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Vegan Meal Planning Tips ...


Some people who attempt to prepare their own food are unaware of what should be included in vegan meals. These vegan meal planning tips should help you ensure your meals are both nutritious and delicious.  


As you should know, the right amounts of the right nutrients are required in order to live on a healthy diet of any type (whether vegan or not). Being vegan means a few important nutrients are a little harder to get; but not impossible, and adding them to meals is very easy! 


Vegan meal planning tip #1: Get your regular good-for-you nutrients!


This should occur naturally in your mind; you need to get what you need to get! These are the “essential” nutrients, which are essential for healthy living. The essential nutrients vegans need to be particularly aware of are iron, calcium and protein. Iron is one of the easiest nutrients to become deficient in, regardless of the type of diet you follow, and in particular for women. Typically, green leafy vegetables, tofu, chickpeas and lentils are the most common sources of iron for vegans. These iron-rich foods should be consumed with a source of vitamin C (such as orange juice) so that the body can absorb plenty of the iron. Calcium is fairly easy to get in any diet, but you need to make sure you get enough of it. Soy milk, soy yoghurt, tofu and broccoli are popular sources of calcium. Protein is (contrary to popular belief) not quite as important (but still important) to fuss over as other essential nutrients. The reason for this is that most people already consume enough (and in many cases; too much) protein and have no need to worry at all. Lentils, legumes, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts (yes, including soy foods such as soy milk and tofu) are good sources of protein. 


Vegan meal planning tip #2: Get the harder-to-find nutrients! 


Those harder-to-find nutrients are still important in your diet. The main ones are B12 and the omegas; some people will have you believe that it is absolutely impossible to get B12 or the omegas in a vegan diet. This is not true at all. B12 is usually found in meat, so needs to be replaced with something else. Fortified foods are your best option for B12. Soy milk, cereals and breads are often B12 fortified; just check the labels to make sure they are. B12 supplements are recommended if you cannot get enough B12 in your diet; usually this will be given to you by an injection from your doctor or you can get a B12 supplement/multivitamin from the supermarket or health food store. The omegas are also generally uncommon in the vegan diet as they are usually found in fish. Obviously, vegans do not eat fish, and need something in place of this. Flaxseed oil is the best product available to vegans for the omegas (it contains good levels of all the omegas). This is often used as a dressing on salads, roasted vegetables, mixed into yoghurts or smoothies, and so on. 


Vegan meal planning tip #3: Add the flavour 


Many people find that the problem with making food is the lack of flavour often experienced. This is easily solved with half a teaspoon of vegetable stock, a sprinkle of paprika, some crushed garlic and so on. If a recipe calls for some spices you cannot find; just search the internet for descriptions of the taste and replace it with something else, or experiment and try new flavours in your food. 


Vegan meal planning tip #4: Vegetables for meals, fruit for snacks 


According to many, many sources, you need to consume quite a lot of vegetables in your food, and a few serves of fruit every day. Following the “2 and 5” rule (as a rough guideline: two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day) is very easy if you opt for vegetables in your main meals and eat fruit as snacks during the day. Ensure you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; there is no point in eating five serves of potato and two apples every day because you will not get all the nutrients you need. 


Vegan meal planning tip #5: Remember the drinks! 


Just like food, drinks are a very important part of every day. Always ensure you get enough water (eight glasses a day), and have drinks with meals to help wash down what you eat. Orange juice should be consumed with iron-rich meals so that the body absorbs the iron well (though if there is vitamin C in the meal then you need not worry about orange juice, unless you want to). Soy/rice/oat/other milk is usually a part of the vegan diet to help increase the amount of calcium the body gets daily. 


Vegan meal planning tip #6: Smaller, more frequent meals. 


Forget the idea of three big meals per day! Instead, opt for five meals per day, of smaller size. This is a very widely accepted idea as this plan keeps your body’s metabolism working during the day, therefore not slowing it down (remember, this helps with maintaining a healthy weight!). 


Vegan meal planning tip #7: Remember the health check-ups. 


No matter what type of diet or lifestyle you follow, it is vital that you have your health checked out by a doctor regularly. Blood tests are fantastic for determining if you are deficient in various essential nutrients, and your doctor can carry out various other tests to determine if you have any other health problems. If you do not feel in top shape (eg. Feeling sluggish, constantly tired, constant joint soreness etc) then perhaps there is something going wrong in your diet which a doctor should examine. 


Ensuring you are healthy is one significant part of a good lifestyle. However, your food should also be tasty as to ensure you do not get bored of eating and feel like eating is a chore. The vegan meal planning tips provided are key points to remember in making sure your meal planning ventures are successful.




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