Beginning a vegan diet is a route many people turn to when looking to get healthy, or some may simply do it for other reasons but still want to ensure they feel their best. It can be tempting to go online and read blogs or even read magazines when you’re attempting to learn about health and wellness within the vegan realm. One reason is because there is so much information out there due to the vast amount of popularity surrounding the diet. Though some people may embark on the lifestyle as a trend, the general reason more people are adopting a vegan diet are for health, animal, or sustainability purposes. No matter what your reason, there are some ways you can stay smart about educating yourself on a vegan diet and some smart ways to go about doing so. No matter how popular some trends may be or what others might be trying, keep the following in mind regarding health and nutrition so you can feel your best and take care of yourself on a long-term basis.
1. Rely on Facts
Contrary to popular belief, many blogs and sites today don’t list direct facts regarding nutrition, but they’re largely someone’s take on a certain aspect of nutrition or they contain parroting of someone else’s beliefs or a trend. Turn to the facts which you can find through registered dietitians, certified nutritionists, holistic health practitioners, organizations that are supported through non-biased research, and learn the exact nutrients everyone needs to stay healthy, then what foods have been proven to contain those foods in easy-to-assimilate amounts. When hearing about research in the news, find out who funded the study and how many different groups of people it was performed on before just believing it on a whim. Be smart, not easily deceived.
2. Don’t Over-Supplement a Bad Diet
The health food industry is just booming with natural supplements and vitamins. While some supplements like vitamin D3 and vitamin B12, along with a vegan multivitamin are mainstays and smart choices, don’t attempt to eat a nutritionally poor diet and think you can over-supplement it with some fancy product you might hear about. Real food does what no supplement or vitamin in the body can, regardless that some specific nutrients like those above are necessary due to the source they come from (vitamin D from the sun and vitamin B12 from the soil). Spend your money where it counts: at the grocery store in the produce aisle.
3. Read More Than One Source of Reliable Research
When doing your research regarding nutrition, you should also read more than just one source. Why? Because many different fact-based variations of research out there can all work … but differently for each person. It’s important to know many different styles of a well-researched vegan diet (lower fat versus lower carb and higher protein versus lower protein). The reason for this is because depending on hormonal changes, digestion health, previous health issues, age in life, or your body’s present-day health, you may need something different than just one source of research says you should try. Be willing to learn as much as you can so you can go with the best option for you. Not one size fits all … in clothes or in a version of a healthy, vegan diet.
4. Go for Whole Foods Versus Just Anything Labeled Vegan
Not to get too technological in terms of vocabulary, but here, it’s important. You can eat a technically vegan diet for a long life and be happy, but you might not be at your best health or feel as great as you could. If you’re just starting out on a vegan diet, it’s important not to get too obsessed with eating perfectly in terms of health, however, you should aim to eat mostly (or all) plant-based, whole foods versus just processed foods labeled gluten-free. This means you go for real oatmeal or quinoa over processed granola bars, you eat real vegetables versus frozen dinners, and you try to eat fresh snacks instead of cookies and chips that might be labeled vegan. You needn’t turn down some options like hummus, non-dairy milk, or other simple vegan offerings at the store, but when it comes to your meals and snacks, do your best to aim for plant-based, whole foods versus just foods tagged with a vegan label. Plant-based, whole foods have vitamins, minerals, and optimize immune and digestive function that help you succeed in any kind of healthy diet.
5. Keep Learning
It’s also important to keep learning about nutrition on a plant-based, vegan diet. Consider that years ago, we thought pairing beans and rice or other grains and beans/legumes was the only way to give our bodies the protein they need. We now know that’s not true, and we don’t have to focus on food pairings at all our meals to make sure we get enough protein without meat on our plates. This is just one example of how continual learning has helped us educate ourselves about nutrition on a plant-based diet. Never lose interest in learning about your health; it’s the best thing you can do so long as you keep an open mind and make sure the person you’re learning from, (or the organization), is non-biased and has an education background about plant-based nutrition.
For further information, see our Plant-Based Nutrition Guide that contains all the vitamins and minerals you need, along with a variety of articles regarding health and nutrition, plus plant-based vegan recipes to ensure you stay healthy and feel awesome!