Nikita star Maggie Q swears by a vegan diet to keep her in shape for her physically intense action role.
For long-term plant-based eaters, it may be hard to relate to the struggles of those who are newly transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet. The plant-based world is so versatile, colorful, tasty, and nutritious—but this isn’t always obvious at first glance. In fact, it can seem just the opposite: bland, restrictive, and unsatisfying.
Many a veg-curious friend of mine has asked me how I stay fulfilled on a vegan diet—do I get enough calories/protein? Am I bummed that I can’t have “real” ice cream? And, doesn’t living on veggies and tofu leave you hungry? (Don’t worry, you don’t have to love tofu to thrive on a vegan diet!)
To this last question, I happily answer that I can actually feel quite satiated while eating a whole-foods, plant based diet. (There are so many healthy comfort foods out there!) When it comes to eating an average meal, most vegans aren’t picking at a meager salad—or eating anything resembling rabbit food.
Maggie Q, actress and one of PETA’s Sexiest Vegans of 2017 (there were three!), has great advice on how to feel fulfilled while still eating healthy:
“The way to feel more fulfilled when including more veggies in your diet is to eat a ‘heavy’ grain with them!” the 40-year-old explains on the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine site. “I love black, red, and brown rice, and I mix them all together. I usually throw lentils or a bean in there to make it even heavier and more nutritious. Don’t forget to mix in flax seeds, seaweed, or liquid aminos! Put your veggies on top of something like that, and tell me you’re not full!”
Although the phrase “heavy grain” may understandably strike fear into those who’ve been conditioned to avoid all carbs, there’s nothing to fear when you’re working with whole, unprocessed grains. Unprocessed grains retain the bran, or outer layer of the grain, a quality that allows whole grains to be digested more slowly than their processed counterparts. Slower digestion results in more balanced blood sugar. Ultimately, your body is less likely to store the sugars from these grains as fat. Plus, it’s actually quite hard to over-eat unprocessed grains because they’re so darn fibrous and filling!
Try this Brown Rice & Miso Beet Stir Fry for a healthy, whole grain meal.
Healthy carbs also provide important fuel—and no one knows this more than Maggie Q. Not only does the actress pursue a passion for food science and nutrition, reading articles in scientific journals in her downtime (!!), she also puts her diet to a very real test. As if that doesn’t keep her busy, she has also recently launched conscious activewear line Qeep Up Nation, which donates a portion of its Ocean Tie Dye collection to the Blue Sphere Foundation to help protect our marine ecosystems.
In order to keep up with her seriously busy schedule, Maggie Q works one-on-one with a trainer, doing a series of high-intensity cardiovascular moves that simultaneously require a great deal of core strength. Maggie Q swears by her nutritionally-dense diet, explaining she couldn’t do her job without it. She’s so convinced of its role in her ability to perform as an action star that it’s easy for her to pass up the dessert trays that regularly get passed around the studio.
Her final tip for those looking to thrive on a plant-based diet is to consume dark, leafy greens. Her favorite fresh juice is a blend of celery, cucumber, apples, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, and ginger. Crew members tease her about “drinking her lawn,” but she’s completely undeterred—the results of her diet are that good!
What are your tips for thriving on a plant-based diet?
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This article was first published on August 8, 2017 and most recently updated on September 22, 2019.
Photo: Maggie Q via Instagram, (stir fry) Mary Hood Luttrell