Vegans – are we getting enough nutrients?
Being a vegan, someone who wishes to abstain from consuming animal products or by-products, is often wrongly believed to be a difficult task. The common thought is that not only does it reduce the number of options available on the platter for you when at a dinner party, consequently it also impacts your intake of nutrients to a large extent. This doesn’t have to be the case at all – meat and milk are quite easily substituted for in a wholesome manner.
Foods such as fruits, vegetables, leafy vegetables, pulses, legumes, dry fruits, soy milk and products manufactured using whole grain. To meet the protein requirement, for instance, one can plan out a diet that includes oatmeal, wheat bread, soy milk, almonds, tofu, baked beans, vegetables such as broccoli and brown rice, spread evenly across the three main meals of the day.
Since vegans stay off dairy products, you could compensate for the fat requirement of your body by consuming products such as peanut butter, oil, avocado, nuts and include an occasional garnishing of coconut in your meals. Similarly, due to the exclusion of milk and cheese from the vegan diet, care should be taken to find substitutes to meet the calcium requirements of the body. Green leafy vegetables, soy milk that is calcium fortified, rice milk, soy yogurt, almonds or prescribed calcium supplements could fulfill the body’s calcium requirement. Iron intake can be balanced by including leafy vegetables, lentils, kidney beans, raisins, watermelons, chickpeas, millets and foods rich in Vitamin C and iron.
Being vegan in no way translates to cutting down on your nutrient intake or compromising on tasty food as long as healthy substitutes such as scrambled tofus, soy hot dogs, hummus and vegetable burgers are on your menu, as these food products help you make up for cutting down on eggs, meat and other animal products.
Don’t let people tell you that vegans can’t get enough vitamins and nutrients – it’s often the other way around, that the non vegan / fast food crowd are the ones lacking nutrition. Just keep an eye on the variety of your diet and you’ll stay fit and healthy.