Over the years veganism has been increasing in popularity and in 2018 The Vegan Society commissioned it’s own research that showed that there are now approximately 600,000 vegans in the UK.
Personally, I don’t think I could become completely vegan as I still enjoy my fish and white meat although I do eat many vegan and vegetarian meals during the week. I think variety is the spice of life and it’s good to eat a diverse range of foods to maintain or health and wellness. As I am still menstruating I also make sure that 1 meal a week contains a portion of red meat. I’ve read various research papers that still suggest that women who are menstruating should eat 1 portion of red meat a week to maintain good iron levels, so this at the moment is important to me.
Thinking back a few weeks, I wonder how many people pledged to go vegan for a month as the clock chimed 12 on January 1st? Going vegan temporarily or permanently poses it’s own issues, in that a vegan diet does need to be planned out very carefully to ensure you have adequate intake of protein, vitamin B12, vitamins A & D, iodine, iron zinc, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.
However, it is not just people following a vegan diet who can be low in these nutrients, the National Nutrition and Diet Survey (2013/14) showed significant numbers of the population are low in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and iron (teenage girls and pre-menopausal women in particular can be low in iron). Hence I continue to eat meat in moderation – I always remember my Nan saying “everything in moderation Nic and you’ll be fine!”
So if you are thinking of reducing or eliminating your consumption of meat and other animal products, here is some information on the nutritional elements you need to consider and plan into your daily nutrition plan ☺
What’s the power of protein?
It is probably the most commonly asked question a vegan will hear! Whilst vegan diets are plentiful in sources of protein, plant proteins are less efficient at being used to make human proteins (compared to animal sources). Therefore, eating a range of protein-containing foods daily is important. I try and eat a variety of beans, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds.
How about vitamins & minerals?
Having made the decision to follow a diet of healthy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and wholegrains, vegans frequently eat foods wonderfully rich in a host of natural nutrients such as the phytonutrients, fibre, folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and E, but don’t forget to plan in adequate protein sources, B12, vitamin A & D, iodine, iron, zinc, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids into your meal plans, otherwise you may find you feel fatigued and under the weather.
The wonders of vitamin B12
A common concern with a vegan diet (and vegetarian diet, but not so much) is where to get adequate vitamin B12. This essential vitamin is one of the eight B vitamins and is a class of chemically related compounds, also called cobalamins, that contain cobalt. It has many functions including contributing to normal functioning of the nervous system and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
As we age our vitamin B12 tends to also wane and, as it is important for cognitive function, prevention of strokes and many other chronic diseases, women and especially peri & post menopausal women, should make sure they have this on their list of daily supplements. It’s a must! It is estimated that some level of deficiency is present in 10 – 40% of the population.
In food, B12 occurs bound to animal proteins but if you are following a vegan diet, you will need to ensure adequate intake from other sources. These include fortified foods such as plant-based milks, nutritional yeast and supplements.
Personally I do supplement with quality supplements and if you are interested in finding out more and receiving my discount code to purchase your own vitamins and minerals, please send me a message via email firstname.lastname@example.org or through my FB page
Hope you found the article of interest!