• Karina Inkster

NBSV 012: Vesanto Melina on how to improve your plant-based diet


Renowned dietician Vesanto Melina joins us today to discuss mistakes vegans make with their diets, why exactly vitamin B12 is important and what it does in our bodies, and so much more.

Vesanto has been a registered dietician for 53 years, and she’s the lead author of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position paper on vegetarian and vegan diets. It’s the most-read position paper of the entire academy, and is referenced by pretty much all vegetarians and vegans when we need to show health professionals (or family members/friends) a research-backed statement about vegan diets from the world’s largest organization that represents food and nutritional professionals.

In this episode, we talk about the type of research that went into creating the position paper, how it’s evolved over the years, and its most recent addition.

Vesanto is an internationally known speaker, co-author of award winning books that are classics in plant-based nutrition, a consultant for people who want to fine-tune their vegan diets, and an instructor for a 3-part nutrition series through the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in California.You might be surprised.

Important topics and points you don't want to miss:

>> Why you need B12 and what it does in your body.

>> The importance of including legumes in your diet (Vesanto even puts me on the spot and asks me a pop quiz question!)

>> Vesanto is the lead author of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' position paper on vegetarian and vegan diets. We discuss the research that went into it, how it's evolved over the years, and its most recent most addition (hint: it has to do with the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet).

Links mentioned in the episode:

>> Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' position paper on vegetarian and vegan diets

>> Living Light Culinary Institute - Vesanto (with Brenda Davis) teaches their 3-part series on vegan nutrition

Vesanto's books:

>> Full list of Vesanto's 12 books

Connect with Vesanto:

>> Vesanto's main website: Nutrispeak

>> Connect with Vesanto on Facebook

>> Becoming Vegan; website for Vesanto's books (with co-author Brenda Davis)

Recipes from Vesanto's books:

Garden of Plenty Salad

From Cooking Vegan by Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest

If you spend half an hour several times a week assembling this salad, it will last for 3 or 4 days when stored in a couple of large, well-sealed containers (such as Tupperware). Alternately, this recipe can feed a big hungry family in one sitting. Red pepper and grated carrot don’t store as well, so if you want to include these, add them at the end. It is excellent with Liquid Gold Dressing.

5 large leaves kale 5 large leaves romaine lettuce 5 leaves napa cabbage (Chinese cabbage) 1/4 head red cabbage, sliced very thin

Add just before serving, if desired: Carrot, grated Sweet red pepper, chopped

Remove the stem from kale and cut the kale matchstick thin. Tear or chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Cut the napa cabbage leaves in half lengthwise, and slice into 1/4-inch strips. Slice the red cabbage into thin slices. Place the kale, lettuce, napa and red cabbage, in a bowl or storage container and toss.

When serving, add grated carrots, and chopped red pepper.

Liquid Gold Dressing

From Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition and Becoming Vegan: Express Edition by Registered Dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina.

The name “Liquid Gold” denotes nutritional wealth that goes far beyond color; this creamy dressing is packed with riboflavin and other B vitamins. Three tablespoons (45 ml) can provide half of the day’s B12 requirement when prepared with Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast. (It also provides a day’s supply of omega-3 fatty acids.) Use this tasty dressing on salads, rice, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and other vegetables.

1/2 cup (125 ml) flaxseed oil 1/2 cup (125 ml) water 1/3 cup (85 ml) lemon juice 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or raspberry vinegar 2 tablespoons (30 ml) tamari or Bragg Liquid Amines 1/2 cup (125 ml) nutritional yeast 1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground flaxseed 2 teaspoons (10 ml) Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin

Blend until smooth. Dressing can be refrigerated in a jar with a lid for up to two weeks.

Makes 1-1/2 cups (375 ml)

Calories and macros on a vegan diet: A free e-book for you!

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Download Karina’s free 32-page ebook that shows you how to track your food, calculate calories, and set macro goals on a vegan diet. You’ll even get step-by-step instructions – complete with a printable grocery list – for how to prep a week’s worth of delicious Buddha bowls in 60 minutes or less.




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Your online vegan personal trainer and nutrition coach. A friendly kick in the butt that inspires and motivates you to live your best, healthiest, most plant-strong life.

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