Going Vegan? The 6 Most Important Diet Considerations
Considering going vegan?
Without any doubt, the biggest change will be to your diet.
When properly planned, a vegan diet can be incredibly healthy and satisfy all your nutritional needs. However, when poorly planned, it can lack many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs and ultimately be detrimental to your health.
Of particular importance (in alphabetical order):
– B12 (vitamin): Not readily available in most vegan diets – though some soymilks and other products are B12 fortified – your best option will likely be a supplement (the recommended daily amount for adults is 2.4 micrograms).
– Calcium: Found in fortified soy milk and orange juice, almonds, hazelnuts, dark green vegetables, tofu made with calcium sulphate, oatmeal, molasses, and dried figs (among others).
– D (vitamin): Also not commonly found in most vegan diets, may provide an excellent excuse to go out and get some sun; 10-15 minutes of sunlight, 2-3 times per week will allow vitamin D production to occur in the human body. Other sources are vitamin D-fortified orange juice, soymilk or rice milk.
– Iron: Vegans, and even vegetarians, run an especially high risk of developing anaemia, an iron deficiency. For pregnant, breastfeeding, menstruating and pre-menstrual women, the risk is even greater. Iron-rich foods include most beans and legumes, (soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas…) prune juice, bok choi, kale, raisins, and molasses (which some vegans eat by the spoonful).
– Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Are readily available in flaxseed (and its oil), canola oil, tofu, soybeans, and walnuts.
– Protein: Usually another tricky element to make up, first-time vegans may feel the adverse effects of a protein-deprived diet (this is why many vegetarians ultimately re-incorporate fish into their regimens). There is no need, though, as long as you are careful and vigilant. Make it a point of eating lots of green and leafy veggies, grains, beans, legumes, seeds, tofu and nuts. You can also look into using nutritional yeast in recipes or as a condiment.
In addition, but to a lesser degree, sufficient intake of vitamins C and E, zinc and iodine should be monitored.