Taking the step to become a vegan can be an admirable decision for reasons activist, health or weight loss. But as meat and dairy products are literally off the table now, it is very important to nourish your body and get the nutrients you need. The vegan diet consists entirely of foods of plain origin. That means there is no meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy products. While many people adopt this way of eating animal and ecological right, others are opting for their health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, lowering cholesterol and of course, losing weight.
Vegan foods with protein in vegan diets
Plants and animal foods provide proteins. Animal foods provide complete protein which packs all the amino acids our bodies need to build muscle and synthesize antibodies, enzymes and hormones. Since vegetable protein often lacks several of these amino acids, enough of this nutrient can be complicated, but not impossible. There is one exception: soy. Soy foods like soy milk and tofu deliver the complete protein that vegan diets lack. Complete your dish with other plant-based proteins such as tempeh, quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and nut butters may also help you get your fill.
Necessary nutrients in the vegan diet
Because vegans do not consume dairy, their risk of bone fractures is nearly 30% higher than non-vegetarians. True, but not all, green leafy vegetables can help. Broccoli, Chinese cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and Swiss chard are rich in a form of calcium that is easy to absorb. You can also get your calcium review of tempeh, tahini, almond butter, as well as fortified foods like orange juice, cereal, soy, rice and almond milk. For maximum absorption, look for brands fortified with calcium carbonate.
Vegans have lower blood levels DHA and EPA, long-chain Omega-3 fats (found mostly in fish) that help improve brain, eye and heart health. Foods like flaxseed, chia seeds, beans, walnuts and canola oil provide ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a cousin of omega-3 DHA and EPA. While not quite as efficient as long chain varieties, our bodies can convert about 10% of the ALA’s food into EPA.
Vitamin D is hard to come by, even if you’re not a vegetarian. Because it is found primarily in fatty fish and fortified cow’s milk, it is even more difficult to get if you are a vegan. While fortified foods such as cereals, milk alternatives and orange juice supply have a little vitamin D, they may not be enough to get the 600IUs you need each day. If you are not out in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes a day, consider a supplement.
If you are a vegan, getting enough of vitamin B can be a real challenge. Unlike any other vitamin, vitamin B12 is found only in foods of animal origin. While some forms of nutritional yeast can provide small amounts, foods like miso, tempeh, algae and spirulina.