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Is A Vegan Diet For Me?

Chic peas, cashews, and quinoa!! What do all of these delicious foods have in common? They are all staples of a vegan friendly diet.

A vegan diet is a plant-based diet that excludes all animal derived foods (meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs). It differs from the more common vegetarian diet in that dairy and eggs are also eliminated. The vegan diet has grown in popularity over the last few years. According to Vegetarian Times magazine, roughly 1 million Americans follow a vegan diet. A person who chooses to follow a vegan diet may do so for health reasons or concerns over animal welfare.

A vegan diet is high in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E. It tends to be lower in saturated fats and is cholesterol free (cholesterol is only found in animal products). The nutrient profile of a vegan diet offers many potential health benefits.

Some of the possible health benefits of following a vegan diet include:

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced risk of some cancers
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Decreased pain associated with diabetic neuropathy
  • Lower BMI (body mass index)

One of the common questions people have when considering a vegan diet is: Where do I get protein? Protein rich foods come from a variety of sources including beans, legumes, soy, nuts, grains and seeds. The following is an abbreviated list of some protein rich, vegan friendly foods:

Serving Size
Protein (grams)
Soybeans, cooked
1 cup
Lentils, cooked
1 cup
Black beans, cooked
1 cup
Kidney beans, cooked
1 cup
Chickpeas, cooked
1 cup
Quinoa, cooked
1 cup
Peanut butter
2 tbsp
1/4 cup
Soy milk
1 cup

Many of the high protein foods consumed on a vegan diet contain carbohydrates of varying amounts. If you follow a meal plan that allows a certain amount of carbohydrates at each meal you will need to account for the carbohydrate provided in these foods. Many of these protein rich foods are high in fiber. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate and may offer the additional benefit of improved blood sugar control.While a vegan diet can offer many health benefits, there are a few potential nutrition shortfalls. The following is a list of nutrients that may be lacking on a vegan diet and ways to ensure you consume adequate amounts.

  • Vitamin B 12: vitamin B 12 fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, or take a daily multivitamin
  • Vitamin D: vitamin D fortified soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, orange juice, or take a daily multivitamin
  • Iron: beans, spinach, soybeans, lentils, prune juice or take a daily multivitamin with minerals. To increase iron absorbed from these foods, eat them with vitamin C rich foods such as an orange or broccoli.
  • Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, and soy products. Pregnant and lactating woman should consider taking a daily supplement that contains DHA.

If following a strict vegan diet is not for you, consider trying a vegan dish a few times a week.

You may find that you really enjoy the change!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.