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Essential Vegan Nutrition Guide: Everything You Need To Be A Healthy Vegan


When I first went vegan I googled everything there was to know about veganism like a crazy woman!


As the only vegan (at the time ? ) in my family and with a solid background in nutrition, I wanted to make sure that I was fully prepped before my big “announcement”


I first went vegan because of the health benefits.


And after studying (and trying) SO MANY DIETS and ways to eat over the years I felt like I had found something that was exactly what I was looking for.


It sounds crazy, but maybe you can relate.


I was so fed up of going from diet plan to another, ALWAYS trying something new and never feeling fully satisfied.


I always had an intuition telling me it wasn’t quite right.


When I fell into veganism I felt like everything had fallen into place. I just knew that it was the right way to eat for me.


And boy am I glad I did it!


And even though they’re a million different ways to eat vegan, I go with science, my knowledge and experience and also my own judgment.


When considering a vegan diet, you may be asking a few questions:


  1. Can I actually get all the vitamins, minerals, protein and other essential nutrients from only eating plant foods?
  2. Am I going to lose weight?
  3. Will my hair will fall out?
  4. Can I become really healthy (because you’ve heard a lot of stuff saying it isn’t)?
  5. Does it require strict regulations?
  6. Is it something that one day your family will get on board with?
  7. Is it safe for your family and throughout different life stages?
  8. Am I going to get enough protein?
  9. Will it WORK and can it be sustained for the rest of my life?


Although I’ve written several posts on vegan nutrition, weight loss, and benefits on a plant-based diet, think of this as a Vegan Nutrition for Dummies.


What exactly do you need to know before starting a vegan diet?


Vegan Nutrition Basics For Beginners


Why should you eat more plants?


Research shows that a diet filled with whole plant foods length lifespan treats obesity and decreases or in some cases reverse common illnesses such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


The British Dietetic Association confirms that a plant-based diet is healthy and suitable for all stages of life.


vegan nutrition basics 101


Is It Healthier To Be Vegan?


The short answer, it depends.


Of course, eating a vegan can be extremely beneficial. In fact, I believe it to be the most healthful diet we can consume. 


But just by not eating meat in our diet, doesn’t make it a healthy diet either. 


A vegan diet can be filled with processed food, just the same as a SAD diet. Vegans can still suffer from health issues, being overweight & a shortened lifespan.


But, when done right, a whole foods vegan diet can give the following benefits:


  • Weight loss
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease
  • Increased energy 
  • Improves kidney function
  • Clear skin, strong hair, and nails
  • Improved mood


There’s a big difference between a vegan and plant-based diet.


A person may go vegan for a variety of reasons including health, animal welfare, and environmental impact. A vegan will adopt veganism in all aspects of their life including clothes and skincare.


A person who adopts a plant-based lifestyle is primarily doing it for health reasons they may still choose to wear non-vegan items of clothing, consume honey and other non-vegan items.


You can still be vegan and adopt a whole foods plant-based diet. That way you are able to be vegan but ensure you are eating a high nutrient dense diet.


A well-balanced diet is essential for optimal health, sustainable weight loss, increased energy and longevity.


What foods do vegans eat?


vegan nutrition basics 101


A healthy and balanced vegan diet should contain the following:


  • Fruits and vegetables – Eat a wide range of colourful fruit and vegetables every day. Eat more vegetables than fruits. Aim for 4-6 portions of veg and 3- 4 portions of fruits daily


  • Legumes – beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, soymilk, soybeans, peanuts


  • Healthy fats – avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, cold pressed oils 


  • Starches – sweet potatoes, yams, white potatoes, squashes


  • Grains – whole grain rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, couscous, freekah, pasta


  • Little sweeteners: maple syrup, coconut sugar, date syrup & other natural plant-based sweetness are better choices 


What nutrients are lacking in a vegan diet?


Essential vegan nutrition guide:Everything you need to be a healthy vegan


Vitamin B12 – RDA 2.4mcg V


A common nutrient missing in a vegan diet is vitamin B12. B12 actually comes from a bacteria, animals ingest this bacteria when they eat soil. We used to be able to get vitamin B12 from fruits and vegetables but our soils are depleted of nutrients now, so even non-vegans should supplement.




B12 increase energy levels, support brain health, boosts mood and promotes healthy skin and hair.


Symptoms of B12 deficiency


  • fatigue
  • poor memory 
  • tingling
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • hair loss
  • dry skin
  • eczema
  • acne


Vegans can get vitamin B12 straight from the source by getting a high-quality B12 supplement (LINK)


Essential vegan nutrition guide:Everything you need to be a healthy vegan

Omega 3 DHA & EPA – RDA 1.6g for men, 1.1g for women




Omega 3 supports healthy brain tissue, eye health, fights anxiety and depression, improves joint pain and fights against autoimmune diseases. 


The SAD is very high in omega 6 which is pro-inflammatory low in omega 3 which is anti-inflammatory. The ideal ratio should be 2:1. 


There are concerns about a lack of omega 3 fatty acids on a vegan diet, but they can be easily obtained through a healthful diet.


Vegan foods highest in Omega 3 include:


  • Flaxseed
  • chia seed
  • hemp seed
  • walnuts


Dietary algae supplement (LINK) microalgae


Vitamin D – RDA 600-100IU


Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin. we can get vitamin D from direct sunlight but if you live in a cold dark climate, pregnant or breastfeeding you may need to supplement with extra.




Adequate Vitamin D enhances the immune system, relieves joint pain & headaches, facilitates healthy hormone production, reduces the risk of developing cancer, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and cold and flu.


Vitamin D is found in:


  • sunlight
  • fortified foods such as milk, cereals, soy products, and orange juice
  • mushrooms


Calcium – RDA 1000mg




Regulates blood pressure, improves kidney health, prevents diabetes, supports bone and joint care.


Plant-based calcium sources are absorbed better by the body than animal sources.


Foods high in calcium include:


  • tahini
  • sesame seeds
  • tofu
  • soybeans
  • figs
  • oranges
  • kale
  • collard greens
  • broccoli
  • almonds

Essential vegan nutrition guide:Everything you need to be a healthy vegan

Iron – RDA 18mg


Women typically need iron more than men due to menstruation and pregnancy.




Prevents anemia, helps brain functioning, boosts energy levels, improves mood, supports immune function


Foods high in iron include:


  • cashews
  • tempeh
  • dried apricots
  • chickpeas
  • kidney beans
  • lentils
  • swiss chard
  • spinach
  • pumpkin seeds


Zinc – RDA 15mg




Balances blood sugar, improves fertility, reduces acne and scarring, fights depression, heals wounds.


Foods high in zinc include:


  • pumpkin seeds
  • pinenuts
  • walnuts
  • chickpeas
  • kidney beans
  • lentils
  • oats
  • cacao powder and nibs


Iodine – 150ug




Important for healthy thyroid function, powerful detoxifier, promote weight loss, healthy clear skin. 


Foods high in iodine include:


  • sea vegetables – kelp, pulse, nori
  • iodised salt


Do vegans live longer?

Essential vegan nutrition guide:Everything you need to be a healthy vegan

On average vegans and vegetarians live longer and experience fewer health problems as they age. Studies show a strong correlation to many diseases and a significantly shortened lifespan the more animal produce is consumed.


What are the health risks of becoming vegan?


How do vegans get enough nutrition?


  1. getting enough calories
  2. eating a diet high in nutrient density
  3. consuming a wide range of whole plant-based foods
  4. eating a diet that’s hormonally optimal 


What are the benefits of being vegan?


  • increased energy
  • clear glowing skin
  • stronger hair and nails
  • better athletic performance (link to athletes)
  • reduced or eliminated health conditions


Suggested reading: 10 life-changing benefits go going vegan that will blow your mind


Do I need to count calories or macros?

Essential vegan nutrition guide:Everything you need to be a healthy vegan

There is quite a debate about how many calories a person needs to eat. Unfortunately, it depends from person to person.


Age, gender, pregnancy and other changes in our life can affect how much food we need to consume.


A plant-based diet is naturally low in calories. For those wanting to drop a few pounds, it will be much easier to do as you will need to consume a high quantity of produce.


You don’t need to count calories and macros when you eat a wide range of whole plant foods. Just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.


Your body weight and hunger levels will adjust and go to its natural set point.


Do vegans have to take supplements?

Essential vegan nutrition guide:Everything you need to be a healthy vegan

It’s recommended to get enough protein, fats, carbohydrates, essential vitamins and minerals by eating a high nutrient plant-based diet.


However, due to poor soils, toxins in our food and environment and lack of essential sunshine, it’s important for everyone to take the following:


  • multivitamin
  • vitamin D
  • probiotic
  • DHA


Do vegans lack protein?


The protein myth


If you eat enough calories from a wide variety of whole plant-based foods you will get enough protein.


Protein is found in many plant foods such as 


  • nuts
  • beans
  • tofu 
  • legumes
  • grains
  • vegetables


Animal protein has been linked to


  • cancer
  • kidney disease
  • osteoporosis
  • cardiovascular disease
  • type 2 diabetes


On average, vegans still get 70% more protein than what is required every day.


As long as you are eating enough calories you will get enough protein.

Essential vegan nutrition guide:Everything you need to be a healthy vegan

Is a plant-based diet good for you?


Suggested Reading: 10 Best Vegan and Plant-Based Books To Radically Improve Your Health


Vegan nutrition chart


There are many different vegan nutrition charts to choose from, each with their own recommendations based upon which vegan ‘diet’ you choose you to do.


Here are some examples:



Dr fuhrman nutritarian pyramid




vegan nutrition food chart




vegan nutrition food chart


You can even get a vegan nutrition wall chart that I think is amazing to have something visual to help understand vegan nutrition. This one looks especially good for kids!


Ready to go vegan?


It’s very important to keep learning! The more you know how much better being a vegan is for your health, the planet and the environment you’ll never look back. 


If you’re stuck where to go next, try reading these incredible vegan plant-based nutrition books 


One  of the best ways to put everything in to practice is to create recipes that are affordable, convenient, and taste great. You can find a great selection that even kids love here


Id love to know what has helped you go on a vegan diet or what made you decide to look into veganism/plant-based diet.  Let me know in the comments.?

Essential Vegan Nutrition Guide: Everything You Need To Be A Healthy Vegan


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