Getting the best from your vegan diet

Following a vegan, plant based diet is a great way to be healthy with all the added fibre and nutrients, but beware of the dietary pitfalls, especially with some of the clever marketing techniques and tempting treats to catch your eye.

Let us give you the low-down, so you can make the best choices:

  • Nature knows best – Eat foods that could be planted and picked. If a food is processed, such as vegan cheese, chocolate and pasta, avoid it. Processed foods tend to contain sugar and artificial trans fats (bad fats) that provide ‘empty calories’ (with little to no nutritional value).
  • Follow a predominantly raw food based diet as nutrients such as vitamin C tend to be damaged by heat. Raw foods also contain natural digestive enzymes to break food down making you less bloated, win win!

Don’t forget some of the nutrients that care for you may not be as freely available in a vegan diet, but don’t worry we have some tips to get around this too:

  • Vitamin D – this is actually a limitation in all diets and yet it is crucial for bone development, mood and the immune system. You can get a small amount by having mushrooms, the other option is sunshine. In the UK, our friend the sun can be a little antisocial hiding behind the clouds, therefore a daily supplement of 1,000iu is recommended for the days we aren’t tanning ourselves in the summer rays.
  • Vitamin B12 is only really available in seaweed, you may want to get the Japanese cookbook out and get your sushi on. On the days you don’t fancy that, aim for a vitamin B12 supplement. It can be a common deficiency for vegans, related to low energy, anaemia, depression and high homocysteine (inflammation).

Keep an eye on your iron and calcium intake too, although you are unlikely to be deficient.

  • Iron is important to reduce risk of anaemia, a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables, tofu and beetroot can help to maintain iron levels.
  • Calcium intake may be lower, however, vegans seem to utilise what they have better. An animal based diet can be acidic leaching calcium from the bones, therefore reducing the strength of the bones!