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3 Keys to Creating Healthy Vegan Meals

3 Keys to Creating Healthy Vegan Meals

Many new vegans are curious about the health benefits of a plant-based diet and how to go about planning meals that will not only fulfill their nutritional needs, but may also improve their current level of health.

Unfortunately, if you start searching around the Internet willy-nilly for information about how to create such a plant-based diet for yourself, you’re bound to find a lot of conflicting or confusing information. Accepted dietary requirements are subject to debate and change and many people have their own “theories” on what the ultimate plant-based diet looks like, so it can get a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to help make it easy to plan out nutrient-packed, plant-based meals.

While these tips are simple, they are based on plenty of positive evidence about fulfilling all your nutritional needs, including protein (amino acids), calcium and iron easily with a plant-based diet.

So here you are: 3 Keys to Plant-based Nutrition.

1. Whole-some goodness. Whenever you can, choose the whole food over the processed version. Go for brown rice over white rice, olives over olive oil, fresh fruit over packaged cookies, etc. If you keep it whole, you’ll get a whole lot more out of the food you eat.

The nutrients in the whole foods we eat come as part of a complex package. These phytonutrients (plant-nutrients), many of which we have only begun to understand, work together to provide many of the health benefits that a plant-based diet is readily becoming associated with. So if you’re not eating the whole food you’re probably not getting the whole benefits of the foods you’re eating.

This goes for supplements as well: If you have to use certain supplements because of serious health issues, make sure you have done your research and that there is hard evidence for – and not against – taking that supplement.

For example, just because the beta-carotene in carrots is good for you doesn’t mean isolated beta-carotene is, especially in high doses. I do want to note though that there is plenty of evidence for supplementing B12 (which is produced by a bacteria) and not readily found in our environment (soil) as it once was.

2. Enjoy the rainbow. Eat beautiful bright sense-engaging meals with varied colors, textures, scents and flavors. The colors, scents, etc. that are present in plants are produced by the phytochemicals (plant-chemicals) in them. And many phytochemicals are associated with positive health benefits (antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, etc.).

Variety is the spice of life and, I think, one of the secrets to health! It’s hard to go wrong with a good mixture of fruits, veggies, legumes, beans, grains, fruits and nuts in your diet.

3. Don’t believe everything you hear or read. If you’re still nervous about getting all the nutrients you need, educate yourself. But be careful where you get your information. As I said at the beginning of this piece there is a good amount of confusing and conflicting information out there. Evaluate whatever information you find. First test it against reason and then dig a bit deeper to discover who produced the studies behind what you’re reading and if the science is sound.

No one’s perfect, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Keep it whole, add variety and enjoy!*

Bon Appétit!


*If you don’t feel your nutritional needs are being met with the diet you are currently eating, there are a growing number of dietitians and physicians in the field today who are knowledgeable about a plant-based diet and can help you create the right diet plan for you.

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


+ add your own
4:46AM PDT on Jul 11, 2014

Variety and balance are the tricks

4:09AM PDT on Jul 11, 2014

thank you

3:36AM PDT on Jul 11, 2014

Good advice. I'm concerned about Vitamin B12 so am taking nutritional yeast in the hope that is satisfying the need. Feeling very healthy though since I cut way back on sugar and eat lots more vegies and fruit.

1:56AM PDT on May 5, 2014

I am trying to eat more fruits and veggies, and cutting meat out of my diet.
It's really hard when my hubby grills the most delicious looking ribs, steaks or hamburgers! (He's a meat and potato type of guy.) He doesn't play fair!!

8:57PM PDT on Apr 29, 2014

Thank you!

8:42PM PDT on Apr 24, 2014

So true! You have to follow the "money trail" when it comes to the "supposed science" behind something, junk science is everywhere! ;this is true for not only supplements but ESPECIALLY pharmaceutical's, most do more harm than good, just read the long long list of side effects that are completely under-played by Dr.'s. I recently read an article about how a scientist wanted to prove how "junk science" is easier to get out there then people realize; he submitted a study for peer review with the intent on being published & had purposely included innacuracy's to see if those innacuracy's were caught; they were NOT & he was granted his scientific paper published! I might also mention that the people.looking to be published payed a fee for the paper to be reviewed, so there was obvious motivation for the "reviewer's" to approve the study. When I read that article I was flabbergasted! That is crazy that that can so easily happen!, it's beyond rediculous!

1:39AM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

Thank you :)

1:37AM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

Thank you :)

1:04PM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Sounds delicious .. thanks a lot for sharing this! :)

5:21PM PDT on Apr 18, 2014


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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