Vegan veterans share the nuances of healthy eating



With popular books, films, blogs and even an ex-president boosting the benefits of going vegan, interest in this lifestyle seems to be gaining ground.   But animal products are a major staple in the Western diet, and vegans must navigate a culinary world that doesn’t always accommodate their choices.   Fortunately, many registered dietitians have become experts in the field of vegan nutrition: good news for consumers looking for credible dietary advice. Read on for some helpful suggestions as you consider this healthful, ethical nutrition option.

Have a game plan.   Being vegan at home is always a breeze. There are so many great products and wonderful recipes. Successfully adapting any new way of eating often requires planning and some expert guidance. New vegans in particular need to identify good sources of calcium, learn how to meet needs for essential fats and make sure they are getting adequate vitamin B12. An RD who is knowledgeable about plant-based nutrition is a great resource for vegans who want to ensure that their diet is well-balanced.

Learn away-from-home options.   While restaurants are increasingly able to accommodate special dietary needs, ask questions to ensure that a dish is made without animal products. Many restaurants post their menus online, while apps and online restaurant directories may filter vegan-friendly establishments. Traveling can be a challenge, but it seems as if things are getting better and there are more choices. Veggie wraps, hummus, whole-grain salads and vegetables now are found at many airports and train stations, and vegans can prepare for travel challenges by packing their own snacks or meals.

Strategize social events.   Dinner parties, weekend getaways, and other social events can make some vegans worry about seeming like a difficult guest or putting out hosts. This is best managed by planning ahead and being extremely polite. If invited to someone’s home, it is perfectly appropriate for vegans to mention their diet restrictions ahead of time, sparing any surprises later. Counteract the awkwardness by offering to bring a favorite vegan dish to share.

Sharon Palmer, RD