Vegan Food List for Beginners
Hello there! Are you feeling overwhelmed about starting a vegan diet and just wish there was a vegan food list for beginners? You are probably like me when I first started getting into veganism. I was super excited but quickly started to feel frustrated because I could not find quality information on how to become vegan. All I wanted was a starting point and all I could find were elementary articles about how I needed to make sure I got my protein. Not only did I want to learn which foods to eat but also WHY they were important for my health.
I already knew how important maintaining all of the vitamins and nutrients were to a human diet so the basics were just not going to cut it anymore. I needed substance and I needed factual answers. That is why I started buying how to be vegan books and reading articles left and right on how to become vegan the right way. You can not leave your health up to chance. Look around you. People are suffering from obesity which is linked to hypertension, heart attacks and type 2 diabetes. Not to mention, consuming animal products is linked to the scariest word of them all, cancer. It is time for real change! I hope this post can provide some relief to your vegan journey and point you in the right direction. This will give you a good start to taking control of your health!
#1. Fortified Plant Based Milk
Plant based milk is great for consuming a lot of different nutrients. However, be careful. There are a lot of plant based milks that are not fortified. Fortified means that these milks have been made with stuff added into the milk. Some nutrients and vitamins that you want to make sure are added into your plant milk is vitamin B12, B6, vitamin D and Calcium.
#2. Vegetables High in Calcium
Another great tip when looking for vegetables is to understand what minerals and vitamins Vegetables contain. One important mineral to look for is calcium. Calcium helps keep our bones strong and sometimes is not maintained well in vegan diets. We want to ensure that we are keeping our bones strong and sturdy. Look for vegetables like Kale, Collard Greens and Bok Choy.
#3. Vegetables High in Iron
Super, super important to understand the need for Iron. Especially if you are a woman, due to your monthly cycles. During your monthly cycles you lose a lot of this mineral and thus it is important to make sure that you are consuming enough of it in your diet. If you feel like your energy levels are low then you might need to visit a doctor to see if your iron levels are normal. Anemia has been linked to iron deficiency. Better to play it safe like Popeye and eat your Spinach. Also look to Beets and Asparagus.
#4. Flax & Chia Seeds
There is still on going research into the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids. Researchers are trying to understand if long chained Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to the human diet. These long chained fatty acids are most commonly found in fish. However, there are short chained Omega 3 fatty acids called Alpha-linolenic-acid (ALA). Once you consume enough ALA, it can be converted into long chained Omega 3 fatty acids. Foods that are high in ALA, well you guessed it… Flax & Chia seeds. When eating these seeds, make sure that you do not heat them up too much because then they will lose their nutritional value.
#5. Supplements for Vitamins B12 & D
Before you go out and buy any of these supplements. We highly urge you to see a health professional or nutritionist. That is really the best guide for a vegan food list for beginners. They will be able to tell you how much of any supplement you should take based on your age and gender. If you think you are not getting enough sun everyday then you should definitely look into Vitamin D supplements. But be careful, some Vitamin D supplements are made from animals. Look for Vitamin D2. It is just as effective as Vitamin D3. Back to B12. Unless you are guzzling down fortified soy milk, you are probably going to want to do some research on Vitamin B12 supplements. That and you don’t always want to drink 3 glasses of soy milk everyday. Supplements are just easier. Hope this helps.
What would be a vegan food list for beginners without fruit. I know I kind of poked fun at basic nutrition in my intro but this is a must to any new vegan. It is also unfair of me to think that a lot of people eat fruit everyday or understand its importance. I can remember a time when I did not eat a lot of fruit in my diet so I am sure there are many of you that are not getting enough fruit either. An important tip to follow when eating fruit, and vegetables for that matter, is to eat different colors everyday. Throughout the week eat Green, Red, Orange, Yellow and Blue Fruits. And any other colors you can find. A variety of fruit will ensure that you get all of the nutrients you need. Fruit is also very helpful in digestion.
#7. Edamame & Quinoa
The all time asked question from non-vegans are, “Where do you get your protein?”. I think this is due in part that the media has force fed us the idea that animals are the only things on earth that give us protein. Then the next question from a little more educated non-vegans are “how do you get all of your amino acids?”. Here is the answer you can give them. But in a nice way. Do not be the mean, defensive vegan that everybody is afraid to approach and then people start to make assumptions that all vegans are crazy and that we wouldn’t be like this if we just ate some meat. Anyways, the answer is Edamame and Quinoa. These 2 beauties are one of the few plant foods that are high in protein and also contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Legumes are also known as beans, chickpeas and lentils. These types of foods are important because they are an easy source of protein. They also are a lot of fun to cook with and can be made into a lot of different things. Also, if you are not the biggest fan of Edamame and Quinoa, if you mix and match your legumes through out the week then you are sure to consume all of the 9 essential amino acids. Do not skip out or be intimidated by legumes. They truly are a vegans best friend because they help regulate blood sugars, blood pressure and keep our hearts happy.
Nuts are very important for 2 reasons. They are a great source of protein but most importantly they are extremely helpful to adding healthy fats in our diet. Believe it or not, fats are incredibly important to our diet. Fats are supposed to take up a majority of what we eat in a day. Making sure we eat healthy fats like nuts and staying away from saturated and hydrogenated fats. Too much of the hydrogenated fats can be dangerous and cause our blood pressure to rise. One cool tip about nuts is that you can make them into cheeses which make great substitutes in a lot of meals.
Let’s be honest. Especially if you are on the fence about becoming vegan. It might not be the easiest transition for you and you will definitely have cravings. Don’t worry. Every week you should treat yourself a couple of times but do not over do it. There are a lot of bakeries and a lot of them know how to make pastries and vegan dough if you ask nicely. We love vegan cakes and cookies and you will be very surprised at just how amazing vegan desserts taste.