A Vegan Diet for Beginners: Why It Is Healthy, What To Eat and How To Succeed
Do you notice how veganism is quickly spreading around the world and it doesn’t look like the newest trend anymore? Setting a healthy lifestyle as a priority has become more critical in today’s busy life and I’m so happy to see this. The vegan diet is a great nutritional option that is becoming increasingly popular. It is a change in our lifestyle that encourages healthy living and nourishes our body with nutrient-dense foods.
If you’re on a mission to become healthier and you consider that more vegan food can help you, this article will explain what to eat, the advantages of a vegan diet, and strategies for achieving success on this life-changing journey.
The Basics Of A Vegan Diet
A vegan diet is entirely plant-based way of eating, excluding all animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey. Instead, it focuses on incorporating whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. A well-planned vegan diet can provide all the necessary nutrients your body needs for optimal health. I am a proof of it. I personally live on a vegan diet for a decade now and I have no deficiencies. However, it took me many months to plan and create the right vegan lifestyle for my body so that now it can feel like a piece of cake.
The prevalence of veganism has increased dramatically in recent years as more people become aware of the many health advantages of this plant-based way of eating. A vegan diet is more than just a “diet”; it’s a deliberate decision to live a lifestyle that is good for the environment, animals, and your health.
If you’ve had the chance to investigate online, maybe you’ve found multiple stories of people who had healed different health conditions by switching into a vegan lifestyle. It’s inspiring how going back to nature actually lets our body heal itself by itself.
The Health Benefits Of A Vegan Diet
Vegans tend to have much less health conditions in general. But let me elaborate a little bit on this. There is a vegan diet and a vegan diet. What do I mean? A vegan diet excludes all animal products but not necessarily excludes sugar, highly-processed foods, oils, artificial sweeteners and more. There are vegans who are not healthy because they live on vegan cheese, vegan (store-bought) milk, vegan pizza, vegan burgers, fries, vegan cookies, fruit juices, vegan cakes, artificial egg substitutes, vegan salami etc. This way of eating cannot be healthy as it lacks the essential nutrients that come from raw natural food.
A healthy vegan is a person who consumes fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes and whole grains with minimum cooking, no excess salt, sugar and oil, and keeps this way of eating as a lifestyle. When you “overdose” on nutrition, your body will thrive and you will most probably see the following benefits:
- Weight management: A vegan diet that prioritizes whole, unprocessed foods can be a useful strategy for controlling weight. Generally speaking, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have lower calorie content but higher fiber content, which aids in promoting satiety and preventing overeating. Literally, you get full with less food in terms of calories but also, you provide your body with essential nutrients that help with weight loss.
- Vegan diet can lower the chance of contracting chronic illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer, according to recent research. This is mainly because a healthy vegan diet contains a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, here is very important to understand that in order to get these benefits, you have to be mindful of what kind of vegan food you consume. French fries are also vegan, there are vegan pizzas and burgers, and salami our there too but are they healthy? I would say no.
- Better Digestive Health: The high fiber content in healthy vegan foods supports regular bowel movement and a healthy digestive system by reducing constipation. Keep in mind that meat, dairy and sugar have no fiber. If you suffer from constipation or your bowel movement is only one every couple of days, then more fiber-rich foods from the vegan world may definitely help you.
- Increased Nutrient Intake: A vegan diet that is well-planned can offer all the nutrients you need, including protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals (such as iron and calcium). But it’s crucial to pay attention to some nutrients that could need extra care, such as vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Most people are vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficient, no matter their diet. Therefore, it’s very important to preventively check your vitamin D, B12, omega 3, iron and calcium levels so you can ensure a healthy balance and no deficiencies.
What To Eat On A Vegan Diet
The primary food categories generally consumed on a vegan diet include:
- Fruits: apples, berries, kiwis, mangoes, avocados, bananas, jackfruit, pears, etc.
- Vegetables: onions, broccoli, beets, potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, etc.
- Leafy greens: spinach, kale, lettuce, parsley, arugula and more.
- Whole grains: quinoa, millet, buckwheat, wheat, rice, corn, and other whole grains.
- Legumes and beans: black beans, white beans, chickpeas, lentils, edamame, peas, and more.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, etc.
- Herbs and spices, such as cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, and turmeric.
- Foods that have been fermented, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and natto.
You can check my healthy vegan recipes right here.
Let’s see some vegan sources of healthy fats, protein, iron and more.
- You can get protein from::
- Quinoa, tofu, tempeh, seitan
- Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, edamame
- Plant-based protein powders (pea protein, hemp protein)
- Your healthy fats will come from:
- Avocados, olives, coconut, coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, chia seeds)
- Extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil
- Your calcium sources will be:
- Homemade nut and seeds milks (cashew milk, almond milk, oat milk and more)
- Leafy greens (collard greens, kale, spinach, parsley, spirulina, chlorella)
- Sesame seeds, tahini
- You can get vitamin B12 from:
- Fortified foods (plant-based milks if you buy them from the store)
- Nutritional yeast
- Vegan B12 supplements (consult with a healthcare professional)
- Enough iron can be obtained by consuming:
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans)
- Leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard, parsley)
- Whole grains (quinoa, brown rice)
- Micro greens like sunflower, radishes, broccoli – 64g of sunflower micro greens provide 14.4g of healthy iron
As you see, consuming a wide variety of healthy foods will ensure that you take all essential micros and macros your body needs. In fact, a human being should consume at least 40 different foods every single week in order to maintain good health. For super immunity, super health and longevity, I would say that one should consume around 70 different foods every single week. This number includes herbs and spices as well.
How to Succeed on a Vegan Diet
Educate Yourself: Get to know vegan alternatives to your favorite non-vegan foods, plant-based nutrition, and cooking ideas. You can have a healthy diet that is nutritionally balanced and make informed choices with the help of this information. Nowadays there is plenty of quality educational books out there which you can read and learn from. For everyone, who goes to work from Monday to Friday and wants to eat healthy, I wrote an eBook called “The Working Week Reset” with a 7-day meal plan, full shopping list and super easy to make, delicious vegan recipes that you can make at home and take to the office. Take a closer look here.
Gradual Transition: Increase the amount of vegan meals in your diet step by step by replacing the breakfast with a healthy smoothie, for example, then progressively cut back on animal foods. This method enables your digestive system and taste buds to gradually adapt. Once you get used to ingesting more fiber, you can go ahead and make changes in your lunches and dinners as well.
In order to ensure a wide variety of nutrients, make sure your meals include a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. To keep your meals interesting, experiment with various flavors, textures, and cooking techniques. When you don’t have time to cook, just eat raw! Make a salad, mono meal on your favourite fruit or simply make another smoothie.
Meal Planning and Preparation: Schedule time to prepare your meals in advance, make a shopping list, and plan your meals. You want to be organized if you want to cut back on processed foods. What I do is to make a shopping list for the upcoming week, shop the ingredients and then every day, based on what I want to eat, cook something easy and delicious, that always homemade. I do not stay hours in the kitchen. I don’t have hours for cooking but homemade meals are super important to me, therefore I have a smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch or a salad with something cooked (mushroom risotto, roasted sweet potatoes, hummus) and for dinner I may repeat the lunch with small changes in the salad, for example. This way you have to cook only once per day and you have something cooked for the whole day and for the entire family.
Seek Support: Find like-minded people, search and follow vegan accounts on Instagram and Facebook, or seek the help of loved ones who can motivate and inspire you on your vegan journey. If you really want to make significant changes in your lifestyle and diet, you can also consider hiring a heath coach who will encourage you, hold you accountable and provide you with ready-made meal plans, tips and knowledge.
Living a vegan lifestyle involves more than just changing your diet; it also involves making a deliberate choice to support a more humane, sustainable, and healthy way of living. A well-designed vegan diet can offer all the nutrients required, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and improve general wellbeing. I am in love with this way of living!
You may successfully adopt and flourish on a vegan diet by educating yourself, making the shift gradually, keeping variety and balance in your meals, and getting support whenever needed. Why wait? Begin your vegan journey today to enjoy the positive effects of this lifestyle on both your body and the environment.
Stay safe and healthy! ♡