Switching to a whole food plant-based diet is super popular these days, but you may have found yourself wondering, “Is it healthy to follow a vegan diet?” While the potential health benefits are one reason to consider going vegan, there are other motivating factors at work, too. You may also choose to follow this type of diet due to ethical beliefs or environmental concerns.
We take a look at the plant-based diet and break down what it means, whether it’s healthy, and the benefits of switching. Don’t worry; we’ll provide plenty of recipes and tips for success, too!
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
Going vegan means following a diet that excludes all forms of animal products. In addition to avoiding land animals and seafood, vegans also don’t consume eggs, dairy, bee products such as honey, or foods containing even one animal-based ingredient. These ingredients include things like whey, casein, lactose, gelatin, fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids, and more!
You might be wondering what you have left to eat if you omit all of these things from your diet! There are plenty of plant-based options, including protein-rich alternatives like tofu, tempeh, and seitan. Legumes, like beans, lentils, and peas can also provide a wide range of vital nutrients.
You’ll also find that nuts, nut butter, and seeds not only contain protein, but they’re rich with healthy fats and dozens of nutrients, too. And, of course, fresh fruits and vegetables will provide you with the majority of your daily fiber, vitamins, and minerals. There are also fortified cereals and bars that you can eat that will provide you with calcium, fiber, complex carbs, and iron.
For more vegan food ideas, check out this Plant-Based Diet Shopping List.
Our Most Popular Vegan Options
At SkinnyMs, we have dozens of healthy plant-based recipes and more than a few meal plans to choose from. The following are a few of our most popular:
Is it Healthy to Follow a Plant-Based Diet?
There are several health benefits to following a vegan diet. If done right, switching to a plant-based diet can provide you with more nutrients than most other diets. With that being said, it can also leave you with nutritional deficiencies if you’re not careful. For this reason, you’ll find a list of tips for success, below.
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
A vegan diet can provide your body with more vitamins and minerals than other diets. If followed properly, it can also help you shed excess pounds and inches. Natural, whole foods are capable of satisfying your hunger while remaining relatively low in calories.
This way of eating has been shown to decrease your risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease. Foods like legumes, fresh fruits, and vegetables, protect against certain types of cancer, as well. Vegan foods can also decrease inflammation which reduces joint pain associated with arthritis.
Tips for Success
1. Vegetables should become the star of the show.
They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that will satisfy your hunger and keep caloric intake in check. Veggies should be the first thing on your plate, like in this 7-Day Plant-Based Meal Plan!
2. Eat a variety of healthy foods.
A good way to accomplish this is to keep your diet COLORFUL! Try out a few different sources of protein, fiber, fats, vitamins, minerals, and more! Don’t hesitate to try new things.
3. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains.
Whole grains like brown rice and whole grain bread will provide you with more fiber than refined options like white rice and bleached flour products.
4. Search for new plant-based protein.
Protein can be one of the most difficult food groups to get enough of on the vegan diet. Luckily, there are dozens of plant-based options including but not limited to: tofu, tempeh, edamame, chickpeas, lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Check out these 15 High-Protein Vegan Recipes
5. Don’t assume vegan products are healthier.
There are a lot of vegan products available in the grocery stores that are not healthy at all. Vegan products are often loaded with calories without offering any actual nutritional value. Choose fresh foods over processed food as often as you can.
6. Focus on fish-free Omega 3’s.
Omega 3’s are crucial to your diet, but if you can’t consume fish-based products, what do you do? Luckily, there are plant-based Omega 3’s found in foods like flax, walnut, canola oil, and soy!
7. Don’t forget Vitamin D.
It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D in your vegan diet, however it can be found in soy, almond milk, orange juice, and some mushrooms. Many people following this diet will take a Vitamin D supplement to ensure that they’re getting enough.
8. Increase your iron intake.
Iron is an essential nutrient that can be found in beans, legumes, and leafy greens. It is recommended that you combine these foods with products that are high in Vitamin C to increase absorption. It’s important to note that you should avoid eating them with calcium-rich foods, as that can actually inhibit absorption.
9. Pay attention to B12, also.
This vitamin transforms fuel into energy. One of the main ways that you can get appropriate amounts of it is to eat fortified cereals and bars. You may also consider taking a B12 supplement.
The plant-based diet isn’t for everyone, but if you feel drawn to it, you should give it a try! For healthy adults, it’s a great option that can help you lose weight and potentially avoid several diseases. You’ll be amazed at how delicious the food can be!
Are you going to try the plant-based diet? Have you tried it in the past? We want to know your thoughts! Let us know in the comment section, below!