Vegan nutrition: The 7 Basic Rules

September 9, 2015, In: Health & Fitness

A vegan diet excludes meat, fish and all dairy produce. People choose veganism for animal welfare and/or health reasons. It’s critical, however, to follow the correct diet and nutritionists have 7 basic rules that every vegan should follow to ensure proper nutrition:

Eat a varied diet

This is critical. Many think that veganism is eating mostly vegetables but one needs to balance various nutritional elements, which can only be done by eating a variety of plant-based foods and beans, lentils, rice, nuts and soy products such as tofu.

Eat the right vitamins

Iron, zinc and vitamin B12 are critical. Iron transports oxygen through the blood and a deficiency will induce tiredness. Great sources of iron include spinach, kidney beans, lentils, greens, whole-wheat breads, peas, dried fruits and iron-fortified cereals. Drinks rich in vitamin C help the body to absorb iron.

Zinc is important in various bodily functions and in balancing the immune system. Good sources include a variety of beans, zinc-fortified cereals, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds.

Vitamin B12 is vital for healthy brain and body functions, regulating different brain and metabolic processes. It’s a difficult vitamin to replace as it’s mostly found in animal products but vegans can supplement their diet with products such as zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, soy-based beverages, and vegetable burgers.

3. Include calcium

Calcium is very important in everyday health and especially for strong teeth and bones. Vegans have different ways to get enough calcium, significantly from soy products, like tofu, soy milk, soy beans, and soy nuts, and also dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and okra.

Scientific research shows that our bodies absorb calcium well from most foods but not when foods have a high oxalic acid content, such as spinach, sweet potatoes, and beans, and also phytic acid, contained in unleavened bread, raw beans, seeds, and nuts. This is because the acids bind with the calcium content and hinder absorption but don’t affect how we absorb it from other foods. To alleviate this, it’s best to eat a variety of foods rich in calcium with every meal.

4. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

These are the best foods a vegan can eat as they’re vital in minimizing the risk of heart disease and stroke, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check, and fighting certain cancers. Additional health benefits include protecting eyesight and maintaining a healthy digestive tract. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is high in natural fibre and packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; the brighter the colour, the higher the antioxidant levels, red peppers being a good example.


Eat seasonally

Shopping regularly for seasonal fruit and vegetables is easy, cost effective and ensures freshness and flavour. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables maximises the benefit from their high content of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. Harvest time is great for vegans since there’s a huge variety of fresh produce available that are reasonably priced at this time.

6. Eat whole grains

Whole grains include whole wheat, whole oats and oatmeal, popcorn, brown and wild rice, and whole grain barley. Whole grains contain the germ, endosperm, and bran content of the grain. The germ and endosperm are full of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. The bran is full of fibre, which is good for our intestines and maintaining a healthy appetite.

7. Boost fibre intake

Foods that are high in fibre taste good and help control hunger, lower cholesterol, and promote a healthy digestive system. Fibre from plant food sources doesn’t provide calories as such but does act as a flushing mechanism in the digestive system as it moves through the body. This helps protect from stomach and bowel cancers.

A vegan diet takes a bit of pre-planning so shopping online for groceries is a great way to help the process and money can be saved by visiting and using voucher codes for a good discount on the weekly shop.



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