I believe that unless you have a strong dislike of fruits, nuts, beans, and vegetables or unless you have an eating disorder, it’s very difficult to go wrong with a vegan diet. So long as you eat a wide variety of vegan foods, like grains and beans, fresh fruits and veggies, and some nuts and oils, you’re likely to do well on a vegan diet.
One way to see if you’re getting the proper nutrients is to track your daily eating and step back and analyze it.
This, by the way, is helpful for anyone, including omnivores. Lots of omnis assume their diets are healthy, but they’re wrong! I’m not just saying that as a vegan, I’m saying that someone interested in human health. And I don’t deny that humans can be healthy while eating dead flesh. But far too many people eat too much dead flesh, as well as too much sodium, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, soda and not enough water, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and whole grains. And, well, dead flesh is not necessary for human health. But my point is that everyone should step back every now and then and analyze their diet.
You can keep a food diary for a week or two and input it into a computer food diary program or have a nutritionist take a look, preferably a vegan nutritionist because they’re more likely to be an expert on veganism. There are a few products on the market that do this analysis for you, like Diet Power, or you can do it yourself. Use a nutrition book or website, like Nutrition Data or Diet Facts, to find out what nutrients are in each food and apply that information to your food diary.
- Keep a paper journal.
- Send text messages or emails to yourself.
- Blog your food diary. You can set up a free blog at Blogger or WordPress.
- Photograph all your meals. You can keep the diary at Flickr or in photolog.
Another good idea is to go get a doctor check-up and have your bloodwork done. Make sure the blood analysis is as complete as possible. Then redo your bloodwork in a few months and see what it looks like. This will help you and your doctor or nutritionist determine what kinds of foods are best for you.
Lots of people will see immediate, positive results that will serve as motivation to continue their improved eating habits. But a few will find they’re lacking something. If you’re one of the ones whose diet needs adjusting, just remember that a few months on a vegan diet is not necessarily an adequate experiment for everyone. If it turns out you need to increase your intake of a certain nutrient, try to find the vegan option before giving up on veganism. Too many people simply give up on things that don’t have immediate, positive results. Don’t be a quitter! Remember your commitment to your health, to the environment, to farm animals, to farm workers, and/or to those who love you. Sometimes it just takes a slight modification to make the perfect vegan diet for you.
Here’s a Vegan Food Pyramid to get you started:
Lastly, here are some websites with vegan nutrition information, including vegan sources for particular nutrients like vitamin B12:
- Vegan Society Nutrition Essay with Links
- Vegetarian Society’s Vegan Nutrition Page
- Vegetarian Resource Group Collection of Articles About Veg*n Nutrition
- Vegan Outreach Collection of Nutrition Essays and Information
- PETA’s “Go Veg” website Nutrition Info and Links
- Vegetarian Kitchen Collection of Vegan Nutrition Info
(PS – These are NOT sponsored links. The writer makes no income from suggesting them to you.)
UPDATE: some links have expired since the original posting. Here are some newer resources:
* Vegan Health – a thorough website dedicated to vegan nutrition information: http://www.veganhealth.org/
* Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets – a thorough, nonbiased paper written by nutrition experts: http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=8357
* USDA guidelines for vegetarians – a government website: http://www.mypyramid.gov/tips_resour…ian_diets.html
* USDA Tips for Vegetarians – a handy printout with ten tips for vegetarians and vegans: http://www.mypyramid.gov/downloads/T…anTipsheet.pdf
* Mayo Clinic’s Advice for Going Vegetarian or Vegan: http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/vege…6/METHOD=print
* Vegetarian Resource Group’s wepage on nutrition: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/
* Vegan RD food guide for vegans: http://www.theveganrd.com/food-guide-for-vegans
* Plant Based Nutrition – a website from the author of The China Study for Physicians as well as the general public: http://www.plantbasednutrition.org/p…sed-nutrition/