Everyone knows that staying away from fatty animal products is a great way of staying fit and healthy. You avoid all that cholesterol and saturated fat, and keep your calorie counts down where they should be. Eating vegan makes it much less likely that you’ll develop heart disease or diabetes, and all those good antioxidants help ward off cancer.
However, people who aren’t vegans wonder where you get all your nutrients. They’ve been brought up with the idea that you need to eat from all of the five food groups in order to have a healthy, balanced diet.
If anyone asks you about this, tell them they needn’t worry. You can get everything in plants that you can in animals, except for the bad stuff. Just take a look at the healthy vegan diets from organizations such as Weight Watchers that you can find on sites like healthy-dietplans.com
One of the first things that people worry about is how you get all your vitamins and minerals. They know that things like oranges are great for vitamin C, but what about everything else? Well, it’s actually pretty easy. For example, don’t you need calcium for strong bones? Yes you do, but cows are completely optional. Foods like collard greens, black-eyed peas and almonds are all a great source of calcium, and you can also get calcium from fortified soy or rice milk. The same goes for iron. Forget about a bloody steak, and think about Popeye. Spinach is absolutely packed with iron, as are beans, lentils, sunflower seeds and quinoa.
B vitamins are also a concern if you are vegan. The good news is that you can get lots of these from processed grains, as well as from potatoes, beans, bananas, lentils and molasses. These are all a good source of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin and folic acid. The only thing you really have to worry about is vitamin B12, which isn’t found naturally in plants. However, you can get B12 by taking a multivitamin or yeast supplement, and it’s also added to some rice and soy milks, so it’s worth checking for this when you buy them.
As for your other vitamins, vitamin A is found in things like liver and butter, but did you know that carrots and sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamin A? 100 grams of raw carrots can give you all the vitamin A that you need in a day. Most of us get hold of the vitamin D that we need just by being in the sun, but you can also get vitamin D by eating things like shiitake and portabella mushrooms. Vitamin E is also a simple one – sunflower seeds, almonds and peanuts are packed with it.
Finally, you may get a lot of questions about complete proteins. The truth is, as long as you eat a good variety of vegan foods, complete proteins just aren’t a problem. For example, soybean protein is complete, and combinations such as beans and rice will give you all the amino acids you ever need.