What is the perfect vegan diet
12 principles for a healthy vegan diet
What do I have to pay attention to if I want to eat a vegan diet?
Because we hear this question so often, Daniel and I put our heads together for this post and wrote down our 12 principles for a healthy vegan diet.
They are based on a solid scientific foundation and have been helping us make the right choices about our diet for almost 10 years.
Guidelines instead of rules
Incidentally, we deliberately avoid the word “dietary rules” and instead speak of principles or guidelines.
The difference: unlike rules, you can't break guidelines (and feel guilty about it). You can only orientate yourself more or less precisely on them.
And yet - or precisely because of that - they serve their purpose. So let's start!
# 1 Cook with fresh ingredients yourself
In our opinion, this is the best thing you can do for a healthy diet: Prepare your own dishes using fresh ingredients as often as possible. Then you know exactly what is in it - and what is not.
By the way, even cooking doesn't have to be laborious and can even be fun! When we cook, we usually follow the grain-green-bean formula, which we will introduce to you in more detail in this post. The formula constantly gives us new ideas for delicious dishes, and it also helps to implement the next three guidelines.
# 2 Don't be afraid of carbohydrates
The fear of carbohydrates is widespread - and unfounded.
Whole grain products (pasta, millet, rice, oats, whole grain bread, etc.) and starchy foods like (sweet) potatoes and legumes are great sources of energy and nutrients. They can and should therefore land on your menu every day.
# 3 Eat vegetables every day
In addition to classics such as tomatoes, carrots and peppers, varieties from the cruciferous family such as broccoli, green, black or Brussels sprouts are particularly recommended! They provide you with iron and calcium, among other things, and contain countless other plant substances that are said to have a positive effect on health.
# 4 Eat legumes every day
Legumes are not only some of the best vegetable sources of protein, they also provide high-quality fiber and lots of minerals such as iron. That's why they can land on your plate every day!
By the way: You can find out in this article how you can cook pulses yourself and save money and waste in the process. And with these 5 strategies you can get your body used to legumes and enjoy them regularly in the future without worrying about gas and the like!
# 5 Don't be afraid of soy
All sorts of myths and half-truths are in circulation about soybeans and products made from them such as tofu, soy milk or soy yoghurt. Please don't let this unsettle you: soy is a great, versatile food that can enrich any menu.
Edamame (these are the young soybeans that you can either eat straight or in salads, for example), tofu, tempeh and soy milk are among the most protein-rich plant foods. Tofu and fortified soy are also very good sources of calcium.
# 6 Snack on fruits, nuts, seeds, and kernels
Fruit in all shapes and colors is ideal as a snack between meals and as a nutrient-rich ingredient for breakfast, salads, desserts and much more.
Nuts, seeds and kernels are also great snacks for in between and give smoothies or your breakfast porridge an additional nutritional kick. Among other things, they provide high-quality fats, protein and essential minerals.
# 7 Eat as varied and seasonal as possible
Eat as varied as possible and use the full range of plant-based foods (see # 2 to # 6) so that it never gets boring on your plate.
Tip: If you follow the seasonal calendar when shopping, you automatically ensure more variety in your diet. Fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables not only contain more nutrients, they are (usually) harvested more ripe and cover fewer kilometers during transport.
# 8 Drink water and tea especially
Tap water and herbal teas are ideal, calorie-free thirst quenchers, and they are cheap and extremely practical, because you don't have to carry heavy boxes home for them.
In summer, after a run, we can also enjoy a non-alcoholic beer - it's naturally isotonic and wonderfully refreshing.
# 9 Watch your omega-3 supply
Studies show that (not only) vegans * on average consume too many omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids. When cooking, you should therefore use rapeseed oil, for example, which has a good omega-3 to 6 ratio, and eat foods with a high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids throughout the day.
These include flax seeds (e.g. in Bircher muesli or banana puree), chia seeds (e.g. in a smoothie or as chia pudding) or walnuts as a snack between meals.
If you want to be on the safe side, you can supplement plant-based DHA and EPA. We have put together more information on this topic for you in this post.
# 10 Supplement vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is not found in plant-based foods in a form that is available to humans. If you are on a purely vegan diet, you should therefore definitely supplement with vitamin B12 and have your blood values checked regularly.
There are now numerous vitamin B12 supplements - from tablets to drops and pump sprays. You can find more information about vitamin B12 in our detailed B12 guide.
# 11 Take vitamin D supplements from October through March
A small part of vitamin D is absorbed through food and 90% is produced by the body itself through solar radiation on (bare) skin.
In the months of October to March, however, the solar radiation in Germany is so weak that your body cannot produce enough vitamin D through the skin. We therefore use a supplement in these “dark months”.
You can find detailed information about vitamin D in this post.
# 12 Make exceptions too!
In our opinion, a healthy diet also includes a healthy attitude towards nutrition - and that means that you shouldn't have a guilty conscience if you deviate from these "guidelines".
If you can't get to cooking for a few days and therefore eat in the canteen or get something from the snack bar, then this will probably not noticeably shorten your life 🙂 And the same applies to the other guidelines that we give you imagined.
As long as you return to the "normal state" after such days or phases, everything is okay!
Our new nutrition course SIMPLY VEGAN!
To help you on your way to a healthy vegan diet, we're starting ours next week brand new nutrition course SIMPLY VEGAN!
In this course, we provide you with the essential basic knowledge of plant-based nutrition and nutrient supply in short live webinars.
We will not bore you with dry theory, but give you exactly the basic knowledge you need for your diet - and then show you how you can put this knowledge into practice in your everyday life.
Registration is only open for a few days from Wednesday. When the time comes you will find out in our free newsletter. We are looking forward!
Info: This post originally appeared in August 2014. We last revised it in May 2020 and brought it up to date. Older comments therefore refer to a previous version.
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