You might well have heard of Veganuary, which is where people pledge to be vegan for January. Whilst it is possible to be healthy on a vegan diet there are certain things to bear in mind to keep it healthy.
One of the main issues with going vegan is that it's easy to replace meat with meat replacements but these replacements are often very processed. The key is to carefully check the labels and avoid lots of processed soya or Quorn. Instead, basing meals on beans, lentils, nuts and seeds will give you the protein you need.
There are also micro-nutrients that need to be carefully considered when choosing a vegan diet. To help keep up intake of these important parts of your diet make sure you include beans, green leafy veg and enriched plant milks for calcium.
For iron, you need green leafy veg again as well as beans, make sure you have vitamin C alongside your iron containing foods and avoid tea and coffee to help absorption.
Vitamin B12 can be a tricky nutrient for vegans to get as yeast extract is one of the few vegan sources of it. Supplementation may be advisable for long-term vegans.
Also supplementation might be required for the optimal intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Some is available from plant sources, especially hemp, flax and chia seeds and walnuts but these are the shorter chain versions of omega-3 not the long-chain types (EPA and DHA) that are required for healthy hearts, eyes and brains. Vegan supplementation of omega-3 is available from algae sources.
In summary, whether you are a fully fledged vegan, doing Veganuary for the first time or simply trying to reduce the amount of meat you eat, it’s important to avoid heavily processed meat replacements and focus instead on the real food that will provide you with the nutrients your body needs.
If you feel you need support in optimising your food intake click on the button at the top of the page to book a free health review with me.