Vegan Wonder

The Vegan Nutrition Handbook: Answers to Common Questions New Vegans Ask

The transition to a vegan diet can be challenging, especially when it comes to figuring out how to get all the necessary nutrients. While a well-planned vegan diet can support good health, there are some specific considerations for vegans to ensure they are meeting their nutritional needs. In this guide, we will answer the most common questions new vegans have about vegan nutrition based on the latest scientific research.

Understanding Vegan Nutrition Basics

To start, it’s important to understand the basics of vegan nutrition. Just as omnivores need to pay attention to macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants), vegans do too.

Macronutrients for Vegans

Vegans get protein from plant sources like lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and soy products. While it’s a common myth that plant-based protein sources are incomplete, the truth is that when eaten with grains, they provide all the essential amino acids needed for good health.

Carbohydrates come from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and tubers. Fats are found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and plant-based oils. While it is possible for vegans to consume too many calories from these sources, most vegans struggle with getting enough calories.

Micronutrients for Vegans

Vegans may need to pay closer attention to their intake of certain vitamins and minerals found in animal products, such as:

  • Vitamin B12: Found in fortified foods or supplements
  • Iron: Found in plant-based sources like lentils, spinach, and fortified cereals, but absorption is better when consumed with vitamin C-rich foods
  • iodine: Found in sea vegetables and iodized salt

Ensuring Adequate Nutrient Intake

To meet their nutritional needs, vegans should:

It’s also important to note that some people may need additional amounts of certain nutrients based on their age, sex, or health status. For example:

  • Children and adolescents need to consume enough calories and nutrients for growth and development
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women have increased caloric and nutrient needs
  • Older adults may benefit from consuming more protein to maintain muscle mass and calcium to support bone health

Addressing Common Vegan Nutrition Challenges

Some people may experience digestive issues like bloating or gas when transitioning to a vegan diet. This is often due to an increase in fiber intake. To help minimize these symptoms, increase fiber intake slowly, drink plenty of water, and chew food thoroughly.

Vegans may also struggle with weight management due to the high calorie density of plant-based foods. By focusing on nutrient-dense foods and practicing portion control, vegans can maintain a healthy weight.

If you’re an athlete looking to optimize your vegan diet for performance, consider incorporating more complex carbs, protein-rich plant foods, and healthy fats into your meals. You may also benefit from supplementing with creatine and beta-alanine.

Debunking Vegan Nutrition Myths

It’s important to remember that a well-planned vegan diet can support good health. However, some people believe that vegans cannot get enough protein or essential nutrients from plant-based foods. This is simply not true. While it takes some planning, vegans can easily meet their nutritional needs with a balanced diet.

Another common myth is that vegan diets are unhealthy for children. Again, this is not supported by scientific evidence. In fact, vegan diets have been shown to support the growth and development of children when properly planned.


Transitioning to a vegan diet can be challenging, but with the right information and planning, it’s absolutely possible to thrive on a plant-based lifestyle. By understanding the basics of vegan nutrition, ensuring adequate nutrient intake, and addressing common challenges, you can enjoy all the benefits of a vegan diet and live a healthy, happy life.