Wondering About A Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet can be one of the healthiest ways to live. It is simple, can provide significant weight-loss, increased energy levels and younger looking skin and hair. A vegan lifestyle can help to reduce cholesterol levels, increase fiber and vitamin C, provide a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. On the environmental side of the spectrum, one of the most effective things an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to avoid all animal products.

A plant-based diet is generally a high alkaline diet, which helps to decrease inflammation in the body and allows sustainable weight-loss without counting calories. Well planned plant-based diets should contain plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. The aim is to create a diet that is rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals.

When thinking about going vegan, most people’s concerns involve:

  1. How am I going to get adequate amounts of protein?
  2. Will I have enough calcium and iron?
  3. What about Vitamin D?

First thing’s first, it is an idea that society has planted in our minds that we need animal protein at every meal. This is simply not the case. There are tons of other sources of healthy plant-based proteins. It is different for everyone, but in general, women require around 45g of protein, and men 56g per day. Here are some plant-based protein sources that you can include in your meals to help you reach your recommended daily allowance (RDA):

Beans & Legumes:

  • Tempeh: 24g
  • Lentils: 18g
  • Edamame: 17g
  • Adzuki beans: 17
  • Chickpeas, Lima, Navy, Kidney Beans: 15g

Nuts & Seeds:

  • Cashews: 10g
  • Pumpkin Seeds: 10g
  • Almonds: 8g
  • Sunflower Seeds: 7g
  • Brazil Nuts: 4g
  • Hemp Seeds: 3g
  • Chia, Flax, Sesame Seeds: 2g

Grains:

  • Seitan: 24g
  • Buckwheat: 11g
  • Amaranth: 9g
  • Quinoa: 9g
  • Wild Rice: 7g
  • Brown Rice: 5g
  • Oats: 4g

Vegetables:

  • Spinach: 5g
  • Collard Greens: 5g
  • Broccoli: 4g
  • Portobello Mushrooms: 4g
  • Brussels Sprouts: 4g
  • Kale: 3g
  • Artichoke: 3g
  • Potato: 3g
  • Swiss Chard: 3g

As for your calcium, 700 – 1000mg is the RDA. These items are especially high in calcium: broccoli, collard greens, almonds, mustard greens, sesame tahini, soy beans, and kale. To focus on your iron content, add these foods to your daily diet: lentils, spinach, swiss chard, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and lima beans. Vitamin D helps your body to better absorb calcium and helps to maintain a healthy bones. It is found in mostly dairy products, but for a vegan lifestyle, you can find it in fortified non-dairy milks and eggs.

If you are thinking of adopting a vegan diet, here are some great tips to start:

  1. Begin getting rid of all animal products in your household. All meat, dairy, eggs and fats such as butter, as well as all canned meats and any canned/boxed item that contains animal products. Donate these items to your local food bank.
  2. Begin researching the benefits of veganism for yourself. Search blogs for vegan recipes that appeal to you and start creating a collection of recipes.
  3. Create a meal plan and grocery list for the first 30 days to include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
  4. It may be a good idea to adapt a meal delivery service such as Fresh ‘N Lean to try out organic, gluten-free, nutritious vegan meals created especially for you and delivered right to your doorstep.

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