5 Things You Need to Know About Vegan Diet

1. To Eat or Not to Eat

Among the various types of vegetarians, vegans eat plant-based foods only, such as fruits and vegetables. They don’t eat animals or animal byproducts, including eggs, milk, cheese, honey, gelatin or rennet. Some vegans don’t eat animals or animal byproducts because they believe they are standing up for the animal’s rights. Others consider the health benefits to be the main reason for veganism.

2. Get to the Meat of the Matter

For most people, meat is a major source of protein. Since vegans don’t eat meat or animal byproducts, protein must be obtained elsewhere. Vegetable proteins, nuts and soy-based products can provide protein; however, it is very important that the vegan diet include enough of a balance to maintain proper overall nutrition. Beans, lentils and whole grains can also add protein to the diet. Iron is another benefit gotten from red meats. In order to incorporate enough iron into your diet, you should eat plenty of dark, leafy green vegetables and dried fruit. For your body to absorb the iron, you’ll need to eat a lot of vitamin C-rich foods, such as strawberries, citrus fruits and broccoli.

3. Fortify your Life

Since the vegan diet is very restrictive by eliminating some major sources of nutrition, it is important for vegans to be vigilant about getting the proper nutrients. Dark green vegetables, fortified soy milk and fruit juices and enriched tofu are good choices for calcium. Eat plenty of vitamin-enriched cereals, breads and juices to ensure proper vitamin intake. A multivitamin supplement may also be helpful. And, of course, step outside on a regular basis for a warm dose of vitamin D.

4. Variety is the Spice of Life

Meal planning is key to ensuring a healthful diet. Make a list of your animal-free meals to make sure you are getting enough of a variety of foods. You can add tofu to your fajitas instead of beef or chicken. Get a good vegan cookbook and look online for new recipes. Many restaurants are also offering vegetarian choices. The key is to meet your nutritional needs by keeping variety in your meals.

5. Should Children be Vegan

Many vegans raise their children on vegan diets, too. Vegans believe breast milk is best for infants, but the vegan diet begins when toddlers begin eating solid foods. Discuss your vegan beliefs with your child’s doctor to ensure your child is getting the proper nutrients for his growing body. Most vegan children thrive on the diet. Studies show they do tend to grow up to be slimmer and healthier than children who eat animal proteins.