Tips for making the switch – by guest author Jason Lewis
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How to Be a Healthy Vegan: Tips for Making the Switch
If you have diabetes, you may be flirting with the idea of going vegan. Veganism isn’t just better for animals and the planet, it’s also good for your health. However, it’s not enough to cut out animal products if you want to reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet. A healthy, balanced vegan diet requires knowledge and planning — but it doesn’t have to be hard! So, get your head and home in the right space by clearing out all that bad energy from your meat-based lifestyle and read on for some helpful tips — courtesy of LifeSource Natural Foods — to keep in mind as you consider making the switch to plant-based eating.
Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Done right, a vegan diet offers a variety of health benefits including:
- Weight loss.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Reduced risk of heart disease.
- Reduced risk of certain cancers.
- Improved diabetes management.
Why is a vegan diet so good for you? More fiber and less cholesterol is behind many of the benefits a vegan diet brings. And even better, in addition to the above, when paired with regular exercise, healthy eating habits, such as those created with a vegan diet, along with the positive self image that comes with knowing you’re making healthy choices for yourself, can also reduce stress. All of that said, better health isn’t guaranteed when going vegan.
Health Concerns When Going Vegan
A well-planned vegan diet is healthy for people of all ages, but there are things that can go wrong if you jump into a plant-based diet haphazardly. While getting enough protein usually isn’t a problem for vegans thanks to abundant plant-based proteins, vegans must be mindful to get enough of these nutrients:
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 deficiencies can lead to anemia and neurological problems. Unfortunately, B12 is only found in animal products, which means vegans have to supplement or eat fortified foods to get this important vitamin.
- Calcium: Vegans may not eat dairy, but they have plenty of options for this bone-building mineral. Dark leafy greens, broccoli, chia seeds, soy, and other legumes are good sources of calcium.
- Iron: Since the non-heme iron found in plant-based foods is less readily absorbed than animal-based iron, vegans should pair high-iron foods like whole grains and leafy greens with ingredients high in vitamin C to maximize iron absorption.
How to Plan a Balanced Vegan Diet
Don’t let this information scare you away from going vegan. It may seem intimidating right now, but planning a healthy vegan diet isn’t hard once you get the hang of it. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you’ll need to adjust your routine and create sustainable goals.
The best thing any new vegan can do is hire a nutritionist. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain muscle, or just get healthier, a nutritionist can help you plan a diet that matches your goals.
A nutritionist will also help you figure out what a balanced vegan meal looks like for you. But first, here are some simple tips for healthy vegan eating:
- Include protein in every meal. Use a variety of beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and soy products to keep things interesting.
- Eat a variety of vegetables. Vegetables should be the star of the show on any vegan’s plate. Instead of sticking to a few favorites, eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to get more micronutrients.
- Don’t fear carbs. Low-carb diets may be trendy, but there’s no reason to avoid carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other whole foods. Plus, building meals around healthy starch helps vegans get enough calories in their diet.
- Remember your healthy fats. Fat is an important part of a healthy diet. Without animal fats, vegans must make a point to include plant-based fats from avocado, flax and chia seeds, walnuts, and healthy oils in their meals.
- Avoid ultra-processed food. Just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. While it’s fine to indulge in the occasional vegan cookie or imitation burger, vegans are better off avoiding ultra-processed foods.
Whether you call it veganism, strict vegetarianism, or plant-based eating, one thing is clear: There’s a lot to gain from cutting out animal products. However, planning a balanced vegan diet is just as important as going vegan in the first place. With this knowledge, you can eat a vegan diet that’s just as good for you as it is for the Earth.
Jason Lewis is a personal trainer, who specializes in helping senior citizens stay fit and healthy. He is also the primary caretaker of his mom after her surgery. He created StrongWell.org and enjoys curating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.
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