Vegan Food Guide

Veganism is the strictest form of vegetarianism. They do not consume any animal-derived foods and by-products including eggs, dairy products, and even honey and gelatin. Aside from not eating animal-derived foods, they also do not use animal-derived products or by-products such as leather, fur and wool, even toothpaste made with calcium from animal bones and soaps made with animal fats.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practical – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.”

Nutrition

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) reports that “well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.”

Vegan diets plenty of benefits, adds the ADA. Some of these include: lower total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol levels. Higher fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidant levels.

Due to these, a vegan diet may help prevent certain diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

However, a diet that cuts out a lot of food groups can make it more difficult to get all the nutrients the body needs to function optimally. For instance, vegan diets almost completely cuts out vitamin B12 food sources because they are found almost exclusively in animal products.

Alternative food sourcesTo make sure vegans get the nutrients they need, they must find alternative food sources for vitamin B12, calcium, as well as itamin D, protein, iron and zinc.

Vitmain B12 – Vitamin B12 is important in the production of red blood cells and in maintaining normal nerve function, vegans can get their vitamin B-12 requirements from fortified breakfast cereals, soy products, or supplements.

Calcium – is important to build strong bones and teeth. Alternative food sources for calcium include ark green vegetables, sesame seeds, red and white beans, soy foods, dried figs and calcium fortified juices and cereals.

Vitamin D – helps in calcium absorption. Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D. it is synthesized by exposing the skin to sunlight. If you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, alternative food sources of vitamin D include fortified foods, including vitamin D-fortified soy milk or rice milk.

Protein – good sources of protein include soy, other legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Iron – iron from plant sources is less readily absorbed than iron from meat. This is why vegans need to eat more than the RDA for non-vegans. Iron alternative food sources include soy foods like soybeans, tempeh, and tofu. Other sources include legumes like lentils and chickpeas; and fortified cereals. Iron absorption is enhanced by vitamin C.

Zinc – zinc is important in many body functions including immune system response. Vegans can get their zinc requirements from nuts, legumes, miso and other soy products, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, tahini, wheat germ, and whole-grain breads and cereals.