Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise in the western world and you may be thinking about giving up meat, dairy and eggs yourself. But as veganism goes mainstream, it’s no longer seen as the realm of health nuts and hippies. More and more people are turning to veganism because of ideology, but lack the knowledge required to stay healthy. Whether or not you can live on a 100% vegan diet is yet to be decided. Some nutritionists will tell you that you can’t, while others will tell you horror stories about what animal products apparently do to your body. Regardless of what you believe, if you’re about to go vegan, you need to start thinking consciously about food consumption and preparation. Here are a few tips for healthy eating as a vegan.
Replace your protein
Animal products are rich in protein, so this is the main concern for many vegans. While eggs, for example, are a great source of complete protein, you need to be a bit smarter when supplementing it with vegan sources. Vegan sources of protein such as tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc. need to be consumed alongside grains such as wheat, oats, etc. to form a complete protein. You also may find you need to eat a lot more before you feel full.
Bring more fruit and vegetables in your diet
If you are used to junk food and processed foods, switching to veganism can feel a bit daunting. There are plenty of meat replacements now that you can turn to If this is what your diet is made of, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some vegan purists may go on about the horrors of eating something that “that’s like meat”, but if no animal was harmed, who cares? On the other hand, there is a world of healthy, nutritious foods out there waiting to be explored. You can start adding these to your diet even if cooking is not your thing. For example, salads are the perfect way of getting fresh vegetables and even fruit into your diet and you can really get creative with the combinations. You can even make your own fresh dips. Like everything else in life, there are ways of cutting corners if you’re really hopeless in the kitchen. Just shove some fresh vegetables into a food chopper (you can find some good ones listed by MRS Foodprep) and you can have fresh salad ready in seconds.
Similarly, juicing can be a great way to get more fruit into your diet. You’ll be amazed at all the different combinations of delicious fruit juice you can make at home with a simple juicer, or even a citrus press and a blender.
Discover world cuisine
Some cuisines are great for vegan food. Indian and Asian food (Thai, Chinese, Japanese) can be a great source of inspiration. Of course, not all these cuisines are always consciously vegan, so do check before heading off to a restaurant. Luckily, there are more and more vegan restaurants opening around the world every day and there are also plenty of good vegan recipes available online. There is also a lot of information available about “veganising” standard dishes, so with a bit of reading you can figure out how to turn all your favourite recipes and dishes into something that fits your newfound ideology. Even cakes and baked goods can be turned into vegan dishes with a bit of practice. There is plenty of vegan junk food to be found, for even the most reluctant healthy eaters.
Unfortunately, there are some vitamins and minerals that are not easy to come by when you’re on a vegan diet. B12 is the famous one. Many vegans and even vegetarians are deficient in vitamin B12 and the effects on your health can be serious. If possible, ask your doctor for a blood test to check your levels, as different people retain B12 differently. You may need to supplement with high levels of the vitamin on occasion. However, as too much B12 can also be harmful, it’s best not to take large amounts without consulting a doctor. A good vegan multivitamin should provide you with everything you need to maintain your health.