Vegan Diets: How to stay well nourished
With veganism on the rise it’s important to ensure that those abstaining from animal products are well nourished by incorporating various other food groups into their diet. In fact a study which surveyed 2,500 British vegetarians found that almost a quarter of vegetarians believed that they were malnourished. Those who believed they were complained of a lack of energy (64%), headaches/migraines (26%) and feeling faint (37%) (Huffington Post, 2016).
A meat/fish/dairy free diet can cause deficiencies in all sorts of nutrients such as Vitamin B12, Iron and Omega 3. Therefore it is crucial that when removing these types of foods from our diets that we replace them with plant-based alternatives.
Vitamin B12 & Iron
A lack of vitamin B12 & Iron may be the reason for a cause in feeling faint and lack of energy. These 2 nutrients are crucial in the role of formulating red blood cells within the body. If you have a lack of red blood cell formulation this can cause anaemia. There are not really any reliable sources of planted-based foods which contain Vitamin B12 but many cereals and soy products are fortified with B12. Some good sources of plant-based foods which contain iron include pumpkin seeds. pine nuts, legumes, lentils, soybeans, tofu, collard greens, quinoa. To note, quinoa is a great grain to include in any vegan diet as it is known to be a complete protein source as it includes all the essential amino acids.
Omega 3’s are fatty acids most commonly found in oily fish. These fatty acids are imperative for brain function and could be the reason why those on the study complained of headaches and migraines. A lack of these fatty acids can also cause a lack in concentration. It is difficult to acquire these nutrients from food sources so supplementation would be recommended. When choosing a Omega-3 or cod liver oil supplement ensure that it includes EPA or DHA.
If you are deciding to become vegan then it may be a good idea to reach out to a qualified nutritionist to ensure you are still incorporating various nutrients.