VEGAN DIET FOR BEGINNERS: A HELPFUL GUIDE




Going vegan is the best decision for your health, the planet, and the animals that live on it. Due to the positive impact of vegan diets, many people are switching to this lifestyle. However, it is not always so simple for beginners to transition from an omnivorous routine to a plant-based version. It is about changing lifelong habits.

While adopting a new lifestyle is challenging, it can be much easier if you have an informed perspective about the foods, nutrition, and health benefits.


What You Can and Cannot Eat On a Vegan Diet


Vegans can’t eat

Anything derived from an animal including fish, eggs, all dairy products, honey, poultry, and meat.


Vegans can eat

Any food that isn’t made from animal products or doesn’t contain animal-derived ingredients. Basically, all plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, to name a few.


5 Major Food Groups for A Healthy Vegan Diet

Although the vegan diet is considered one of the healthiest diets, it is crucial to maintain a nutritional balance. Eating from a variety of food groups can help you meet daily nutrient needs. To fulfil the need for protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins, try to include more colourful veggies and beans on your plate.

Let’s take a look at the major food groups to include in a balanced vegan diet —


Fruits

All fruits including fresh, frozen, and dry, can be eaten in a vegan diet. Fruit provides many essential micronutrients, such as:

  • Vitamin C

  • Fibre

  • Potassium

  • Folate

  • Vitamin A

  • Magnesium

  • Antioxidants



Vegetables

You can have all the colourful vegetables like peppers, broccoli, eggplants, corn, kale, cauliflower, peas, and leafy greens, including lettuce, spinach. Vegetables are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals such as —

  • Vitamin A, B, C, K

  • Magnesium

  • Calcium

  • Zinc

  • Folate

  • Beta carotene


Whole Grains

Rice, wheat, oats, quinoa, amaranth, barley and buckwheat: each type of grain can be consumed in a vegan diet. There are many main meals to choose from, like pasta, granolas, pancakes, cereals, and bread. Whole grains bring diversity to vegan recipes and offer essential nutrients —

  • B-vitamins

  • Plant-based protein

  • Fibre

  • Iron

  • Zinc

  • Magnesium

  • Vitamin E


Legumes

Legumes are an essential source of protein and fibre in vegan diets. All types of beans, peas, and pulses, including soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black and white beans, can be used as a bed for vegetables, as a meat patty substitute, or in sauces, soups, and stews. Legumes are packed with the following nutrients —

  • Protein

  • Fibre

  • Omega 3 fatty acids

  • Vitamin E

  • Iron

  • Zinc

  • Calcium

  • Magnesium

  • Folate

  • Phosphorous

Herbs and spices

Vegans can have all types of plant-based herbs and spices, including leaves, flowers, roots, or stems of a plant to bring flavour to their recipes. Basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, garlic and ginger, cinnamon and turmeric are fantastic spices for healthy vegan cooking. They also contain high amounts of antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.


Popular Vegan Substitutions

Many people say that the hardest part of going vegan is giving up their morning eggs and bacon. Due to technological advances, there are plenty of cost-effective plant-based alternatives available in the market. You’ll be surprised seeing how good and identical they are!

Here are some popular examples that you can try —


Meat substitutes: Tofu, seitan, “meat loafs” from beans and lentils, tempeh, Jackfruit.

Fish substitutes: Avocado sushi, marinated carrot salmon, artichoke crab cakes, mushrooms and algae soup.

Dairy substitutes: Oat milk, almond milk, nutritional yeast, coconut whipped cream, cashew cheese.

Egg substitutes: Flax egg, scrambled tofu, mashed potato, applesauce, silken tofu, chickpea flour, bananas.

Honey substitutes: Maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, barley malt syrup, date syrup.


Adopting a vegan lifestyle is a great way to make a positive impact on your overall health and the environment we live in. You are actively making a rewarding decision for a sustainable future for all.