People choose plant based diet because they maybe concerned about the environment, treatment of animals, just like the taste or its just fashionable. A vegan diet excludes all meat and animal products( meat, poultry, fish, sea food, dairy and eggs) whereas vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish and sea food .
Plant based diets are rich in beans, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, whole grains e, g rice oats, cereals, breads and pasta. A good varied, well balanced plant based diet can offer variety, taste, essential fats, protein, vitamins, minerals , high in fibre and be affordable when well planned. They are low in saturated fats, more satisfying , help you manage your weight, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Types of vegetarian diets;
Lacto-ovo- Vegetarian- includes dairy and eggs, not meat, poultry or sea food
Ovo-vegetarian-includes eggs no dairy or animal food
Lacto- vegetarian- includes dairy food , no eggs, meat, poultry and sea food
Vegans- no animal products including no dairy ,eggs , honey
Pescetarians- eat fish and or shell fish
Semi- vegetarian or flaxitarian- eat occasionally meat or poultry
Nutrients to watch out for:
Calcium– Calcium is important for your bones together with regular daily activity and a healthy well balanced diet. If you are not eating dairy food then food from fortified plant based alternatives: figs, nuts, green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, tahini, tofu and alternative fortified milks-Soy milk, Almond milk, Hemp milk, Oat milk, Coconut milk, Rice milk, Almond-coconut milk, Quinoa Milk, Flax milk
Omega 3 fatty acids– Important to reduce heart disease risk including lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure. These fats are found in oily fish. If you are not eating fish ,alternatives include walnuts ,flax or linseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds and soya beans. Oils from rapeseed, hemp and flax seed can provide omega 3 fats
Vitamin D– helps absorb calcium for strong bones. During the winter months the sun isn’t strong enough. Good sources include fortified vegetable spreads, cereals, sun exposed mushrooms and fortified plant based alternatives. Everyone is advised to take daily supplement of 10 mcg/day during winter months. Alternative suitable supplement for vegans is Vitamin D2 and lichen derived vitamin D3. Some vitamin D supplement may not be suitable for vegans ,its always a good idea to ask your pharmacist.
Iodine -The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions. It is found in dairy and fish .The iodine found in plants can be variable depending on the soil .Foods grown closer to the ocean can be higher in iodine. Where soils are low in iodine iodized salt and seaweed can provide iodine if taken in moderation. The advice is not to consume sea vegetables more than once per week. if you are thinking of taking a supplement discuss this with your health care professional dietitian /doctor/pharmacist
Vitamin B12– lack of this vitamin can result in tiredness, anaemia and nerve damage and increase risk of cardiovascular disease. Suitable fortified vitamin B12 foods include:-breakfast cereals, yeast extracts, soya yoghurts, non dairy milk twice per day . the recommended is 3 mcg. day or if you are taking a vitamin B12 supplement -10mcg/day or 2000mcg weekly. If you are not sure seek advice from your dietitian/doctor
Iron-Important for your blood that carries oxygen throughout your body. Good plant sources of iron include dried fruits, wholegrains, nuts, green leafy vegetables, seeds and pulses. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C to help absorb iron e.g citrus fruit, green leafy vegetables and peppers
Zinc– Important for wound healing and strengthen your immune system . Can be found in fermented soya e.g tempeh and miso, soak and dried beans before cooking, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fortified cereals.
Selenium-This is a good anti-oxidant helps fight free radicals that damage cells . Good sources include grains, seeds, nuts.
Protein– is important for maintaining muscle strength and to build and repair . Good plant based sources include:- lentils ,chick peas, beans, nuts, nut butters, tofu, eggs and dairy if you are eating them, meat substitutes-soya burgers, sausages .
Read label to lower your salt intake and check ingredients to be sure.
Reducing animal based foods and choosing a wide variety of plant foods can help our planet as well as our health. A balanced plant based diet, properly planned can support health at every stage of your life.
The vegetarian eat well plate below can be a wonderful check list for food groups and portion control .
Look for my delicious vegetarian meal ideas posting soon on private dietitian Wales face book link below :
Reference B D A food fact
For specialized Diet and Nutrition advice seek the advice of a Professional Dietitian and Nutritionist Tabby Kabeer