When you switch to any diet, you need to understand the nutritional gains and loses. Vegan nutrition is no different. While your body will now be getting better, whole foods, the variety and quantity is important to staying healthy. Still think meat’s better? See how meat stands up to vegetables/fruit.
- Vegetables and Fruit (33%)
- Whole grains (41%)
- Non-meat proteins (22%)
- Oils, sweets, salt, nuts, etc. (4%)
Are you worried about a lack of variety? Don’t fear! You may be surprised at how many different options you have when you start to research the kinds of food that make up the different nutritional group. Also, with the range of ethnic stores, you can think outside your traditional cuisine.
Vegan Nutrition & Vitamins
Q: Will iron be an issue?
A: A plant-based diet provides a lot of iron. However, a plant-based iron needs a little vitamin C to be fully absorbed. When designing your meals, make sure to include complimentary foods that will allow for maximum absorption. Think meats better? Chew on this: you would have to eat 1700 calories of sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron in 100 calories of spinach.
Q: Will calcium be an issue?
A: A vegan diet that includes sea vegetables, tofu, beans, nuts, leafy greens, and seed will provide all the calcium you need. Remember, since you will not be eating meat and dairy, you will be eliminating the foods that are the culprits when it comes to bone loss. Drink this down: 3.4 oz of tofu has double the amount of calcium than 6.7 oz of milk.
Q: How do I get Omega-3?
A. People think omega-3 only comes from fish. Not true! You can find omega-3 in flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, soybean oil, soybeans, and walnuts. Take a teaspoon of flaxseed oil a day to replace fish based supplements. Think about this: Fish oil contains double the saturated fat than plant oils. BTW, it also contains industrial toxins.
Q: How can I get vitamin B12?
A: B12 comes from certain bacteria that you find in animals. Plants do not contain B12. Therefore, you should take a supplement under the tongue once or twice a week.
Q: Is salt bad?
A: Too much of anything is bad. Moderation is at the heart of a vegan diet. Salt is important to basic functions in your body, but can contribute to water retention, high-blood pressure, and bone loss. When adding salt, stay away from iodized table salt and switch to a good-quality sea salt. Make sure to add it during cooking so it has a chance to dissolve.
Q: Do I need to take a supplement?
A: If you are just starting and don’t know what you’re getting from your diet, it doesn’t hurt to take a supplement. However, supplements are not necessary if you are getting your nutrients from the food you eat. Don’t forget that vitamins don’t come off the vine and are processed and synthesized.