an African point of view: when I worked in Africa, I would often be ignored by our local partners who would address my male colleagues freely, even though I was technically in charge of the project and said colleagues. I sometimes had to remind them of who I was, dismissing all the local savoir-être. I sat in the front in cars. I would address people as equal. I would laugh. It didn’t always go well. It gave me perspective, on what the real fight was when it comes to feminism: it’s a fight for equal opportunities for all, not a way to justify my own discomfort with authority and control. If a man wants to pay my dinner, why not accept? I would accept it from a friend. But when people say that it is normal that some elderly woman’s daughter is taking care of her and not her son, because, you know, woman are more caring, that I don’t accept.

Adichie also brings up the question of heels, and makeup and girliness, issues that are still confusing to me. I think it is difficult to say that we were makeup and heels «for us» and not to adhere to a social norm for women. I would feel weird if my boyfriend started wearing makeup and heels on a day to day basis, and not as a one-time costume thing for Halloween. I admit it. I don’t think I’m alone. We still view these things as very female and so I wonder if continuing to embrace that, as women, even though we say that it is for us, breaks or strenghthens the stereotype.

If you think everthing I say is bullcaca, let me know. I believe discussion is the only way we can better ourselves.

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Projet 333 – Garde-robe minimaliste – Pensées de fin de parcours

Au début de l’été, dans ce vent de ménage et de désencombrement, j’ai décidé de me mettre au défi en réduisant ma garde-robe d’été à 33 morceaux pour les 3 mois à venir (juin, juillet et août). Il s’agit d’un défi personnel que plusieurs s’imposent depuis quelques années, selon les saisons, avec ces capsule wardrobes et je ne sais plus. L’idée est non seulement de se départir de ce que nous n’utilisons plus, mais également de devenir plus créatif avec peu, redécouvrir notre style et s’assumer avec moins.

J’ai commencé ce projet le 1er juin en choisissant soigneusement mes morceaux pour une saison qui, au Québec, peut en contenir quatre. Dans mes voyages pour le boulot (boulot que j’ai quitté d’ailleurs, mais on en reparlera une autre fois), je me faisais une obligation d’en apporter le moins possible, pour pouvoir, évidemment, revenir la valise pleine de tissus, masques, livres et autres babioles congolaises et autres.

Une chose qui m’a aidé est que je m’en fous un peu de mon apparence… pas totalement, mais quand même, plus que la moyenne des femmes on dirait. Sortir trois fois avec le même ensemble dans la semaine ne me dérange pas du tout, mais devoir relaver constamment les mêmes trucs, si. Chacun son truc. J’ai donc avancé le plus rationnellement possible, en m’assurant de pouvoir assumer toutes les températures et situations possibles. Si on s’en tien aux règles énoncées ici, mais qu’on peut bien jeter par la fenêtre, on inclut les accessoires, chaussures, sac à main, foulards, vêtements d’extérieur, bijoux (sauf alliances), mais pas les vêtements de sport, la lingerie. Vous pouvez lire le tout, en anglais, ici. De mon côté, je n’ai pas inclus les articles de sport, un imperméable ou un manteau car on ne sait jamais dans ce pays ce que ça va donner.

  • un jean long
  • un pantalon long plus propre, en pensant surtout au travail, bleu, pour la folie
  • une jupe longue fleurie
  • deux shorts
  • sept robes (j’aurais peut-être plus en laisser tomber une ou deux… mais j’aime bien les robes!)
  • deux cardigans (un gris pale, long, un crème, plus propre)
  • deux chandails à manches mi-longues
  • deux T-shirts
  • deux camisoles, une sport en coton, une plus propre
  • un chemisier blanc
  • un chandail à manche longue blanc
  • un châle
  • une paire de “gougoune”, une sandale et une chaussure fermée
  • deux sac à main (un en toile pour les journées plus relaxes)
  • quatre paires de boucles d’oreilles
  • lunettes de soleil
Garde-robe 33 morceaux
Garde-robe 33 morceaux

Je crois avoir bien choisi mes morceaux: une garde-robe très simple, avec rien de chic ou de démesurée. On conseille en ligne, dans certains articles, un item WOW qui nous fait sentir je ne sais trop comment. Mais ça ne fait pas partie de ma vie ça, mon wow, ce sont mes boucles d’oreilles Ghostbusters et mes ongles peinturlurés et c’est bien comme ça.

Après trois mois, je crois être convertie. J’ai vraiment adoré la simplicité de mes matins à n’avoir presque aucun choix devant moi pour mon habillement. Pour certains, ce sera la débrouillardise à se réinventer à chaque fois, mais pour moi, l’absence du casse-tête de démêler ce qui va ensemble, ce qui est propre, ce qui convient reste le plus gros atout d’un projet du genre. Les avantages se résument ainsi:

  • Je crois avoir gagné énormément de temps le matin avec cette menue sélection vestimentaire. Que deux variables, le temps et l’activité!
  • J’ai usé plusieurs morceaux dont je peux maintenant me départir sans regret: ils ont donné tout ce qu’ils avaient à donner et je peux les mettre de côté en sachant que mon argent n’a pas été perdu.
  • Bien que ce ne soit pas ma grande force, j’ai quand même tenté de combiner mes habits différemment pour soit convenir à la température ou varier ma tenue d’un jour à l’autre en ne changeant qu’un morceau: je n’avais pas nécessairement choisi mes items en fonction de cela, mais c’est tout de même un exercice qui a été intéressant.
  • J’ai été beaucoup plus régulière dans mes lavages et mon entretien de mes habits; une bonne chose, facilitée lorsque le nombre de morceaux à entretenir est réduit…
  • Faire mes valises pour un voyage à San Francisco ou une fin de semaine? En moins de 5 minutes, ma valise est faite. Aucune question ne se pose car… aucune question ne se pose!

Je m’embarque donc pour l’automne, avec une petite transition de début septembre où je continue d’utiliser ma garde-robe d’été. Encore une fois, la température extrêmement variable du Québec rendait une garde-robe unique pour septembre, octobre et novembre un peu difficile. Il me reste quelques jours pour réfléchir et décider: mon faible, les boucles d’oreilles, me donnent du fil à retordre pour rester dans la limite des 33 pièces.

En attendant, on s’inspire des autres:

L’original Project 333 de Be More with Less

Light by Coco et ses capsule wardrobes

Une garde-robe réduite et tout le processus de sélection avec Our Little Apartment