As you probably already know, there are tons of benefits when switching to a vegan, plant-based diet. You won’t just feel better; you’ll also be contributing to a healthier, more sustainable planet. But if you are just starting your journey you are probably wondering: how do I start a vegan diet and still maintain healthy, balanced eating habits? Cutting out meat, dairy, and eggs is no easy task, but with a little help from LusOasis you too can enjoy a delicious, healthy vegan lifestyle. Read on to learn our 7 tips to help you start your vegan diet:
How do I start a vegan, plant-based diet?
1. Make Vegetables Your New Best Friend
Before you start your vegan diet you might be worried about all the foods you can no longer eat, but don’t forget their is a HUGE variety of delicious and nutritious vegetables to enjoy, and you don’t actually need meat to enjoy a great meal. Vegetables aren’t just delicious and low-calorie, but also packed with the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need to feel full and satisfied. So take a trip to your favorite grocery store to stock up on your favorite veggies, and don’t forget to try something new! Your tastebuds will thank you.
2. Variety is the Spice of Life
Going vegan requires you to eat a variety of foods to make sure you are getting all of your essential nutrients. That means your vegan diet isn’t just healthy but also rich and interesting. Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber. Leafy greens are packed with Vitamin A, C, and K. Tomatoes have heart-healthy lycopene, and berries have tons of healthy antioxidants. In fact, almost every fruit and vegetable has its own list of nutrients and health benefits, so take the time to learn about and taste new ingredients. You’ll be amazed how much there is to choose from!
3. Switch to Whole Grains
By swapping traditional pasta and white bread for whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, you’ll be adding essential iron and B vitamins back into your diet that are completely stripped out of refined grains. Plus you’ll also be eating more fiber which is great for digestion, helps keep you feeling full, and may even help you loose weight!
4. Try Plant-Based Proteins
Animal sources of protein like meat and cheese are typically high in unhealthy saturated fats and are also terrible for the environment. Fortunately vegan sources of protein are plentiful: tofu, edamame, lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds are all excellent sources of healthy plant-based protein. And if you are craving something a little more meat-like take a stroll down the aisle of your favorite grocery store because there are more delicious protein-packed meat substitutes hitting the market every day!
5. Try Vegan Products, but Always Check the Label
Which brings us to our next point: a food product can be vegan and still be very unhealthy. Heavily processed vegan foods often contain saturated fats, refined sugars, and carbohydrates that will leave you feeling heavy and tired. In general we recommend trying to stick with whole, nutritious foods. Indulging in a vegan treat every so often is fine, just remember that vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, and ALWAYS remember to check the label! If you’re looking for an exceptionally healthy vegan product, check out our baking mixes! They are made from simple, gluten-free, unrefined superfood ingredients, and they also make delicious vegan baking SO EASY!
6. Don’t Forget Your Omega-3’s!
Even with a variety of healthy vegan foods in your diet, some essential nutrients are hard to come by. DHA and EPA, two omega-3 fatty acids, are very important for heart health as well as eye and brain development. Fortunately a variety of foods including soy milks and breakfast bars are now fortified with DHA, and DHA/EPA supplements made from algae are also readily available.
7. And don’t forget Vitamin D, B-12, and Iron!
While there are natural sources of Vitamin D, B-12, and iron, most people get these essential nutrients from meet, fortified dairy products, and supplements. Fortunately more plant based products like almond milk, and soy milk are now fortified with Vitamin D, and tons of vegan breakfast bars also contain these essential nutrients. Supplements are also readily available. As with any dramatic dietary change, we recommend consulting your physician to find out exactly what foods and/or supplements you need to stay healthy and feel great.