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Vegan Nutrition Essentials

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Basket of VegetablesGiving up meat and dairy is a great start, but you can still sink yourself by eating lots of white flour and sugary garbage, and by missing some of the nutritional basics you need to stay healthy. To avoid nutritional gaps, you’ll need to understand the essentials of plant-based nutrition.

There are several nutritional basics that you need to be aware of in a plant-based diet:

Vitamins and Minerals

Although plants provide loads of great vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, there are a few that you’ll need to be sure to supplement. These include Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and iodine. Many people worry about calcium, but it is found in good quantities in leafy greens and other vegetables. Nevertheless, many vegans take calcium supplements just to be on the safe side. If you are going to do this, be sure to take a really high quality supplement and avoid calcium carbonate as it can damage your stomach over time. Iodine is also essential to healthy thyroid functioning and seaweed is absolutely packed with it. To insure that you are getting enough, sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of seaweed flakes on a salad, into a soup, or mixed in with a sauce. A small amount goes a long way, so don’t overdo it.

Protein
There are plenty of excellent plant proteins, so be sure that you are eating some at every meal. I personally find that hemp protein works very well. It is a complete plant protein and a little of it goes a long way. Quinoa is also a complete plant protein, and you can get plenty of protein from cooked or sprouted beans and legumes. One protein that you’ll want to avoid is soy. Processed soy is actually incredibly unhealthy – only soy that has been fermented (like natto or tempeh) has bio-available nutrients that your body can actually process.

Foods to Eat in Small Quantities

Many vegans and raw foodists attempt to make substitutions for animal-based foods by substituting foods such as nuts, seeds, and soy, that should be eaten only in small quantities. Lots of people using nuts in raw foods to make raw breads and ice-creams, find that the bathroom scale is suddenly moving in the wrong direction. Others, who are unsure of what to eat, end up making bread and vegan pastas the core of their diets, and they too find the pounds start to pile on. One of the things to remember about eating a vegan diet is that it’s not going to work as a straight substitution. It’s better to look at the experience as a way to make a paradigm shift and to do things in a whole new way.

If you stick to these simple basic principles, you will find that your nutrition is very sound. Just remember to take advantage of all the fabulous fruits and veggies the plant kingdom has to offer and you will find that your health and your outlook are improving!

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