Vegan Nutrition Guide
This nutrition guide will show you the five food groups we should all be using on a daily basis for a varied intake of the right nutrients. Most people assume that the vegan diet is extreme - thankfully, this opinion is slowly but rapidly changing with veganism becoming more mainstream and dare I say it - even trendy! Plant based foods are even said to be able to stop certain diseases in their track and turn peoples' health around. Bill Clinton is just one of many cases you can research yourselves.
As long as your diet is varied
and not based on sugary foods, then nutrition from plant based foods is - in my opinion and many health professionals' opinion - easier to achieve than a typical western diet.
A diet without animal pollutants will benefit your health in many ways and vegan nutrition is far from a problem.
I wanted to start off by showing you what the Food Standards Agency advises as a nutrition guide.
The Department of Health has designed an eatwell plate
as a nutrition guide for people who want to ensure they get the correct amount of nutrients in their daily diet. This eatwell plate has five sections of food groups which they recommend in the following proportions:
Fruit And Vegetable Group - 33%:
It is recommended that fruits and vegetables should make up around 33% of your diet and you should consume at least five portions of these a day - this is combined
and not five of each
. We all know that nutritionists advise that we eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and this is because research has shown that the unique nutrient and plant compounds that they contain can help protect against chronic diseases.
Carbohydrate Group - 33%:
Carbohydrates are needed as they provide the body with the energy it needs to move around. Carbohydrates should also take up around a third of the daily diet, but be sure to select complex carbohydrates as these contain fibre and other nutrients to benefit your body. People who eat complex carbs - which are rich in wholegrains - appear to have a reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease.
*Calcium Group - 15%:
Calcium is needed for healthy strong bones and teeth. Most people think they can only get their calcium from dairy products but this isn't the case. Actually the FSA recommends that these foods are only eaten in moderation as they contain a high level of saturated fat. Saturated fat is dangerous as it clogs up the arteries and can lead to heart disease and stroke.
It is important to remember that the dairy industry spends an awful lot of money promoting dairy foods and so the public believe that cow's milk is the best source of calcium. Milk is full of cholesterol and saturated fats and you can get more than enough calcium from far healthier foods.
Protein Group - 12%:
Protein is needed in our diets to help our bodies grow and to repair our tissues. The FSA advises protein in our diets for this reason. However, many people are concerned with eating animal flesh because of the health implications and we can readily get our protein from clean plant based sources.
Fats And Sugar Group - 8%:
This is the smallest group on the eatwell plate. Most of us know about bad fats and good fats and we need good fats for our bodies to function well. Sugar gives us energy but contains no nutritional value and so needs to be limited in your diet.
*You will notice that the calcium group of the eatwell plate states "milk and dairy foods". With the protein section they state beans as an alternative so hopefully they will catch up eventually on the calcium section and list vegan alternatives for this group too.
A group of doctors at PCRM are actually claiming deception in the latest dietary food guidelines and you can read about that here.
There is also a good book I can recommend if you are interested in this subject. It is written by a woman "in the know" who worked within the industry for many years: UK
As you can see from the nutrition guide, the fruits, vegetables and carbohydrate sections are vegan foods anyway. The calcium section can be met with healthier alternatives to dairy products, and remember most health organisations will tell you to cut down on dairy products for a healthy diet. Same with the protein group.
And if you have a wide and varied diet based on whole foods , your body will get all the vitamins and minerals that it needs. This is because all foods have different nutritional qualities, so the more variety in your diet, the more likely you are to get all the nutrients your body needs.
The only things you may choose to supplement on a vegan diet are vitamin B12 and iodine. Read up on vitamin B12
and find out if you could use a supplement. You can get vitamin B12 and iodine on a vegan diet from foods which are fortified with the vitamin (and by eating seaweed in small amounts for your iodine intake), but a lot of vegans do take a supplement to be sure they are getting enough. I don't.
Another worry for people who are thinking of giving up animal products is iron intake. This needn't be a problem as we can get iron from plant based foods too. Vegan vitamin D is not a problem either if you get around 15 minutes of sunshine a day.
Try to add these top super foods to your weekly diet to benefit from their unique vitamins and minerals. Stay away from heavily processed foods and limit your salt intake and you will be giving your body everything it needs to benefit from health giving nutrients.
If you are concerned about vegan nutrition during pregnancy then please don't be. This link
will take you to a wonderful resource center written by a (vegan obviously) woman who has been there and done it. The website is easy to read and she tells it as it is. I highly recommend her nutrition guide if you are looking for someone who writes from a personal perspective.
Remember a vegan diet and vegan nutrition is also endorsed by the World Health Organisation, American Medical Association, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetes Association so it isn't just vegans saying we can get all our bodies need from a vegan diet.