Being vegan has so many benefits, both for ourselves and for the planet. Yet, many people are put off taking the leap and becoming vegan as they are concerned that they may not access the sufficient vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy. There are so many plant based food options that will enable you to consume a diet that fulfills the body’s need for essential vitamins and minerals. There are also a few shortcuts that will make your life easier!
Concerns about accessing enough Vitamin B12 are rife in discussions about veganism. This vitamin plays an important role throughout the body, from maintaining energy production to helping to sustain the nervous system. It is usually found in meat, eggs and dairy products, hence concerns about vegans or vegetarians being deficient. Yet, there are many plant-based sources of vitamin B12 as well. Nutritional yeast, soya and plant-milks are usually fortified with B12. If you’re a Marmite lover, one serving a day provides enough B12 to give your body what it needs. You can find plenty of recipes that are packed full of B12, so give something new a go! You have plenty of options, so concerns about B12 should definitely not be a factor in deciding whether to become vegan.
Iron is a component of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Those with an iron deficiency often feel tired or lethargic which can heavily impact your ability to work productively. Red meat is one of the main sources of iron, which of course poses a problem for vegans. However, other sources such as beans and nuts contain iron, and it is present in almost every multi–vitamin tablet, so your options are not restricted. Iron is also found in many seeds, so making homemade granola containing a mixture of nuts and seeds is the perfect way to give your body a boost of iron.
We all know that calcium is an important mineral that protects our bones and teeth, yet it also helps to regulate our muscles, including the heart. A calcium-rich diet usually consists of dairy, meat and fish, but for the plant-based eaters, you can access it by consuming leafy greens, sesame seeds, calcium fortified breads (most bread in the UK contains calcium) and fortified plant milks. Starting your day with some granary toast and a green smoothie containing kale, spinach, apple juice, green apple and lemon juice to increase your calcium intake.
Zinc is another vital mineral needed to maintain your general health, including your immune system, metabolism and cell function. Meat and shellfish are some of the main sources of zinc, although it can be found in legumes, seeds and nuts also. To ensure you are consuming enough of this essential mineral, zinc supplements are a great option, especially for those who don’t have time to carefully plan their diet.