Are you new to veganism? This Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Nutrition will set you on the right path to making sure your diet is well-balanced and healthy.
Any seasoned vegan knows that there is nothing more frustrating than having your beliefs and lifestyle questioned by family and friends. One major point of discussion is vegan nutrition: how healthy is your plant-based diet, really? Are you actually getting all the vitamins and minerals you need? What about protein? You don’t want to be caught unprepared when these questions come.
As you start transitioning to a plant-based diet, this brief guide will help you understand the principles of vegan nutrition, so you can make sure your transition is as smooth and health-promoting as can be!
How to plan your vegan nutrition to avoid vitamin deficiencies
It might sound boring, but vegetables should be the stars of your meal for optimal vegan nutrition. Veg, nuts, and seeds will, in fact, be your main source of micronutrients, covering most of your nutritional needs when consumed daily.
Vegan diets are naturally high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K, among others. But what about the micros vegans risk lacking?
Let’s focus on vitamin D, Iodine, Iron, Calcium, Zinc, and B12.
Vitamin B12 is actually the only vitamin that vegans can’t get from vegan food alone, so it has to be consumed via fortified foods, such as nut milk and nutritional yeast, or via convenient B12 supplements.
Iron, calcium, and zinc
These three minerals are found in most green leafy vegetables, but they need to be consumed in high quantities, daily, along with dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and pulses (especially lentils).
This vitamin is also mostly found in fortified vegan foods and some types of mushrooms, but its source is the same for vegans and meat-eaters alike: sunshine. So if you don’t get enough sun throughout the year, you should make sure to supplement daily!
Iodine is another essential nutrient that is often neglected. While most people get it from eating fish, vegans can get it from seaweed, or even more conveniently, through using iodized salt when cooking.
Mastering vegan nutrition
Keeping all these nutritional facts in mind can seem like a daunting task at first, but practice truly does make perfect. If you find yourself struggling to get enough of a certain nutrient, there is nothing wrong with supplementation – a vegan multivitamin is hardly ever a bad idea. Just be sure to check that it is in fact vegan.
If you are just starting out on your vegan journey and finding it hard to keep track of your nutritional requirements and daily intake, you can log your meals into Cronometer for an easy breakdown, so you’ll be able to master the principles of vegan nutrition in a matter of days!
Here are a few beginner vegan recipes that you might enjoy
Breakfast: Our Favorite Vegan Breakfast Burritos
Dinner: Quick and Easy Vegan Burgers