Updated November 14, 2023
Many people believe they need animal-based food for a balanced diet—but that’s simply not true. In fact, many of the nutrients contained in animal-based food can easily be found in plants.
But first, discover how to maintain a nutritionally balanced vegan diet.
Protein is made of 20 different amino acids—9 of which your body can’t make. Instead, your body gets these amino acids from your diet—which is why protein is such a large concern for those choosing a plant-based diet.
Luckily, meat isn’t the only source of protein. You can get them from plant sources as well. With plant-based diets, you can ensure you have all the amino acids you need.
You can get plant-based protein from many sources including:
Most people need about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily.
Your body needs this essential mineral for various bodily functions, including:
Iron can be found in many plants, including:
Women need approximately 32 milligrams of iron per day, and men need 14 milligrams.
Calcium helps with heart, bone and muscle health. It also assists with cell function and communication. You may not know this, but getting enough calcium can help control blood pressure and minimize the chance of developing kidney stones.
You don’t need dairy to get your daily dose of calcium; instead, get your calcium from these sources:
Adults 19–50 require around 2,500 milligrams of calcium per day, and adults 51 and older need about 2,000.
This vitamin keeps your body healthy in many ways:
Taking a B12 supplement daily is very effective. You can also get B12 from plant sources such as:
Adults need 2.4 micrograms of B12 a day.
Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain your heart, brain, kidney and overall health. Your body cannot manufacture these acids, relying instead on the food you consume. Your body should get everything is needs from a well-balanced whole food, plant based diet but if you are wanting a bit more, look to plant-based sources rich in omega-3s, such as:
An adult should eat around 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day.
Vitamin D helps your body take in calcium and phosphorus, which bolsters your ability to maintain strong bones and a healthy immune system. You can get vitamin D from:
Don’t forget about sunshine. You also get vitamin D from going outside.
Adults under 70 need 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily; people 70 and older need 800 IU.
Zinc is an essential mineral, meaning your body cannot make it on its own. It all comes down to what you eat. Your body needs zinc because it boosts your metabolism and immune system. It also helps wounds heal faster and is crucial to your sense of taste and smell.
You can get zinc from:
Adult men should aim for 11 milligrams of zinc a day, while women should aim for 8 milligrams.
It’s a lot easier to stay healthy on a vegan diet than people think. With proper, nutrient-dense meals (instead of artificial, pre-made stuff), you can absolutely achieve a balanced diet.
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