In my Integrative Nutrition School, this is the food plate that we use. It incorporates not only food that we eat but also a 'Primary Food', which consists of having healthy relationships, adequate physical activity, regular spirituality, and a happy career, One of the main points is that in every meal that you consume, at least half of your plate should consist of fruit and vegetables. And when you eat grains, they should be whole grains, which are much higher in nutrients and better for your body. Protein in a vegan diet can come from many non-animal products such as legumes, nuts & seeds, and even some vegetables. Good fats are also essential for your body in small amounts, so make sure to include them in your diet. And finally your daily intake of water is very important, so remember to stay hydrated and drink at least around 8 glasses a day. :)
Whole grains are a great source of B vitamins, fiber, complex carbohydrates, iron, magnesium, zinc, and even protein. They are very versatile and can be used to perfectly compliment any meal. Some of the well-known grains include brown rice, barley, & oats. There are also supergrains, such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and kaniwa that are exceptionally high in essential amino acids such as lysine and methionine. Supergrains also contain high amounts of vitamins, mineral and fiber.
Legumes include all beans, lentils, and nuts. They are low in fat, a very rich source of plant protein, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals. The soluble fiber in beans helps reduce the damaging LDL cholesterol in the blood, thus lowering the risk of heart disease. Beans when soaked in water before cooking, are easy to digest. Sprouted beans are superfoods. They are easier to digest and provide energy, bioavailable vitamins, minerals, protein, phytochemicals and enzymes. Some examples of beans and lentils are: black eyed peas, garbanzo beans, navy beans, cannellini beans, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lima beans, edamame, split peas, moong beans, etc.
Nuts contain essential fatty acids. The fats in nuts for the most part are unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated fats. Nuts are good sources of vitamins B2, B6, E and are rich in protein, folate, omega-3 fats and fiber. Nuts also contain essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. Nuts are most healthy when consumed in their raw form. The roasting process destroys up to 15% of the healthy oils that occur naturally in nuts. Some examples of edible nuts are: almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, macadamia, brazil nuts, hazel nuts, pecan, pine nuts, etc.
Seeds are super healthy and are a great natural source of protein, anti-oxidants, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamins B, E, minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and fiber. Some examples of edible seeds are: sesame, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, flax seeds, etc.
Vegetables are the most nutrient-dense food group. They are very low calorie yet offer a whole range of disease fighting phytochemicals, important nutrients, including calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamins A, B, C, E antioxidants, essential fatty acids, etc. Eat a variety of types and colors of vegetables in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Try dark leafy greens, brightly colored red, yellow and orange vegetables and cooked tomatoes. Buy organic vegetables whenever possible, to avoid the harmful chemicals and pesticides.The best part about vegetables is that they are very versatile and the ways to prepare and enjoy them are limitless!!
Fruits come in a beautiful range of colors, shapes, and sizes. They are rich in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene, folate, among many others. Fruits are best when eaten fresh as they are at their peak nutrient value, and frozen fruits are much better than canned fruits. Eating whole fruits are a better option than fruit juices, because they contain a lot more fiber. It is always better to eat fresh fruits that are in season for their added benefits to our health. Buy organic fruits whenever possible, to avoid the harmful chemicals and pesticides. Exploring local farmers market is a fun way to check out seasonal farm fresh produce :)