The primary fear of going all vegan is a calorie deficit and nutritional deficiency. It only happens with beginners who aren’t used to eating bigger meals to consume enough calories. For the latter concern, whether you are vegan or non-vegan, nutritional deficiencies are unavoidable as long as you understand what you are consuming.
As a vegan beginner, why do you feel lethargic? Why do you feel like consuming tasteless food? How can you fulfill the daily calorie need and nutritional needs of your body?
Let’s excavate the answers to all these questions
Vegan Diet Foods
Although you have begun with your vegan diet, you must understand what you can or cannot eat, even if its vegan but without any nutritional value.
So, here’s a list of vegan foods that can provide most calories and benefits for your buck:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Tempeh, seitan, and tofu
- Nut and Coconut milk and yogurt (dairy substitutes)
- Vegan Mayo and vegan ice cream (meat substitutes)
Foods that Vegans should avoid are:
- Fish and Meat
- Dairy products
- White sugar
- Marshmallow, jellies or gummy candies containing gelatin
- Lecithin (often found in salad dressings)
- Beer containing fish gelatin, seashells or egg whites
Is it Healthy to Cut Down On Animal-Based Food Sources?
It’s “unhealthy”; but, when you fulfill your nutritional requirements, nothing is a harmful approach.
For those who proclaim that a vegan diet can lead to deficiencies in nutritional value are also overlooking the fact that GMOs increase health risks for us and our future generations!
Vegans worry about getting enough vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B-12 and iron. A deficit can lead to anemia. But, vegans can supplement their diet with multivitamins, fortified soy products, or vitamin-fortified cereals.
Many vegans feel less energetic in the beginning because they are not consuming enough calories. A vegan has to consume more food to fulfill daily calorie needs.
Moreover, many people feel a loss of taste for foods because of a decreased intake of red meat. Red meat contains zinc, which regulates our taste. Yet, there are several vegan sources of zinc that you can add to your diet.
A vegan diet is your weapon against cardiovascular diseases, type-2 diabetes, and several types of cancer.
Healthy Vegan Foods That Are Calorie-Dense
As per USDA National Nutrient Database, several calorie-dense nutritional vegan foods can energize your days and help you maintain a healthy weight
- Half an avocado contains 160 calories – similar to a cup of milk.
- An ounce of walnuts contains 180 calories – equal to about 1 ½ ounce of cheddar cheese.
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 190 calories – more than 3.5 ounces of chicken breast.
- One tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories – equal to 3 ounces of salmon.
Turning to a vegan diet requires you to substitute animal foods with healthy vegan food options. There are tons of vegan options that you can utilize to create a healthy meal for yourself, such as
- Two tablespoons of coconut oil contain 232 calories
- A cup of cooked sweet potatoes contain 180 calories
- A cup of cooked Quinoa contains 222 calories
- Half a cup of dried fruits contain 247 calories
- A cup of cooked brown rice contains 216 calories
Healthy Vegan Foods That Are High In Fat Content
Calorie-dense foods in vegan diets are high in fat content as well. Foods high in plant fat include
- Peanut butter
Unlike animal fats, you can benefit from healthy vegan fats. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In contrast, animal fats are saturated. Unsaturated fats help to reduce cholesterol levels; thus, prevent blood clots and heart diseases.
Healthy Vegan Foods That Are High In Protein Content
If you wish to gain weight or build muscle when on a vegan diet, there is no such word as an ‘impossibility.’ Torre Washington is a famous vegan bodybuilder.
Plant-based proteins are lower in calorie and fat content, but higher in fiber and nutrients. Some of the best sources of vegan proteins are
- Wheat gluten
- Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
Vegan Junk Foods To Avoid
In vegan diets, there’s still a trap of processed foods containing high calories but zero nutritional value. The artificial sugar in vegan junk food isn’t going to protect you from diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer.
Frozen vegan meals are quick protein sources that can be flavorsome and quick to prepare. But, they are high in salt and sugar content and contain additives. Without adequate nutrients for your body, they are going to make you feel lethargic after an hour or two.
Vegan junk foods or non-nutritional, calorie-dense foods to avoid
- French fries
- Granola bars
- Fruit snacks
- Frozen pies
Such foods are going to starve your body for healthy nutrients leading to exhaustion, weight gain, and loss of overall health.
However, if it’s challenging to stick to healthy food choices, why not start juicing healthy foods to prepare some tasty drinks?
Health Benefits of Vegan Diets
One of the less recognized benefits of going all vegan is the prevention of GMO food sources. There are several health risks of GMOs that we aren’t aware of.
Vegan diets, if followed well, can tremendously benefit your health in a million ways
- Reduced inflammations
- Improved gut health
- Lower risk of type-2 diabetes
- About 20% lower risk of cancer
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced risk of high cholesterol level
How Can I Benefit Most From a Vegan Diet?
Many people began with a vegan diet, but due to protein deficiency, they crave animal products and may feel fatigued. To thrive with a vegan diet, you must consume high-protein vegan foods.
As a vegan, you may have to rely on multi-vitamins at times to complete your nutrients count. Yet, there are no side effects of keeping your nutritional needs satiated.
To feel energetic for long durations, you must keep your vegan protein intake high. Each of your meals should be mostly protein-based, such as beans, lentils, soy, peanuts, and peas.
Where To Get Your Daily Vitamins and Minerals?
While fulfilling your daily calorie needs, it’s vital to fulfill the everyday minerals and vitamin needs as well.
Here’s a list of sources of vitamins and minerals that you must include in your daily diet
1. Vitamin B12
There is a controversy about vitamin B12 that vegans fall short of it as they don’t have any animal sources. B12 is essential for making red blood cells, or else you can become anemic.
However, the need can be fulfilled by including fortified foods and supplements to your diet. You can also add algae, fermented soy, and mushrooms in your diet.
Calcium, mainly found in dairy products, is essential for bone, dental, and brain health. However, the main cause of osteoporosis is animal protein, that is, milk. So vegans don’t have to fret over getting osteoporosis.
Calcium-high foods are legumes, soybeans, fresh and dried figs, collard greens, fortified orange juice, mustard green, kale, calcium-set tofu, and turnip greens.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is common in both vegan and non-vegans. The deficiency leads to severe fatigue and lack of energy. Vegans have lesser food sources of vitamin D, so it’s best to get maximum sunlight to fulfill your body’s need. Otherwise, you can take vitamin D supplements.
Iron is present in abundance in plant foods. Therefore, vegans have a higher iron intake compared to meat-eaters. The iron-dense vegan foods are Swiss chard, spinach, raisins, dried figs, tofu, molasses, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, almonds, raisins, and oatmeal.
Plant iron is not easy to absorb by the body; women can develop anemia. To ensure proper absorption of iron consumed, take vitamin C in each meal that helps in the absorption of complex forms of iron. Moreover, avoid coffee and tea as it can decrease the absorption of iron.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is vital for iron absorption. The good sources of vitamin C are grapefruit, broccoli, yellow pepper, oranges, red pepper, and strawberries.
Iodine is necessary for maintaining thyroid health. Add iodized salt or seaweed to your diet along with soy to fulfill your iodine need.
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for heart and brain health. Nuts and seeds are fantastic sources of omega-3 that you must add to your daily snacks.
8. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is present abundantly in a lot of vegan foods such as carrot juice, pumpkin, butternut squash, cantaloupe, spinach, and sweet potato. Have at least two sources of vitamin A in your daily meal plans.
Red meat is a significant source of zinc, but vegans can fall short of zinc intake. Major symptoms of zinc deficiency are cracks around the corners of the mouth and frequent colds. Have plenty of tofu, kale, kidney beans, chickpeas, mushrooms, lentils, and whole grains in your diet.
Vegans have to be as much careful in planning their daily meals as non-vegans. They need to find out a way to balance nutrients and understand how to get enough calories on a vegan diet. Instead of losing hope so soon, keep a check on your nutritional needs.
Let us know in the comments which diet plan you follow to fulfill your daily nutritional requirements!