There are many reasons one may wish to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Increasing health, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare are some positives. But there might also be a perception that giving up meat and fish is not only wiser but will help make others healthier as well.
A vegan lifestyle is a way of living that attempts to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, and any other purpose. Vegans avoid animal products, such as meat (poultry and fish), dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, etc.), eggs, and honey. They may also avoid products tested on animals or made from animals (e.g., leather). The motivation for veganism varies; health concerns are one reason, but ethical motivations and environmental concerns are also typical.
The most common types of vegans are:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian – eats a mixture of dairy products and eggs plus some vegetables and fruit
- Pescatarian – eats only fish but no other meat
- Ovo-vegetarian – eats both eggs but no meat
- Lacto-vegetarian – eats both dairy products and eggs but no other meat
- Fruitarian – eats only fruit
- Raw foodist (also called a raw lifter) – eats only raw foods
- Flexitarian or semi-vegetarian – does not follow a strict diet but eats less meat than a usual meat eater
- Vegan for life – never eats meat or use any product derived from animals
As a vegan, your diet should consist of many hearty, filling foods with protein and nutrients. Some vegan staples include tofu, soy milk, nuts, and seeds, etc. While these foods benefit your body in their own ways, they’re not helping to make your diet healthier. If you want to increase the health benefits of your vegan diet, there are a few other options that I always look for when cooking or eating out:
Quinoa is a nutritious grain that’s easy to cook and versatile in the kitchen. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it a great choice for people who are sensitive or have celiac disease.
Quinoa is high in protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It also provides iron (a mineral needed to generate red blood cells), zinc (a mineral involved in cell metabolism), and magnesium (which helps regulate blood pressure). Quinoa is also a good source of fiber, B vitamins, and potassium. You can add quinoa to any smoothie recipe that calls for oats or other grains — just mix one part quinoa with two parts liquid and blend until smooth.
Fava beans are a type of legume that is high in protein, fiber, and iron. They’re also low in calories, fat, and sodium. Fava beans can be found in cans, but it’s much better to buy them fresh and cook them yourself so that you know exactly what went into them. The process is easy — just boil the beans for about 30 minutes until tender, then season with salt, pepper, or olive oil and serve!
Beans are not only a staple of the vegan diet but have been a staple food for many cultures over the past 10,000 years. They’re inexpensive and packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K. This makes them an ideal food for anyone looking to lose weight or eat healthier — not just vegans!
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collard are rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, and potassium. Plus, they’re low in calories, so you can eat as much as you want without gaining weight! Greens also provide fiber and protein, which are essential for vegans who don’t eat meat.
Beans and lentils are great sources of vegetable protein that will help keep you full longer than animal-based proteins like chicken or beef would. They’re also high in fiber, which helps prevent constipation and lowers cholesterol levels in the blood by binding with bile acids produced by the liver.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that’s been around for thousands of years. It’s a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is also rich in probiotics, beneficial bacteria in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut.
Tempeh is an excellent replacement for meat because it has a similar texture and density when cooked. It can be marinated or added to stir-fries to boost plant-based protein.
Tempeh can be substituted in any recipe that calls for meat, such as tacos or chili. But remember to prepare it properly by soaking it in water for 20 minutes before cooking it.
Seitan is made from wheat gluten (gluten is a protein in wheat). It’s high in protein and low in fat, which makes it a good choice for vegans who want to avoid animal products. Seitan has a meaty texture and can be used as a meat substitute. You can buy seitan pre-made or make it yourself from scratch using vital wheat gluten flour and hot water.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are excellent sources of probiotics that help improve digestion and strengthen your immune system. If you don’t already have a fermented food routine, start by adding a small amount of sauerkraut to your salads or sandwiches now and then. As you grow more accustomed to it, increase your intake until you’re eating at least one serving each day.
Yeast is a common ingredient in bread and other baked goods, but it’s also a good source of vitamin B12 and selenium. You can get yeast from nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast, or baker’s yeast — all types of it have vitamin B12 in them, so go ahead and use whichever one you prefer in your recipes.
Nori is another type of seaweed commonly used to wrap sushi rolls. It contains lots of vitamins A and C, as well as minerals like zinc, copper, and magnesium that play key roles in metabolism. Seaweed also has iodine — an essential nutrient for thyroid function — which helps regulate metabolism.
Natto is a soy product with a strong smell and an even stronger taste. The texture is sticky and slimy, but it’s also packed with protein and vitamin K2. This nutrient helps prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. In addition, natto is rich in probiotics that can improve digestion, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation in the body.
Going all-in with a vegan diet is more than just food; it’s a lifestyle. That said, it’s important to select foods that will improve your health and nutrition, not hinder it. These foods will help you take your vegan diet a step further, promoting a plant-based diet that is not only healthy but will also benefit the planet.
Bea is a copywriter specializing in adept research and creating all kinds of content. She’s all about getting creative, developing relationships, and contributing to making businesses succeed through her writing.
When she’s not writing (professionally), you can see her binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race or writing film reviews on Letterboxd.