Dietitian Fast Facts: Vegan

Here’s the skinny on living the vegan lifestyle:

  • Veganism could be considered a form of strict vegetarianism, where one avoids all animal ingredients and products in their diet and lifestyle – so no wool or fur clothing, too.
  • Why go vegan? Reasons vary, but commonly include ethics (animal welfare), religion, health or environmental sustainability.
  • Avoiding animal products means more than cutting out meat and cheese. Many times, animal-derived ingredients are used in sugar, gelatin, vitamins, oils and dough strengtheners.
  • A properly planned vegan diet is still a balanced one. Calcium, iron, protein and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are of particular importance when following a vegan diet, but smart substitutions can make it possible to hit all your goals.

Here are a few vegan substitutions that are easy to make:

Calcium - Instead of dairy, try calcium-fortified soy or nut milks.

Protein - You’ve got lots of options here. Nuts, seeds, beans, some whole grains and veggies can all replace protein from meat and seafood.

Iron - Eat dark, leafy greens like spinach and chard, as well as soy, lentils and beans of all types.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Oil supplements from algae are one easy way to get your recommended omega-3s, but chia seeds, flax and walnuts are also great choices.

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