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What Are the Vegan Essentials?

Vegan essentials include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as well as non-animal sources of protein. People who follow a vegan diet and lifestyle do not consume any animal products, including eggs, dairy, and honey. Many vegans also do not wear leather or wool or anything made from an animal. While most nutrients can be obtained through a strictly plant-based diet, some are harder to obtain than others. Aside from the basics, vegan essentials also include nutritional yeast and omega-3 supplements.

Vegan essentials include plant-based sources of protein. Many vegans get protein from beans such as black beans, pinto beans, or soybeans. Chickpeas and lentils are other sources of protein. Soybeans can be consumed as endamame, which are the immature beans, or in more processed forms such as tofu, which is curdled soy milk, or tempeh, which is a fermented soybean cake. Another type of vegan protein is wheat gluten, or seitan, which has a chewy texture and is commonly used in place of meat.

As vegans do not eat dairy products such as milk or butter, vegan essentials include replacements for dairy. Various milk substitutes are available made from soy, rice, or a variety of nuts. Many vegan milk products contain added calcium and vitamin B-12. Other vegan essentials include vegetable-based fats and oils, such as margarine made without any dairy products, olive oil, and canola oil.

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Vegans also use egg replacements in baked goods. Flax seed is a common egg replacement and is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be difficult to get with a vegan diet. Bananas, silken tofu, and starches are also sometimes used in place of eggs.

Vitamin B-12 is necessary for healthy red blood cells. It is an essential nutrient usually found only in animal products, unless a food is fortified with it. Nutritional yeast one of the vegan essentials that contains B-12. Vegans use nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute and add it to various recipes. The yeast is not the same as the yeast used to bake bread or brew beer.

Many vegans also need to find a way to add omega-3 fatty acids to their diets. Omega-3s are found in flax seeds and in algae. A vegan may wish to take an omega-3 supplement made from algae oil to ensure that she gets enough of the nutrient in her diet. Nuts such as walnuts are also good vegan sources of omega-3s.

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