January is a popular time for people to make healthy changes to their lifestyle, and in particular, their diet. Veganuary, a campaign that promotes veganism is gaining popularity, with 600,000 people taking part in 2022. Veganism involves replacing animal derived foods with plant based foods including meat, fish and dairy. Whether you are following Veganuary for a month or longer, it’s important to ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs, so here’s just a few things to consider if you’re making the switch.
Essential vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are a vital part of our diet and can be found in many different foods, not just animal products.
Some plant based calcium sources are tofu, fortified plant based milks, dried fruits, broccoli and pulses. The recommendation for calcium is 700mg a day for 19-64 year olds. So, for example, 100g of broccoli would give you 47mg of calcium and 100g of tofu would give you 350mg of calcium.
It’s recommended we have 2.4mg a day of VitaminB12.You can find this in fortified products and yeast extract (marmite ornutritional yeast). It can be tough getting enough if you’re vegan or vegetarian so consider taking a supplement, checking in with a dietitian foradvice first if you’re unsure.
Another important mineral we all need is iron. It helps produce haemoglobin allowing oxygen to be carried around the body to the muscles. The recommendation for men is 8.7mg a day, and for women it’s 14.8mg a day. This difference is due to iron losses during periods, and women with particularly heavy periods may need more. Some plant-based sources of iron are green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, nuts, dried fruits and fortified breakfast cereals.
Protein is a macronutrient, or macro, meaning it’s needed in larger amounts in the diet. To work out your protein intake you need to multiply your body weight in kgs by 0.75g (0.75g x bodyweight (kg)). Vegans can find protein in beans, pulses, nuts, seeds and tofu.
Prepare to succeed
Whether you’re turning vegan for a month or forever, planning’s your best friend. Plan out your weekly meals so you can see you’re hitting all your nutrient targets. Plan for setbacks. If you know it will be tough making the change, why not start by planning to have 3 meat-free meals a week, then slowly increasing until you’re following a fully vegan diet?
Think ‘add’ rather than ‘remove’
Focus on what you can add to your diet to enhance it rather than what you’re removing. It doesn’t have to be about restricting yourself, but instead it can be about discovering new foods and flavours.
For more information on veganism, click here