How to prepare a Balanced Vegan Diet

A vegan is a vegetarian who avoids all animal products. A vegan does not eat meat, dairy, or eggs and does not drink milk. However, a vegan diet can still provide all your body’s essential minerals and vitamins.

All it takes is good planning! If you’re considering going vegan or want to eat fewer animal foods, here are four essential tips you need to know. And before you eliminate all animal products from your diet, check with your doctor, health care provider, or dietitian to ensure a vegan diet is proper for you.

Eat enough protein

Vegans do not eat meat, fish, poultry, dairy, or eggs. These foods are rich in protein, essential nutrients for red blood cells and muscles.

Vegans should replace animal protein with plant protein sources. That way they will get enough protein.

Legumes

They are excellent sources of protein. Try eating lentils, peas, and dried beans

Nuts and seeds

Almonds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, flax seeds all the great sources of protein.

Soy and soy products

You can have protein from tofu, edamame green soybeans, fortified soy beverages.

Whole grains

Well, you’ll get protein from quinoa, buckwheat too.

Meat substitutes

There are many meat substitutes such as textured vegetable protein (TVP), veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs.

Add Omega-3 Fats in the diet

Omega-3 fats are essential for babies’ heart health and brain and eye development. Non-animal sources of omega-3 fats will help make up for what you’ll miss from meat-based sources.

Oils

Well, canola, flax, nut, and soy oils are great source of omega 3 fatty acid

Soybeans and tofu

Not only both of these sources of protein but they also provide omega 3 fatty acid

Ground flax seeds and walnuts

Try adding these in your diets. Keep in mind you’ll need the amount you’re missing from meat sources.

Other sources

Certain foods such as soy beverages, bread, and orange juice may be fortified with omega-3 fats. Read the label and ingredient list to determine if the food has the nutrients you need.

Make sure you get the vitamins you need

Vegans may need to take vitamin B12 supplements. Before choosing a supplement, check with your doctor, health care provider, or registered dietitian to determine how much you need.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 contributes to healthy nerves and blood cells in the body. V itaminB12 is only found in foods of animal origin and fortified foods such as: Fortified beverages made with soy, almonds, or rice.

Red Star nutritional yeast is also a great source of vitamin B12.

You can also try enriched meat alternatives such as TVP, veggie burgers. But please read the label

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D under the sun’s rays. However, using sunscreen and wearing clothing that covers most skin can limit the amount of vitamin D you produce. There aren’t many vegan sources of vitamin D either. You can get vitamin D from soft margarine and fortified beverages such as soy, almond, and rice.

Some vegans choose to take vitamin D supplements. Before choosing a supplement, check with your doctor, health care provider, or registered dietitian to determine how much you need.

Make sure you get the minerals you need

Calcium

Calcium maintains healthy bones and helps regulate heart and muscle contractions. Vegans often don’t get enough calcium. Include the vegan sources of calcium in your diet.

Fortified drinks

soy, rice, or almond drinks contains calcium. You can drink them as milk substitute.

Calcium Solidified Tofu

There are these calcium solidified tofu out there. You can try to add them in your diet to get some calcium you need.

Legumes

You’ll find calcium in kidney beans, baked beans, navy beans

Almonds

Almonds, both nuts and almond butter are a great source of calcium.

Sesame seeds

It was new to me! Well, there’s calcium in sesame seeds too!

Molasses

They are healthy foods balanced in nutritions.

Dark green vegetables

Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collard greens contains calcium.

Iron

Iron participates in the transport of oxygen in the body. Vegans need twice as much iron as meat-eaters because we don’t absorb iron from plants and animal foods.

Legumes such as kidney beans, black-eyed beans, red lentils

Molasses

Soy products such as tofu, fortified soy beverages, veggie burgers, TVP

Enriched pasta and cereals

Dried fruits such as prunes, raisins and apricots

Dark green vegetables such as collard greens, okra, book choy

Quinoa

To help your body absorb iron, eat iron-rich foods with a source of vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin C include strawberries, broccoli, and oranges.

It’s also good to drink coffee and tea only after meals because some compounds in these beverages interfere with iron absorption.

Zinc

Zinc plays a role in wound healing and helps the immune system fight off viruses. Vegan sources of zinc include many foods.

Legumes

lentils, refried beans, lima beans

Soy products

tofu, fortified soy beverages

Nuts and seeds

peanuts, peanut butter, sesame seeds, tahini, pumpkin seeds, cashews

Grain products

wild rice, wheat germ

Take supplements if needed

With a bit of preparation, a vegan diet can work for anyone.

People of all ages and life stages can follow a vegan diet, from babies to older adults. The important thing is to ensure you get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. If your child is vegan, they get all the nutrients and energy they need to grow and develop healthily.

Being vegan when pregnant or breast feeding

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to include sources of vitamin B 12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Consult your doctor, health care provider, or registered dietitian about taking a prenatal supplement.

Being vegan as an elderly person

If you’re over 50, you’ll need more calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B 12. You may also want to talk to your doctor, health care provider, or registered dietitian about your food choices and supplements.

Regardless of your age, be sure to follow health care professionals’ recommendations and consult your doctor, pediatrician, health care provider, or registered dietitian about a vegan diet that is right for you.

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