Everyone’s experienced the hangry monster before.

For those who aren’t familiar, Hangry = Hungry + Angry.

Trust me, I get it, I’ve been there.

We’ve addressed a few common misconceptions about eating a plant-based diet on the blog, including if you can get enough protein on a plant-based diet and the great soy debate.

I think it’s time to look at another!

If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say,

“I tried eating a vegan diet, but, I was just hungry all of the time”,

I’d be rich … well, maybe not rich, but I would certainly be able to buy a lot of Beyond Meat Burger stocks, cha ching.

Let’s go over some of the reasons that you might be feeling hangry more often that not if you’ve just transitioned to a plant-based diet.

1. You’re simply not eating enough

I’ll be the first to tell you that if all you’re munching on are are berry smoothies and spinach salads you’re not eating enough nutrition and you will, without a doubt, be hangry often.

Everyone is going to be different.

You will have to experiment with what combinations and volume of foods are the most filling and satisfying for you! For example, I know if all I eat is PB toast for breakfast at 6AM, I will be hungry by 7:30 AM. That’s why I generally try to eat my hearty oatmeal that I know keeps me full for hours.

In general, make sure you’re getting a good balance of vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein at each meal. Protein, fibre and nutrients like vitamins and minerals, all contribute to keeping you feeling satisfied, longer after a meal.

Don’t be afraid to eat! 3+ cups of vegetables on half of my plate has become my new normal, and I love it.

Image from Becoming Vegan

2. You’re filling up on processed plant-based alternatives

Did you know that Oreo’s, potato chips and pop are vegan friendly?

Don’t get me wrong, plant-based alternatives like sausages and other “meats”, cheeses and pre-made meals, can have a place in your diet, they certainly do in mine. BUT these foods should not be making up the majority of your diet.

Unlike their whole food counterparts, heavily processed alternatives are, for the most part, lacking in fibre and full of ingredients like added salt, sugar and additives. Although they can be a great source of plant-based protein, they generally won’t keep you feeling full very long.

If incorporating processed alternatives into your diet, try adding them to whole food meals – for example, 3 bean chilli with veggie ground round, vegetable stir fry with plant-based sausage, veggie burger with grilled vegetables or side salad.

3. Lack of planning

I can remember when I first transitioned to a vegan diet, going out to eat at restaurants that were not particularly accommodating to my new found plant-based diet was common place.

I would end up eating a tiny side salad with some table bread, and end up leaving feeling totally deprived, and well … hangry!

I learned my lesson quickly.

Today, I always look up the restaurant to see what options they have on their menu. These days, most restaurants have their menus available online, easy peasy.

Sometimes all you need to do is make a quick call to see if they can accommodate your diet, or if the chef can make an on the fly plant-based meal. Honestly, some of the best meals I have ever had have been through giving the chef free rein in the kitchen to create a vegan dish. Always call a head and see if they are open to this!

What if the restaurant doesn’t have options and won’t accommodate?

Unless you’re going out to eat at a BBQ steakhouse, this is going to be a rare occurrence these days, BUT, if it happens to be the case, prepare a meal for yourself before you go out!

What else can you plan ahead for? Easy snacks for when those hunger pangs hit.

Here are some of my favourites …

4. You’ve cut things out and not added appropriate alternatives in

Hands up if you’ve ever just removed the meat or animal product out of a meal and called it a day – Eating a spinach salad with the chicken taken off is not a meal people, it’s a plate of spinach.

The problem with this is that we’re often removing the source of protein and fat, components of a meal that help keep us feeling fuller, longer.

Think about what you can add to your plate to increase increase the protein, fibre and nutrient content of your meal!

  • Legumes, including beans and lentils
  • Tofu, seitan, tempeh
  • Whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice
  • Nuts and seeds

Finding what foods and combination of foods will leaving you feeling your absolute best can take some time, patience and experimentation. Don’t give up!

Work with a dietitian to help you find a way of eating that works for you.

Have a question or comment?!

I’d love to hear them. E-mail me at info@okanagannutrition.ca OR follow along and comment on my Instagram, okanagannutrition.