Is a vegan diet healthy? What to eat as part of a balanced plant diet

What are the key elements of a healthy vegan diet?

To consider the safety of any diet, it is important to consider the quality and variety of food choices.

In general, foods fall into five groups; fruits and vegetables, starches, foods high in protein, fats and foods high in added fats, sugar and salt.

Vegetables and fruits

Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, and beneficial plant compounds called phytochemicals. Consuming a range of colors will maximize the diversity of nutrients provided, so try to choose a rainbow of colors.

Frozen fruits and vegetables can be helpful in keeping costs down and reducing food waste. Try adding frozen berries to your breakfast, tomatoes to your sandwich, or add a big handful of spinach to your evening meal.

Carbohydrates

Starches provide us with the energy we need for the day, as well as vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The quality of the carbs you choose is the most important factor here, with whole grain and brown varieties providing additional fiber and micronutrients that are often stripped of white and more processed varieties.

Examples include brown rice, whole wheat pasta, wholemeal bread, and oatmeal porridge.

Foods rich in protein

Plants contain all the protein we need. Whole plant foods provide protein in a healthy package with fiber and phytochemicals.

Eat a variety of plant foods, including whole grains and legumes, and try to include foods high in protein with each meal, such as tofu, tempeh, beans, legumes, peas, nuts and seeds.

Healthy fats

We all need a small amount of fat in our diets, but choosing unsaturated fat over saturated fat is important, especially for supporting long-term cardiovascular health.

Whole plant foods such as avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds provide these “good fats”. So try to include these foods on a daily basis while reducing sources of saturated fat from coconut oil, cakes, cookies, crisps, and other more processed foods.