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Thinking About Becoming Vegan?

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Health and nutrition are at the forefront of all our minds in these difficult times.  Here at Portugal Insider, we have been thinking about how we can help you make the most of the fabulous array of vegetable and fruit we are blessed with here in Portugal.  Every town is lucky enough to have a market packed with all manner of organic, local produce brimming with all those wonderful nutrients each of us needs to remain healthy, not to mention the deliciousness of it all! 

What is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet is one that consists only of plant-derived foods. Like non-vegans, vegans eat soups, stews, stir-fries, salads, and casseroles. They consume a wide variety of foods from around the globe, as well as plant-only versions of traditional favourites such as pizza, tacos, burritos, lasagne, burgers, barbecues, loaves, chills, pancakes, sandwiches, and desserts.

A balanced vegan diet is made up of these four food groups: 1) legumes, nuts, and seeds; 2) grains; 3) vegetables; and 4) fruits.

Because individual nutrient needs and energy requirements vary due to age, activity level, and one’s state of health, this guide should only be considered a broad blueprint for a balanced vegan diet. You should consult a dietitian familiar with vegan nutrition for a personalized set of recommendations

LEGUMES, NUTS, AND SEEDS (4+ servings per day)

The legume-nut-seed group includes beans, split peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products. These nutrient-dense foods are packed with protein, fibre, minerals, B vitamins, protective antioxidants, and essential fatty acids(1). Sample serving sizes from this group include 150g of cooked beans, 100g of tofu, 250ml of soy milk, 25g of nuts or seeds, or 2 tablespoons of nut or seed butter.

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GRAINS (4-6+ servings per day)

Whole grains provide B vitamins, fibre, minerals, protein, and antioxidants. They are preferable to refined grains because the refining process removes the healthiest nutrients. Also, intact whole grains (such as brown rice, oats, wheat berries, millet, and quinoa) are nutritionally superior to whole grain flours and puffed or flaked whole grains. A serving is 1 slice of bread, 250g of cooked grain, or 25g of ready-to-eat cereal. This group is fairly flexible with regard to servings per day. Vary your intake based on your individual energy needs.

VEGETABLES (4+ servings per day)

Eating a wide variety of colourful vegetables every day will ensure that you’re getting an assortment of protective nutrients in your diet. A vegetable serving is 150g cooked, 250g raw, or 200ml of juice. For most vegetables, particularly calcium-rich leafy greens, it’s nearly impossible to eat “too much.”

FRUITS (2+ servings per day)

Most fruits, especially citrus fruits and berries, are a great source of vitamin C. All fruits provide antioxidants. Choose whole fruits over fruit juices for maximum benefit, particularly from dietary fibre. A serving size is 1 medium piece, 250g, 40g dried, or 250ml of juice.

So, there you have it!  A very rough guide to eating a healthy, nutritionally rich, balanced diet. Now all you need to know is how to cook delicious and satisfying meals and we can help you there too! Portugal Insider offers cookery courses in several styles as well as vegan. So, have a look at what’s on offer and pick one to suit your requirements.  

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