Vegan diets, when properly balanced and (where necessary) fortified with vitamins, are perfectly healthy eating plans. Indeed, vegan diets are usually healthier than meat-eating diets. However, being more restricted than the more popular lacto-ovo vegetarian diets, vegan eating plans need to ensure adequate intake of certain nutrients listed below, by consuming adequate quantities of the plant-food sources given.
Vegan Diet Nutrition
Here are some vegan sources of key nutrients, including protein, carbs, fats (including essential fatty acids), minerals and vitamins. Many of the vegan foods listed are also good sources of fiber (soluble and insoluble), phytochemicals and other micronutrients.
Sources of Protein in a Vegan Diet
Whole grains (eg. whole wheat flour, bread and pasta, brown rice, oats, rye), nuts (eg. hazels, cashews, brazils, almonds), seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin), legumes/pulses (peas, beans, lentils), soy products (flour, soy milk, tofu, tempeh).
Sources of Carbs in a Vegan Diet
Whole grains (e.g. wheat, oats, barley, rice), whole-wheat bread, pasta and other flour products, lentils, beans, potatoes, dried and fresh fruit.
Sources of Fats in a Vegan Diet
Nuts and seeds, nut and seed oils, vegan margarine, avocados.
Sources of Essential Fatty Acids in a Vegan Diet
Two polyunsaturated fatty acids not made by the body are linoleic acid (omega 6 group) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3 group).
Linoleic Acid (omega 6)
Alpha-linolenic Acid (omega 3)
Note: The correct balance for omega-6:omega-3 intake is roughly 3:1
Sources of Vitamins in a Vegan Diet
Vitamin A in Vegan Diet
Carrots, spinach, pumpkins, tomatoes, dark greens, vegan margarines
Vitamin B in Vegan Diet
Nuts, wholegrains, oats, muesli, pulses (peas, beans, lentils), yeast extracts, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, mushrooms and dried fruit
Vitamin B in Vegan Diet
B12 supplements, fortified yeast extracts, soy milks (eg Plamil), TVP products, some breakfast cereals (eg. Nutri-Grain) - check labels. Seaweed and fermented products (eg. tamari, miso and tempeh) may contain some B12 but they are not reliable sources.
Vitamin C in Vegan Diet
Red and blackcurrants, berries, citrus fruits (e.g. oranges, lemons, grapefruit), green vegetables, potatoes.
Vitamin D in Vegan Diet
Action of sunlight on the skin, vitamin D-fortified foods like vegan margarines, some soy milks (eg. Plamil) and supplements.
Vitamin E in Vegan Diet
Nuts, seeds, whole grains and flours, vegetable oils
Folate for Vegans
Wheatgerm, raw/lightly-cooked green leafy vegetables (eg. broccoli, spinach), yeast, yeast extracts, nuts, peas, green 'runner beans', oranges, dates, avocados, whole grains.
Sources of Minerals in a Vegan Diet
Calcium for Vegans
Nuts, seeds, pulses (eg. soy beans, tofu, miso-fermented soybean curd, haricot beans), molasses, carob, parsley, figs (dried), sea vegetables, grains (eg. oatmeal), fortified soy milks.
Iron in Vegan Diet
Nuts, seeds, pulses, grains, dried fruit, sea vegetables, parsley, green leafy vegetables, molasses, miso.
Zinc in Vegan Diet
Wheatgerm, whole grains (whole wheat bread, rice, oats), nuts, pulses, tofu, soy protein, miso, peas, parsley, bean sprouts (alfalfa).
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