Though a vegan diet is typically known for being a healthy diet and has been seen to assist in reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. However, it is crucial to take into consideration that it is just as essential to make sure you are keeping a balanced diet. While a vegan diet is one of the strictest vegetarian diets, it is a common concern when removing any food group from your diet to be careful that you are still eating healthily. As most diets vary from person to person, a strict vegan diet will cut out meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, honey, and many foods prepared with or containing these ingredients. So, with so many things off the menu, how can you maintain a balanced vegan diet?
What is a Balanced Diet?
A balanced diet is one that will give the body the nutrients that it needs to function correctly throughout the day. If you were looking to have a balanced diet, you would need to consume much of the following in your daily intake:
- Fruits & Vegetables
In the list, two parts of the balanced diets aren't any trouble for vegans, 'Grains' and 'Fruits and Vegetables', but the other parts of the balanced diet are slightly more difficult to maintain.
If you are looking to get some protein in your diet, but meats and eggs are off the table, your best form of protein would come from lentils, beans (e.g. black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and soybeans), tempeh, tofu, nuts and seeds. You can also find amounts of proteins in whole grains and vegetables. You will find though that these foods are low in one or more essential amino acids, apart from soybeans, which still have a high source of amino acids. Amino acids can only be consumed through food as the body can't make it on its own, it's vital to top up with food or supplements that provide this.
As milk, cheese and probably one of the hardest ones to give up, chocolate all contain dairy, these foods are not vegan. A good replacement food source for dairy includes fortified plant drinks and juices, beans, tofu made with calcium sulphate, cooked green leafy vegetables (kale, Swiss chard, collards and spinach), almonds, cooked broccoli, and blackstrap molasses. If you don't think you are getting enough of these foods and your dairy intake maybe low, you may want to consider a supplement.
Contrary to popular belief, fats are not all unhealthy and are required for a proper healthy balanced diet. As amino acids are building blocks for proteins, fatty acids are the blocks for fats and oils. These fatty acids are also not created in the body so they must come from food and supplements. Some of the best foods that are vegan, which will help you get you daily fatty acids your body needs are flax seeds, grape seed oil, avocados, walnuts and vegetables (most dark leafy greens).
Everyone's body is different, so it's essential to make sure you are feeding your body all the goodness it needs to stay fit and healthy!
Vegan Recipes For A Balanced Diet
If you are looking for a balanced diet as a vegan, planning your meals out is a great way to keep track of what you are eating throughout the week. Make sure that you are eating an equal amount of, proteins, fruits & vegetables, grains, dairy and fats to maintain a healthy diet.
Breakfast - Vegan Bacon Sandwich
Ingredients: Ezekiel 4:9 bread, tempeh bacon, sautéed mushrooms, avocado, and wilted arugula, drill pickles, and any sauce to top.
Give this one a try, turn a classic breakfast dish into a healthy vegan alternative!
Lunch – Roasted Cabbage Caesar Salad
Ingredients: Salad - Green Cabbage, grapeseed oil, crotons, capers. The dressing – tofu, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, caper brine, garlic and chives.
Dinner – Vegetable Paella
Ingredients: Brown rice, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, artichoke, and chickpeas.
Top tip - make sure you are using a short to medium grain, round rice such as Valencia or arborio to make sure you don’t end up with mushy rice.