The vegan diet excludes all foods of animal origin and foods derived from the exploitation of animals. These include meat, fish, milk, dairy products, eggs and honey. These are foods derived from animals and their secretions. There are more than 20,000 edible plants in the world, so the foods we avoid in our vegan diet are in the minority. A vegan diet can provide all the essential nutrients and, if properly designed, is suitable for people at all stages of life. The guide you are reading will help you with proper planning, as it explains how to meet the needs of all macro- and micronutrients with plant-based foods. Let’s start by looking at which food groups we eat in a vegan diet.
These foods include, for example, potatoes, wheat, oats, rice, buckwheat and products such as pasta, couscous, bread, porridge and the like. What these foods have in common is that they have a high proportion of starch or carbohydrates. Starchy foods in their unprocessed form contain many complex carbohydrates that are metabolized more slowly than simple ones and provide a constant source of energy. Unprocessed and whole grains also contain a lot of fiber and other nutrients that are good for our body, while processed foods are often depleted of these nutrients. Our primary choice should therefore be starchy foods in their primary form. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the human body and are thought to make up about 80% of our diet.
Legumes include, for example, beans, peas, chickpeas, soybeans and lentils. Legumes are a great source of protein. Protein is a basic building block of the human body, and we are supposed to consume 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, which usually represents about 10% of our diet. Legumes also contain a lot of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds include cashews, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, flaxseed, sesame, pumpkin seeds and the like. Nuts and seeds are a great source of fat. Fats are also an essential macronutrient and are thought to make up about 10% of our diet.
Fruits include apples, oranges, bananas, berries and the like. Fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and fiber.
Vegetables include, for example, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and green leafy vegetables. Vegetables contain many nutrients and have a very beneficial effect on our body. About half of our plate should always be lined with vegetables, and we should also eat as many green leafy vegetables as possible, such as spinach and kale.
Fungi and algae
Fungi and algae include various types of mushrooms and algae. We use them mainly as spices.
Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water. We consume them in large quantities daily and they represent our source of energy.
Carbohydrates are the fuel for our body. They are estimated to account for about 80 percent of our caloric intake per day. All foods of plant origin contain carbohydrates, only the ratios are different. Carbohydrates are obtained primarily from starchy foods and fruits.
Protein is one of the basic building blocks of our body. It has long been known that plant foods are perfect and contain all the essential amino acids. Protein is also found in many foods of plant origin, and is most concentrated in legumes, nuts and seeds. They are estimated to account for about 10 percent of our caloric intake per day.
Fats are also an essential nutrient, and are mostly found in nuts and seeds. To meet the need for different types of fatty acids, we choose different types of nuts and seeds, but it is recommended to consume 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily to meet the need for omega 3 fatty acids. In total, they are expected to account for about 10 percent of our caloric intake per day.
Vitamins include vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Foods of plant origin contain all vitamins, except vitamins B12 and D. B12 is neither of plant nor animal origin, but is produced by bacteria. It was once consumed through non-chlorinated water and unwashed food, but today it is the safest and most effective source of B12 from a dietary supplement. Vitamin D is synthesized by the human body when exposed to the sun, but the effect of the sun in our places in the colder months is too small. Then we ensure the need for vitamin D with the help of a dietary supplement.
At this point, it is important to point out that there is a lack of these vitamins in both vegan and omnivorous diets. The lack of these vitamins is due to changes in people’s lifestyles.
Minerals include copper, zinc, fluorine, phosphorus, iodine, calcium, potassium, chlorine, cobalt, chromium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sodium, selenium, vanadium, iron and sulfur. Plant foods are extremely rich in minerals, but we must be careful to eat enough. As already mentioned, vegetables and green leafy vegetables should make up at least half of our meal. Insufficient intake of vegetables can lead to iron and calcium deficiency. The need for both can be met by eating green leafy vegetables and foods enriched with minerals.