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Adopting a vegan lifestyle, which eliminates the use of all animal products, is a wonderful step to take on our journey of mindful living, to avoid supporting and contributing to the horrific animal cruelty that takes place to produce many of the foods, clothes and products in our world today. An appropriate vegan diet can also be the most healthful way of eating and help us easily achieve optimal health, weight, energy and vitality. However, inadequate vegan diets can be just as harmful as any other diet, which is deficient in essential nutrients and/or full of harmful substances.
Here are 10 nutrition considerations for vegans to get the most benefit and least risk from their diet:
1. Focus on eating whole, plant foods, not refined or processed vegan foods. The latter options may help the animals, but they are not going to help you thrive.
2. Eat enough food for your needs daily. Even though it is energetically more efficient to eat lower on the food chain, most plant foods are naturally low in calories and require you to eat enough of them to properly sustain your body’s needs.
3. Eat enough variety of foods. A proper vegan diet should be based on lots of vegetables and fruits, along with some legumes or beans and grains or starchy vegetables daily. There should also be some nuts and seeds, as well as mushrooms, herbs and spices.
4. Eat enough vegetables, especially green vegetables and leafy greens daily. These are the most healing, protective and nutrient dense foods available on Earth for us.
5. Eat sea vegetables, like kelp, nori, dulse, wakame, kombu and arame. These are a great source of iodine and other valuable minerals, and should be consumed on a regular basis.
6. Eat omega-3 rich seeds daily, these being flax, chia or hemp. A whole food, vegan diet is naturally anti-inflammatory, but it is always important to have a good amount of essential fatty acids in the diet. Focus also, on decreasing your omega-6 levels, predominantly by avoiding vegetable oils.
7. Eat naturally fermented foods. Depending on your health needs, naturally fermented foods like raw apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kombucha and plant kefirs should be part of your diet, on some kind of a regular basis.
8. Take a B12 supplement. A proper vegan diet should not require any supplements, aside from vitamin B12.
9. Get a healthy amount of sun regularly. Vitamin D functions like a hormone and is best obtained directly from the sun through our skin, as opposed to supplements or fortified foods. Practice smart sun habits to obtain this substance most safely and naturally.
10. Drink enough pure, high quality water daily. Be sure to depend most heavily on water as your main, daily beverage and minimize or avoid any processed or problematic beverages.