The Complete Nutritional Balanced Vegan Diet and Meal Plan

There is a basic difference between vegetarian and vegan. The vegetarians eat plant and dairy products. The source of dairy products is animals. Thus, vegetarians consume both animal and plant products.  Whereas the vegans do not even consume dairy products as they come from animals. The balanced vegan diet only includes the plant’s products and herbs. The balanced vegan diet provides enough nutrition to the body and reduces the risks of several chronic diseases. This also helps in the body-weight reducing process.

A balanced vegan diet consists of higher nutrition and lowers saturated fat. This will help to reduce the risk of diabetes (type 2), improve cardiac health, and provides safeguard against cancer. But the thing is that people need to know how they can get the maximum nutrition such as Vitamin B-12, calcium, and iron from their balanced vegan diet. The omnivorous can easily get such nutrient benefits from a wide range of their food habits.

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The ideal Vegan Eat-well Guide

A balanced vegan diet is explained below.

Have five portions of different vegetables and fruits daily.

Try to choose a whole-grain meal. Have rice, bread, potatoes, a wide range of starchy carbohydrates, and pasta.

Add the different substitutes of dairy products such as soy milk.

Prefer low-fat and lower-sugary foods to avoid unnecessary fat gains.

Add some pulses and beans as the protein sources.

Have a little portion of unsaturated spreads and oils.

Have lots of fluids to keep the body hydrated.

This eat-well guide is applicable for the adult vegans. This is also beneficial for overweight persons. They can easily follow the balanced vegan diet to reduce the body-weight.

But this diet is not suitable for the children, especially under two years. They need different nutritional requirements for the growth of the brain and body. 

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How to Get the right nutrients from a balanced vegan diet

A vegan diet excludes a few essential nutrients. That is why the vegans need to be careful while selecting the vegan diet.

The primary concern needs to understand that as the vegans are entirely dependent on the plant product, they might face different nutritional deficiencies. People essentially need to consult good dietician and doctor before adopting the vegan diet.

The followings are the right content-nutrients in a vegan diet.

1. Iron

This is an important nutrient for better blood health. The sources of iron are limited in the vegan diet. The most popular iron-rich vegan foods are leafy dark vegetables and beans.

2. Vitamin B-12:

The major source of Vitamin B-12 is animal products. This nutrient protects our RBCs and nerves. The vegan can get this nutrition from yeast spread, plant milk, fortified cereals, and nutritional yeast.

3. Vitamin D:

Vitamin D provides strong protection against several chronic diseases and cancer. This also helps to strengthen our teeth and bones. The vegan can have direct Vitamin D from the sun and Vit D fortified plant products.

4. Calcium:

This nutrient is the most essential to keep our bones strong and healthy. The vegans can have this nutrient from leafy greens, tofu, and tahini.

5. Iodine:

This helps to regulate and balance the thyroid level of our bodies. The fortified and a few seaweeds are the major iodine sources of vegans.

6. Zinc:

It is an important nutrient for DNA repairing and immune system boosting. Oats, beans, nuts, and nutritional yeast are the main sources of zinc for the vegans.

7. Fatty acids (omega-3):

It helps to maintain healthy eyes, brain, and heart. Three different kinds of fatty acids (omega-3) are DHA, ALA, and DPA. The good ALA sources are flaxseeds and walnuts, the sources of DHA and DPA are algae and seaweeds.

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What do vegans eat and avoid?

The above-stated nutrients are essential for us but they are found scanty in the vegan diet. That creates nutritional deficiencies within us. That is why the vegans need to be choosy and specific in the selection of their diet.

Dieticians and doctors can help to frame effective and efficient diet plans for the vegans. Different nutrition-rich supplements are available in the market which can fulfill the deficiencies. But it is better to have the supplements after a professional’s guidance.

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In the balanced vegan diet should add the following plant staff  

Jackfruit

Tofu

Mushrooms

Tempeh

Nuts

Lentils

Potatoes

Eggplants

Beets

Cauliflowers

Legumes and beans

Nut butter including peanut butter

These plant products are loaded with nutrients. The food value of these products replaces the food value of animal products.

The vegan can have soy milk, plant product-based cheese, and different soy products to fulfill the requirements of the requirement of dairy products.

A large number of nutrient-fortified products are available in the market that will essentially fulfill the nutritional requirements of the vegans.

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The vegans generally avoid the following 

Mayonnaise

Butter, cheese

Honey

Dairy products

Fish, mussels, clams, and crabs

Poultry products (eggs, duck, and chicken)

Red meat such as lamb, beef and pork

As the vegans avoid animal products from the regular diet, they are consuming lesser calories daily.  This is extremely beneficial to health. Thus, the vegan can maintain a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) than the omnivorous.

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The vegans have lower risks of developing cardiac complications, higher blood pressure, and high cholesterol. They are much resistant to cancer and diabetes (type-2).

Here are some choices of the vegan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks idea.

Vegan Breakfast

The balanced vegan breakfast might consist of the following,

  • Chickpea pancake
  • Oatmeal blueberry waffles
  • Muffins
  • Hazelnut chocolate spread
  • Tofu omelets
  • Toast with refried avocadoes and beans
  • Granola bars (baked and sugar-free)
  • Banana bread
  • Tofu, tomato, spinach, and mushroom quiche
  • Blueberry donuts (baked)
  • Nutty and warm cinnamon quinoa
  • lentils

Vegan Lunch

The vegans can add the following to their lunch.

  • Carrot and pea soba noodles
  • Kale and Black Beans Burrito Bowl
  • Creamy butternut linguine with sage (fried)
  • Black bean and sweet potato vegetable burger
  • Vegetable paella

Vegan Snacks

  • Nut butter and fruits
  • Crackers and Guacamole
  • Edamame and sea salt
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Trail mix
  • Avocado and rice cakes
  • Fruits
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Veggie and fruit smoothies

Vegan Dinner

  • Tofu beckon and Brussels sprouts (pan-fried)
  • Cranberry Maple Pear Cinnamon sauce
  • Vegan gravy
  • Pear and Brussels sprouts (roasted) with thyme
  • Squash and roasted apple salad with pomegranate juice
  • Brussels sprouts (shredded) with pomegranate and lemon

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Vegan shopping list

If you start the vegan diet you can be confused about what to buy from the market. Here are a few tips which will definitely help you to buy vegan groceries and items from the market.

1. Grocery list for a vegan – 

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Frozen vegetables and fruits
  • Soy products like tempeh, edamame, and tofu
  • Pantry items like nut butter, canned legumes, dried herbs and spices, vinegar, nuts, and seeds
  • Processed foods like healthy crackers and cereals
  • Whole grains like quinoa, rice, and oats
  • Whole-grain products like pasta, popcorn, and bread

2. Sopping list for vegan nutrients –

  • Colorful vegetables and fruits
  • Leafy greens
  • Fiber-rich foods like vegetables, whole grains, and fruits
  • Unrefined carbohydrates like quinoa, potato, oats, sweet potato and rice
  • Process foods with low sodium, fat and sugar contents
  • Healthy fats like seeds, avocado, and nuts
  • Proteins like edamame, lentils, seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, tempeh and tofu

3. Vegan Vitamin B-12 source

It helps to keep the nervous system better and helps to maintain blood circulation within the body. animal products are essentially rich in Vitamin B-12.

The sources of Vegan Vitamin B-12 are,

  • Vitamin B-12-fortified soy drinks (unsweetened)
  • Vitamin B-12-fortified breakfast cereals
  • Yeast extracts like such as Vitamin B-12-fortified Marmite

4. Vegan calcium and Vitamin D source

These two nutrients are essential to keep the teeth and bones strong. The sources of Vitamin-D and calcium of the vegan diet are,

  • Oats drinks, rice, and soya (unsweetened and fortified)
  • Green and leafy vegetables like okra, broccoli, and cabbage
  • Calcium-fortified tofu
  • Tahini and sesame seeds
  • Bread (white/ brown)
  • Pulses
  • Dry fruits like dried apricots, raisins, fig and prunes

5. Vegan Omega 3 fatty acid source

Though the good sources of fatty acids (omega-3) are animal products, few plant products are also there to source the fatty acids (omega-3) for vegans. This is essential to keep the cardiac activities healthy.

  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Soy foods like tofu and soy oil
  • Rapeseed oil

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6. Vegan iron source

Iron is the inevitable nutrients to help the production of RBC. There are a large number of iron-rich plant products. But there remains a problem. The body absorbs more iron from animal products than the plant products. The good sources of vegan iron are,

  • Nuts
  • Pulses
  • Whole-grain flour and bread
  • Fortified-iron cereals for breakfast
  • Leafy and dark vegetables like spring greens, broccoli, and watercress
  • Dry fruits like figs, apricots, and prunes

Conclusion

A balanced vegan diet is good for our health. The proper intake of a vegan diet fulfills the nutritional requirements and restricts health complications. This also helps effectively in the reduction of body weight.

This also keeps the heart-healthy, lower cancer risks, and diabetes (type 2). The vegans need to be selective while selecting the food plan. Because plant products lack a few essential nutrients. Then the vegans might consult with dieticians or doctors for a balanced vegan diet.

A large number of supplements and essential nutrients-fortified products are available in the market that also helps to fulfill the nutrients requirements of the vegans.

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