If you are among the 43 percent of Americans interested in finding healthy options when shopping, then whole grains, beans, fruits, and veggies may be high on your list. And statistics show that African Americans are among the fastest-growing group who have adopted a plant-based or meat-free diet.
“As more and more Black Americans are beginning to seek a healthier lifestyle, they are choosing a vegan diet because of its health benefits,’ says Cedrina Calder, MD, aka the “FitDoc,” a board-certified, preventive medicine physician. “Furthermore, adopting a vegan diet today is a lot easier than it would have been 10 years ago because of the increase in the availability of food products that are dairy and meat alternatives.”
However, Calder cautions that although a plant based diet is a great option, it doesn’t mean it is a better option. Plus, not everyone can maintain this lifestyle. “Just because you’re following a vegan diet doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy,” she says. A vegan diet that focuses on processed, plant-based products, sugary foods or doesn’t include a variety of fruits and vegetables is not healthy.”
Calder cautions when following a vegan diet, you have to be intentional about getting the required nutrients. “Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils in your diet and consider supplementing your diet with a plant-based protein powder,” she said. “Protein, calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B-12 can be deficient in a person who has adopted a vegan diet.” It’s best to check in with your doctor to see if you need to supplement your diet in other ways to ensure that you get every nutrient you need.