Thinking About Going Vegan?
Thinking About Going Vegan?
Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know before you take the plunge!
Choosing to eat a vegan diet where you avoid all meat, fish, dairy, eggs doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Especially now that supermarkets and high street restaurant chains are making vegan choices more mainstream.
If you’re new to veganism or even a seasoned vegan, then you may have a few questions over whether you’re getting everything you need. So here’s our guide to getting the most from a vegan diet.
Vegan protein sources
Many people worry that they won’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet but it’s simply not true.
Beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, tofu and soya milk are all excellent protein sources. Whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa are also high in protein and benefit from more vitamins and minerals.
Aim to make each meal around one quarter protein, one quarter whole grains and the rest fruits or vegetables. A chickpea, cauliflower and pea curry with mushrooms, onions and carrots and served with brown rice is ideally balanced and packed with protein.
Omega 3, without the fish?
Oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon are all rich in omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for heart and brain health. But you can still get enough omega 3 if you’re a vegan.
Walnuts and flaxseeds are plentiful plant-based sources of omega 3. Aim for three walnut halves and a heaped dessertspoon of ground flaxseed sprinkled over your breakfast each day. Ground flaxseed doesn’t have any flavour so it can also be sprinkled over savoury meals such as pasta dishes and curries.
If you’re still concerned about getting enough Omega 3, you could also try taking an algae-based omega 3 supplement. After all, fish get their omega 3 by eating algae, so why not get it straight from the source!
Aside from eating foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as spreads or nut milks, it’s almost impossible to get enough B12 from plant foods. The Vegan Society recommend taking a daily B12 supplement to make sure you’re getting your daily allowance of this vitamin.
Cow’s milk and other dairy products aren’t the only source of calcium! There are many plant-based foods that are rich in this bone and teeth strengthening mineral.
Make sure you’re eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables including broccoli, kale, cabbage and spinach as these are great sources of calcium, as well as other essential nutrients. Tofu and other soya-based products are also good along with kidney beans, dried fruits and almonds.
Avoiding red meat might make you worry that you’ll lack in iron, but just like calcium, you don’t have to rely on animal products to get enough.
Fill up on chickpeas, lentils, beans, tofu, kale and quinoa and snack on cashew nuts, seeds and dried fruits to make sure you’re not iron deficient. Eating iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods helps with iron absorption – so eat oranges, kiwis, strawberries, pineapples or grapefruits after a meal.
Being vegan naturally introduces many more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into your diet – so enjoy all this rich variety safe in the knowledge that you’re getting all the nutrients and calories you need!
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