Integrative Nutrition Blog

Trying a Vegan Diet

April 30, 2018

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The trend to adopt a more plant-based diet continues to rise. Vegan diet plans, in particular, are especially gaining momentum. Many people are curious: Is a vegan diet healthy?

The answer is yes, and many are drawn to this dietary style for its health benefits (even Beyonce!), but its environmental benefits are also worth noting. Vegan foods tend to produce less carbon emissions and have a smaller environmental footprint compared to omnivorous diets. Whether you fall into one of those categories or are more drawn to this eating style due to animal rights concerns, there’s no wonder why there’s so much buzz about the benefits of vegan diets.

What to Know

If you’re interested in experimenting with a vegan diet, research shows that it may help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and help prevent diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Balanced vegan diets tend to be high in fiber and antioxidants and low in saturated fat. They also tend to be high in folate and potassium. But when not eating a well-rounded diet, vegans may be more likely to have low levels of iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and calcium in their diets. Including a variety of foods, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, tofu, beans, and legumes, can help make sure you’re getting adequate amounts.

One nutrient that may be a bit trickier is vitamin B12 – this nutrient is abundant in animal-based foods, but may not be as easily absorbed from plant-based sources, which can increase the risk for deficiency and a form of anemia called pernicious anemia. To avoid this, be sure to include foods fortified with B12 (nutritional yeast is popular) and consider adding a supplement to your routine.

Vegan Meal Inspiration

If you’re ready to begin a vegan diet plan or if you’d like to just try it one meal at a time, here are a few creative dishes you might enjoy!

  • Brown rice pasta with tempeh “meat” balls
  • Chickpea salad sandwich
  • Avocado toast with shitake “bacon”
  • Seared cauliflower steaks
  • Lentil sloppy joes
  • Black bean nachos
  • Zucchini lasagna with cashew “cream”

What’s your go-to vegan meal? Share your favorites with us!

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