Whether you’re going all in adopting a fully vegan diet, or are considering reducing your meat consumption and animal products – it doesn’t need to be hard! You can still eat a varied and balanced diet that gives you all the nutrients and food groups you need to be strong, energised and healthy!
The first step is to make sure you’re still eating a balanced diet in order to make sure you’re not missing out on any essential nutrients (some may need to be supplemented depending on your diet, but make sure to check out last week’s post for this information).
An easy way to make sure your diet is balanced is by using the Eatwell Guide and aiming for a portion of each section to be in each meal. So, when planning a meal, ensure there’s a source of carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, & a protein source.
So, you want to be including something from the green section (fruits and vegetables), the yellow section (starchy carbohydrates), and something from EITHER the pink (non-dairy protein) OR blue (dairy or dairy alternative based protein) section in each meal. If you look carefully, you can see there are some examples in the guide of vegan options in both the pink and blue sections.
So let’s talk about protein. Often, we think about protein as being meat, milk or cheese – and so the myth that vegans don’t get enough protein was born. But there are plenty of options of vegan friendly proteins such as; tofu, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, soy milk, Quorn products – just to name a few.
When switching to a more plant based diet, just swapping your normal meat/dairy products for a vegan alternative (eg: swapping beef burgers for bean burgers or cow’s milk for oat milk) which is a great place to start – as it helps to ensure that you’re getting a complete protein source. But, be prepared for it to taste different – I know sometimes people get disappointed as they expect these substitutes to taste exactly the same.
But these vegan alternatives shouldn’t be your only source of protein – try to include some nuts, seeds, lentils and beans as well!