If cutting out meat, dairy, and eggs leaves you confused about how to eat a healthy, balanced diet, you’re in the right place.
a typical non-vegetarian diet uses 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more energy and 13 times more fertilizer than a vegetarian diet
Benefits of going vegan can include weight loss, better heart health and an overall longer lifespan.
Plant-based diets may lower the risk of certain diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
The Mediterranean diet has very similar benefits to veganism, with the added bonus of boosting brain health and providing anti-inflammatory properties.
At Nutrichef, we know that eating vegan requires time and effort, that’s why we’ve created the 4-week Vegan Challenge as an introduction to get you started and to help you achieve your diet goals.
Here are tips for eating a vegan diet that is easy and healthy. Even if you’re just trying to adopt a more plant-based diet for better health, these tips are a great way to get started.
People often get hung up on what they can’t have on a plant-based diet, instead of what they can. But a great meal does not have to center on meat. Veggie-packed meals are a winning choice all-around: veggies are full of vitamins (like A and K) and minerals (like potassium), they keep your calories in check and, because they are high in fiber, they can help you feel more satisfied.
To make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet, it’s important to eat balanced meals that include a variety of healthy foods. For example, you’ll get protein and fiber from beans; leafy greens are great sources of vitamins A, C, and K.
Choose produce from all colors of the rainbow to get all the benefits. Red tomatoes have heart-healthy lycopene, blue blueberries have brain-boosting anthocyanins, and orange sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A to help keep eyes healthy.
With Nutrichef, you will enjoy meals such as a simple well-balanced plate of brown rice and beans with vegetables or a hearty bowl of our Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili, chock-full of nutrient-rich veggies and whole grains.
Swapping out refined grains, such as white pasta and white bread, for whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, adds iron and B vitamins to a vegan diet (nutrients that are stripped out when the grains are refined). And, the extra fiber from whole grains will help keep you full, and may even help you lose weight.
One thing everyone can do for better health is eat more plant-based proteins. Animal sources of protein, like meat and cheese, tend to be high in unhealthy saturated fat. (Plus, there are plenty of good environmental reasons to cut out animal sources of food.)
Vegan sources of protein really are plentiful and include: tofu, tempeh, edamame (soybeans), lentils, chickpeas and beans. Nuts such as almonds and walnuts - and seeds - sunflower and pumpkin seeds - also deliver protein. Even though many people think it’s difficult for vegans to eat enough protein, it typically isn’t an issue for someone eating a varied diet and consciously including sources of plant-based protein.
The Institute of Medicine recommends women get 46 grams of protein daily and men 56 grams, an amount that’s pretty easy to reach.
Women would meet their daily quota with ½ cup of dry oatmeal (5 grams protein), 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (8 grams), 1/2 cup of chickpeas (5 grams), 1 cup of cooked quinoa (8 grams), 20 almonds (6 grams), 1 cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti (7 grams) and 1/2 cup of tofu (10 grams).
Men could add just ½ cup of cooked lentils (9 grams) to meet their daily protein requirement.
Vegan cookies aren’t necessarily any better for your waistline than regular cookies. And garlic bread made with vegan margarine isn’t necessarily any healthier for your heart than one made with butter. Processed vegan foods often contain saturated-fat-laden palm oil and coconut oil. Stick to whole, nutritious foods that just happen to be vegan, such as carrots and hummus, nuts and dried fruit, whole-grain tortilla chips with guacamole. Indulging in vegan treats every so often is fine, but don’t justify them as "healthy" simply because they’re vegan.
Animal proteins like meat and chicken are the best sources of iron, which is another nutrient that’s important for vegans to pay attention to. Vegans can still get this mineral from beans, legumes and leafy greens, but iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) isn’t as easily absorbed as it is from meat sources (heme iron). To get the most of plant-based iron, eat iron-rich foods with vitamin-C rich foods, which helps boost absorption, and not at the same time as calcium-rich foods, which can inhibit iron absorption.
Vitamin B12, a vitamin that helps transform food into energy in our bodies and aids in brain function, is found mainly in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy foods. People following a vegan diet can get some B12 from fortified cereals or energy bars, but should talk with their doctor about taking a supplement. The DV for Vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms for most adults.
Affectionately nicknamed "nooch" by the vegan community, nutritional yeast's scientific-sounding name shouldn't throw you off. It's an inactive yeast that is yellow in appearance and has a unique cheesy, rich taste. It has 4 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons and, as a bonus, is a great vegan source of vitamin B12. Most food sources of vitamin B12 are animal sources, so many vegans need to supplement. . Enjoy nutritional yeast in sauces or dressings, sprinkled on your next pasta dish or tossed into a bowl of popcorn.
Nutritional yeast: 4 g protein per 2 Tbsp.
Seitan is created with vital wheat gluten, the main protein in wheat, which results in a chewy and hearty texture that really mimics meat in some dishes. A 100-gram serving of seitan contains 20 grams of protein. You can make seitan yourself by purchasing vital wheat gluten, if you can’t find it precooked.
Seitan: 20 g protein per 3 ounces 100 grams