How to Have a Healthy, Balanced Vegan Diet: Veganism Is NOT an Eating Disorder

Veganism has become fairly mainstream, to the point that when you say you’re a vegan, most other people hardly bat an eye (except to occasionally ask how you could possibly give up on bacon, or if you have any awesome techniques for making tofu taste good). But some are still reticent about accepting veganism as a choice and way of life. But a balanced vegan diet can be a lot easier to maintain than you might think.

Recent news stories linked to vegan blogger Jordan Younger have set gears in motion for even more vegan animosity; it’s time to set the record straight.

When People Magazine published Jordan Younger‘s story of her struggle with orthorexia, many vegans were outraged that Jordan’s eating disorder was being linked to her veganism. While for Jordan’s recovery, she decided that the best course of action was to abandon her veganism in favor of a plant-heavy diet with occasional fish and other animal proteins, veganism in and of itself does not have to be unhealthy and unbalanced. In fact, a balanced vegan diet is not only possible; with the right information, veganism can bring you all of the essential vitamins and minerals you need to stay the course.

With that in mind, here are three essential elements that an uninformed vegan diet may be lacking. Bear them in mind when stocking your new pantry, and enjoy your new way of life, worry-free!

1. Protein

The first thing that most non-vegans ask about when it comes to veganism is how vegans could possibly get enough protein. The answer comes with careful planning to include different vegetable proteins in your diet. Quinoa has long been touted as a complete protein, which makes our yummy quinoa summer slaw pilaf a no-brainer, but quinoa alone isn’t enough. Alternate protein sources, like tofulentils, beans and nuts should be rotated into your diet as well to ensure that your body is getting enough protein to build and hold onto muscle.

2. Iron

Iron is yet another mineral that meat-eaters claim vegans couldn’t possibly be getting enough of. They couldn’t be more wrong! The secret is in consuming dried beans, dark leafy greens and other iron-rich foods. Our lentil soup with kaleteriyaki bowl with edamame and pea sprouts and even our vegan banana bread with iron-rich dried apricots will ensure that you’re getting enough of this vital mineral, responsible for transporting oxygen through the body. Without it, you may feel sluggish, tired, or even depressed.

3. Calcium

Calcium comes from milk and cheese, right? Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean that vegans aren’t getting any. Calcium can also be gleaned from a plant-based diet. In fact, figs contain even more calcium than milk. Other calcium-rich foods include tofu, oranges, nuts, kale, broccoli and even okra. Try out our favorite okra recipes for a delicious supplement of calcium in your diet.

A vegan diet may not be for everyone, but when approached in the right way with the right knowledge in mind, veganism is a healthy, balanced way of life!

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Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco