Healthy Food

A Balanced Diet for Vegans and Vegetarians

Vegan beginners should NOT ignore this article!

It’s a common issue that incorrect vegan diet will soon or less lead to the lack of key nutrients and many health problems. Not to saying that there might be some unwanted annoyances when you start a whole brand-new diet.

In this article, I will guide you in detail about how balance your vegan diet as well as things to consider when shopping vegan foods and prepare your meal.

Vegetarian vs. Vegan: What’s the Difference?

Truth to say, many people do make mistake between vegetarian and vegan definitions, thinking that they are the same. BUT, they are not!

Though vegans don’t eat body parts of animals, as known as meat or flesh, such as cows, pigs, chickens, sea animals and others like the vegetarians, they also leave dairy foods and eggs off their plate, neither, unlike the vegetarians who still enable consume such food.

If you are a newbie, my sincere advice is to try vegetarian diet at first, if it’s okay with you or at least until your body feels familiar to the whole brand-new diet plan, let’s move into the vegan and then full-time vegan.

The fact is that it’s truly difficult to cut all protein from animals off your daily meals all of the sudden as you already got acquainted to the old diet. From that point, let’s start gradually and joyfully. Say no to self-ban!

Besides, I’m glad if you choose to mount your life to full-time vegan diet because it’s synonymous to less animal to be killed to serve your dishes, your makeup bag or closet. In fact, it’s calculated to save up to more than 100 animals each year if one starts going vegans.

If you care about animals and don’t love supporting companies that kill animals to use their skin for fashion items or exploit them for entertainment, going vegans is the only way.

Path to improved health

In terms of vegan diet, chances do you know that this lifestyle brings countless precious benefits, especially keeping your health better:

Other than lower cholesterol levels and intake saturated fats in your body, vegan diet also lowers blood pressure as well as decrease risk of heart disease, types 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Besides, with the intake vital nutrition, no matter you gain or lose weight, it’s surely healthy.

The only difficulty is to supply enough minerals and vitamins that are mostly found in animal whereas rarely in plants. This’s not a big deal for those who intend to go vegetarian for a couple weeks or months. But it’s surely a whole new story if you plan to go a full-time vegan.

It’s essential to get a balanced diet to avoid some pity health risks, especially these vitals: protein, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.

Consult this table below:

Vitamin/MineralAltered food
ProteinNuts, seeds, peanut butter, legumes and grains

Soymilk, tofu

IronBroccoli, beans, wheat, raisins and tofu

Tip: Remember to supply your body vitamin C to help absorb iron better.

Vitamin D10 minutes of Sunlight expose (3-4 times/week)

Rice milk, soymilk and other cereals

Vitamin B12Soymilk and cereals
CalciumBroccoli, kale, bok choy and soybeans, soymilk or juices
Omega-3 fatty acidsFlaxseed oil and meal, some other plant source
ZincSoy products, beans and nuts

Alert:

Once you go vegan, it requires more carefulness on the products’ label you intend to buy. Here are some “small print” ingredients you need to be aware of:

Whey: This ingredient appears in a lot of foods and many of us don’t know it’s a dairy product.

Shellac: When buying shiny hard sprinkles and candies, pay attention to this. It made from beetles.

Casein: The same thing, casein is found mostly in many protein shakes. In fact, it’s a milk product.

Cochineal/Carmine: It’s actually made out of crushed beetles and take the role of food coloring on the market.

If these four alerts are all new to you, chances might you need to consider some more below:

Shopping tips

Not all wines and beer are made of vegan-friendly ingredients. Some of them have been processed with products from animal so, be aware of this.

Pay close attention to pastries and breads as most of them contain milk and butter.

To alter dairy desserts, it’s highly recommended to use soft or silken tofu and make sure that they include added vitamins.

Say no to gelatin with vege-gel or agar-agar because they are all made from seaweed. Such ingredients can be found in puddings or dessert.

Ask yourself these questions first before going vegan

Other than such notices I give you above, it’s important to consider these questions before deciding to go vegan. As the matter of the fact, not everyone is suitable for this diet and lifestyle.

If you have any special health problems and want to make use of vegan diet to help cure them, I sincerely advise you to talk to your family doctor. Usually, people who are suffering diabetes want to try vegan diet. Go and meet him, ask him these questions for help:

  • Can a vegan diet help my certain diseases or improve the conditions?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • Can I go vegan if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Do the medicines contain animal-derived products?

For those who are looking for a good vegan diet that comes in full food proportions, consult the Eatwell Guide. It’s advised by many nutritionists and well-known for its minimum five-a-day of veg and fruit, consisting of picking more pulses and beans as well as wholegrains. Meanwhile, it guides lower sugar and fat instead of dairy foods.

Or you can take a look at these reference intakes (RI) below:

Take note that it’s for an average, moderately active adult to eat and maintain their weight, not for the purpose of losing or gaining weight. But the matter is no RI for fiber though many health experts advise us to eat roughly 30 grams every day.

But kindly understand that this is just for guidance, each of us has different nutrients, healthy condition and energy.

Consult my recommended vegan diet

Breakfast

As mentioned above, though vegan diets are rich in folate, fiber and vitamin C containing in added veg and fruit, there are some vital vitamins and minerals that lack in your daily meal such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Breakfast plays an important role in balance your vegan diet. (Yeah, it’s true!) Don’t forget that breakfast helps a lot in contributing towards your daily intake and maintain your weight healthily. So, if you are a breakfast skipper, please don’t, you don’t know how serious it is in setting your blood sugar roller-coaster off and also resulting in wrong foods picked for the next meal.

Breakfast suggestions

Mid-morning snack

When it comes to morning meal, there are usually two choices for you. Firstly, eat a big meal and then wait until lunch. Secondly, eat little and often. I mean there’s going to be a mid-morning snack.

I highly recommend the second method if you are a person who can’t eat much per meal or usually feel sleepy and a little bit tired after a big meal. However, you need to extract some time to prepare it and pack to work or school.

Homemade snack is always safe and healthy. Not saying that you can control the intake food portion like upping other vital nutrients to your body or topping up your five-a-day.

Lunch

Next is lunch!

This is time when your meal need to combine satisfying protein and carb-rich foods to provide enough energy. You can add beans, pulses, nuts and seeds, particularly hemp, walnut, linseed and rapeseed in your lunch. A general rule of thumb is leaving sugary white foods off your plate whereas increasing the number of high-fiber wholegrains.

This also helps you manage well for the mid-afternoon munchies as well as supply enough heart-friendly Omega-3 fatty acids.

Lunch suggestions

  • Top Vegan Lunch Box Ideas

Mid-afternoon snack

Pack some protein snack along and enjoy it in your mid-afternoon munchies. Say no to those sweet or savory foods. Instead, it’s recommended to choose dried fruit with no-salt seeds or nuts to re-provide energy.

If you are a die-hard fan of savory foods, it’s okay to pack along some savory seed and nut mix with veggies as much as possible.

Dinner

Last up is dinner.

It’s advised to lower protein portion and increase veggies in this main meal. The ideal is adding chickpeas, lentils and tofu alongside with yeast extract as a tasty flavor to make your dish more interesting. Besides, for those who don’t know, this ingredient also contains high vitamin B12.

Half of your dish should be filled with protein food and the others should be colorful veggies. You can make a salad with homemade dressing including rapeseed, linseed, hemp oil and walnut. They are good for your skin and hair.

And if you are wondering about the ratio, here is the general rule: 1 tbsp of ground linseed 2 tbsp of plant oil + 1 tbsp of chia seeds/dressing/day.

It’s also essential to provide foods rich in vitamin C to help the other vitamins and minerals absorb better. The ideal ingredients are peppers and citrus fruits like orange or lime.

Dinner suggestions

  • Top Vegan and Vegetarian Dinners

Now, it’s the end of this article. Hope the provided information is enough for your concerns. By the way, are you following a vegan diet? Don’t miss out these vegan-friendly recipes.

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