Plant-based and vegan diets are becoming recognized as healthier, more sustainable, and equally (or more!) delicious alternatives to the Standard American Diet. However, veganism doesn’t always equal a healthy lifestyle. Some people get by eating processed plant-based foods, but the healthiest vegans practice habits that really make them thrive. When others see their energy and that vegan glow, they want to have what they’re having! If you want to have what they’re having too, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Eat greens, and lots of them.
We all know how important it is to eat green vegetables. They are an excellent source of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and even some protein. The healthiest vegans eat ample amounts of these superfoods every day. My favorite ways to get my greens are in a morning green smoothie or green juice. A big massaged kale and arugula salad in the afternoon always hits the spot, and I’ll never tire of collard wraps or steamed broccoli with tahini.
2. Get serious about preparation.
Smart vegans take food prep seriously. This means having a well-stocked kitchen—ample fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and whatever else makes you feel your best—so you don’t have to worry about what to eat when hunger sets in. Being prepared can also mean having food with you on-the-go or when traveling. When eating out at a non-vegan restaurant, check in advance to see if the restaurant can serve a healthy vegan option and have a plan in case they can’t (i.e. eating ahead of time or bringing your own food if allowed). That way energy isn’t wasted worrying about food, and you’ll be able to fully enjoy yourself.
3. Stay active.
The healthiest people in the world know the importance of exercise and movement. Whether you choose to play a sport, run, dance, or garden, staying active is a must for optimal health. Not every activity works for every person, so if you haven’t already, find something that works with your lifestyle, personality, and physical ability. My favorite ways to stay active are yoga, bike riding, dance, and circuit training. Mix up your routine to combat boredom.
4. Have a healthy mindset.
A good outlook on life is crucial to overall health. Thinking positive thoughts and being compassionate towards ourselves and others can help reduce stress. Also, the healthiest vegans I know allow themselves “wiggle room" with their eating. Not to say they aren’t always vegan, but they recognize that an occasional vegan doughnut or veggie dog will not negate all of their healthy habit and is not worth feeling guilty about.
5. Embrace community.
One of my personal favorite things about being vegan—next to the tasty food and health benefits—is the amazing community. There are few things as special as being surrounded by people who understand your lifestyle choices, are accepting, and are constantly helping you to grow. Even if you don’t surround yourself with a bunch of vegans, find a group of like-minded individuals who will support you.