Eating a variety of vegan foods is not just fun but also a healthful habit! Expand your palate and include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts in your diet — they all serve essential and complementary roles in a balanced diet. Do not be afraid to try new foods or flavors and avoid falling for restrictive versions of vegan diets.
It is actually really easy to meet one’s protein needs on a vegan diet! If you are consuming enough calories and including legumes such as beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu and peanuts in your diet regularly, you will meet your body’s need for protein. Eat a variety of foods and there is no need to worry about combining foods for optimal protein intake.
We cannot stress this enough! Vitamin B12 deficiency negatively impacts the generation of new blood cells and neurological function. It is not found naturally in plant foods and is an essential supplement for vegans and even vegetarians. Older meat-eaters are also prone to this deficiency — so, it is not a recommendation exclusive to vegans and vegetarians.
Whole grains and beans are among the best sources of iron and zinc; coupling them with citrus fruits further boosts iron absorption. Whole grains are versatile in recipes and add welcome texture to soups and salads. Experiment with a variety of them — from basic staples like wheat, brown rice and oats to the more trendy ones like quinoa and buckwheat.
There is no need to avoid fat altogether — it is more important that you eat fats in their most healthful forms. Many foods high in fat, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, soybeans, and even extra-virgin olive oil offer a variety of benefits. Ground flaxseeds, walnuts and hemp seeds are especially good sources of essential omega-3 fats — include them in your daily diet.
Incorporate calcium-rich foods like kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, beans, almonds and sweet potatoes into your meals. Use calcium-fortified plant-based milks with your breakfast cereals and your bones will thank you for it! A small daily dose of a calcium supplement with a meal is also commonly advised by nutritionists.
Get enough sun exposure or take a vitamin D supplement regularly — for good bone health, it is recommended for vegans and omnivores alike. Some nutritionists also recommend a DHA/EPA supplement for preserving brain structure and function. Also, use a few shakes of iodized salt every day or take an iodine supplement as well for a healthy thyroid gland.
A healthful diet alone is not quite enough to maintain good health. Get enough aerobic and strength-training exercises, for your body as well as for your brain. Walk or bike to work, take breaks from sitting all day in your job, adopt healthier habits, maintain active social connections, and you’ll enjoy a longer life of delicious vegan meals.