A Complete Guide to Vegan Nutrition


vegan nutrition

Vegan Nutrition | Introduction to Vegan Nutrition

A plate of food on a table

A vegan diet is a diet free from meat, eggs, dairy products, and all other animal derivatives. Vegans do not consume any animal products.

A vegan diet can be a very healthy choice, but veganism is a big change from the way most people eat in Western cultures. A vegan diet must contain all required nutrients to support normal growth and health, but achieving this balance with a vegan diet takes more work than with other diets. The potential health benefits of veganism include lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease and cancer, and lower fat content in the bloodstream from vegan diets that contain no animal fats. However, vegans must sometimes take vitamin or mineral supplements to avoid nutrient deficiencies.

Vegan Nutrition | Vegan Sources of Protein

A pile of fruit sitting on a table

A vegan diet must contain a variety of different plant-based foods because no single food can provide all the essential amino acids. Your body needs amino acids to build and maintain tissue, including muscle. Vegans should eat a wide range of vegan foods every day to ensure that they get enough protein and enough amino acids.

Plant sources of protein include legumes (chickpeas, black beans, lentils, peanuts), grains (oats, rice, whole wheat bread), nuts and nut butters, seeds, tofu, and other soy products. If you are vegan or vegetarian for ethical or religious reasons, you might use eggs as a source of vegan protein

Vegan Nutrition | Vegan Sources of Calcium

Vegans need to make sure they consume enough calcium because they do not eat dairy products, which are a major source of calcium in most Western diets. Good vegan sources of calcium include fortified soy milk and other vegan milk, fortified orange juice, cooked collard greens, baked beans, and almonds.

Vegan Nutrition | Vegan Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for maintaining heart health and preventing chronic diseases such as cancer. The best vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds and chia seeds. You can also get some omega-3 fatty acids from soybeans, walnuts, and canola oil. However, you would have to eat a lot of these foods to get the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as you would from eating fish.

Vegan Nutrition | Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for maintaining nerve health and preventing anemia. The best vegan sources of vitamin B12 are fortified foods such as vegan milk, vegan meat substitutes, and breakfast cereals. You can also get vitamin B12 from nutritional yeast and some fortified vegan protein powders.

Vegan Nutrition | Vegan Sources of Iron

Iron is important for transporting oxygen throughout the body. The best vegan sources of iron are legumes (chickpeas, black beans, lentils, peanuts), grains (oats, rice, whole wheat bread), nuts and nut butters, seeds, vegan meats, and dairy alternatives, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Summary

In vegan diets, it can be very difficult to get sufficient protein from a single vegan food. So it is important that vegans eat a wide variety of vegan foods every day to ensure that they get enough protein and amino acids. Good vegan sources of calcium include fortified soy milk and other vegan milk, fortified orange juice, cooked collard greens, baked beans, and almonds. Omega-3 fatty acids do not come from a specific vegan source because omega 3s are polyunsaturated fats found in many types of plant-derived oils as well as fish sources. The best vegan sources of vitamin B12 are fortified foods such as vegan milk, vegan meat substitutes, and breakfast cereals. Vegans should also consume plenty of iron-rich foods such as legumes (chickpeas, black beans, lentils, peanuts), grains (oats, rice, whole wheat bread), nuts and nut butters, seeds, vegan meats, and dairy alternatives, and dark green leafy vegetables. However, vegan diets can be low in vitamin B12 if not supplemented. So it is important for vegans to include a vitamin B12 supplement in their diet.

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