Many people are often asked when they are on a vegetarian or vegan diet how they manage to get all of their necessary vitamins and minerals. It’s not uncommon for someone to be shocked and ask, “But how do you get your protein?” or “Where do you get you calcium from?” then.
I will be covering all of the best foods for you to eat without eating animal products.
This may not sound very healthy right off the bat, but bear with me. While you may not want to ditch the French fries, you can have a sweet potato or baked potato instead. It may not be the same as a French fry, but it is very filling and can taste very good if you add in seasonings when you bake them. Corn, brown rice, and black beans are also excellent plant-based sources of starch. This will definitely fill you up in no time and hopefully curb any cravings you may have for unhealthy junk foods that are advertised everywhere.
There are recipes all over the Internet that have recipes that do not include dairy products and are vegetarian or even vegan recipes.
I would highly recommend https://changemyeatinghabits.com/category/recipes/ as a starting point to figure out what types of recipes you enjoy.
Beans get a section of their own within this list because of how much protein can be packed into just a small meal with beans in it! It is also why beans are a staple of many cultures across the world. They are remarkably high in fiber, calcium, iron and often full of the essential amino acids we need to consume.
The best beans to eat, due to how much protein you get from them per calorie, would be the lupini bean. Soybeans are also very high in protein. If you are looking for more filling food products so you don’t feel the urge to eat meat or stray from your diet, starches and beans are your best bets.
Nuts and Almond Milk
Nuts – especially almonds – also have many important nutrients in them. Keep in mind that they are not as filling as other foods, but are still good for a tasty treat!
I recommend drinking almond milk as an excellent alternative for those looking to stay away from dairy while still getting any calcium they need. Almond milk is not the best source naturally to get calcium, but many brands will add in calcium and vitamin D to ensure you get these nutrients.
Unsweetened almond milk has the least calories out of the various cow’s milks available, soy milk, rice milk, and coconut milk. It doesn’t have as much protein in it, but it does have lower levels of sugars, all carbohydrates (good or bad) and fat compared to the other milks.
Dark Green and Leafy Vegetables
This is a very specific subset of vegetables due to the fact that they are packed full of – guess what? – Calcium! They also have a lot of iron and many, many vitamins in them. They also don’t have many calories in them, if you are looking to keep track of your calories.
I recommend eating vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and collards on a regular day-to-day basis because of how healthy they are for you. Kale is also a part of this group but it is a natural blood thinner. This can be okay in small doses, but having a lot of it or eating it daily can actually be detrimental to your health. This goes double if you are on blood thinners or other types of medication already.
Contrary to what you may have been raised to believe, there are many good fats that you should eat regularly. As you might expect, most of these come from plants like avocados, nuts, or chia seeds. Avocados are especially great, due to how much potassium and fiber are in them. They are loaded with fats, often with more fat than in animal products actually, but these are all of the good fats you need in your diet.
This may sound like a strange food to recommend that you eat on a diet, but give me a second to explain why. Figs are naturally sweet and great to add to things like your oatmeal if you really wanted to.
Figs also contain an amazing amount of calcium, fiber, iron, and potassium. Eight figs have about as much calcium as a regular glass a milk does! These are an excellent alternative to dairy products and are a great addition to your meal plan. You can add them regularly to your meals. You could also have them as a snack in between meals or paired with another vegetable or fruit for a very small meal.
There are many ways for you to not only avoid dairy in your plant-based diet, but you can also easily get all of the nutrients and vitamins you need daily by watching what you eat and getting all the right foods to eat. For anyone who thinks you can’t possibly get enough calcium or protein from a plant-based diet – you now have proof that there are many ways you can get these from a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
But it is still incredibly realistic to be able to find all of the proper food groups you need within these constraints – you just have to pay attention to what you are grabbing off of the shelf.