Low carb vegan

Can you be a healthy low carb vegan?

One of my friends has recently improved her health enormously by changing from a standard British diet to a whole food vegan one.

She had never liked eating meat or fish but she never really thought about eating the most nutritious food possible- within her health beliefs– so she did eat a lot of junk food. Indeed, she thought that the state of her body and mind could not be improved much with changing the food she ate.

By chance, she saw a shocking programme about animal welfare and so made the switch to whole food veganism within a few days. The effects on her health have been astounding. The health problems that have plagued her for years have now gone.

Why should this be so, and what do I think of this as a GP? As a whole food vegan she will be eating a lot less sugar, salt and additives. She will also be getting more nutrients than in her previous diet that included a lot of processed foods. In avoiding processed food, she will also be eating a lot less wheat, and as wheat is broken down to glucose, it means her glucose load is a lot less. In avoiding dairy, she will also be reducing her sugar intake- think of the sugar in fruit yoghurts, milk, milk shakes, ice cream and fruit cheeses. Some people also have an unrecognised dairy intolerance, and this may have been the case with her.

I urged her to stick to whole food, unprocessed food, to take B12 supplements and to be mindful of getting enough nutrients. Consulting a dietitian would be the best way to find out how to do this, as my main concern with a low carb vegan lifestyle is nutrient deficiency.

Here is a website with some good low carb recipes for people who wish to follow the vegan lifestyle.

Chickpea salad

1 red onion in wedges
2 thickly sliced courgettes
1 red pepper cut into chunks
400g chopped tomatoes
5 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons chopped herbs like chives, parsley or mint
2 400g tins of chickpeas drained
100g feta cheese cubed
Green salad to serve

Method
Heat fan oven to 200 degrees
Put veg in shallow roasting tin with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
Roast for 30 minutes, stirring half way through
Meanwhile mix the rest of the olive oil and herbs and lemon juice
Remove veg from oven and cool for 5 mins
Then mix all together and serve with your crunchy green salad

Baked buttery squash

1 butternut squash
half a teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons snipped chives
3 tablespoons of creme fraiche, normal fat or low fat as you prefer, whatever works for you.
30g ground almonds
a knob of butter
30g grated cheese

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan
Halve the squash length ways, take out the seeds
and discard
Season well with salt and pepper and put in a roasting tin, half filled with water
Cover with foil and bake for 40 mins or until tender
Drain and transfer to a cooling tray
Once cool enough to handle scrape out the flesh and transfer to a bowl, leaving a thin rim of squash skin behind
Mix the paprika, chives and creme fraiche with the squash flesh and transfer the mixture back into the shell.
Season again if you wish to
Mix the ground almonds with the butter and the cheese and sprinkle over the squash.
Bake for 15 minutes till lightly browned.

Serves 2 as a light meal, or 4 as an accompaniment.

Superfood Salad

250g purple sprouting broccoli
175g broad or other beans
2 ripe avocados
250g cooked quinoa- optional
100g-baby spinach
Handful chopped herbs e.g. basil, mint, coriander, parsley
100g pomegranate seeds
100g pumpkin seeds toasted in a pan till they pop

For the dressing

Zest and juice of a lemon or lime and an orange
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cook the broccoli and beans for 2 minutes and then drop into a bowl of ice-cold water to cool.
Prepare the dressing and drop the cubed avocado into it
Add the other ingredients and mix gently