Vegan nutrition is important for all vegans (and those interested in a vegan lifestyle) to understand. Myths about vegan nutrition run rampant on the internet and this misinformation can be extremely harmful. Vegan nutrition myths are spread by both vegans and non-vegans alike.
Much misinformation about vegan nutrition comes from a lack of thorough research, misinterpretation of research or incomplete understanding of human physiology. Vegan nutrition myths also stem from people either wanting to make vegan diets look harmful or ideal.
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Vegan Nutrition: Important Nutrients
There are many nutrients that vegans need to be aware of when planning a healthy and balanced diet. Each image below takes you to a full page detailing what the nutrient is, what it does in the body, what the daily intake requirements are and how to consume enough as a vegan.
Some of these nutrients are challenging to get on a vegan diet, others are much easier. Supplements may or may not be required (except for vitamin B12 supplements which are needed for a healthy vegan diet).
Make sure to always speak with a doctor before making any changes to your diet AND before starting any supplements. There are risks to taking supplements.
Where Does Misinformation about Vegan Nutrition Come From?
When promoting a vegan lifestyle, some people are tempted to claim there are no concerns regarding proper vegan nutrition. A well-planed vegan diet can support all stages of life, but the keyword is "well-planned". This implies the need for a vegan diet to be balanced, and ensure it meets nutrient needs.
Alternatively, people who do not support veganism may set out to make vegan diets look impossible to follow or potentially harmful to health. This is often done by pointing out certain nutrients that may be challenging to consume as a vegan.
As with any nutrition topic, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. There are certainly nutrients that need to be addressed when talking about vegan nutrition. Certain vitamins and/or minerals may require supplementation (needs can vary among individuals).
So, while vegan diets can be healthful, they can also lead to nutrition concerns if not done properly.
Vegan Nutrition Tips
The best tips I have for ensuring proper vegan nutrition is to research and check your sources. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, nutrition coach, wellness coach, nutritionalist etc. and provide any information they want. Many people who don't use these titles also provide nutrition advice.
Without proper understanding of science, research (and limitations of research), it's extremely easy to spread false nutrition information and/or incorrectly interpret nutrition research.
To avoid common pitfalls associated with vegan nutrition, go to a nutrition expert. Registered Dietitians are experts in nutrition and have undergone extensive training and education to earn that title. Many people assume personal experience or a short online course is adequate. If it were adequate, Registered Dietitians wouldn't require 5+ years of school before providing nutrition care.
There are lots of fantastic vegan and plant-based dietitians online.
My next best tip for vegans and anyone transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is to not get caught up in overly restrictive diets. Veganism is for life, diets are temporary (not to mention can cause harm).
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition especially when it comes to vegan nutrition. Being overly concerned with a certain pattern of eating can make things way more difficult than they need to be.
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Author Profile: Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out. She provides vegans with balanced meals and easy-to-understand nutrition science.
Having attained a Masters degree and passing a national registration exam, Nicole is a trusted source of nutrition information. She uses this knowledge to educate others about vegan diets and how to thrive as a vegan.