Eating well can be difficult at the best of times, never mind when you're also eating around a particular dietary requirement for whatever reason.
I've been vegan for three years now and I've certainly had my fair share of ups and downs with this in terms of health - I've been on iron tablets twice in the three years I've been vegan, but I don't let that stop me enjoying all the food I do!
Instead, I *try* to be more sensible and think about which foods ARE good for me and incorporate them into my diet.
Sometimes this isn't always successful, but thankfully I'm not a fussy eater so it isn't too difficult.
In this post I'm going to demonstrate 5 ways to eat well as a vegan and how we can all benefit from making better choices when it comes to our diets!
I will say here that it's more about adding food to your diet, rather than concentrating on the foods you have to eliminate! It certainly makes mealtimes more fun!
Consider Omega 3 and Vitamin B12
As with any diet, it's vital that you're receiving enough vitamins and minerals to help your body function at its best.
Omega 3 and Vitamin B12 are a few of the most common vitamin deficiencies for vegans, as they are most commonly found in animal products.
Now, whilst you can get some of these directly from food on a vegan or plant-based diet, you may end up needing to supplement.
DHA and EPA are two types of Omega 3 fatty acids which are important for eye and brain development as well as heart health.
Omega 3 fatty acids are found mainly in fatty fish like salmon, although they can be made in the body in small amounts from ALA, another type of Omega 3 found in walnuts, canola oil and soya.
Some foods are now fortified with DHA and supplements made from algae are available.
If you're considering the vegan diet, invest in the right supplements for you and fill your diet with foods such as fortified plant-based milk, fortified cereals, flax seeds and walnuts to make sure you are getting enough Omega 3 and Vitamin B12.
Choose naturally vegan meals
There are so many vegan substitute products out there- and that's a great thing! From vegan burgers to fake chicken, you can buy a lot more vegan substitute foods than you could when I first turned vegan.
However, if you want to eat well as a vegan, it's important to choose naturally vegan meals. This includes meals full of healthy fruits and vegetables, avocado, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, rice and more.
I think people have a pre-conceived idea of veganism, and many people think it limits your options.
However, there are so many delicious meals that you can make using healthy ingredients that are full of vitamins and minerals.
While vegan substitutes are delicious, choose naturally vegan meals to fill your body with the good stuff!
Get enough iron
As mentioned earlier, iron is one of the main minerals that I found hard to incorporate in my diet.
This is because iron isn't present in a lot of foods, and those with periods will lose a lot of their iron during their period.
Iron-rich vegan foods include:
Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach
Symptoms of an iron deficiency include dizziness, getting out of breath and low energy.
If you start to experience any of these symptoms, you can check your iron levels with the doctor and take special iron tablets or receive advice about introducing some more iron into your diet.
Many vegans might choose to supplement their iron with a multivitamin, or you might find that introducing iron-rich vegan foods into your daily diet is enough to keep your levels high enough.
Plan your meals in advance
I find that planning meals ahead of time is a great idea. This means that you will always have something in the pantry that you can eat, and something that is super healthy too.
When we don't have the ingredients to make a healthy meal, we often resort to unhealthy (but delicious!) convenience food.
A bit of planning ahead can also save you money. Try batch cooking and freezing a few meals for any times that you don't have time to cook a meal from scratch, as this will save you from ordering a takeaway or resorting to convenience food.
Variety is the spice of life!
One of the best ways to eat well as a vegan is to include a lot of variety in your diet. This means mixing up your meals and choosing foods that are rich in lots of different vitamins and minerals.
As with any diet, it is important to include a variety of different foods, ingredients, vitamins and meal ideas.
The vegan diet can be so rich and full of possibilities, but many people stick to the same meals or ingredients.
If you're struggling for ideas, why not try swapping out some of your ingredients? Or you could vegan-ise your favourite meat-based meal.
There are so many vegan recipes online these days, a bit of research about your new diet is a great way to eat well and enjoy a rich range of foods.
At the end of the day, a vegan diet might not allow animal products- but that doesn't mean your meals need to be restricted!
There are SO many options when it comes to eating as a vegan, including plenty of unique and delicious ways to get the vitamins and minerals you need to eat well.
It's important to discuss any deficiency concerns with your doctor and choose supplements if you need them.
I hope this post has given you some ideas about eating well as a vegan! Do you have any tips to eat well as a vegan? Let me know in the comments!
Love, Sarah xoxoxo