I don’t mean to shock anybody here, but it’s pretty easy to be an unhealthy vegan.
Need proof? Most french-fries are vegan. Frozen vegan goodies like Amy’s Kitchen can have outrageously high sodium counts. Some vegans eat peanut-butter all day long ( I call these the Skippy Vegans). Boxed vegan junk food (like Good Health Veggie Stix) are still nothing more than junk, albeit animal-friendly junk. Plus, if you don’t make a conscious effort to get all your essential vitamins, you could end up eating kale all day long and still be intensely unhealthy, with dangerously low body fat (these vegans need to eat more peanut-butter), brittle nails, thinning hair and bad skin.
So, for starter-kit vegans or even long time kale-crunchers who aren’t feeling their best, here are some tips:
If you’re just starting out, write what you eat. It might seem a little OCD (okay, anal) but it will allow you to look back on what you ate that day/week and thing “gee, I didn’t get enough protein,” or “holy soy! I need to cut back on the tofu,” or “more greens, please.” Eventually this will become second nature, but for now, make a little log.
Watch your fat. Things like nuts, avocados and coconut milk are delicious and high in healthy (HDL) fats, and this is great. However, they also contain some saturated fats (LDL) (especially coconuts) and if you decide to eat them everyday all day your body will not thank you. Take a look at serving sizes — if that cherished can of coconut milk says that 1/4 cup has 50% of your saturated fat and you have been dumping a cup into your morning smoothie everyday, you may want to re-evaluate the situation.
Greens, greens, greens! If you’re not on a b-12 supplement than you should be eating buckets of greens daily. Some easy ways to do so are enjoying a green smoothie in the morning, some sautéed greens with most meals (it’s impressive how an entire bag of spinach cooks down to a few scrumptious mouthfuls) and of course, raw salads as often as you can. Go buy a salad bowl as big as your head and stuff it with cruciferous tidbits.
Be a protein machine! Make sure to include things like beans, peas, high-protein veggies (broccoli, asparagus, greens) and whole grains into your diet daily. Nuts and seeds are great too, but remember to mind the fat.