Vegan diet
Vegan diet

A vegan diet

What you need to know and recipe ideas


The number of individuals in the UK adopting a vegan lifestyle has grown fourfold in the past 10 years (source: 
The Vegan Society). A vegan diet is plant based and 
can be a really healthy diet, but it does take planning 
to ensure you meet your nutrient requirements.

 

A vegan diet is often higher in fruit and vegetables, higher 
in fibre and lower in saturated fat, which is great news but 
to be balanced and complete, there are certain nutrients that require a little extra attention including, vitamin B12, vitamin D, Omega 3, iron and calcium.

 

Protein

Protein

 

Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids.  When plant products are the main source of protein, it is important to eat a variety to make sure you are getting a different essential amino acids.  Try to include a food source of protein with each meal.

Vegan sources of protein

• Pulses such as lentils, beans and chick peas

• Soya products such as tofu, soya protein, soya milk and soya yogurts

• Nuts and seeds

• Grains such as wheat, barley, oats, rice and quinoa

• Vegan Quorn products

Omega 3

Omega 3

 

Omega 3 fats are mainly found in oily fish, but there are alternative sources you can include in order to meet your body’s needs:

• Oils such as linseed (also known as flaxseed), rapeseed and soya oil

• Walnuts and pumpkin seeds

• Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and spring greens.

• Wholegrain cereals

• Vegetarian or vegan supplements

Plant sources of Omega 3 fats need to be converted to a different form of omega 3 in the body, and we're not always that good at this conversion. It is therefore important to include lots of plant sources of omega 3 in a vegan diet. Simple swaps, like using rapeseed oil instead of sunflower oil can help to increase your intake. Vegan algal Omega 3 supplements are widely available also.

Calcium

Calcium

 

Calcium is important for bone health but can easily be obtained from a vegan diet.  It is important to include a source of calcium in your daily diet.  Good vegan sources include:

• Soya products such as tofu, soya milk and soya yogurts

• Dried figs

• Leafy green vegetables

• Nuts (especially almonds) and seeds

• Chia seeds

Top tip:

To help our body absorb calcium, we also need vitamin D, which is not found in plant foods. Most vitamin D is made in the body from sunlight, but there are also food sources that are suitable vegans:

• Fortified breakfast cereals

• Fortified milk alternatives

• Margarine

Some health professionals recommend a vitamin D supplement during the winter months.  There are many vegan supplements available if you wish to top up your vitamin D levels.

Iron

Iron

 

Iron is important to keep our blood healthy and also to reduce tiredness and fatigue. Vegan sources of iron include:

• Leafy green vegetables

• Wholemeal bread and fortified breakfast cereals

• Dried fruit (especially apricots)

• Pulses such as lentils, beans and chick peas

Did you know…?

Iron from plant sources is not easily absorbed, but vitamin C enhances its absorption.

Aim to consume foods containing vitamin C with those that contain iron. For example, drink fruit juice with breakfast cereal, or squeeze fresh lemon juice over leafy green vegetables and salads.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for metabolism and the nervous system.  It isn't produced by plants, but can still be incorporated into a vegan diet by including:

• Yeast extract, for example MarmiteTM

• Fortified breakfast cereals

• Fortified milk alternatives

Vegan recipes