If you want to partake in Veganuary this year, here is a list of ingredients to make sure you get as varied and healthy a nutrition as possible as well as some recipe/meal suggestions. Relying on a wide variety of whole foods is the most important aspect of nutrition regardless of how you decide to fuel your body.
Veganuary is upon us again and it is probably the most famous marketing scheme of the last decade. It is not how it started out but it certainly is what it has become. Stores are pushing vegan and “healthy” products left and right. You can pick up some wonder meat right next to some new workout clothes to become the new you this year. I always look at those fake meat products with a lot of caution (see mushroom burger). Rather than spending one month a year eating all the vegan products I try to increase my consumption of vegan whole foods (vegetables, nuts, grains) and decrease the amount of meat and fish I eat all year long. Just because something is vegan it doesn’t make it healthy. Fried cauliflower dipped in sweet chili sauce is vegan too, doesn’t make it healthy. That does not mean that I am against a vegan diet. If it were up to me, I’d be eating at least vegetarian all the time. Unfortunately my body disagrees with the sentiment, which doesn’t stop me from trying.
Whether you are vegetarian, vegan or just someone trying to incorporate more plant-based meals and products into your diet here is a list of whole food ingredients with recipe suggestions to guide you without falling into the Veganuary marketing abyss. You don’t need all that stuff. What you need is a varied diet with lots of vegetables and fruits to provide you with all the micronutrients it needs and a good balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein to fuel your body throughout the day.
Must-Haves for a Varied Plant-Based Diet and Recipe Suggestions
- Legumes (variety of beans and lentils) – not only are they high in protein but also fiber and iron
- Edamame – soy beans are a great source of protein and a fantastic addition to any stir-fry
- Mushrooms – great source of vitamin D, selenium and phosphor as well as additional protein
- cabbage – there is a wide variety cabbages basically all year long that are low in calorie and a great source of fiber as well as vitamin K and vitamin C
- Variety of grains (especially whole wheat) – a great source of carbs and certain micronutrients
- Plant-based yogurt and fermented foods (sauerkraut and kimchi) – they contain healthy bacteria which promote gut health
- Nuts and seeds – provide you with an array of micronutrients such as magnesium, selenium as well as healthy fats
- Fruits and vegetables in all colours – you want your diet to be as colourful as possible not only because it looks fun but you can benefit from a variety of micronutrients and amino acids only provided by certain coloured foods
- Tofu and seitan (wheat gluten) – a great source of protein that is not a legume, so it provides some variety in texture and flavour
- B12 supplement – is something to consider if you are into your vegan diet for the long haul, which would best be discussed with a medical professional as over-supplementation can be very dangerous
Well, there you have some essentials of a well-balanced diet. Even if you are not doing Veganuary we should all be mindful of eating. If not for the environment, then for our own health. That doesn’t mean we have to become wheatgrass smoothie drinking hippies. Are you doing Veganuary? Is there maybe something I forgot on my list? I would love to hear from you. Anyway, I hope you found this blogpost informative and helpful. Stay healthy!