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Nutrition

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Optimal Vegan Nutrition

The health benefits of a vegetarian diet are impressive. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, nutritional researcher at Cornell University and director of the largest epidemiological study in history, says, "The vast majority of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented simply by adopting a plant-based diet." The American Dietetic Association, the nation's largest organization of nutrition professionals, states that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. By adopting a nutritious vegan diet, you will likely lose unwanted weight, have more energy, and dramatically lower your risk of various diseases. Here are a few pointers on how to maximize the benefits:

Top Tips

  • Eat a variety of "whole foods," with plenty of beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Avoid unhealthy foods like trans fats, which are usually listed as partially hydrogenated oils. Deep-fried foods often contain trans fats. Choose margarines that use nonhydrogenated oil, like Earth Balance or Smart Balance. Although a diet consisting of Coke and French fries is technically vegan, you can't be healthy if you eat nothing but junk food.
  • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria, and some experts believe that vegetarians used to get plenty of this vitamin from bacteria in drinking water. Since drinking water is now treated with chemicals that kill the bacteria, it's important to make sure that you get enough vitamin B12 from fortified foods (like most brands of soy or rice milks, some breakfast cereals, and many brands of nutritional yeast) on a daily basis or by taking a sublingual B12 tablet of 10 mcg per day.

Essential Nutrients

We've listed some nutrients that people often ask about as well as where you can get them. A healthy, balanced vegan diet rich in beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables—along with a bit of vitamins B12 and D—will give you everything that your body needs. But if you often eat on the go and don't always have time to eat nutritious meals, taking a regular multivitamin might be a good option.

Learn More About…
  • Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Protein

Common Questions

Here is information on a few common topics that we are sometimes asked about regarding healthy vegetarian eating. For more in-depth information, see the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s vegetarian starter kit or check out our recommended-reading list below.

Learn More About…
  • Blood-Type Diet
  • High-Protein and Low-Carbohydrate Diets
  • Soy Foods
  • Vegetarianism and Pregnancy, Children, and Teenagers
It's never too late to turn over a new leaf-you can take control of your health today by going vegetarian.

Recommended Reading

  • Eat Right, Live Longer by Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D.
  • The Food Revolution by John Robbins
  • Healthy Eating for Life: For Children by Dr. Amy Lanou, Ph.D.
  • Health Eating for Life: For Women by PCRM
  • American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada: Joint Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets
  • PCRM's Vegetarian Starter Kit (Free)
  • More Books on Heath

 

THE HORMONAL CONNECTION: THE ADRENAL GLANDS - DIAGNOSIS
ROTATION DIET AND BUILDING CONFIDENCE: A NOTE ON JUNK FOOD
'WEIGHT DOWN AND THE DESERT OF TESTING: THE MATTHEW 19:29 PRINCIPLE
IMMUNE POWER DIET: THE MINERAL IQ QUIZ
BREAKING BAD HABITS
SMART DRUGS
CONSCIOUS COMBINING EXPLAINED: TO VITAMIN OR NOT TO VITAMIN?
WEIGHT PROBLEMS: ADULTS AND CHILDREN
USING MODERN WEIGHT-LOSS DRUGS: SIBUTRAMINE AND ORLISTAT
BLOOD SUGAR AND THE HIGH CARBOHVARATE DIET: TAMING INSULIN'S INTENSITY
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