Many people make the choice to go vegan but aren’t aware of some common vegan mistakes along the way. Going vegan is one of the best things you can do for yourself, the animals, and the planet, so I’m certainly not going to suggest the idea that choosing cruelty-free is a mistake. Yet, there are many routes you can take when you choose a vegan diet, just like there are many routes you can take to eat a non-vegan diet. Keep in mind these major mistakes not to make when you make the choice to go vegan. While vegan mistakes aren’t worse than eating animal products, they can weaken your ability to feel your best.
1. Lack of Whole Foods
One of the most common vegan mistakes that is easy enough for anyone to make is to eat a diet full of processed vegan foods. For instance, vegan cereal, vegan bread, vegan mayo, vegan cheese, vegan candy, and even straight Oreos are all “legally” vegan. That doesn’t mean these foods should be eaten over whole foods like greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, whole grains (versus breads and bread products), superfoods, and organic, non-GMO soy.
2. High Fat
A low-fat vegan diet has been the most well-studied diet above all diets and it's the one that has consistently ranked high in its ability to reduce diabetes, improve weight, reduce high blood pressure and cancer, along with help overall digestion. A high fat diet can cause gastrointestinal distress and even prevent insulin from reaching the cells efficiently, which can lead to diabetes. A little healthy fat goes a long way, so leave those high fat vegan foods on the shelf and stick to whole sources like small amounts of raw seeds, nuts, and fruits like olive, avocado, and coconut instead of their oils.
The point of a vegan diet is to choose plant foods over animal foods, so don’t leave out the most important part- veggies! Aim for at least three cups a day, if not more, and to make it easy, make a green smoothie or a healthy batch of roasted veggies to get in several servings at once.
Your body needs quality carbs to thrive and I promise you that you won’t gain weight if you eat them. You gain weight when you combine carbs and fat, but carbs can keep your energy high, improve your digestion, and will reduce your sugar cravings naturally, the way nature intended. It’s best to get your carbs from root vegetables, green vegetables, fruits, and moderate amounts of gluten-free grains as the best option.
5. Eating Too Few Calories
Plant foods contain fewer calories per serving than animal foods and insufficient calorie intake is one of the worst mistakes you can make on a vegan diet. It’s also one of the number one reasons most people feel tired. If you’re eating a whole foods diet and still suffering fatigue then consider that you might just need more calories.
6. Ignoring Hunger
I often hear people say they’re hungrier on a plant-based diet. If you eat a well-balanced meal and are hungry a couple hours later, have a piece of fruit and drink a glass of water. Don’t ignore your hunger but feed it healthfully- not by indulging in a processed snack or by trying to starve yourself.
7. Not Soaking Beans and Legumes
Soaking your beans and legumes overnight before cooking them helps break down the hard-to-digest starches they contain. You might also find vegan protein powders made from sprouted grains and legumes easier to digest, such as Vega One, which also contains digestive enzymes, veggies, fruits, probiotics, and superfoods.
A balanced, whole foods vegan diet is the optimal diet for longevity, your budget, and the entire planet. For more information on the benefits of a low-fat, vegan diet, check out some of the resources below. It’s also best to take a vegan multivitamin to ensure you’re getting enough iron and Vitamin B12, which are essential to feel your best. Have you ever gone vegan and made one of these mistakes?