If you’ve been considering switching to a plant based diet but aren’t 100% sure about how to be healthy as a vegan or what a full day’s worth of meals would look like, I’m partnering with HealthLabs.com* to bring you guys more information on this exact topic and how you can be a healthy vegan with a balanced diet!
*This post is in collaboration with HealthLabs.com; however, all opinions are my own.
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I want to start off with the disclaimer that there has always been a stereotype that if you’re vegan then automatically that means you’re going to be deficient in something. Yes, there are nutrients that you need to pay more attention to as a vegan or vegetarian, but vitamin deficiencies can and do happen to everyone. As an example, it’s the exact same if someone who isn’t vegetarian or vegan isn’t eating enough vegetables – they could easily be deficient in fiber or any number of other vitamins and minerals! Fiber deficiency is actually really common in North America (protein deficiency, not so much!). So it honestly has more to do with eating a well balanced diet than it does with being vegan.
On the other hand, I think recently there’s been a shift in how people perceive veganism in terms of whether or not it’s seen as “healthy”. This has been awesome and so good for the movement, but there are still some people out there who question whether you can get all your essential nutrients on a plant based diet. I’ve personally been vegan for over two years and on my one year anniversary of being vegan, I went and got my blood work done just to confirm what I already knew (and maybe to prove a few people wrong!) – that I felt great and was thriving with high levels of all nutrients and vitamins in my system. The testing DID confirm this – I have high levels of protein, calcium, iron, etc. and I’m not kidding when I say it requires no effort. I don’t take any vitamins, pills, or supplements of any kind (although you can if you personally feel 100% reassured from doing so), I literally just eat a balanced diet full of lots of fruit and vegetables, and a lot of donuts too haha! This is the way that works best for me to be a healthy vegan – balance. Click here to see what I typically eat in a full day as a vegan!
So here are my top tips for how to be as healthy as possible on a vegan diet!
1. Keep Your Veggie Intake High
One thing that can happen to new vegans or even people who have been vegan for a long time is that you sometimes fall into the mentality that because you’re not eating a bunch of super unhealthy animal products, you can pretty much eat whatever you want. This isn’t the best approach and can potentially lead to health problems down the line, because imagine if you went vegan and only ate fries, junk food and vegan burgers all day. That would definitely NOT be a healthy vegan diet! You would then start to not feel the greatest since your diet would be composed mainly of processed food, rather than taking the whole foods plant based approach where you are eating for your health AND the ethical reasons too. So you need to make sure that you’re eating your greens and getting those 6-10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables every single day, and the more dark leafy greens you can consume (such as kale) the better. Eating tons of veggies also helps with keeping you hydrated, since vegetables have such a high water content! The more you start to implement this tip, the more you’re going to notice your skin glowing and your energy levels and happiness will be high.
What helps me a TON with hitting my veggie intake goals every day is Daily Harvest, which is a plant based smoothie and meal delivery service that delivers high quality and almost entirely organic frozen food to your door! You can find out more about it by reading the full review I wrote on it here, and if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself you can use my code “caitlin” on their website to get $25 off your first order as a new customer!
2. Use A Nutrition Tracker App
Since we’re always on our phones these days, this is something so simple that you can do in order to be a healthy vegan that will help so much with keeping track of your daily nutritional intake. There are a lot of really good nutrition tracker apps that you can download and just enter in what you eat for each meal and snack in a day, and the app will calculate all of your nutrient intake for the day and give you a good idea of what you need more of as well as what you’re getting enough of! A really awesome one that I’ve used myself is Cronometer.com – you can use their website or download the app on your phone! Using an app or site like that will just keep you on top of everything health wise so you won’t have any surprises the next time you’re getting your blood work done.
3. Treat Yourself (Once In A While!)
Something that I absolutely love about being vegan in this day and age is that you can find a vegan version of ANYTHING non vegan that you used to eat! For example, my local Whole Foods stores here in LA have the most delicious vegan donuts that honestly taste better than any non vegan donuts I’ve ever had. I will have a treat like that a few times a week but still stick to mostly whole plant foods, which leaves me feeling my absolute best because I’m eating super healthy for the most part but at the same time not depriving myself of sweets and junk food every now and then!
4. Get Your Blood Tested Once A Year
Health Labs offers tests for people who are currently vegan to ensure like I did that your nutrient levels are high. To find that section on their site, you can click here. Also, for those of you who might be wondering if you have allergies to dairy, eggs, or poultry, they offer basic, standard, and comprehensive testing to clear everything up for you. One thing that made it even easier when I transitioned from vegetarian to vegan was finding out that I have a bad dairy allergy. Once you realize that waking up with a face full of hives and acne after having a cheese pizza the night before just doesn’t feel that great/like it’s worth it anymore and that there are LOTS of delicious dairy substitutes, you kind of have a change of heart! Not to mention what goes into making cheese or any dairy product (The Dairy Industry Explained in 5 Minutes is an ESSENTIAL video to watch on YouTube in order to fully understand what you might still be feeding yourself and your family). I eat vegan pizza all the time, and yes I was one of those people who thought vegan cheese was gross at first (after having tried one brand one time lol) and now that I’ve had the good stuff I realize it’s delicious. Dairy free ice cream tastes the exact same for the most part so that wasn’t an excuse either and I eat ice cream as much as anyone (hello Ben & Jerry’s + Haagen Dazs dairy free!).
Staying on top of your health is a smart idea regardless of what your diet consists of! If you call Health Labs and let them know that you heard about them via my blog Beauty & Colour, you get 25% off of any test of your choice! Their service is super convenient because they have over 4,500 partner lab locations across the country, so you just select your city, purchase your test and then choose from a number of different locations according to what is closest for you.