What is vegan diet?
Veganism is a lifestyle based on avoiding the consumption of animal products; therefore, in this post we are going to show you what the vegan diet is and how to make your vegan recipes to maintain a healthy diet.
- 1 What is vegan diet?
- 2 Healthy Vegan Diet
- 3 How to get the necessary nutrients from a vegan diet
- 4 Tips for planning a good vegan diet
- 5 Vegan Diet for Beginners
- 6 Vegan women during pregnancy or breastfeeding
- 7 Health benefits
- 8 Is it safe for children?
- 9 Can teenagers be strict vegans?
What is vegan diet?
The vegan diet is characterized by two things: the elimination of animal foods, including cheese, eggs, milk and honey, and the presence of plant foods.
There are many reasons why people have followed this lifestyle, although most do so to reduce the risk of certain diseases, to protect the environment, or because they are against animal abuse and murder.
What you can eat
Now that you know what the vegan diet is, you’re probably wondering what foods they can eat; here are some of them:
- Grain cereals are the base of the vegan food pyramid; these ingredients provide energy, complex carbohydrates, fiber, iron, and B vitamins. In addition, if you bet on whole grains, they will also provide you with zinc and other minerals.
- Nuts and seeds: nuts, almonds or hazelnuts, among others, often go unnoticed in diets and are very important for their culinary and nutritional value, and also provide many health benefits.
- Legumes: these foods are rich in protein, minerals and vitamins; in addition, their fats are healthier than animal products. Among the wide variety of legumes you can find, peanuts stand out, a fundamental part of Asian cuisine and the main ingredient of peanut butter, ideal for preparing numerous recipes for desserts or vegan smoothies.
- Mushrooms: the vegan diet is characterized by including all kinds of edible mushrooms and fungi, giving flavor and nutrients to your dishes, such as rice, pasta, soups, salads and pies.
- Seaweed: has been part of the culinary culture of many coastal towns, although it is more difficult to find in restaurants. One of the main characteristics of these products is that they have an impressive flavour and have numerous nutritional properties.
- Fruits and vegetables: according to the vegan nutritional pyramid, it is necessary to eat more portions of vegetables than fruits, since the former have a higher caloric density than fruits and contain phytonutrients, which are very important for health. In any case, it is important to eat at least one portion of vitamin C-rich fruit per day, such as citrus fruits, strawberries or kiwis.
- Fats and fatty foods: extra virgin olive oil would be the most recommended for cooking; in addition, you should guarantee the adequate contribution of w-3 oils, which are abundant in nuts, seeds and avocados.
What you can’t
Conversely, there are certain foods that can’t be included in vegan diets, since they come from animals:
- Poultry such as chicken or duck, among others.
- Red meat such as beef, pork or lamb.
- Fish or seafood: for example, crabs, clams or mussels.
- Cheese and butter of animal origin.
- Milk, cream, ice cream, and other dairy products
Healthy Vegan Diet
To maintain a healthy and balanced vegan diet is necessary:
- Eat 5 daily servings of varied fruits and vegetables.
- Meals will be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates.
- Dairy alternatives, such as soy drinks and yoghurts.
- Eat beans, legumes and other proteins.
- Bet on small amounts of unsaturated oils and products.
- Drink plenty of fluids. It is best to drink about 2 litres of water a day, i.e. 6-8 glasses.
- Foods and drinks with high salt, sugar or fat content should be taken in small amounts and less frequently.
How to get the necessary nutrients from a vegan diet
It is very important to do good planning to maintain a healthy and balanced vegan diet, so you can get all the nutrients your body needs and you won’t lose some essential ones, like calcium, iron or vitamin B12.
Vegan Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is a must in any diet, as it is necessary to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong. People who don’t eat a vegan diet often get these nutrients from dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, while people who eat a vegan diet have other foods available to get these nutrients.
- Green leafy vegetables: broccoli, cabbage and okra are the most popular; spinach, on the other hand, would not provide these nutrients.
- Tofu fixed in calcium.
- Wholemeal and white bread: you must verify that it has not been made with any animal product.
- Sesame seeds and tahini.
- Dried fruits: the most important are raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots.
- Fortified drinks: must be without soya sugar, rice and oats.
To give you an idea, a 30g portion of dried fruit is equivalent to one of the 5 pieces of fruit that a person should eat throughout the day; however, it should not be taken as a snack but at mealtimes, to reduce the impact on the teeth.
Just as people need calcium, they also need vitamin D to regulate the amount of phosphate and calcium in the body. The best vegan sources of vitamin D are:
- Sun exposure: preferably from the end of March to the end of September. In any case, it is necessary to protect your skin with sunscreen, to prevent you from getting burned.
- Fortified fat spreads: breakfast cereals and sugar-free soy drinks are also recommended.
- Vitamin D supplements.
Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids keep the heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease, so it is very important to include products with these nutrients in your diet. Although these acids are mainly found in oily fish, there are also other products for vegans:
- Flaxseed oil.
- Soybean oil and soy-based foods.
- Rapeseed oil.
Vegan sources of iron
Iron is very important for the production of red blood cells; therefore, a good vegan diet should contain a high content of iron, although the iron found in animal products is lower than that found in meat. The best vegan sources of iron are:
- Wholemeal bread and flour.
- Dried fruits: such as prunes, figs and apricots.
- Iron-fortified cereals.
- Dark green leafy vegetables: such as broccoli, spring vegetables and watercress
Sources of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is responsible for keeping the body’s nervous system and blood healthy. This nutrient is found in many animal products, such as meat, fish, and dairy products; in contrast, vegan sources may be more limited and you may need a vitamin B12 supplement.
In any case, there are some vegan sources of vitamin B12 that you need to know about:
- Vitamin B12-enriched breakfast cereals.
- B12-fortified yeast extract.
- Soy drinks, sugar-free, fortified with vitamin B12.
Tips for planning a good vegan diet
If you want to plan a good vegan diet, here are some tips that can help you:
- Variety of foods.
- Adjust the portions to obtain the necessary energy values.
- Bets on foods that provide calcium.
- Include foods rich in w-3 and choose healthy sources of fat to make your best vegan recipes.
- Guarantee your sources of vitamin D: the best thing is to bet on sufficient exposure to the sun or taking fortified foods or dietary supplements.
- If you include alcohol or sweets in your diet, do so in moderation.
Vegan Diet for Beginners
If you have just started in the vegan world it is important that you know that your body must adapt to this new way of eating; therefore, it is important that you take note of these tips so as not to lose any vitamin intake.
- Accompany every meal with a vitamin C drink: in this way, you can promote the absorption of iron.
- Do not abuse additional oils and fats: especially if you have a cardiac pathology.
- Complete your diet with a supplement: it can be vitamin B12, vitamin D or iodine.
- Avoid the consumption of refined sugars and white flour: it is recommended that you avoid industrial products and opt for traditional recipes, such as those available on our blogs.
- Make new recipes: one of the advantages of our blog is that you can find a wide variety of vegan recipes; this way, you can make your vegan lunch, for example, in a healthy and creative way.
Vegan women during pregnancy or breastfeeding
During pregnancy and breastfeeding it is very important that a woman has enough vitamins and minerals so that her baby can develop healthily. In these cases, it is very important that moms-to-be make sure they get enough iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
On the other hand, pregnant women should avoid vegan pâtés, as they may contain listeria; likewise, if during pregnancy the mother has taken vitamin B12 and vitamin D supplements, she should continue to do so during lactation to give the baby all the vitamins and minerals it needs for its development.
Maintaining a vegan diet has many benefits for heart health and decreases the chances of certain diseases, and these people are less likely to be obese or to have heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Similarly, vegans are less likely to have diabetes and some types of cancer. Also, reducing daily calories increases life expectancy, so vegans have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who eat animal products.
It is also important to note that fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, the staples of the vegan diet, are rich in fiber and antioxidants.
Is it safe for children?
Yes, a balanced vegan diet can be very healthy for children; the only difference is that they are usually a little shorter, although they are always within growth parameters. When it comes to choosing a strict vegan diet for a child, it is important to keep these aspects in mind:
- Babies: if they are only breastfed they need to take iron supplements after 4 or 6 months of age; another option is to add iron-enriched cereals. Also, if the mother does not have enough vitamin B12, the baby needs to take a B12 supplement.
- Children under one year of age: your child may need to take a vitamin D supplement, so check with your child’s doctor to find out how much and from what sources your child can get these nutrients.
- Children under 2 years of age: they need additional fat for the development of their brain and nerves, so it’s best to bet on soy milk that has these fats.
- Children with small stomachs: vegan diets are characterized by a lot of fiber, so a person can feel full without it having provided enough calories. For children with small stomachs, frequent meals and lunches are recommended to give them all the energy and nutrients they need for healthy growth.
Can teenagers be strict vegans?
It is very important when betting on a strict vegan diet that teenagers plan their meals well, to get the daily nutrients they need. A teenage person needs calcium and vitamin D, and iron is especially important for women when they begin to menstruate. So, it’s best to talk to your family doctor to find out how much vitamin and mineral your teen needs, and to ask if a daily supplement is needed.
Now that you know what a vegan diet is and what you need to take in order to maintain a healthy diet, what are you waiting for to put it into practice?