Monday, July 20, 2009

Vegan Nutrition

A well balanced vegan diet is easier than you think and can provide all the essential nutrients you require. Nutritional guidelines for vegans are essentially similar to those for vegetarians, with the exception that vegans use plant sources to gain certain nutrients that vegetarians get from dairy products and eggs.


Obtaining adequate amounts of protein on a vegan diet is not a problem. Nuts, seeds, grain and wholegrain foods, tofu, soy products and a variety of vegetables all supply the necessary protein required to maintain good health.

Essential Fatty Acids

Most people consume too much fat, but few people get enough of the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats can be found in walnuts, canola oil, and flax seeds. For maximum absorbtion, flax seeds should be ground up in a blender or coffee grinder, then added to smoothies or sprinkled on top of other foods. Flax seeds are also rich in protein, potassium, magnesium, boron, and lignans, which may help prevent cancer.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. Vegans can obtain B12 from a wide range of foods which have been fortified with the vitamin. These include veggie burgers and veggie dogs, breakfast cereals, vegetable margarines and soy milks. You should check the packaging to see which individual products are fortified with B12.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is present in oily fish, eggs and dairy products but vegans can obtain vitamin D from vegetable margarines, some soy and rice milks and certain other foods which are fortified with the vitamin. Vitamin D is also synthesised by the skin when exposed to sunlight.

Synthesis of vitamin D in this way is usually adequate to supply all the body's requirements. Most vegans will obtain sufficient vitamin D providing they spend time outdoors on bright days. Vegans who get little sunlight or live at high latitudes should take a vitamin D supplement or consume foods fortified with vitamin D.


Calcium is important in the formation and maintenance of bones and vegans can get their calcium needs from plant sources. Good sources include tofu, leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Soy milks and veggie dogs are also fortified with calcium. High calcium foods include kale, broccoli, collards, and fortified soy milks & orange juice.


It is perfectly safe to raise a child on a vegan diet. Vegan children should be given plenty of nutrient rich foods and need good sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. High fibre foods can fill up a child without filling their nutritional needs as well as interfering with mineral absorption from the intestine. For these reasons, foods high in fibre shouldn't be overused.

Sources: The Vegetarian Society,

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