Maintaining a vegan diet can be challenging for some, so having the time and energy to focus on the diet is key. Nutritionists maintain some of the healthiest diets, so vegan nutritionists must be the healthiest of the whole bunch!

So, what do vegan nutritionists eat? What would they recommend a daily plate look like?

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According to Dr. Barnard from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine  “the protein portion of the USDA’s MyPlate is unnecessary, because beans, whole grains, and vegetables are loaded with it. And it is a shame that MyPlate reserves a special place for dairy products, which are packed with fat and cholesterol and may increase the risk of health problems ranging from asthma to some types of cancer. There are many more healthful sources of calcium.”

A vegan version of the USDA MyPlate would look something like this: about ¼ fruit, ¼ grains, ¼ veggies, ¼ legumes, some calcium and water with each meal. Special nutrients for vegans to focus on are protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin b12, according to choosemyplate.gov.

The Vegetarian Resource group also has a detailed vegan plate suggestion. Fill half of your plate with whole grains and protein, including combinations of beans and rice, tempeh and pasta, bread and hummus, etc. Slightly more than half of your plate should be filled with vegetables, and the rest with fruit.

Many health experts, such as Virginia Messina, a vegan dietician, suggest following a vegan Mediterranean diet, which is widely considered to be a healthy diet. Hundreds of studies have proven and supported the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which can easily be veganized. Some healthy dishes that fit into a vegan Mediterranean diet are spicy lentil salad and roasted winter vegetable soup.

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Messina recommends you pile your plate with whole grains and vegetables, choose protein from beans, and choose extra virgin olive oil for most of the fats in your diet. Variety is a sentiment also held by Brenda Davis, RD and co-author of Becoming Raw, who says, “Generally, if vegans eat a variety of plant foods (legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits and grains) and consume sufficient calories, protein needs will be met.”

Vegan nutritionists also point to healthy grains for a plant-based diet because of their sustenance and affordable cost. KyLee Fournier, a certified sports nutritionist who is also an avid runner and vegan food lover, says we should be eating three important grains, which have been nourishing people around the world for centuries. On her blog, Fournier says that quinoa, teff, and amaranth “are versatile and tasty alternatives to commonly used foods like rice or oatmeal. Preparation is simple, and these ‘grains’ are available at most grocery stores. The cost — while slightly more than, say, rice — still isn’t exorbitant.”

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Messina, who is also the co-author of Vegan for Life, recommends that vegans who want to include DHA and EPA in their diets get it the same way fish do, which is from algae.

A daily vegan plate can be varied and nutritious by following the above guidelines from trusted vegan dieticians and nutritionists. Mirror your diet to some of these methods, and you’ll be on your way to plant-based nutrition gold!

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Image Source: Quinoa Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing

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