Developing a Simple Healthy Vegan Diet for Beginners

Developing a Simple Healthy Vegan Diet for Beginners

Starting out on a healthy vegan diet can sometimes be overwhelming. Fortunately, it is not as difficult as it may seem and it gets easier every day. Understanding that to maintain a vegan diet you are committing to exclusively eating plant-based foods. This means no dairy, eggs, meat, fish, poultry or even honey. Here are a few tips to get you started on the program:

Do the Research

Omnivores have the luxury of unconsciously receiving essential body building nutrients found in meat and dairy. Vegans do not have this advantage and must consciously choose their food wisely. If some simple steps are taken, these nutrients can be utilized in the form of vegan food and/or supplemental choices. The nutrients you will need to keep an eye on are:
  • Protein
  • Zinc
  • B-12
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3
Although omnivores get these ingredients by default, many are still deficient due to a negligent lifestyle. Keep in mind that your choice to eat a vegan diet may, theoretically, surpass your omnivore counterparts when it comes to optimal health.

What to Eat

Below is a breakdown of some examples of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks along with their applicable nutritional value regarding the list mentioned above. Most of these items can be found in health food stores and some supermarkets:

Breakfast

  • Fruit and/or fruit or vegetable shakes
  • Scrambled tofu (protein)
  • Vegan bacon or sausage
  • Oatmeal (protein) made with water
  • Granola cereal with flax-seed (omega-3) and soy milk (protein/b-12)
  • Vitamin D enriched orange juice

Lunch

  • Brown rice and beans (protein/b-12/zinc)
  • Vegan veggie burger on a whole wheat bread (protein/b-12)
  • Spinach salad (iron) with broccoli (calcium) and balsamic vinegar

Dinner

  • Rice and beans
  • Tofu/temp-eh vegetable stir fry
  • Rice pasta with vegetables

Snacks

  • Vegan cookies
  • Sunflower seed butter (zinc) on flax-seed crackers with fruit juice sweetened jelly
  • Nuts and raisins (protein)
  • Real Green Bar
  • Organic Food Bar

Vegan Tips

Dairy finds its way into everything, from potato chips to candy. Read the label before you eat the food. Casein is used in many items. Whether this milk protein is used for binding a product or enhancing taste, casein should be avoided on a vegan diet.

Restaurant Ordering: Keep it to Yourself

Unfortunately, friends and family are often a difficult obstacle when going vegan, so remaining private in your choice is sometimes the best approach. When ordering in a restaurant, there are some simple things you can do to get what you need without becoming the annoying "health freak" at the table. If you can, look up the restaurant menu online, contact the restaurant and/or pull your waiter aside before ordering. Looking for or asking what is cooked in butter, animal fat or broth is pretty much all the information you need to know. Sometimes you may even be able to chat with the chef. Remaining professional, almost businesslike when dealing with restaurants and your diet can sometimes even get you a specially prepared meal. Even using the word "allergic" when pressed (remember, most restaurants are very proud of their food) can avoid long winded explanations and descriptions of your vegan diet choice.

 

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