When done right, vegetarian and vegan diets can be highly beneficial to a healthy body. We could list the number of advantages to switching to these diets - weight loss, lowered risk of heart disease and colorectal cancer - but what's also impressive is the incredible feats of human endurance that can be surpassed when adopting these diets as part of your lifestyle.
There are a number of well known vegan athletes such as Olympic triathlete Brendan Brazier, proving that a perfect vegan diet can provide the body with more than everything it needs, yielding incredible results in some of the toughest sports on the planet.
However, most of us aren't competitive triathletes; so what are the mistakes we are likely to make when making the veggie or vegan switch?
Thinking Vegan Or Vegetarian Foods Are Always Healthier
On the face of it, you would that any food with the 'suitable for vegetarians' or 'V' for vegan friendly symbol would mean you're on the road to healthy living. Unfortunately, you're still going to come across plenty of food choices in this diet that can be no necessarily great for your health, requiring similar levels of discipline as any other diet your on. Veggie burgers, 'vegan' crisps, meat substitutes can be just as artificial and processed, with a high calorie and low quality nutritional profile.
Consuming products that are familiar to those you were eating during your meat eating days can be a good bridge between the new diet and the old, but you're going to need to learn, experiment and cook with different eclectic ingredients to truly take advantage of the health benefits, whether you're a vegan or vegetarian!
Neglecting Vitamin B12
B12 is a vital component in your body - it keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy and creates DNA to name a few benefits - but it's also something that us vegans and vegetarians could be lacking in.
Unfortunately, many B12 rich foods are meat, poultry and dairy based, leading to risks of serious deficiency, causing tiredness, memory issues and more for vegans and vegetarians. You can however, get B12 from fortified foods such as some soy products, plant milks and even algae. It is likely however that you may need to take a supplement if you think you're not getting enough.
Not Getting Enough Protein
Protein is one of the building blocks for creating new tissue, hormone production and increasing muscle mass. Luckily there are a number of different meat alternatives such as eggs, nuts, cheese and milk if you're vegetarian. If you're a vegan looking for high quality protein sources, make sure you check out 'The 5 Best Vegan Sources Of Protein' on the Wild Radish Blog page.
Failing To Do Any Meal Prep
Following any kind of restrictive diet requires a certain level of discipline and preparation whether you're eating out at work or even on holiday. If you've made the transition to vegan or vegetarian, ensure you have a proper meal plan, filled with varied choices to keep you health as well as interested. Check with restaurants in advanced if you're not sure and always keep on the look out for new recipes to make your diet something fun.
Omitting Omega-3s From Your Diet
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for a healthy diet. Fatty fish and fish oil are the most significant sources of Omega-3s, decreasing blood triglycerides, deflecting joint issues from arthritis and even preventing against dementia. Each ALA rich foods such as chiaseeds, flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil, soybeans and tofu can be great for both vegans and vegetarians to employ in their diet. Make sure you're getting a suitable helping of a few of these foods and ingredients to meet your required levels.