I became a vegan before veganism was a thing. There wasn’t a lot written on the subject, and the Internet was not yet invented. So one of the biggest worries from my friends and family was related to vegan nutrition...
They wondered if it was really possible to get the right nutritional balance with a vegan diet. And not much has changed since then. When considering the diet, people always want to understand vegan nutrition requirements before they make a commitment.
Think about it:
How do you get protein when you don’t eat meat? And how do you get calcium when dairy isn’t in your diet? When you begin a vegan diet, your success lies in the amount of nowledge you have about vegan nutrition.
So asking these questions is smart.
What Is Veganism?
We don't eat meat. But, that's just part of the story:
Veganism is about more than just not eating meat.
It’s a way of life that seeks to do the least amount of harm to the creatures we share the earth with. Vegans don’t eat meat, but we also don’t wear animal skins, eat anything animals produce, or use products that have animal byproducts in them. That's not all: We also don’t buy or use any product that harmed an animal in the testing or manufacturing process.
Luckily, vegan nutrition isn’t dependent on animals. We get all the nutrition we need from other sources. In short, we love animals and live our lives in a way that makes the earth a better place for them.
Veganism Doesn't Have To Be Hard
Some people fear that becoming a vegan is difficult, but if your mind is made up to stop eating a diet that contributes to animal harm, it’s not that hard.
You will need to spend some upfront time learning about vegan nutrition guidelines.
Remember, you’re changing the way you eat, so to ensure that you get all the right nutrients and vitamins, you will need a good understanding of vegan nutrition. In the meantime, here are some commonly asked questions about quitting meat and learning about vegan nutrition.
Researchers determined that men who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables smell sexier to women. So men, ditch those steaks for a salad if you want to meet women!
To start slowly...or go all in
Everyone is different, and your own personality should drive your decision about whether you will go vegan all at once or take it slowly.
The secret to veganism is: Planning. If you decide to take it slowly, try this PETA recommended plan:
If you do decide that you want to immediately stop eating meat and become an instant vegan, get a little encouragement by taking the PETA Vegan Pledge!
What In The World Do Vegans Eat?
Contrary to popular belief, vegan nutrition and diets are full of flavorful foods. We eat a lot of the same foods meat eaters do. For example: Vegans eat creamy soups, but we use coconut milk as the source of cream instead of dairy milk. As far as vegan nutrition, the diet mainly consists of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes.
With these few ingredients, we can create a plethora of delicious and satisfying meals.
Vegan nutrition guidelines include:
Non-dairy milk, yogurt, and cheese, veggie burgers and other soy meats, breads, vegan ice cream, mayonnaise, tofu, and just about anything else you crave.
Can you see why vegans never have to go hungry? If you want an easy-to-use visualization method to ensure you meet the vegan nutrition guidelines, check out the plate method in the video below.
Vegan food groups you need to know
If you want an even easier to use graphic, check out this infographic outlining all of the vegan food groups. Look:
Talk about seeing all the vegan nutrition guidelines in one, easy place!
Vegan Nutritional And Lifestyle Concerns
Does a vegan diet sound too good to be true? After all, we’re talking about a diet filled with foods that are good for you and don’t do harm to animals. Is vegan nutrition really this easy?
Ehh...with the right tools it can be, but no lifestyle change is easy right away. Although studies show that non-meat diets prevent a lot of diseases and lead to a healthier lifestyle, you will have to ensure that your vegan nutrition plan is well thought out and planned.
Otherwise, you may not get all the nutrition your body needs.
What you need:
Supplements are extremely important
Most vegans take supplements. Here's why: While it’s possible to get all the vegan nutrition you need from plants and other items in the vegan food groups, it’s not always easy.
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Finding vegan options while eating out
I’m just going to say it: Unless you live in a city or town that understands veganism, eating out may not be as fun as it used to be. While it’s true that most restaurants serve salads, most vegans don’t want to eat them every time they go out to a meal.
However, if you live someplace that celebrates the meatless lifestyle, you’re in luck. Chances are, you will find all kinds of new dishes, twists on familiar dishes, and some combinations you never could have imagined. And all of them will fit the vegan nutrition guidelines. If you’re not sure if your city has vegan restaurants, it's okay.
You are in luck: Just download the Happy Cow app and punch in your zip code. If it does, you’ll find them there.
Bone density could be a problem
Bone density loss could be a problem if you go vegan. Here's what we found: One study shows that vegans can suffer from a lower bone density. The researchers cite the problem as a lack of calcium and vitamin D. To fill in your vegan nutrition requirements, you need to take calcium and vitamin D to ensure this does not become a significant problem.
About 500,000 animals are killed in the U.S. every hour for food. If you want to see the numbers in real time, Animal Clock keeps a close tabulation on the number of animals that die per minute.
Common Mistakes People Make When Becoming A Vegan
When first learning about vegan nutrition and starting the diet, you’re bound to make some mistakes. After all, if you’ve never eaten a vegan diet before, there will be some learn as you go lessons along the way. You were probably wondering: "What can I do to make sure I'm healthy?"
We are here for you:
To help you reduce your errors, we’ve created his list of mistakes many people make when first learning about vegan nutrition.
We hope it helps you avoid some common vegan nutrition mistakes!
Do not buy a lot of food replacements
One of the biggest mistakes people make when learning about vegan nutrition is thinking they have to buy all of the vegan food replacement products out there. In fact: You don’t have to buy any of them — and you’ll still meet your vegan nutrition guidelines.
For example, you can buy fake meats such as hot dogs, burgers, jerky, chicken nuggets, sandwich meat, bacon, sausage, and a host of other soy meats. The idea behind these fake meats is that if you eat them, you won’t miss the real thing. And since fake meat is made of soy, they add some protein to your diet. You can also buy vegan yogurt, cheese, milk, and other dairy products.
But there are some cons for these replacement foods.
First, they’re not that healthy.
Many of the fake meats are GMO soy. And while there are strong opinions on either side of the fence, many vegans avoid them. Anytime you eat processed foods, you’re not getting the best vegan nutrition you can.
Alternatively: Instead of buying fake meat burgers, why not throw together some lentils, vegetables, a vegan egg, and fry it up?
Secondly, they’re expensive. A vegan nutrition diet gets a bad rap for being expensive. But if you don’t buy the replacement processed foods, it’s actually less expensive to eat vegan.
Having a diet full of junk food is a bad idea
If you cut meat and dairy out of your diet but still eat a lot of junk food, you’re not likely to get the vegan nutrition you need to stay healthy. Healthy vegans eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Unhealthy vegans eat a lot of potato chips, processed cookies and cakes, and other foods with empty calories.
If you’re making the decision to go vegan — especially for health reasons — do yourself a favor and limit the junk foods.
When it comes to junk food:
Your food choices are not limited
Many new vegans believe that their days of ice cream, pies, pizza, lasagna, burgers, and scrambled eggs are a thing of the past.
But guess what?:
They’ve only just begun. Vegan nutrition comes in many forms.
Here’s the deal:
You can cook virtually any recipe using vegan tricks and tips that you can find. Want some scrambled eggs, but know vegans don’t eat eggs? No problem, you can make the best scrambled eggs you’ve ever tasted with tofu. Miss those Friday night pizza parties with the girls? You can make a delicious vegan pizza.
But there’s no way you grill out with the boys on a vegan diet, right? WRONG!
Check out the video below or a grilling option:
How To Do Vegan Nutrition The Right Way
Vegan nutrition isn’t that complicated. The bottom line is: If you include a lot of variety in your diet, you will get all the nutrients you need. In other words: Don’t eat the same meals every day.
Mix it up a little, so your body gets all the vegan nutrition it craves. For example, eat lentil patties one day. Have tempeh and broccoli another day. When you eat a variety of grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, and nuts, you will meet your vegan nutrition requirements.
Here is a general food guide you can follow to ensure you get all the vegan nutrition your body needs.
If you want help ensuring you get the right vegan nutrition, use the Vegan Society’s VNutrition app. It’s a dietary self-assessment tool that will guide your food choices.
Make Sure You Are Getting Proper Nutrients
Even if you are following the checklist, you are going to need to pay special attention to make sure you are getting enough protein and calcium.
Here's what you need:
You are going to need about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That means: If you weight 120 pounds, you need roughly 43.2 grams of protein. Now, obviously you are not going to get that from meat, so here are some alternatives.
Getting enough calcium in your diet does not have to be difficult. The average male and female 19 to 50 years old need to have 1,000mg per day.
Vegan Food Swaps Are Great
By now, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to cook all this fabulous food with no eggs, milk, cheese or other essential baking products. Allow me to introduce you to vegan food swaps. Check it out:
When it comes to vegan nutrition, imagination is key.
And vegans from around the world have come up with all sorts of ways to introduce vegan foods into recipes that make them edible for us non-meat eaters.
Here are some vegan nutrition swaps you should know about:
Who says a hen has to give up her eggs for you to bake a cake? When it comes to using eggs for baking you have a few options.
Any of these go well in cereals or oatmeal, and you can use them for cooking, too. When making a cream soup, opt for coconut milk to create a smooth and creamy soup.
Miscellaneous food swaps
There are some vegan nutrition tricks you will learn as you begin cooking. Here's what we learned: If you want to make tacos with a bite to them, try using roasted cauliflower instead of the traditional meat.
And instead of serving steak and mashed potatoes, grill up a large portabella mushroom and create a scrumptious sauce to go on it. If you’re craving a cheesy meal, add nutritional yeast to whatever you’re cooking. Seriously. You’ll get that cheesy taste without any dairy.
If you don’t have any nutritional yeast on hand, whip up some cashew cheese (recipe below) — it’s just as tasty! Want to make a sandwich, but you’re not in the mood for peanut butter and jelly? Try grilling some vegetables. Then spread avocado on the sprouted bread for a delicious sandwich that rivals your friend’s ham sandwich.
Recipes Full Of Vegan Nutrition
You’re probably hungry after reading about all the delicious vegan food swap ideas. That means it’s time to talk about food and vegan recipes! Here is a delicious recipe for each meal to get you started on your vegan nutrition goals.
Check them out:
Vegan Nutrition Works With A Plan
Hopefully, we’ve busted all of the myths concerning vegan nutrition. It is possible to eat a vegan diet and get all the nutrients and vitamins you need to stay healthy. Are you a practicing vegan or are you just starting out on your vegan journey?
Whoever you are, we would love to hear about what caused you to adopt this cruelty-free lifestyle in the comments below!