Many people today are becoming more aware of the vegan diet, veganism in general, and the lifestyle surrounding it. There seems to be much confusion about what vegans eat or don’t eat, can or can’t eat and I want to take the time to clarify for you; What Is A Vegan Diet? I have decided to break down this article into five major food categories to keep everything well organized and easy to understand for those new to veganism as well as current vegans alike. I have included 10 examples for each category that I recommend implementing into your diet. With each food example, there is related nutritional information that explains the health benefits of eating these particular foods. My goal is that after going through this article, you will be well equipped in knowing what to eat in your day to day life by implementing the staple foods below. Now, remember these are simply my top ten choices for each category for maintaining a healthy vegan diet. You can feel free to implement or substitute any other foods according to your individual tastes & liking.
- Bananas – contains Potassium that aids in lowering blood pressure, Fiber which aids in digestion & weight loss, and Vitamin B6 which is known for reducing bodily swelling, strengthening the nervous system, and promoting restful sleep.
- Raspberries – high in the antioxidant Vitamin C which can help reduce the risk of stroke & improve immune function throughout the body, also contains Gallic and Ellagic Acids which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that combat cancers, heart, and circulatory diseases.
- Blackberries – high in antioxidants Vitamin C, Manganese which is known to improve cognitive function, and Vitamin K which helps to regulate hormone function in the body.
- Strawberries – high in Vitamin C, Manganese, Potassium, and Vitamin B9 (folate) which helps prevent fatigue, headaches, palpitations, and diarrhea.
- Watermelon – contains Vitamin A which aids in organ function, vision, the immune system, and reproductive systems, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Lycopene that has been shown to prevent various cancers & prevent heart disease, and L-citrulline which aids in improved artery function & blood flow.
- Honeydew – high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Potassium.
- Red Grapes – contain Vitamin C, Manganese, and beta-carotene which gets converted into Vitamin A, and Resveratrol which is known to have anti-aging properties as well as plaque reducing properties in the arteries.
- Mangoes – high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and flavinoids which are antioxidant-rich plant compounds. They have been known to help lower cholesterol levels.
- Apples – high in Vitamin C, Fiber, and Polyphenols which are micronutrients that aid in many areas including the digestive system, cardiovascular system, and improve symptoms of diabetes.
- Blueberries – have high levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese, and fiber.
- Broccoli – contains numerous benefits including Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 which helps the body convert carbs into fuel, Vitamin B6 that keeps the brain & nervous system healthy, Vitamin E, Manganese, Potassium, Copper that helps the body form collagen and make blood cells, Omega-3 fatty acids which may reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as Protein, Zinc, Calcium, Iron, Selenium, and Niacin.
- Carrots – high in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and biotin which is known to promote healthy skin, hair, and nails.
- Spinach – contains a high level of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K, Niacin, Zinc, Protein, Fiber, Thiamine, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, and Manganese.
- Kale – high in Fiber that aids in digestion, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids, Folate, Protein, and Magnesium.
- Cucumbers – contain large quantities of Vitamin B1, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Biotin, Silica, Pantothenic acid, and molybdenum which acts as a catalyst in aiding the breakdown of many amino acids in the body.
- Asparagus – contains a high concentration of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Copper, Calcium, Protein, and Fiber.
- Tomatoes – these are high in levels of potassium, lycopene, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lutein which is thought to prevent the eyes from sunlight damage.
- Bell peppers – high in Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Fiber, Potassium, Niacin, and Pantothenic acid (also known as Vitamin B5) which aids in red blood cell formation.
- Avocado – high content of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Riboflavin (also known as Vitamin B2) which aids the digestive system in metabolizing fats and protein, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, Pantothenic acid, Omega-3 fatty acids, Lutein, and Beta-carotene.
- Radishes – contains Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin K, Folate, Fiber, Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorous, Sodium, Copper and Zinc.
Beans & Legumes
- Edamame – high in Vitamin C, protein and fiber, while low in fat.
- Peas – contain high amounts of Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese, Fiber, Copper, Phosphorus, Folate, Niacin, Molybdenum, Zinc, Protein, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium and Choline which aids the body in neurological and metabolic functions.
- Chia seeds – high in Calcium, Iron, Omega-3 fatty acids, which aids in the absorption of vitamins in the body, and fiber.
- Peanuts – provide a good source of Vitamin E, Niacin, Folate, Manganese, Protein, and Monosaturated fats which can help lower (bad) LDL cholesterol.
- Lentils – contain high amounts of Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Molybdenum, Folate, Fiber, Copper, Phosphorus Manganese, Iron, Protein, Pantothenic acid, Zinc, and Potassium
- Black Beans – contain high amounts of Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Calcium, Iron, and Manganese.
- Kidney Beans – have a high concentration of Manganese, Phosphorus, Protein, Vitamin B1, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Folate, Fiber, and Copper.
- Garbanzo Beans – provide high amounts of Molybdenum, Manganese, Folate, Copper, Fiber, Phosphorus, Protein, Iron, and Zinc
- Almonds – high in Vitamin E, Calcium, Fiber, Magnesium, Potassium, and Protein.
- Sunflower seeds – contain Manganese, Selenium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Folate, and Niacin.
Whole Grains & Starches
- Cous cous – contains Protein, Fiber, and healthy Carbohydrates similar to rice.
- Oats – high in Fiber and Polyphenols
- Quinoa – high in Protein, contains all nine essential amino acids, Fiber, Magnesium, Vitamin B, Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Vitamin E.
- Sweet potatoes – high in Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Manganese, Copper, Pantothenic acid, Potassium, Fiber, Niacin, and Phosphorus.
- Red potatoes – high in Fiber, Vitamin B, Iron, and Potassium.
- Brown rice – contains high amounts of Magnesium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin B6, and Manganese.
- Whole wheat bread – contains Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Fiber, Phosphorus, Iron, and Zinc.
- Whole wheat pasta – contains Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Fiber, Phosphorus, Iron, and Zinc.
- Amaranth – high in Protein and Lysine.
- Farro – high in Fiber, Calcium, Protein, Niacin, Zinc, and Magnesium.
The last category I want to cover consists of what are known as vegan substitutes. These are exactly what they sound like, vegan substitutes for otherwise non-vegan foods. One of the most common substitutes would be for dairy milk. A non-dairy vegan substitute would be almond, coconut, or cashew milk. The important thing to keep in mind is that these foods are substitutes for meat & dairy commonly. I listed them at the bottom of this article because ideally, you would want to limit the number of vegan substitute foods you incorporate into your diet. With that said, it is very helpful for newcomers to the vegan diet to be aware of such alternative foods that they can begin to easily substitute for. Other common foods that have a vegan substitute are soy cheese, plant-based butter, vegetable broth, agave syrup, nutritional yeast (which has a cheese like flavor), grain meats (like vegetable & grain sausage), and non-dairy ice creams like cashew milk ice cream. I have included even meat substitutes that can be implemented into a healthy vegan diet, such as tofu which is a soy-based block made from condensed soy milk and seitan, which is a what gluten-based protein slab. These last two are probably better to steer clear from, even though they are vegan. There has been much debate on whether they are actually healthy, and you can read up more on that here & here for further information.
There Is So Much Variety
With veganism on the rise as a growing diet, I hope you have gained a better insight and understanding into the question: what is a vegan diet? I have included many more examples of foods for each of the previously mentioned food categories that I did not list, so keep in mind if it isn’t in the list it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count as an option. It just wasn’t one of the ten options that I listed. I think it is clear to see that there are a plethora of foods to be eaten as a vegan and now you know what to eat, exactly what to eat! Many people that are unfamiliar with the diet may often think vegans eat only salads & raw vegetables (which some do), but that certainly is not the case for the majority at all! I have included many thousands of dishes that are vegan, healthy, and tasty! Be on the look out for some recipes in upcoming posts here at OneFitVegan.com!
*As a disclaimer, I am not (nor do I claim to be) a certified health expert. Please take these vegan food options as a guideline and consult your doctor or physician before making any changes to your diet.*