What do Vegans Eat?
If you are a vegan or considering the vegan diet, it is important to understand which foods you can and cannot eat. Most people know that vegans don’t eat any types of foods that come from animals, but what does that include? Of course, you cannot eat meats since they come directly from the death of animals. Dairy is also off limits since it comes directly from animals.
Other foods that may be overlooked when thinking about what to avoid when following the vegan diet is honey, anything with gelatin in it, eggs of any type and many others. For most people it is easier to look at the foods vegans can eat rather than what to eliminate. Also, it is important to consider how to maintain a healthy vegan diet.
Maintaining a healthy diet is a major concern, as you may develop deficiencies to essential nutrients and may cause health issues. When you find the right balance of foods, this will help maintain a healthy weight and overall lifestyle. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what vegans should eat.
Excellent Sources of Protein
Most people get the vast majority of their protein directly from animals. Whether it is through eggs and dairy or by directly consuming meat, finding protein from non-animal sources can be difficult at first. The following are some of the best options for protein for vegans:
- Soy – Soybeans are a staple for most vegans. They can be eaten in many different ways and contain lots of healthy protein.
- Black Beans – Black beans are another delicious and versatile food that contains plenty of protein and many other essential nutrients.
- Chickpeas – Chickpeas are a popular option for vegans. They are quite tasty and can be cooked in a variety of ways to get the most enjoyment out of them.
- Almonds – Almonds are a great tasting nut that most people enjoy, including vegans. They can be consumed raw, roasted or as an almond butter. No matter how you eat them, they will give you a good source of protein.
- Seeds – There are many types of seeds available and most of them have a good amount of protein to add to your diet.
- Whole Grains – Many whole grain foods contain a surprising amount of protein. Adding these healthy items to your diet will provide you with many excellent benefits.
- Peanut Butter – Peanut butter is one of the most loved foods by people following many diets, and it is particularly the case of many vegans due to the high amounts of proteins.
Excellent Source of Calcium
Calcium is another essential nutrient that people need and typically get from animals. Consuming milk and cheese is a natural source of high-quality calcium. If you’re on the vegan diet, these items are off limits. For vegans who need to add calcium to their diet, the following foods are perfect options:
- Dark Green Veggies – Most dark green vegetables have lots of calcium in them. This includes spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens and more.
- Blackstrap Molasses – Here is another often overlooked source of calcium that you can add to many dishes you cook.
- Calcium Added Foods – Many foods that are made for vegans have natural calcium added in to help make it easier for followers of this diet. Almond milk, soy milk, juices and even cereal all come in ‘calcium-fortified’ versions.
Excellent Source of Iron
Most people will get their iron from eating red meats. It is an essential metal that helps keep your red blood cells strong so they can bring oxygen to your entire body. If you’re not consuming meat, you need to look for other options as a source of iron, including the following:
- Dried Fruits – Dried fruits maintain a healthy amount of iron in them, which makes them a great snack.
- Peas – Peas have quite a bit of iron in them and can be eaten on their own or cooked into other dishes.
- Leafy Green Vegetables – Spinach, Kale, collard greens and other leafy green vegetables typically have a good amount of iron. The darker the leaves, the more iron you will be getting.
Another important tip when looking to improve your iron levels while on the vegan diet is to make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron from other foods, so you need to be getting plenty of it to support your body’s ability to utilize the iron you are eating. You can get vitamin C from most citrus fruits and tomatoes.
Excellent Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you’re not eating fish, you will need another good source of these healthy fatty acids. Fortunately, vegans have a lot of options to consider when it comes to getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids. The following are some common foods to enjoy when looking for this nutrient:
- Flaxseeds – Flaxseeds contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. Using these seeds raw or just cooking with flaxseed oil is a great option.
- Walnuts – This tasty nut has a high amount of omega-3s.
- Soybeans – Soybeans also contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, making them an excellent option for vegans.
What Other Foods to Vegans Enjoy?
The above sections help provide you with ideas for getting specific nutrients that you need, but most vegans will also need some general ideas for meals and snacks that they can consume on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are more vegan-friendly food products on the market today than ever before. Most major grocery stores today have a section set aside for vegan-friendly foods, which makes it easy to shop.
You can enjoy all fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and much more. Vegan foods are almost always clearly labeled as vegan-friendly, just keep your eyes sharp while shopping and you’ll find plenty of delicious foods that fit into your diet.