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10 Ingredients for a Vegan Diet

November 02, 2018

10 Ingredients for a Vegan Diet

Being vegan is more than just veggies

At one time, being vegan was associated just with peace-loving hippies, but now the vegan diet is slowly picking up popularity in American society. Increasingly, more people are deciding to cut down on animal products for ethical, environmental and health reasons. Below are 10 ingredients that you should consider adding to your vegan diet to make sure you’re reaching your full potential!

What is a Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet is free of all forms of animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy. There are various types of Vegan Diet such as: [1]

  • Whole-food Vegan Diet
  • 80/10/10
  • Raw-food vegan diet
  • Junk-food vegan diet
  • The thrive diet
  • The starch solution
  • Raw till 4

Why do people opt for a Vegan Diet?

People follow a vegan diet for various reasons. Apart from ethical and environmental reasons, a vegan diet is mostly followed for its important health benefits. Some benefits of a vegan diet are:

  • Assist in weight loss [2]
  • Lower blood sugar levels and risk of type-2 diabetes [3]
  • Reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart diseases [4]
  • Effective in the reduction of symptoms of Arthritis [5]

10 Essential Ingredients for a Vegan Diet

Vegans avoid eating animal products, as well as avoid eating any ingredients derived from animals. As they don’t consume meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, bee products and animal derived ingredients such as gelatin, casein, etc., they are assumed to have fewer options available to eat.

However, with the right set of ingredients, a vegan diet can be as delicious and flavorful as any other. Vegans substitute animal products with plant-based replacements. Here is a list of 10 ingredients which one can include in their vegan diet and get the maximum benefits:

Legumes:

Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, soybeans, and chickpeas are cheap and excellent sources of vitamins and nutrients. Lentils cook quickly and hence can be easily added to soups, salads, and pilafs.

Legumes are a primary source of protein and dietary fiber and are low in cholesterol and sodium. They can be eaten in varied forms, such as cooked and mashed for certain dishes or can be sprouted or even fermented for salads and sandwiches.  

Nuts:

Nuts being a quick source of energy, are a rich source of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Although many people think nuts provide us with Vitamin B12, that isn’t true. But nuts do provide us with many other essential nutrients such  Vitamin E, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. Nuts can be incorporated to provide yourself with  Omega-3 fatty acids that would have normally come from eating products such as fish.

Nuts can be eaten directly or can be put in savory dishes to add volume. Also, various nuts can be used in desserts as a base, a nut butter, as nut milk, or simply for garnishing.

 

Plant-based Dairy:

Plant-based milk refers to non-dairy milk derived from plants, which fits perfectly with the no animal product approach to a vegan diet. They are made from plant products such as almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, rice milk and coconut milk.

To help vegans achieve their recommended dietary intakes, many of these are available in the market with fortified calcium, Vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Similarly, many plant-based dairy products such as soy yogurt, dairy-free cheese ( that is a product of nuts) can be made a part of your vegan diet and can easily replace the animal dairy products.   

 

Tofu:

Tofu, a vegan alternative to meat, is a food product cultivated by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curd into soft white blocks. High on protein, tofu is also a potential source of calcium, magnesium, and iron [6]. It can be baked, fried, or blended into puddings and dressings. Also, tofu can be used as an alternative to ‘Paneer’ (Indian Cottage Cheese) in many vegetarian savory dishes.

Tempeh:

Another vegan alternative to meat, tempeh, is a soybean-based food product prepared by culturing and fermentation of soybeans, which binds them into a cake form. A traditional soy product of Indonesia, tempeh is considered as a rich source of protein and dietary fiber. Cooked tempeh can be used in stir-fries, soups, sandwiches, and burgers. Commonly steamed, marinated and crumbled, tempeh can also be grilled with blended seasonings making it perfect central dish for a vegan barbecue party!

 Grains:

Apart from its nutritive value, grains provide texture, flavor, and variety to make the vegan dishes fuller. One can keep their pantry stocked with rice, oats, quinoa, millets and even bulgur. Grains can be mixed with any of the other ingredients on this list to make a simple dish.

 

Nutritional Yeast:

Many might worry about their source of Vitamin- B12 when opting for a vegan diet. These days a new pantry item in the market that can supplement a vegan diet with Vitamin B12 is nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is fortified with Vitamin B12 and also imparts a cheesy flavor to the dish. It can be used in sauces, can be sprinkled like Parmesan cheese or can be used as a coating on tofu.

Miso and Tahini:

Generally used as a dressing for salads and soups, Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soy and a fungus called Aspergillus oryzae. Apart from soy, other ingredients like chickpeas, corn, amaranth, and quinoa are also used in the preparation of Miso. Just like Miso paste, Tahini is also a widely used dip and dressing for many Arabic dishes. A condiment made from ground hulled sesame seeds, Tahini is a rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Image source: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/tahini

Maple syrup:

A natural sweetener, Maple syrup can be used for baking, dressing or glazing that perfect dessert you have made from fresh fruits and nuts!

Made from the sap of maple trees, maple syrup can be a perfect replacement for honey, blending well with your vegan pancakes and oatmeal.   

Fresh fruits and vegetables:

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most integral part of any vegetarian diet. They are the best and most wholesome sources of maximum vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. So when are you making a vegetable salad with kale, tomato, spinach and a miso sauce dressing?

If one finds it difficult to obtain nutrients like Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Calcium from their vegan diet, in addition to their diet they can opt for Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Calcium supplements in order to meet their daily requirement.

Need some healthy snacking ideas? Check out our blog on - Six Healthy Snacks Ideas

[1] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-guide

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26164391

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2671114/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26853923

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9566667

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofu