Diet Mistake: Assuming All Vegan Food Is Healthy

Contributor: Jillian Morgan, RD, LD, CDE

THE FLAW: “There is a tremendous amount of research supporting the disease-preventing health benefits of a plant-based diet,” says Morgan. However, just because a food item is vegan—aka void of any meat, dairy or animal-derived ingredients—doesn’t mean it’s more nutritious. For example, French fries and many chips are often vegan. There has also been an uptick in processed protein options like veggie burgers and meatless sausage, bacon and cheese. “What these products may lack in saturated fat and calories they often make up for in sodium and preservatives.”

THE FIX: When incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, aim to eat a diverse mix of fresh, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and grains. “Our bodies absorb food best when they are found in their whole form,” she says. “For example, eating black beans paired with brown rice may be more beneficial than a processed black bean burger.” If you’re going strictly vegan, be aware that you may not be getting adequate intake of B12 and iron. The former can be found in nutritional yeast and supplements. “Beans and spinach have iron. A supplement can help ensure adequate intake as well.”