How to: Get Enough Protein on a Plant-Based Diet

Anyone that’s ever even thought about transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle has been asked the question, or asked it themselves: How do you get enough protein?

First of all, you can rest assured that you probably aren’t at much risk of having a protein deficiency, or health issues related to a lack of protein, but in fact, the contrary may be true. In addition, protein deficiency, especially in the United States, is rare. That said, that’s just a guarantee that you’re likely not going to die from not eating enough protein, in particular if you’re getting enough calories. But if you’re like most people, you might feel more satiated and energized after eating a meal that has a significant amount of protein, and you might have certain physique goals that call for a protein intake higher than 10% of calories from protein. Whether you’re a vegan looking to increase your protein intake, or just curious about how vegans and vegetarians get protein, keep reading for tips on getting enough of this essential macronutrient!

Supplement

If your diet has enough protein but you’re trying to build muscle, now would be the time to consider adding supplements to your diet, such as protein bars and shakes. There are lots of great vegan protein bars, such as Nugo, CLIF, and the Complete Cookie. These bars are my favorite because none of them taste like protein supplements (especially when you put the Complete Cookies in the microwave for a few seconds!). As far as protein shakes go, True Nutrition has a feature on their website where you can build your own protein powder. There, you can choose between budget friendly pea and soy protein (I prefer the soy), or a more pricey pea protein that tastes better. You also have the option to “boost” your protein with a variety of different powders.

Protein powders allow you to make protein shakes, of course, but many people also mix them with vegan yogurts or oats to make protein packed yogurt and oatmeal (True Nutrition also has a feature where you can build your own oatmeal and add protein). Others get flavorless protein powder to add to their meals.

Seek Out Plant Proteins

There are multiple plant foods that contain protein, legumes in particular, but you should also pay close attention to the small amounts of protein that come in other foods, because they add up! For example, a cup of cooked broccoli has about 4 grams of protein, which isn’t much, but when you combine that with a cooked white potato, also 4 grams of protein, and a cup of quinoa, with 8 grams, your small meal has 16 grams of protein already!

Consider the Additions

Take the meal we just made in the previous tip, sounds kind of plain, doesn’t it? I like to top my potatoes with some soy “bacon” bits, 3 grams, and some vegan Parmesan, 1 gram. Now your meal has 20 grams of protein, which if you choose to add one Gardein “Chicken Breast,” your meal has gone from 20 grams to 42 grams. Now not only does this meal sound delicious, but it’s got a huge chunk of your daily protein goal out of the way.

Substitute Your Old Favorites

It’s 2017, which means that the meat and dairy substitutes available to you are likely to be plentiful and tasty. Milk now comes from soy, almond, coconut, rice, hemp, cashew, oat, and more. With companies like Gardein, Boca, and Beyond Meat, you can have a substitute for beef, chicken, turkey, and fish, with multiple varieties available. These substitutes often have a solid amount of protein on their own, and then can be combined with a less processed plant protein.

Look for Protein Where You Might Not Expect It

Did you know that most bagels are vegan and have about 10 grams of protein each? If you combine that with two tablespoons peanut butter, you have a satiating breakfast that comes in at 17 grams of protein. A cup of brown rice has about 5.5 grams of protein, which is great with some black beans (15 grams). Half of a cup of hummus has about 9 grams of protein, and a medium pita has about 5 grams. There are several plant foods that you don’t expect to have protein, so check your nutrition labels and see what adds up!

Check this infographic I made to showcase the best sources of vegan protein!

Vegan Protein Info (1).png

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Top 5: GRE Study Apps

Disclaimer: I really like Magoosh and their GRE prep materials, so multiple apps from Magoosh appear on this list. This is not a sponsored post, I just found their apps to be the most helpful. 

GRE books are usually huge, heavy and expensive, and while they should have a place in your study materials, many of us can’t be bothered to lug them around everywhere. However, when a test as stressful as the GRE is looming, you start to feel guilty for not studying in every spare minute you have. Whether you’re waiting in the long Chipotle line or wanting to study from your bed, these apps (which should all be available for both Android and iPhone, but are accessible online as well) will come in handy for those moments when a gigantic testing book isn’t going to work.

5. GRE Vocabulary Builder from Magoosh

This app is great because it plays like a game. You’re given a word and have to decide which of your choices best fits the word. If you get the word right, they don’t show it to you again for a while, instead focusing on the words that you aren’t as confident about. This app also has TOEFL words and SAT/ACT words.

4. Wall Street Journal/Reuters/Scientific American/The Economist

If you’re just sick of studying, reading one of these news sites–they all have apps– will catch you up on current events while giving you the opportunity to learn new words in context. It’s also helpful to understand current events and how they unfold because it could eventually help you tackle the Analytical Writing section.

3. Dictionary.com

When you’re reading your news apps and come across words you don’t know, it would be helpful to have an app to look them up immediately, right? Additionally, you’ll want to make use of their “Word of the Day” widget, if you can.

2. GRE Math Flashcards from Magoosh

These math flashcards are great if you are able to sit down with a notebook and work out each problem, unlike the other apps which you could use anywhere, anytime. Not only are these flashcards separated by subject, but they also explain how different types of problems are done, even if you click that you understood the problem, which can be helpful if you’re like me and make two mistakes that happen to cancel out, causing me to get the problem right.

1. GRE Vocabulary Flashcards from Magoosh

These vocabulary flashcards are different than the builder that I discussed earlier, because these are not multiple choice, which makes them more challenging, and ultimately more helpful, because you’re relying on recall instead of recognition.

Happy Studying!

The Busy Girl Diaries: Advice I Wish I Had Before College

Children in America (and other countries, I assume) are in daycare and school nearly as early as we can remember. We start bringing home homework as early as the first grade, and that’s usually around the time that people are asking what we want to be when we grow up, even though we have little to no exposure to these careers. In fact, I had a set of memory books my parents filled out each year I was in elementary school that detailed and preserved some of my mindset at the time, my favorite color, favorite subject in school, and a section about what I wanted to be when I grow up. In kindergarten or first grade, I checked the box next to “flight attendant.” I’m not sure I had any idea what a flight attendant was, and if I knew how anxious and upset that flying made me, I wouldn’t have checked that box.

But into middle school, I was pressured into choosing a career path by way of choosing electives to take in middle and high school. I chose cosmetology because I loved hair and makeup–which ended up being a good idea because it gave me good experience working in a salon–but I’m not pursing a career in cosmetology. At the end of high school, your teachers, parents, and advisers really push you to choose your career, and you do this by choosing your college major and the specific school you’re going to go to.

I never heard this going into college, which is wild because I had a very unique experience entering college, but your job, your calling, and what you study do not have to be the same thing. I’m studying Women’s and Gender Studies. That’s not a job, like engineering, or education, which was my major before WGS. My calling is writing. I love writing, and I want to use my skills and passion for writing to help people. I could have easily been an English major (to be fair, I was English education) or a creative writing major. But I love to study WGS, and this major is something that will help me in any job. I might not end up doing a job that directly relates to my major or writing, and that’s okay.

I see so many students going into college and having terrible anxiety about their major, or even partway through college. Even people that don’t go to college, that immediately enter the workforce, often feel bad because they feel like college students will be able to more easily get jobs. But look, college isn’t for everyone. Let me repeat, college isn’t for everyone. I really thrive in an academic environment, and a lot of people do, but a lot of people also don’t. If you’re a hands-on learner and know you will thrive in the workforce rather than college, don’t go to college! It’s a lot of debt for you to not be happy and for it to not work for you.

You don’t have to go to college to be successful, and you certainly don’t have to have a major that correlates exactly with the career you want. Your career can literally just be the thing you do during the day to make money. There’s no reason that you can’t pursue your passion on the weekends or try to make it fit in with work. Don’t have an existential crisis because you’re worried that you’re in the wrong major, everything will be fine. You will be fine.

How to: Be an Effective Advocate

There are many issues that a person might be passionate about, from women’s rights, to animal rights, to the arts, to politics, and so on. Usually, when you’re passionate about a subject, you want to convince others to join in advocating for your cause. This is great, and most people that do this are well meaning, but it can get dicey, in particular when people make mistakes in their activism that ultimately turn others away. As an intersectional feminist vegan, I know a lot about effective activism, but unfortunately more about ineffective activism, so I want to break down some Dos and Don’ts to help you in your advocacy!

DOs

  • Focus on the positive- When you paint a positive, happy picture for people, they’re likely going to want to get involved in your cause. If you talk about how fulfilled your activism makes you feel, or it’s positive effects on your life, that makes people interested in what you have to say. For example, feeding the homeless on the weekends with your organization can have it’s downsides, but maybe you feel proud of your actions, and you’ve learned a lot in this experience. If you’re discussing this with someone, it’s important to focus on the positives, like your pride and newfound knowledge, not the negatives. Don’t lie, here, but explain that for you, the positive’s outweigh the negatives.
  • Be factual and value accuracy- If you give people reasons to doubt your claims, they will, so focusing on giving verifiable information to back up your beliefs is important. For instance, telling people that a raw vegan diet is the best way to eat, someone is going to see through the bullshit, and that will likely turn them off of veganism as a whole.
  • Be practical and understanding- Even the best intentioned people take time to adjust to new ways of living. Feminism, specifically, is known for giving people more to unlearn rather than learn, and unlearning customs takes time, and people make mistakes. Give people some leeway to make mistakes, and give them credit where it’s due. Another example, because this tip is the most important to me, is veganism. If someone is interested in going vegan but feel like they just can’t give up ice cream, it’s okay to advise them to give up all animal products except ice cream, but consider slowly  phasing it out. While this might seem like you’re advising them to keep consuming animal products, what you’re really doing is giving them the idea that veganism is easy and doable. Then, when they’ve eliminated everything but ice cream, they will feel better about trying non-dairy substitutes, and perhaps, eventually giving it up altogether. This is about doing the most good, and any activism should be more focused on that than personal purity.

DON’Ts

  • Be accusatory- Telling people that they should be a part of a cause sometimes makes them feel as if they’ve done something wrong- and worse, you’re the one accusing them. While sometimes it can feel easy to tell people they’re committing injustices, it often backfires and people can become defensive.
  • Be dogmatic- Preaching to people is almost always ineffective, unless you’re a preacher, then keep doing what you’re doing. But standing around, lecturing people for hours about how they’re killing animals by wearing fur and that they have to throw away all their fur and buy new clothes is ultimately going to make people tune you out.

Top 5: Productive Ways to Use Every Minute of Spare Time

As a busy college student, I find that using even the few minutes I spend waiting for a bus to come or for my leftovers to heat up to accomplish something productive is extremely valuable. Instead of waiting idly or scrolling through social media, I try to find constructive ways to use those few minutes of spare time. Keep reading to find out my top 5 ways to use every minute of spare time!

5. Double check your to-do list, calendar, planner, or planner app.

You can use your free time making sure you are on track for the day, week, or month, and reschedule and prioritize your goals.

4. Listen to podcasts or NPR.

For longer periods of free time, car rides, bus trips, or waiting for an appointment to start, you can plug in and listen to a podcast. You can listen to fictional podcasts, or you can listen to historical or news podcasts, or something like NPR, which will have you starting the next portion of your day feeling more informed about the world.

3. Drink water!

Really, do it! If you have a spare minute, dedicate it to making sure you’re hydrated. When you’re constantly on the go, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water, which could hinder your productivity.

2. Download and play an educational game on your smartphone or tablet.

If you’re like me, you have so much to study that you feel guilty when you’re studying one subject because you aren’t studying another subject. A good way to squeeze in a little bit of studying is to download a study app or game to help you pass the spare minutes while you practice for your GRE, LSAT, or MCAT!

  1. Meditate

Meditation is a great way to bridge the gap between events in your day, leaving you feeling refreshed and relaxed before you head into your afternoon meeting or into the library to study.

Busy Girl Diaries: Motivating Myself to Do Better

I’ve found through writing this blog that it’s hard to stay motivated at the best of times, and it’s nearly impossible when you aren’t feeling your best. So I’ve made this list of ways to become or stay motivated, mostly for myself, but also for you.

  • Write a to-do list or update your planner. Even if it feels like you have a mountain of work to do, writing it down will make you at least feel organized about how to get it all done.
  • Remember that you’re capable of success, just like everyone else. It might feel like you are lagging behind everyone else, but it’s unlikely that you actually are.
  • Make sure you’re hydrated and well fed. A car can’t run on empty and neither can you. Coffee and energy drinks are also good for a brief jolt, but don’t make a habit out of drinking them, especially not on an empty stomach. That goes for food too, junk food is satisfying for a moment but ultimately won’t help your body or brain function at full capacity.
  • Be realistic about successes and failures. If you do poorly at something, don’t chalk it up to how shitty you are, just remember that failures happen, and everything is a learning experience.
  • Clean up! Almost everyone I know works better in a clutter-free environment, so take a moment to clean up your work-space.

Hopefully these tips are helpful to you! Remember, you have the same number of hours in a day as everyone else!

How to: Get Back into the Swing of Things

As you can tell, my “little break” turned into a long break. Oops. That was definitely not the intention. Now, we have to focus on getting back into the swing of things, and getting my life back on track. That is difficult, especially when we think about what lies ahead.

I’ve successfully finished the fall semester and I’m happy to start clean in the spring, but there’s a hefty list of things to accomplish, especially as a nearly graduating senior. I’m not working full time anymore, which makes my life easier in some ways and harder in others. While I have more free time to focus on school, I have a little less money and have to budget a little more carefully, especially having developed bad habits of eating out frequently while I made more money. I have more time to meal prep and make healthier foods for the week, but I’m getting less exercise since I’m not working strenuous 11 hour days 3 times a week. I made great friends at my internship, but now I have to work a little harder to see them more often. Ultimately, I really appreciate the opportunities and experiences I gained from my internship.

Now, I have these things to accomplish

  • Complete my wintersession course (a semester long course condensed into three weeks during the winter break). This is important because the course fulfills several requirements and will hopefully boost my GPA, important for graduate school.
  • Study hard for the GRE. I need to take my GRE sometime in January. I need to receive relatively high scores in order to be accepted into my graduate program of choice, and the test is expensive to take, so let’s ace it the first time around.
  • Practice ASL. American Sign Language was the class I barely scraped by with, passing with a 74%. This isn’t great, and it’s required that I also pass ASL 2, so in my break, it’s probably important that I brush up on my skills.
  • Get back into the blog! I love blogging and I’m excited to get back to regularly posting. If I slip up here and there, forgive me, but I’m too excited about this to let it fall by the wayside again.

 

How to: Get Through This Election

If you’re anything like me, and most of the country, you’re aware that the United States Presidential Election is one giant dumpster fire. At this point, it seems like anyone who says they’re truly undecided is lying. Even if you think all candidates are gross and incompetent, that’s still an opinion, but at this point there really isn’t much room to jump from one candidate to another. So, since I assume you’ve made up your mind about the presidential candidates, here’s how to get through the next 4 weeks without losing your shit.

  • Research the rest of your ballot. People forget that this election is about so much more than just the president, and many choices, especially when it comes to amendments and state officials, can be and are more important than who is sitting in the Oval Office.
  • Turn off your television news. If you’ve already made up your mind, very little is going to change it right? So instead of just being enraged by your candidates opponent, just turn off the tv. Unfollow sites that use fearmongering and scare tactics to try to influence the popular vote. It’s just going to piss you off.
  • Encourage your friends to vote, especially for local officials. Much of the consensus this election is “This is all terrible” and while you may be correct, voting on amendments and local representatives is important and less of a circus, so remind your apathetic friends that there are more issues for their voices to be heard.
  • Take lots of naps. Remember that mental self care is important and while debates and news media might raise your blood pressure, take some time off from the election for a nice nap.

The Busy Girl Diaries: Work Through the Pain

Chronic pain is a bitch, y’all. When I disclose that I have chronic pain, the people around me always have advice–which, I get it, you mean well–that I’ve heard a thousand times before.

Pain medication? Heard it.

Yoga? Heard it.

Proper diet? Heard it.

Posture change? Heard it.

Massage therapy? Heard it.

Acupuncture? That’s the only one I won’t do. Because fuck that.

But what advice do you give when you’re “doing everything right”? When traditional medicine, alternative medicine, and home remedies all fail you? What’s the advice then?

There isn’t any. Pain medication is either a) addictive or b) going to ruin my liver AND a) only relieves the pain for about an hour and b) isn’t a cure all. Pain medication is for severe situations. Yoga is great and is beneficial for many reasons. Chronic pain, though? Not so much. Proper diet? Sure, there are fewer flare ups when I consume more anti-inflammatory foods and certainly when less animal products are consumed, but the flare ups still exist. Posture change? Yeah that’s great, not going to fix it. Massage therapy? Amazing, fantastic, helps for 30 minutes. Acupuncture? No.

When doctors tell you “It’s probably a physical manifestation of your anxiety” and the internet tells you “Cancer for sure,” you find yourself at a crossroads of wtf and idk.

Being perpetually busy doesn’t help. Be nice to people. They might have chronic pain. Chronic pain is an invisible illness that people disregard because it’s invisible. Treat all people with kindness because they may be fighting an invisible illness and putting on a happy face because they have no other choice.