In recent years veganism has become more popular. Research shows that eating more plant-based foods is better for the environment. Some decide to leave animal products off their plate due to ethical reasons and some do it so for the supposed health benefits. For whatever reason, you decide to go vegan there are a few important things you must know about vegan diet and nutrition.
The main aspect I would like to highlight today is that leaving certain types of food out of our diet simultaneously removes certain types of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, vegan eating patterns are low in some important vitamins and we must pay extra care when planning our weekly menu.
The first one and the most important one is vitamin B12. This vitamin can solely be found in meat products and plays an important part in the normal functioning of the nervous system. The only non-animal-based source of this vitamin is nutritional yeast, but that’s not something that we eat a lot of, so it’s advice to take vitamin B12 supplements.
Secondly, it is important to mention iron. This mineral is less bioavailable from plant sources than from animal sources, which doesn’t mean we don’t get any, but it does mean that we must make the effort to consume more of the plant-based sources, so our iron stores don’t get too low. Some of the plant-based sources of iron are wholegrains, legumes and green leafy vegetables.
Thirdly, the iodine. Our main sources of iodine are fish and dairy products or seafood. Since vegans do not consume none of the above-mentioned foods, it’s important to look for plant-based sources of this mineral. Wholegrains, veggies and seaweed all contain iodine, however the same applies here too, if you just leave out the animal products but don’t increase the plants on your plate it could easily lead to a diet low in iodine.
Lastly, vegan diet can also be low in vitamin D, (non-vegan diet is also low) depending on where you live, but in Hungary it is recommended to take 10 microgram of vitamin D supplements between October and April because our primary source, the sun is not providing us enough in the winter months.
On top of these, I would like to encourage you to make gradual changes so your body can adapt to your new dietary habits. I mainly think of the excess amount of vegetables that you will possibly start to eat, and the excess amount the fibre that this will bring. If you swap your usual chicken curry for a vegetable curry, you will 100% sure will be producing much more wind than usual. Your gut microbes need time to get used to the amount of vegetables you eat.
To sum up I would recommend first getting every vitamin and mineral from a food source. A well-balanced vegan diet can be sufficient to cover our needs, however due to lack of knowledge or resources I often see people not having a well-balanced vegan diet. With the new delicious fresh by Terra vegan meals you can easily supplement your weekly menu.