Veganuary - Key nutrients to consider with a vegan diet
So what is Veganuary?
Veganuary inspired and supported more than half a million people to try vegan during the 2021 campaign. We already have Dry January, but another option for kicking off your 2022 with a healthy bang is Veganuary. This involves eating more plants and cutting out animal products for the first month of the year. Even if you haven’t started yet this January, it’s never too late to start!
Are there health benefits to going vegan?
For Sure! A plant-based diet is rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and hydration. The more plants on your plate the more likely you are to have a healthy gut microbiome. But it’s very important during this period of change to make sure that you are eating wholesome plant-based meals with the right nutrients. Many people change to a plant-based meal suddenly after having an indulgent festive period eating a wide variety of food sources. Veganuary cuts out many food sources which are rich in vitamins and minerals they would have previously consumed.
When eating a vegan diet, it is very important that you include a variety of plant-based foods not just your basic 5-a-day fruit and vegetables, for example we highly recommend trying to eat a range of leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach as well as lentils, rice’s, pulses, beans, wholegrains, nuts and seeds. Whilst introducing more of the vegan foods in to your diet will be extremely beneficial, it is also the case that some nutrients are difficult to obtain through diet alone, so taking the following supplements will help ensure you have optimal levels of these micronutrients.
We have highlighted below some of the key nutrient deficits that are sometimes linked to a poorer quality vegan diet:
- Vitamin B12 - This is because it’s usually found in food sources such as meat, liver, kidneys, fish, eggs and diary products. This nutrient is not found in significant amounts in vegetables or fruit so it is recommended to be taken in supplement form.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids - This is often hard for people to substitute, as it would usually be consumed through fish such as salmon, mackerel, cod and sardines to name a few. You can get Omega 3 from flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds. But if Omega rich seeds such as these are not a constant in your diet it is important to take a Vegan Omega 3 supplement to counter this deficiency. Try our Vegan Omega 3 capsules here.
- Vitamin D - commonly consumed through dairy products, egg yolks, oily fish and fortified margarine. Also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ it is recommended that all adults living in the UK, vegan or not take a Vitamin D supplement.
Although many plant based foods are rich in minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron and iodine, changing from consuming as an omnivore to eating only vegan food sources can mean that these important minerals as well as the vitamins mentioned above might be suddenly diminished in your diet. So, it is essential that you research your new vegan diet to make sure it is truly rich in all the micronutrients you need and none are likely to be missing. Who knows, you may choose to stay with a vegan lifestyle, so setting out on the wrong foot, could cause problems in the longer term unless you’ve done your homework properly at the onset of this journey.
So why else is a plant-based diet beneficial?
It can often lead to a lower intake of saturated fats which are common in red meats and dairy products such as cheeses. It is often higher in fibre and lower in cholesterol, salts, and proteins. However, it is important to try and prepare meals using fresh ingredients rather than purchasing many ready-made meals since a number contain high levels of salt, texture and flavour enhancers that might counter the healthier aspects of a vegan diet. As well as being a healthier alternative to a typical “western” diet, there are also arguments to suggest consuming a conscientiously sourced vegan diet might also have a positive impact on the environment. If so, that’s a win-win for humans, animals and the planet.
Need some inspiration for easy nutritious vegan recipes? Check out our recipes on Instagram