According to a study commissioned by RRC Associates, a research firm based in Boulder, Colorado, 7.3 million Americans are vegans. Furthermore, 22.8 million have adopted vegetarian-inclined diets. If you would like to join the bandwagon, the good news is vegan meals can still provide your body with all the essential nutrients. Here are some tips for creating a healthy vegan diet plan:

Conquering the Vegan Nutrient Challenge

All vegan diets have to solve one major problem: replacing nutrients found in animal products like milk, meat, and eggs. Luckily, you can easily find non-animal based sources of the following key nutrients:

  • Vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin .
  • Iron
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Calcium

Leafy greens such as broccoli, rice milk, mustard greens, collards, kale, Chinese cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are great calcium sources. For vitamin B-12, include fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, and nutritional yeasts into your diet. Iron is available in almost all types of beans, tofu, cooked leafy greens, and lentils. Vitamin D rich vegan foods include fortified orange juice, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soymilk, and sun exposure. Canola oil, soybeans, flaxseed oil, and wheat germ are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

A Vegan Meal Plan

When planning your daily vegan meals, make sure their calorie levels fall within the 1,200 to 1,800 range. With this in mind, you could start your day with a breakfast meal that consists of fresh fruit juice, oatmeal, walnuts, raisins, and one cup of strawberries. During lunch, you could eat a grilled vegetable sandwich made up of tomatoes, artichokes, zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. You could accompany it with leek, asparagus, and herb soup. For dinner, you could eat tofu-spinach lasagna accompanied by spinach salad with orange-sesame dressing. Healthy snacks include apples, apple pancakes, granola, Swiss rolls, and fruit smoothies. Desserts you can try include vegan cheesecake and carrot cake.

With careful planning, you can whip up vegan meals that provide all the essential nutrients. The American Diabetes Association supports vegan meals because studies have shown such meals promote weight loss.

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