Do not consume processed vegan food although it looks healthy
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is a diet that comes entirely from the plant, does not contain animal ingredients such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs and honey. In this diet eat raw and cooked foods, smoothies and juices. A vegan diet is suitable for everyone, from infancy to old age. Of course, it must be adapted to the individual, since there is no one diet that is suitable for everyone and each person must be examined individually and a balanced vegan menu must be adapted. All the food components we need are in a balanced and available way from vegan foods.
What do vegans eat?
As a vegan, you need to eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds and almonds, whole grains and legumes. Foods such as tofu and seitan can be included in the menu, but it is possible to reach a balanced menu even without them. In order for the menu to be without nutritional deficiencies, it is recommended that the diet will be varied and as possible without processed foods and foods without nutritional value. For example, a vegan diet that relies on fast food, empty carbs, snacks and sugary drinks, will lead to deficiencies in the body even though it is without animal products. It is important that the vegan diet will be as close as possible to its natural state.
5 principles for a balanced vegan diet for beginners
- Eat plenty of fresh and cooked vegetables and fruits as a basis for this nutrition: Vegetables and fruits contain dietary fiber, allow satiety, maintain balanced sugar levels and provide a lot of vitamins and minerals. What vitamins and minerals do we get from vegetables and fruits?
- Green leaves: kale, parsley, spinach, chard, coriander, dill, various of lettuce, baby leaves, arugula, rocket and celery. Contains: calcium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K and folic acid. They can be combined with natural juices and smoothies or added to salads and stews. It is recommended to vary and eat them both raw and cooked.
- Green vegetables and fruits: zucchini, broccoli, green onion, cucumber, green pepper, cabbage, asparagus, artichoke, green bean, avocado, green apple, green grapes, kiwi and pear. Contains: Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Omega 3, B vitamins, Vitamin C, Folic acid, Vitamin K, Vitamin A.
- Red and purple vegetables and fruits: beet, red pepper, tomato, watermelon, red grapes, plums, strawberries, cranberries, currants, berries, cherries, pomegranate, eggplant, red onion, red cabbage. Contains: Lycopene, B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium, Potassium, Sodium and Iron.
- White vegetables and fruits: white onion, garlic, kohlrabi, leek, mushrooms, ginger, lychee, parsley root and celery root, turnip and cauliflower. Contains: iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, potassium and B vitamins.
- Orange vegetables and fruits: sweet potato, squash, pumpkin, orange pepper, carrot, persimmon, mango, loquat, clementine and orange. Contains: B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and sodium.
- Eat whole grains: These grains cause satiety over time, maintain a balance of blood sugar levels and contain vitamins and minerals. What is the difference between whole grain and non-whole grain?
- Whole grains contain bran which is a source of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, dietary fiber, vitamin B3, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2. In addition, they contain a germ that is a source of magnesium, iron, zinc, protein, fat, vitamin B3, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2, and endosperm (the coat that envelops the germ) which is a source of starch, protein and a few vitamins and minerals.
- Incomplete grains do not contain the bran and germ but only the endosperm, and therefore contain a low amount of dietary fiber and a very low number of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, these grains can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, weight gain and a lack of vitamins and minerals in the body.
Examples of whole grains: brown whole rice, whole wheat, oats, barley, rye, quinoa, buckwheat, spelled and corn. They contain: selenium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, vitamin C, protein and dietary fiber.
- Eat legumes: Legumes help with weight loss, strengthen the body, help satiety and in combination with whole grains provide us complete protein (there is not necessarily a need to combine legumes and grains in the same meal). Legumes contain protein, B vitamins, iron and potassium. Examples of legumes: mung bean, lentils, white beans, adzuki beans, red beans, black beans, peas, soybeans, broad bean and chickpeas.
- Eat nuts, seeds and almonds: These provide us essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6, and contain protein, potassium and magnesium. They help maintain blood vessels and the heart, help the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system and help maintain balanced sugar levels. It is important to purchase the nuts, almonds, and whole and unground seeds - neither roasted nor salted. Include in the menu: walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, natural cashews, raw almonds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flaxseed, chia, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pistachios.
- Variety in food, enjoyment in the kitchen and creativity: Most of the purchased foods we can prepare at home, and by doing so get maximum nutritional values and minimum preservatives of taste and smell. Almond milk, sesame, oats, soy and nuts can be made at home. You can make cheeses and yogurts from nuts, almonds and seeds at home. Minimize processed foods.
- Tofu: Healthy and high quality when it is organic and without genetic engineering. Tofu can be included once a week in the weekly menu for healthy people.
- Seitan: Pure wheat protein, highly processed so I do not recommend using it as a regular basis in the diet.
- Algae: Healthy, contain a lot of omega 3 and are recommended for use in the vegan diet. They can be combined with soups, stews or vegan salads. It is important to remember that nutrition is a personal thing and it is always recommended to consult a professional such as dietitians, nutrition consultants and naturopaths, and adjust your diet according to your health condition and relying on blood tests.
This article is meant to make an order for the vegan beginner and show that it is not complicated to embark on a new path when you know what needs to be done. Good luck to everyone. The author is Daphne Richter, a naturopath.