For beginners like me – what to eat on a Vegan diet – is one of the most concerning questions.
I am sure that many of you are living in households where the rest of the family is eating a “normal” diet. This applies to me as well.
Certainly it is much easier when you are on your own and you can fill your fridge with only Vegan friendly options. But facing temptations on a daily basis can be though.
Considering the above, you need to be comfortable looking in the fridge and be able to ignore the delicious looking cheese or a tasty piece of meat.
Besides the food temptations, we heard many scary stories about Vegans who did not meet their nutrition needs.
In order to remove all those concerns and adjust to our new diet, it is important that we are applying changes in small steps.
Some thoughts about rapid change
I get it, when we are ready for a new chapter we tend to go extreme because the motivation is at its peak.
However, if you have a tendency to fail as quickly as you rose, then I suggest you to take a deep breath and a step back.
Hence it is better to do a little and do it on a daily basis, then jumping all in and give up after a short while.
Even the smallest change, when applied constantly, will become routine after a while.
Here are some suggestions on what to eat on a Vegan diet:
A little goes a long way
If you decided that you start with cutting out meat, then the first step should be as simple as replacing the meat with a substitute.
Nowadays there are so many alternatives from burgers to sausages, you can find them all. My favorite meat replacements are from Quorn. They are a little pricey but it will help you to transition smoothly.
Most important, do not give up if you don’t like the first options you’ve tried. Not every brand will be tasty but it is just a matter of trying until you find the one that suits your taste buts best.
There are as well healthier options then processed foods and you can replicate the taste of meat with natural ingredients.
Processed food can be really helpful to transition to a Vegan diet. By time however, they should be enjoyed in moderation.
Here are some examples for meat substitutes:
- Vegan meat replacements
- Jack fruit
- Beans & Legumes
You can go ahead and do the same with all other animal products until you find your perfect plant-based match. Here are some popular plant-based Milk options:
- Almond Milk
- Soy Milk
- Rice Milk
- Oat Milk
- Hazelnut Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Cashew Milk
- Hemp Milk
Cheese might be the most difficult food to replace for many of you, including myself. So far I did not taste a cheese that is as good as the original.
If you have any suggestions, please let me know! I am begging you! Sadly at this point I can only recommend:
- Nutritional yeast – delicious flakes to put on your Pasta
Adding healthy options
Once you got used to your substitutes it will be time to integrate healthier additions to your meals. The easiest way to do this is swapping out refined grains (the white one’s) for wholegrain versions of pasta, bread, rice etc.
If you don’t like Vegetables, I have bad news for you – the star of your meals should be Vegetables in all rainbow colors. Don’t be scared! Just try out different ways to integrate more in your diet. Bake, boil or juice them – whatever suits you best!
Whilst you can juice as many Veggies as you want, Fruit juices should be consumed in moderation. Eat them fresh and in their raw state, they are a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Don’t be afraid of eating small portions of nuts. Certainly they have a high fat content but their health benefits are impressive. Moderate consumption of nuts improve cholesterol levels and even help with weight control.
Try your best and eat as balanced as possible with a variety of different foods. One step at a time, do not over stress! What to eat on a Vegan diet gets easier by more practise and time.
Get your Protein
Probably one of the biggest concerns for new vegans is how to get their protein. If you eat a balanced diet this should not be a problem.
Protein deficiency rarely happens and mainly in cases where the nutrition lacks in general. Here are some selections of protein rich Vegan foods:
- Legumes and soy foods – Black beans, Kidney beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Soy beans, Baked beans, Edamame, etc.
- Vegan Protein Powder
- Veggie meats
- Vegetable Milks – Almond Milk, Hempseed Milk, Rice Milk, Soy Milk etc.
- Nuts and seeds – Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, Flaxseeds, Pine nuts, Pecans, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds etc.
- Grains – Oatmeal, Pasta, Quinoa, Rice, whole wheat bread, Barley Millet etc.
- Vegetables – Broccoli, Corn, Mushrooms, Potatoes, Spinach etc.
Supplements to think of
Almost all the vitamins and minerals you can get from plant foods except for Vitamin B12.
Depending on your circumstances, vitamin supplements can help to meet nutrition needs.
- Vitamin B12 – take a supplement of 1,000 micro grams 3x a week.
- Iron – should only be supplemented in case of a deficiency.
- Calcium – aim for foods that are rich in calcium and protein, eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
- Vitamin D – get enough sun exposure or consider a supplement that provides 25 micro grams (1,000 IU) per day.
- Omega 3 Fats – try to get most fats from nuts, nut butter, avocados and sunflower oils. Consider taking a DHA supplement of 200 to 300 milligrams every two to three days.
- Zinc – if you believe that you have a deficiency, you can either take a multivitamin that contains Zinc or if you are taking calcium tablets, chose one with Zinc.
- Iodine – add iodized salt to your food or take a supplement.
- Vitamin A – carrot juice is very high in Vitamin A. Try to drink a 1/4 cup per day to boost your intake.
Consider doing a blood test at least every 12 months to ensure that you do not have any deficiencies. Also check with your nutritionist or your doctor regarding supplements in your particular case.
Balance is the key
What to eat on a Vegan diet should be clearer by now. When you achieve to eat a balanced vegan diet, it can provide various health benefits. Keep an open mind and consider taking supplements if you are unable to meet the daily nutrient requirements. Since I started adding supplements to my still vegetarian diet, I feel much better and more energized.
Also, be realistic and aware that it will take time until you have all your pantry staples, herbs or other Vegan supplements together.
Don’t rush and take the process slow, it won’t be daunting but enjoyable! Embrace all steps towards your goal no matter how small they might seem. Above all consider writing your progress in a food journal.
By being patient and consistent you will be able to reap all the benefits of a plant based diet.