16:28 PM

14 things to keep in mind if you're going vegan

Insider discusses what people should keep in mind when considering veganism according to HSS nutritionist Rebecca Tonnessen, RDN, including consultations with a physician and what you may need to supplement in your diet.

"When following a well-planned vegan diet, benefits include increased fiber intake and decreased saturated fat intake, which is good for digestion, cardiovascular health, and much more," said Tonnessen. However, research has also found that a vegan diet can lead to deficiencies of nutrients like calcium, vitamins B12 (especially), vitamin D, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and zinc. "One drawback of a vegan diet is that it can be difficult to meet some nutritional needs," she explained.

There are very few plant-based sources of vitamin B12. "Plant-based sources of vitamin B12 include nutritional yeast or fortified products; however, supplementation may still be required for this vitamin," noted Tonnessen. Since vegan diets eliminate dairy products, which are rich sources of calcium, you may be at risk for a calcium deficiency once you go vegan. "Eating a variety of dark, leafy greens and nuts can help increase your calcium intake. Fortified products such as orange juice, nut milks, and soy products have calcium added; oftentimes vitamin D will be added as well," cited Tonnessen.

"Sometimes people think anything labeled vegan, including processed foods, is healthy. Vegan cookies are still cookies with high sugar and fat content, so it's important to monitor this intake. If you're thinking of going vegan, focus on increasing your intake of whole foods instead of processed vegan snacks," noted Tonnessen.

However, it can be harder to obtain certain nutrients on a vegan diet, so you need to plan accordingly, to make sure you incorporate them into your diet. "With proper planning and education, a well-balanced vegan diet can work for anyone," she added.

Read the full article at Insider.com.