When you’re vegan, there is an apprehension that a meatless, dairy-free diet that eschews all animal ingredients is somehow inadequate and nutritionally lacking. However studies have shown that a well balanced vegan diet is good for health and that it will give you all the essential nutrients that your body needs for optimal functioning.
Most opponents of vegan diets claim that an animal free diet lacks protein, vitamin D, omega 3 fats, vitamin B12 and calcium. However it is possible to get adequate amounts of these nutrients even from a vegan diet. Here’s how:
Calcium rich vegan foods
When you say calcium, people tend to think milk, but you can eschew dairy and still get your calcium. Calcium fortified juices and foods such as tofu, rice milk and orange juice apart; you can get calcium from green vegetables like broccoli, collard greens, kale and also from beans and almonds.
Protein rich vegan foods
If you’re vegan, you probably already know that soy is a highly versatile kind of super food that is packed with goodness and nutrition. This is an excellent source of non-animal protein and can be consumed so many different forms that you never have to get bored of it. Apart from this, you can obtain good quality protein from several types of beans, chick peas, lentils, seeds and nuts such as walnuts. Whole wheat breads are a good source of protein, as are mushrooms and corn. Seitan is great meat substitute that is also rich in protein.
Omega 3 fats from vegan foods
Some of the best sources of omega 3 fats – vegan or otherwise – are canola oil, flaxseed and walnuts. If you are unable to get enough of this nutrient on a regular basis, you could also your doctor about a supplement. Ask about vegan DHA supplements that are made from algae.
Vitamin D for vegans
Most of us need not worry about vitamin D if we get adequate sun exposure – the reason why it’s referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. However in the winters it may be a problem; it could also be a problem for people who largely stay indoors. Fortified foods or a supplement may be the answer.
The easiest way for vegans to obtain adequate amount of this vitamin is to have foods that are fortified with vitamin B12 – such as fortified cereals, meat substitutes, fortified soy foods, and non dairy milks.