How to thrive on a vegan diet
Well-planned vegan diets contain all the nutrients we need to remain strong and healthy. When people go vegan, they often eat more fruit and vegetables, and enjoy meals higher in fibre and lower in saturated fat. Our website will help you to learn more about how to make plant-based nutrition work for you.
The Vegan Plate
How does your diet compare to The Vegan Plate by Dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina? Apart from the fact that it shows only animal-free items, you will notice some differences between this image and the UK’s Eatwell Guide. The Vegan Plate shows that sources of calcium are found in many food groups. It draws attention to the importance of beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds in a healthy diet. The Vegan Plate also highlights that it is essential to get enough vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fat and iodine. You will notice that there is no mention of high fat, high sugar processed foods. There are many animal-free items that fall into this group, but they are not an essential part of a varied and balanced vegan diet. Limiting your intake of processed food will help you to maximise the quality of your diet.
Balancing food groups
The table below gives you an idea of how to balance your vegan diet:
|Fruit and vegetables (fresh, tinned, frozen or dried), including orange varieties and leafy greens||At least 5 x 80g portions per day (30g for dried fruit)|
|Starchy foods – ideally higher fibre choices, such as oats, sweet potato, wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta and brown rice||Every meal|
|Protein-rich foods, such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, soya alternatives to milk and yoghurt and peanuts||Most meals|
|Nuts and seeds, especially those rich in omega-3 fat||Daily|
|Calcium-rich foods, such as calcium-fortified foods and calcium-set tofu|
Examples that could be included in your daily diet:
400ml of calcium-fortified plant milk provides about two thirds of the recommended daily intake for adults
100g of calcium-set tofu (raw weight) might provide about half of the recommended daily intake for adults
Vegan lifestyle guide
The tips below will help you to get the most out of your vegan lifestyle:
- Make sure that your diet contains a variety of fruit and vegetables – eat a rainbow!
- Choose higher fibre starchy foods, such as oats, sweet potato, wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta and brown rice
- Include good sources of protein in most meals, such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, soya alternatives to milk and yoghurt, or peanuts
- Eat nuts and seeds daily, especially those rich in omega-3 fat
- Eat calcium-rich foods daily, such as calcium-fortified products and calcium-set tofu
- Ensure that your diet contains a reliable source of vitamin B12 (either fortified foods or a supplement)
- Ensure that your diet contains a reliable source of iodine (arguably a supplement is the best option)
- Everyone in UK should consider a vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter, and year-round supplementation should be considered by people who do not regularly expose their skin to sunlight, and those with darker skin
- Use small amounts of spread and oil high in unsaturated fats, such as vegetable (rapeseed) and olive oils
- Season food with herbs and spices instead of salt
- Drink about six to eight glasses of fluid a day
- Consider a supplement containing long chain omega-3 fats from microalgae, particularly for infants and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Check out our information about vitamins B12 and D, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and omega-3 fats to make sure that you are getting enough
- Keep active
- Maintain a healthy weight, or lose some weight if it is above the healthy range
The Vegan Society markets a vitamin and mineral supplement called VEG 1, which is designed to provide vegans with reliables intakes of vitamins B12 and D, iodine and selenium.
Also, The Vegan Society has developed a free dietary self-assessment app for vegans called VNutrition. If you’re new to veganism, or you’d like to check the quality of your long-term vegan diet, please try it out on your Android or Apple device.
Your health and your diet
The aim of our information about health and nutrition is to help you get the most out of your vegan lifestyle, and optimise your health. Once you’ve finished looking at our website, see what other vegan dietitians have to say about totally plant-based diets:
- Becoming Vegan written by Dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina
- Recommendations from Dietitian Ginny Messina
- Recommendations from Dietitian Jack Norris
These are general guidelines about nutrition. If you have concerns about your diet, please talk to your doctor about seeing a dietitian. Discussing the use of supplements with a health professional will help to ensure that they are suitable for you.
Article credit: vegansociety.com