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Nutrients that you need

To have a healthy diet of any kind, you need important nutrients. While many of these may have been plentiful when you ate dairy and meat, you’ll need to find new ways to incorporate them into your diet as a vegan.

  • Protein: Animals aren’t the only sources of protein. Soy products (e.g., tofu and edamame) are also packed with protein. Other good sources include seitan (made from gluten), chickpeas, lentils and nutritional yeast.
  • Vitamin B12: A lack of vitamin B12 can make you feel tired and weak. Getting enough vitamin B12, though, can be challenging for vegans because it can’t be found in plants.  To get your fill, stock up on fortified cereals, fortified rice and soy drinks — or take a supplement. The recommended daily amount for most adults is about 2.4 milligrams, but check with your doctor to see what’s right for you.
  • Essential fatty acids: A lack of essential fatty acids has been associated with problems related to brain heath, such as cognitive impairment and depression. To get your essential fatty acids, pile up the whole grains and leafy green vegetables (e.g., kale, spinach and collards). And try snacking on a small handful of unsalted nuts, like almonds, walnuts or pistachios (just watch your portions; nuts are high in calories).
  • Iron: Red meat and egg yolks reign as the richest sources of iron. But they also are high in cholesterol. Good plant sources of iron include black-eyed peas, tofu and dried fruits (fresh fruit has iron, too, you just get more iron from dried fruit because you eat more).

Vitamin D: Ten to 15 minutes of sunlight exposure a day can give you a vitamin D boost, as can fortified orange juice and soy.

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