Just because someone is a vegan does not mean they will be naturally thin and super healthy. This is because it is still possible to have too many calories as a vegan, despite the wealth of nutrient dense foods to choose from. So, every effort needs to be made to create a vegan meal that is balanced and nutritious.
This can be a challenge, especially if you are first starting out as a vegan. One reason for this is because certain vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12 and Iron, are more easily found in meat products. In addition, Iron is more readily absorbed in the body when paired with meat.
This section will cover some of the challenges when trying to create a vegan meal. It is designed to help you create healthy and balanced meal combinations that will leave you full of energy and health. If you want to lose weight or stay thin, just remember not to consume too many calories in addition.
GETTING ADEQUATE PROTEIN
People who eat meat take getting enough protein for granted. All they need to do is consume dairy products and a serving or two of meat or fish a day in order to do it. But vegans need to get their protein from plant sources. Fortunately, there are things in the plant world that are still rich in protein and readily available for when you create a vegan meal
• Soy products
• Nuts, seeds, nut milk, and nut butters
• Grains, especially quinoa
• Legumes such as kidney beans. Remember to eat a serving of grain at the same meal to make
You may also want to consume a serving or two of protein drink per day. Just make sure the packaging indicates that it is vegan friendly. A popular ingredient in most protein powders is whey, which is derived from milk and should be avoided.
EATING ENOUGH IRON
For women, getting enough iron is enough of a challenge. When you create a vegan meal it’s even tougher and many vegans end up with iron deficiencies. On the advice of your doctor, you may want to take an iron supplement. You can find plant based, vegan friendly iron supplements at the health food store. In addition, eat these foods:
• Green beans
• Brewer’s yeast (a supplement)
• Wheat germ
• Lima beans
• Dried fruit such as raisins and prunes
• Cooking in a cast iron skillet
• Blackstrap molasses (use in baking or take as a supplement)
In order to make plant protein more absorbable, pair it with a vitamin C rich food, drink, or supplement. For example, you can have a small glass of orange with a meal that contains a lot of iron.
EAT FOODS RICH IN B-VITAMINS
Vegans get enough of most of the B Vitamins because grains are a good source. However, Vitamin B 12 is a little more challenging. The only hope for this is to supplement it with a vegan friendly version of B 12 which is often synthetic. Some cereals and drinks also contain B 12.
GETTING ENOUGH CALCIUM
Thanks to fortification, it is easier than ever for a vegan to get their calcium. Here are some foods to have:
• Soy milk, nut milks, and rice milks are often fortified with calcium. Make sure the product is vegan friendly and contains a good amount of calcium.
• Nuts such as hazelnuts and almonds are also a good source of calcium.
• Leafy green veggies and other vegetables such as bok choy, collard greens, turnip greens, and okra are also rich in calcium.
When preparing the vegetables, try not to boil them unless you drink the water. A lot of the calcium leaves the food during the cooking process and goes into the water.
GETTING IT RIGHT
If you’ve been a vegan for a while, you may already have the hang of this. If not, you may want to plan some of your meals out in advance until you get the hang of it. Even if you’ve been a vegan for a while, it’s a good idea to periodically take a step back and plan a few meals. Not only will this help insure that you get the nutrients you need, but it helps build variety because you can plan meals around new ingredients.
Besides planning meals, you can also keep a food journal. In it, keep track of what you eat, how you cooked it, whether or not you like it, and if you would change anything. It’s also a good way to see if you are getting the right nutrients. You don’t need to analyze it too heavily. You can just glance at it to make sure you’re getting what you need.
It’s a good idea to take a multivitamin supplement in addition to eating a healthy diet. This will help you make sure your body has the what it needs to keep you healthy.
USE VEGAN FRIENDLY ETHNIC FOODS WHEN YOU CREATE A VEGAN MEAL
There are various ethnic cuisines that are largely vegetarian. As a result, they have a lot of tasty vegan dishes that you can enjoy. This gives your diet much needed variety.
Here is a short list of some of the cuisines out there. Most of these also have meat dishes, but their vegetarian options are very tasty.
There are plenty of grain and vegetable based options.
The Buddhist monks eat a largely vegetarian diet.
Fresh fruits and vegetables form the centerpiece of this Mediterranean cuisine.
Italian food also focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables
Lots of rice and vegetables are consumed on a daily basis.
Much like traditional, produce based Chinese food, Thai also packs some heat.
Another Asian cuisine that uses a lot of plant based foods.
Another Mediterranean region cuisine that features a lot of fresh produce.
This list is by no means exhaustive. For example, Mediterranean cuisine in general is vegan friendly because there are a lot of dishes that focus on plant based foods. There are a lot of countries that make up that region including France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, and Algeria.
Asian cuisine in general also has a lot of dishes that are made primarily from plant based foods. Even if a recipe like a stir fry calls for some meat, you can easily leave it out without hurting the flavors.