We’ve all heard the joke; whether well-meaning or not, whenever the subject of veganism comes up comes the age-old question: “Where do you get your protein?” Some people feel that plant-based eating is insufficient to nourish the body properly. While it’s true in some cases, there are two main ways to manage your nutrition: what you’re eating (nutrition) and what you’re supplementing (vitamins, supplements, etc.) It’s easier than you might think to get the nutrition you require from a plant-based diet; it just takes some discipline.
We understand there are some barriers to eating a plant-based diet. You need to research substitutions or alternative ways to get major nutrients if you have allergies or a history of severe nutrient deficiencies, for example. Our team acknowledges that not everyone has access to the funds required to maintain a thriving vegan diet. Sometimes you need to pick what works for you and is best for your health. You shouldn’t be shamed for putting your health or financial needs first.
That aside, wholesome sustenance is not focused solely on a meal-by-meal basis. It is essential to look at the whole scope of what eating healthy means. Sure, you can have delectable treats, junk food days, and processed meals, but overall a nourishing diet – especially a plant-based one – needs to be balanced so that your body can keep as many helpful nutrients as is viable.
For a robust vegan diet, it is necessary to be mindful of your vitamin intake. It is true that certain vitamins are harder to get on a diet free from animal derivatives – such as Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, iodine, selenium, zinc, calcium, and iron. These are the ones that usually require a little bit of added help through daily vitamins and supplements. Other vitamins that are important to be mindful of – but are uncomplicated to get through meal choices – are protein, iron, omega-3 fats, and vitamins A and C.
There are so many options for meeting your nutritional needs, and we’ve listed some below:
- It is recommended that you get at least five portions of varied fruit and vegetables every day. Frozen is just as good as fresh. In many cases, dehydrated fruits and veggies are good for you too.
- Drink lots of fluids. Staying hydrated helps deliver nutrients to cells, keeps organs functioning accordingly, and joints lubricated. Plus flushing your system regularly with fluids can help to prevent infections.
- Boost your immune system with Vitamins A and C. You’ve got to be able to fight off colds and flus so you can keep up with your lifestyle!
- Watch your sodium and sugar levels, especially when eating processed or canned foods. While each has its benefits in moderation, if you choose to include foods and drinks high in fat, salt, or sugar, try to have them less often and in smaller amounts. That way it’s easier for your body to process nutrients from the other foods and supplements you’re consuming.
- Keep your bones happy with calcium. When you support your body, it can support you better.
- Get your protein in! Nutrient-dense and filling foods like nuts, seeds, nuts, and seed butter are high in protein and provide fibre and healthy fats. While The Veganist carries substitutes for tofu (Big Mountain and Ecoideas ) and tempeh (Adzuki).
- Pump up your energy with iron. If you don’t have severe iron deficiencies, it can be easy to maintain iron levels with diet.
- Using cast-iron cookware is another great way of infusing iron into your meals while cooking! If you don’t want to overhaul your kitchen, there are products such as the Lucky Iron Fish.
- Stay full. It’s important to get five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and then bolster them by choosing starchy carbohydrates like whole grains where possible makes a difference.
Did you know? The original sources of protein, plant omega (ALA), and iron in the food chain can be traced back to plants (such as phytoplankton, grass, shrubs, seeds, and nuts) As humans, we cannot process these in their base form, which is why it can be harder to get enough iron from plant-based sources alone. But that’s the wonder of the modern world! With access to vegan supplements, we don’t need to consume animals in order to absorb these nutrients. Going back to the source (with a little bit of extra work) allows us to thrive without resorting to meat.
All in all, maintaining good health as an herbivore comes down to a matter of finding what works for you. Take some time to do individual research to meet your personal needs and allow yourself the space to explore different foods (maybe fruits and veggies you wouldn’t normally try!).
So now you’ve finished your crash course on plant-based nutrition! For information and support on purchasing vegan vitamins and supplements, feel free to come into The Veganist and our wonderful staff will be more than happy to assist you. What’s more, they’ll also be able to suggest their favourite vegan snacks for a sweet (or salty), mindful treat!
Article and infographics by Lunar Autumn
Editting by Leaf Tegg
Final revisions by Logan Bryan