Thinking about a vegan diet? Be sure to plan ahead

Know which nutrients are in which foods so you're sure to get what you need

A recent Harvard study discovered that vegetarians lost more weight than non-vegetarians. And vegan dieters actually saw the most weight loss, losing five pounds more than non-vegetarians.

Vegan diets have also shown to be effective in fighting heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

“A vegan diet means absolutely zero animal products, so no eggs, no cheese, no milk,” said Tara Collingwood, a registered dietician.

Eliminating all of those foods has the potential to also eliminate vital nutrients.

So if you’re planning to go vegan, then planning is exactly what you need to do.

Plan to add more protein to your diet through lentils, tofu and chickpeas.

Find calcium in green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and okra.

And get your iron from beans, nuts, prunes and figs.

However, there is one vital nutrient you will only find in meat: vitamin B-12. 

“So that is not in any plant-based products, so you do have to take a supplement of vitamin B-12, but everything else, if you plan correctly, you can get enough of all the other vitamins and minerals and proteins that you need," Collingwood said.

A vegan diet could interfere with certain medical conditions like osteoporosis and diabetes, so it is critical to talk to a doctor and nutritionist to ensure you’re not doing more harm than good. The same goes if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. 

If you’re interested in learning more about a vegan diet, try checking out the website nomeatathlete.com or watching the documentary “Forks over Knives,” available on Netflix.