Vegan Nutrition — How To Be A Healthy Vegan

In my post yesterday, Does Your Doctor Have All The Nutritional Facts, I talked about how I didn't get much help from my doctor when I was changing over to a vegan diet. Although I think my physician is an excellent physician in every other area, I was frustrated by the fact that on the topic of nutrition all he had to offer was "make sure you get enough protein and calcium, and take a multivitamin."

Clearly, it's up to Jane and me to determine what, exactly, we should be eating. That means doing lots research and reading a lot of dry scientific material, or making assumptions which might prove to be faulty. We probably needed to do this research as omnis too, but we felt safe eating a little bit of everything. When we decided to "restrict" our diet (which is such a misconception in the non-vegan world since they tend to eat a less varied diet than the vegan community), we panicked... Would we become deficient in some vital nutrient we'd never considered before? Then we fell into the thinking that everything would be fine if we just ate a little bit of everything. And then Jane started to notice that on days when she didn't concern herself at least a little bit with her protein intake, she felt sluggish. So we started doing some reading.

Poking around online, I've found three resources I'd like to share with you:

  • Vegan Food Guide: which has the familiar pyramid graphic with a vegan focus. It also has defines each section of the pyramid which explain what a serving is and "important comments" relative to each segment of the pyramid.
  • Vegan Health.org: They have a rather comprehensive segment entitled "Staying Healthy on Plant-Based Diets" which is very informative and easy to read.
  • Vegan Nutrition: a website created by the American Dietetic Association, has information on a variety of topics including "sports nutrition," "bioavailability of iron and zinc," and "phyto-chemicals: guardians of our health." (The information on this site is more technical than on the other two sites.)

I understand that my physician cannot know everything, but I don't believe that nutrition should be a "specialty" service. Eating is a basic component of living. Since it impacts every facet of your physical (and probably your mental) being, it seems to me that it should be handled by your primary physician, not a specialist, in this case a registered dietician. This isn't like having cancer and needing to see an oncologist, it's basic everyday nutrition!

Be sure to check out our Vegan Resources page, which has lots of links to information important to vegans.

As always, take this information with a grain of salt, after all, I'm a blogger not a doctor!

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Comments

  1. Another great resource is the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). They are on the web.

  2. Hi LaTara,
    The PCRM is our first link on our Vegan Resources page, under General Information.
    I didn’t include them here, because although I find their site to be informative, I believe the vegan food pyramid referenced above is more user-friendly.
    Actually, Dr. Neal Barnard’s work is what inspired Jane to make us go vegan in the first place.

  3. Thank you so much for these resources Lane!

  4. Glad to be of help.

  5. Thanks Eggs,
    Glad to be of help.

  6. Nicole Gustas says:

    Thank you for the links!

    When I read vegan sites, the blithe inattention to the issue of soy allergies constantly frustrates me. Soy allergies are one of the most common allergies in the U.S. I’ve yet to find a vegan site that addresses what to do if you want to eat ethically and are allergic to soy. And don’t even get me started on vegan restaurants – there are a couple that I would cheerfully set fire to, because they have just about no soy-free options (even if it’s not in the meat substitute, it’s in the dressing, the mayonnaise, or the bread), and don’t see why they should. (I have some celiac friends who have the same issue, but with wheat, at vegan restaurants.)

    Sorry, this is not a beef at you; perhaps I should just create a blog addressing the issues of being a soy-allergic vegan.

  7. Nicole – Sounds like you’ve got a more challenging road to follow than most of us. Of course, soy isn’t your only option for protein. There’s wheat meat (seitan) and rice and beans, and anything with chickpeas or lentils… which I’m sure you’re aware of. Perhaps you can educate the restaurants you frequent, or at least request that they put something on the menu for soy-allergic folks.
    This, however, isn’t our path, just as we don’t focus on children’s nutrition as we don’t have any. If I find something in my research that is relevant, I will certainly include it in my resources page. But this blog is about the experiences Jane and I are having on our vegan journey, and soy allergies aren’t part of that.
    On a positive note, as all forms of vegetarianism are on the rise, you’re options will likely expand in the future.

  8. Thank you so much for these blog.It’s wonderful to know the VeganNutrition. Thank you for your suggestions and ideas you provided and I am completely satisfied with you

  9. Thank you so much for this post and all the information attached. I have recently switched over to a vegan diet and like you were, I am worried about getting the proper nutrients. I was also looking at the Thanksgiving feast that you and Jane will be having and its a releif to know that there are so many other options out there to choose from. Being from Canada, our Thanksgiving has long passed but I am having my family over for Christmas dinner this year and even though they may be eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (as my parents will be bringing dishes of their own) its nice to know that I have tasty vegan options that might even win them over.
    Thank you so much for your informative posts, you are truly helping out the vegan community with your blog.
    Shannon
    http://www.eaturveg.blogspot.com

  10. Hi Shannon,
    I’m glad you’re finding the blog useful.
    Our Thanksgiving is based on the meal we used to prepare when we were omnivores, just veganized. We feel that most of the dishes are indistinguishable from their non-vegan versions. The notable exception being the Tofurky and Celebration Roast… and the gravy isn’t as good. But overall, this is our favorite meal of the year.

  11. It can be difficult when you first change to a vegan diet because there are so many misinformed non-vegans out there who try to discourage you. I remember I had a lot of hesitation until I started reading further into it and realized it’s not as complicated as it seems and it’s certainly healthier.

  12. Hi Healthy VRM,
    Agreed. Hopefully, they’re well-meaning misinformed non-vegans. But still, it’s sad how misinformed we all are until we start reading about this on our own. It would be nice if basic nutrition were taught in school… and it should, imo, be a requirement in any medical students curriculum.

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