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Vegan Diet

Those that abstain from consuming animal products adhere to what is known as the vegan diet. A life of dietary veganism consists of not only foregoing meats from poultry, cattle, pork, fish, and other more exotic life forms- but it also requires abstaining from any articles they produce. This means that eggs (even those left unfertilized), dairy milk or cheeses, and honey are all usually avoided by those that partake in the challenging, though incredibly enriching, diet.

Why Go Vegan?

The vegan lifestyle is one closely tied to both health and ethics. Reasons for going vegan range from a practical concern about the environmental sustainability of intensive farming to a philosophical rejection of the status of animals as commodities. Those subscribing to the latter school of thought may also forsake the use of animal products in other facets of their lives, including items made from leather, wool, or down (Vegan Action/Vegan Awareness Foundation, n.d.).

No matter your commitment to the lifestyle associated with the diet, in addition to contributing to the wellbeing of the world around us, eating vegan also offers substantial benefits to your own well being. Eliminating animal products from your day-to-day meals will often cause an increase in your intake of dietary fiber and select vitamins and minerals, including: vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, arachidonic acid, and phytochemicals (Craig, 2009).

The diet also tends to naturally reduce your intake of cholesterol and saturated fat; this can lead to a reduction in the risk of developing select chronic diseases, including heart disease. In fact, a 2014 study published in Nutrients confers that the diet showed a unique benefit over even that of vegetarian diets with a greater reduction of risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension (Clarys et al., 2014).

Risks and Considerations

Abiding by a mostly vegan diet can reduce cardiovascular risk but may require supplementation.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found in 2009 that, while vegan diets tend to increase our intake of certain essential nutrients, they also have a tendency of reducing our consumption of others. Vegans may eat less long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12 (Craig, 2009). The worst of which is the lack of vitamin B12, which is not provided by any uncontaminated plant foods.

A lack of vitamin B12 can cause serious complications ranging from anemia to nerve damage. This shortcoming has lead to innumerable recommendations that vegans consume fortified foods or rely on supplementation to avoid this otherwise inexorable deficiency (Craig, 2009). A 2010 article in Slate has also recommend eating oysters as part of a healthy vegan diet, citing the environmental sustainability associated with oyster farming and biological factors that may further align the food with the the ethics of the diet pertained to animal welfare (Cox, 2010).

Though the article does not mention it, oysters contain vitamins and minerals that are often missing in the diets of practicing vegans. A 100-gram serving of oysters also offer more than 100% of the DV for zinc, for vitamin B12 and for vitamin D. The same serving also contains 672 mg of omega 3 fatty acids- many of which are long-chain (Nichols, Petrie & Singh, 2010). The mollusks also offer a modest amount of calcium with 11% of the DV in every 1 cup serving, though you can also lean on kale, almonds, and soy for adequate amounts of this mineral (Condé Nast, 2014; National Osteoporosis Foundation, n.d.).

When considering whether or not to add oysters to an otherwise untarnished vegan diet, it is essential to consider that any vitamin B12 you eat is most likely coming from an animal source. By selecting to get yours straight from this particularly potent source, you simultaneously reduce the risk of some of the most substantial deficiencies vegans face and select a B12 source that you know to be sustainable and, which some consider to be ethically equivalent to consuming mushrooms (Cox, 2010). For more information on ways to add these essential vitamins and minerals to your diet with whole food sources, be sure to check out our article on the vegetarian diet.

Vegan Recipes

These recipes offer an abundance of meals that meet the tough criteria of being nutritionally sound, surprisingly scrumptious, and vegan! Make delicious desserts, wholesome lunches, and more with the recipes below- or, find a full list of all our vegan recipes here.

Moringa Oatmeal

Moringa Oatmeal Recipe

This delectable oatmeal recipe is the ideal way to start the day and offers stellar health with more than 12 grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein, and abundance of essential nutrients in each serving!
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, almond milk, agave or maple syrup, vanilla extract, moringa powder, pistachios, dried mulberries, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 324-gram servings

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie {gluten-free, vegan}

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

Treat yourself to a naturally sweet smoothie that is packed with potent sources of protein. This hearty beverage is easy to make to provide a treat whenever the mood strikes.
Ingredients: Almond milk, matcha green tea powder, hemp protein powder, almond flour, dried mulberries, pitted dates, flaxseed meal, ice cubes, stevia powder.
Total Time: 5 minutes | Yield: 4 smoothies

No-Bake Granola Bars {gluten-free, vegan}

No-Bake Granola Bars Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

We all need a reliable anytime treat to help us get through the day with enduring energy and adequate nutrition. These bars provide just that with a recipe that is both quick and easy!
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, peanut butter, dried tart cherries, pistachios, flaxseed meal, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, agave syrup. unsweetened applesauce, melted cacao nibs or dark chocolate.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 8 - 10 servings

Blueberry Chia Jam Bars {gluten-free, vegan}

Blueberry Chia Jam Bars Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

These sweet snacks are ideal as a dessert or a saccharine treat between meals. In addition to a delectable flavor, the bites also offer a hearty source of fiber.
Ingredients: Raw almonds, gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, maple syrup, water, vanilla or almond extract, blueberries, cacao powder, coconut oil.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 16 mini bars

Quinoa Veggie Wrap {vegan}

Quinoa Veggie Wrap Recipe {vegan}

This simple recipe supplies four servings of a wholly healthsome snack. Packed with 13 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals- these wraps make for a lucid lunch choice.
Ingredients: Tortilla wraps, quinoa, hummus, fresh spinach, sun-tomatoes, shredded carrots.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 4 wraps

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad {gluten-free}

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe {gluten-free}

Another superb selection for your midday meal is this scrumptious salad that supplies a similarly complete profile of needed nutrients ranging from iron and protein to unsaturated fats and fiber.
Ingredients: Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh parsley, fresh mint, black pepper, salt.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 4 servings

Veggie Quinoa Casserole {gluten-free, vegan}

Veggie Quinoa Casserole Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

This hearty dinner dish combines the superfood quinoa with select vegan staples like tofu and bell pepper to provide a palatable plate that’s packed with protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats.
Ingredients: Quinoa, extra firm tofu, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme, salt.
Total Time: 35 minutes | Yield: 4 - 5 204-gram servings

No-Bake Cheesecake Bites {gluten-free}

No-Bake Cheesecake Bites Recipe {gluten-free}

This delectable dessert is easy to make and provides a palate that is supremely satisfying. Put together these compelling confections to enjoy a rich sweet anytime!
Ingredients: Pitted dates, almond flour, cacao powder, vanilla extract, almond milk, raw cashews, maple syrup, canned pumpkin, pumpkin spice.
Total Time: 20 minutes | Yield: 16 - 20 squares

Spirulina Ice Cream {gluten-free}

Spirulina Ice Cream Recipe {gluten-free}

You scream, I scream, we all scream for vegan ice cream! This redolent recipe restores a former favorite to your plate with a delicious dish free of animal products!
Ingredients: Full fat coconut milk, agave syrup, spirulina, cacao nibs.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 servings

Healthy Vegan Chocolate Truffle

Healthy Vegan Chocolate Truffle Recipe

Enjoy yet another tasty treat with these chocolate confections and the opulent palate they proffer. The mouthwatering munchies also utilize natural sources of sugar for a healthier sweet you’ll love!
Ingredients: Jumbo Mejdool dates, almond flour, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, cacao powder, agave or maple syrup, almond milk, unsweetened shredded coconut.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 24 truffles

Vegan Snack Recommendations

Eating vegan has never been so easy! Check out our incredible assortment of healthy vegan snacks that are ready right out of the bag, as recommended by our Health Nut and Registered Dietitian. For more vegan snack ideas, click here.

References

Clarys, P., Deliens, T., Huybrechts, I., Deriemaeker, P., Vanaelst, B., Keyzer, W. D., . . . Mullie, P. (2014, March). Comparison of Nutritional Quality of the Vegan, Vegetarian, Semi-Vegetarian, Pesco-Vegetarian and Omnivorous Diet. Retrieved February, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967195/

Condé Nast. (2014). Nutrition Facts. Retrieved February, 2016, from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4189/2

Cox, C. (2010, April 07). Consider the Oyster. Retrieved February, 2016, from http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2010/04/consider_the_oyster.html

Craig, W. J. (2009). Health effects of vegan diets. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1627S.full.pdf

National Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). A Guide to Calcium-Rich Foods. Retrieved February, 2016, from https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/a-guide-to-calcium-rich-foods/

Nichols, P. D., Petrie, J., & Singh, S. (2010, June). Long-Chain Omega-3 Oils–An Update on Sustainable Sources. Retrieved February, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257669/

Vegan Action/Vegan Awareness Foundation. (n.d.). Home Page - Vegan Action. Retrieved February, 2016, from http://vegan.org/