When making the decision to adopt a veg lifestyle, it is important to focus on balanced eating. Plant-based foods can offer many health benefits compared to conventional diets, but those benefits are acquired when a wholesome diet is followed, rather than a limited or unhealthy one. As with all diets, it is best to avoid processed or refined foods, and instead focus on legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables, and fruits as they are all important food categories that contain the nutrients necessary for overall health. It may seem tempting at first to indulge in ready-made veg products, but they can also contain unhealthy ingredients or high amounts of sodium or sugar, so it is best to focus on wholesome foods.
Some of the many benefits of a veg diet include:
- Increased fibre
- No dietary cholesterol
- More vegetable and fruit servings
- Higher intake of anti-oxidants
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, hypertension
- Increased energy and stamina
Macronutrients (needed in larger amounts)
- Carbohydrates: 60%-70% of diet, vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits
- Protein: 10%-20% of diet, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, grains, vegetables, fruits
- Fats: 10%-20% of diet, nuts, seeds, oils
Micronutrients (needed in smaller amounts)
- Vitamins: B-vitamins, C, A, D, E, K, abundant in natural plant-based sources
- Minerals: Calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine, chromium, potassium, sodium, selenium, phosphorus, chlorine, molybdenum, abundant in natural plant-based sources
Whether you have just begun your veg journey or are a long-term plant-based eater, there is one inevitable question you are bound to hear: ”Where do you get your protein from?” Protein is assumed to be a macronutrient that only meat eaters can acquire, and this is usually because many sources of animal-based protein are considered to be “complete” proteins, in the sense that they contain all the essential amino acids. However, there are also many plant-based sources of complete proteins, and incomplete proteins can be mixed and matched to create a complete one. How does this work?
Buckwheat (Incomplete) + Kidney beans (Incomplete) = Complete
Salad vegetables (Incomplete) + Sunflower seeds (Incomplete) = Complete
If you need further proof that veg diets can still deliver enough nutrients and protein for optimal health, consider the many plant-based athletes who are thriving on the diet! Some of them include Brendon Brazier, David Carter, Serena Williams, Tim Shieff, Scott Jurek, Nate and Nick Diaz, and of course Germany’s strongman, Patrik Baboumian!