As the new year approaches, many of us are casting our gaze towards new resolutions, and some are considering tackling a healthier diet as always. Perhaps you’re one of the many that are considering switching to a vegan diet, either as part of Veganuary or even as a permanent change. If so, you’ll want to make sure you do some research beforehand to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients, as with any diet. Because of this, we’ve thrown together a handy little guide to assist you with your new vegan diet.
Cut Down On Processed Foods
The worst choice you can make in any diet is overeating processed foods. There isn’t much difference between processed meat and processed vegan foods regarding things like sodium and fat content, and the amount of these in those irritatingly tasty, often frozen foods can be staggering. Of course, there’s no need to beat yourself up for having them now and again, but the majority of your foods should be much healthier options than this. The fat and salt in these processed foods can contribute to an increase of cholesterol in your system, which in turn will lead to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
Choose Whole Grains
There are many different benefits to eating brown bread and pasta over regular white variants. Whole-grain foods are packed with nutritious goodies and should be chosen by everyone, vegan or not. But to further bolster your vegan diet, the extra iron and vitamins found in these foods are too good to pass up. You’ll also find that these foods can satisfy hunger much faster than processed white variations, meaning that you may end up eating less by feeling full more often. They’re also a great source of fiber, which is perfect for helping to keep your bowel movements regular.
Add Healthy Supplements
Most people agree that cutting out foods like meat, dairy, and eggs is admirable, whether you’re doing it from a moral or health standpoint. However, it’s important to remember that on a vegan diet, or any diet where you’re cutting out major food groups, there are certain nutrients you might risk missing out on. For bodybuilders, getting enough vegan protein into your diet is not necessarily an easy task, but there are ways to make this easier. For more information on vegan protein, check out this blog by Ingredient Optimized. They’ve compiled a handy guide that can provide nutritional advice. Specifically, vegan protein powders are a great source of essential amino acids to assist in creating and repairing muscles, helping you gain mass and strength.
Eat Fresh Fruit And Veg
The staple element of the vegan diet is fresh fruit and vegetables. While they say we’re meant to have at least five fruit and vegetables a day, the chances are, as a vegan, you’re not pressed to meet this number! Of course, choosing a vegan diet doesn’t mean you prefer vegetables that much, which can throw a spanner in the works. However, you must try to embrace these foods to get all of the right nutrients you need.
As a vegan, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting all of the minerals that are predominantly found in animal products, like iron and calcium. Luckily, many plant foods can provide you with an alternative method of getting these essential micronutrients. When looking to increase your iron intake, you’ll want to add some foods like spinach, peas, broccoli, and even sweet potatoes to your meals. For calcium, which strengthens your bones and helps to maintain good heart health, you’ll want to eat plenty of foods like cabbage, pulses, and vegan foods that are infused with extra calcium, which can often be soy products like tofu.
RELATED READING: THREE MONTHS OF BEING VEGAN
Taking Your Vitamins
There are lots of vegan foods which are fortified with vitamins as well as minerals too. The great thing about a vegan diet is a majority of the vitamins you need come from plants. Unfortunately, some are only found in animal products, but that doesn’t mean you need to abandon your new diet.
The vitamins in questions such as B12 and D3 are added to animal feed to absorb the meat. It’s rare for any of us to get a natural source of B12 these days. This is because B12 is naturally found in soil and, more specifically, manure! We likely got our B12 in the past from eating plants that have grown in natural soil and weren’t washed as rigorously, and this is where grazing animals would have eaten in too. B12 is now added to many foods to make up for this issue. It’s also worthwhile taking a vitamin supplement, no matter what diet you’re following, as many of us might be lacking some vitamin anyway.