The Road to Healthy Veganism
We’re all dabbling with being a little bit vegan! It’s one of the fastest growing lifestyle movements in the UK with the number of vegans increasing four fold in the last 10 years. But can a diet without any animal products (including dairy, eggs and honey) be healthy?
Can you get all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet?
Yes - vegans that follow a varied, well-balanced diet should be getting all the nutrients they need for good health. However, due to the absence of dairy and animal products from the vegan diet, you could lack protein or nutrients such as calcium, iron, B12, zinc, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids if you don’t plan your diet correctly! Follow the tips and tricks below to ensure that you avoid any potential deficiencies:
Tips on how to plan and balance a vegan diet to avoid deficiencies
- Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables everyday
- Include starchy carbohydrates such as oats, wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta and potatoes at most meals.
- Eat a variety of calcium-rich foods such as tofu, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, tahini and fortified plant-milks.
- Eat some beans, pulses, lentils and other sources of plant based proteins such as tofu, tempeh, edamame beans or quinoa.
- Eat nuts and seeds, especially those rich in omega-3 fats
- Choose oils such as rapeseed, linseed, hemp and walnut as these are high in omega 3
- Eat foods containing vitamin B12 - fortified breakfast cereal, yeast extract or fortified plant-milks. Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in foods from animal sources
- Eat foods containing iron - lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, kale, dried apricots and figs, raisins, quinoa and fortified breakfast cereal.
- The best source of iodine in the diet is from milk, so vegans may consider taking iodine supplements but should first discuss this with their health care professional
56% of UK adults are adopting vegan buying behaviours
Take care following a vegan diet if you are….
- Pregnant and/or breastfeeding – nutrients requirements are high to support the growth and development of the baby, ensure the diet contains enough iron, calcium, iodine, omega 3 and Vitamin B12 and D
- Babies, toddlers and young children – nutrient requirements are particularly high during times of rapid growth and activity, the diet needs to be varied and well planned and contain enough energy, protein, calcium, Vitamin B12 and D and omega 3
- Teenage girls - calcium and iron requirements are high to support growth and menstruation, so sufficient iron and calcium rich foods need to be included
Some of these groups may consider taking a nutrient supplement to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
Charlie Parker 2018
Charlie Parker is devoted to making healthy eating easier through developing healthier products and tools that trigger behavioural changes. Visit her website http://www.charlieparkernutrition.co.uk/