Tips for Ensuring a Healthy Vegan Diet
Veganism has gained popularity in recent years as a cruelty-free lifestyle that rejects animals as a food source. Vegans may also refuse to wear leather products or use cosmetics containing beeswax. For those who do not eat any form of animal products, special care must be taken to ensure a healthy and balanced diet. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy diet packed full of all the necessary nutrients.
People who have never tried a vegan diet may be under the misconception that protein is only found in meat. In reality, protein is plentiful in dark greens such as spinach, kale, French beans, and boiled peas. Non-dairy milks such as soy and almond milk are also wonderful sources. Vegans can also get protein from beans, lentils, and tofu. While it is important to get protein from a variety of sources, it is not necessary to eat animal products in order to achieve a healthy balance.
Consuming Adequate Calories
Many people lose weight when switching to a vegan diet simply because they are no longer taking in animal fats. For those who are already at a normal weight, this can be a point of concern. For those who would like to gain weight on a vegan diet, many nuts, seeds, plant oils, brown rice and pasta are very dense in calories. Vegan athletes and those who are underweight or in danger of becoming underweight can eat these sources to help gain and maintain weight. While many vegans are slimmer than the average person, becoming emaciated is not normal for vegans and should not be accepted as such.
For those raised under omnivorous dietary guidelines, calcium is often synonymous with dairy products. However, there are a ton of vegan foods that are packed with calcium, including kale, turnip greens, blackstrap molasses, almond butter, broccoli, currants and fennel. Orange juice and non-dairy milk are also fortified with calcium as well.
Avoiding a B12 Deficiency
Without adequate vitamin B12, the body can experience anemia and damage to the central nervous system. Unfortunately, this vitamin is also quite hard to find in nature without resorting to animal products. For this reason, many vegans eat or drink fortified products, such as B12-enriched soy milk or nutritional yeast to get their B12.
Eating healthy on a vegan diet can be a challenge. By eating a variety of foods and paying attention to calcium and B12 intake and ingesting enough calories, a vegan can be just as active and healthy as any omnivore.