Celebrate National Vegan Month by getting the 411 on all things vegan!
I’m sure you’ve noticed the increase of black bean burgers, falafel, and tempeh stir fries on restaurant menus. It’s safe to say that going meatless is on trend. Two common meatless diets are the vegan and vegetarian diets. Vegans do not consume any animal products, whereas vegetarians may consume dairy or eggs but no meat. There are a multitude of personal reasons why people may go vegan. Whatever the reason may be, this diet is a great way to add more plant-based foods to your diet and encourages you to be more mindful of your food choices. Since its National Vegan Month, let’s take a deeper dive into the vegan lifestyle!
So what exactly does the vegan diet entail? This diet is plant-based and excludes all products from animals such as:
– Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream)
– Beef and pork
So what CAN vegans eat? With all of the above players sidelined, vegans turn to beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables to round out their diets. You may be thinking that this is an impossible way to eat! But in reality, it is very doable with a little planning and knowledge of nutrients to be mindful of.
Nutrients of concern
Since vegans are eliminating entire food groups from their diet, they have to pay special attention to certain nutrients that are usually found in animal products. For example, red meat is rich in iron, but since vegans aren’t eating it, they have to ensure they are getting this mineral from a plant source. DHA and EPA omega-3s are only found in fish. Since vegans do not eat fish, it may be a good idea to supplement. Check out this chart to see where vegans can find these nutrients of concern:
If you’re a vegan, include a handful of the above foods on your weekly shopping list to help ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need for a balanced diet. Talk to your physician or a Registered Dietitian if you have any concerns about following a vegan diet or possibly adding in a supplement.
Looking for Vegan Friendly Foods
Vegans have to scrutinize ingredient labels on products and restaurant menus to make sure there aren’t any animal products in their food. Foods like mayonnaise, which contains eggs, can sneak its way on to a veggie sandwich. Don’t be afraid to ask several questions about the menu when you are out to eat. Fortunately, more and more restaurants are starting to label their dishes as “vegan” or “vegetarian”,and many food products now carry these labels as well.