There’s a firmly held myth out there that once a person makes the switch to a plant-based diet, they automatically become healthier and slimmer overnight. However, that’s not strictly true. Indeed, there are plenty of vegan-friendly junk foods and bad dietary habits you can still indulge in once you decide to become a vegan. For example a person could feast on sugary biscuits, crisps, fizzy drinks etc., and still be in the strictest sense following a vegan regime, but it certainly wouldn’t be healthy or good for your waistline. Our mantra at Dee’s is that ‘Goodness is Tasty!’ and to be truly healthy in your diet, balance is the key and this is true for a vegan diet as much as it is for any other diet.
However for vegans there are certain dietary factors that need to be considered to achieve that healthy balance [link http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Vegetarianhealth/Pages/Vegandiets.aspx ]. Talk to any vegan about protein and you’re likely to get a wry smile in return. Many believe its’s difficult for vegan’s to consume enough nutrients, such as protein and calcium on a plant-based diet. However, with a little research and meal planning, it’s actually very simple to have a balanced, nutrient rich and of course delicious vegan diet. The big protein question often goes something like this; ‘how will you get enough protein now that you don’t eat meat?’ And thankfully it’s easily answered. Foods such as beans, artichokes, asparagus, quinoa, peas, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, oats, chickpeas, lentils and broccoli are packed with protein. Iron is another important nutrient and one that’s often associated with red meats, but in fact there are a range of delicious iron rich vegan foods out there, such as leafy greens, dark chocolate, dried fruits, nutritional yeast, molasses, seeds, nuts, broccoli and many more that are full of vital iron. Do bear in mind that for anyone, vegan or not, Vitamin C is essential to aid the absorption of Iron so look for foods that tick both boxes, such as dark leafy greens or enjoy some foods like potatoes, blackcurrants and oranges that are busting with Vitamin C.
Calcium and Omega 3 fatty acids are two other crucial nutrients for a healthy body and ones often associated with a meat and dairy laden diet, but don’t panic, vegans can easily incorporate plant-based foods rich in these nutrients into their daily diets. For many, calcium has become firmly associated with milk, but there are lots of other rich sources of calcium to consider, such as white beans, kale, tofu, oatmeal, oranges and broccoli… Starting to see a pattern here? You’ll notice there are certain foods which crop up again and again thanks to their super rich nutrient content and are essential to add to your daily diet. Don’t forget the Omega 3 fatty acids which are needed for heart, brain, skin, and joint health. Fish is often cited as the best source, when in fact you can get your Omega hit from walnuts, flax seeds and rapeseed oil.
Finally, don’t forget you can complement your diet with vegan friendly supplements if needed, but it’s always best where possible, to try and get nutrients from your diet, The Vegan Society of Ireland [link http://www.vegan.ie/live-vegan/vegan-nutrition/ ] has some very helpful information on vegan nutrition. If in doubt talk to your doctor or nutritionist and remember that balance is the key to a healthy diet. All of Dee’s range of tasty vegan foods are packed full of essential nutrients, wholesome ingredients and do not contain any unhealthy additives or GMO ingredients and are also gluten, dairy, egg and meat free, making them an ideal addition to your balanced vegan diet.