What are the key elements of a healthy vegan diet?
To consider the healthiness of any diet, it is important to consider the quality and diversity of food choices.
Vegetables and fruit
Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fibre, water, and beneficial plant compounds called phytochemicals. Consuming a range of colours will maximise the diversity of nutrients provided, so aim to choose a rainbow of colours.
Frozen fruits and vegetables can be useful to limit cost and reduce food waste. Try adding frozen berries to your breakfast, tomatoes in your sandwich or stir a big handful of spinach into your evening meal.
Starchy carbohydrates provide us with the energy we need to get through the day, as well as vitamins, minerals and fibre.
The quality of the carbohydrates you are choosing is the most important factor here, with wholegrain and brown varieties providing extra fibre and micronutrients that are often stripped from white and more processed varieties.
Examples include brown rice, wholewheat pasta, wholemeal bread, and porridge oats.
High protein foods
Plants contain all the protein that we need. Whole plant foods provide protein in a healthy package with fibre and phytochemicals.
We all need a small amount of fat in our diet, but it is important to choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats, particularly in supporting long-term cardiovascular health.
Whole plant foods such as avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds provide these ‘good fats’. So, aim to include these foods daily whilst reducing sources of saturated fats from coconut oil, cakes, biscuits, crisps and other more processed food items.