What does vegan mean?
A person who does not eat or use animal products is a vegan. A vegan diet is a plant based diet. It includes grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes. Vegans avoid all animal products including:
- Gelatine and other animal-based food additives
What are the health benefits of a vegan diet?
A vegan diet offers an array of different health benefits. Apart from weight loss, a well balanced vegan diet has also been linked to a reduced risk of:
- Heart disease
- Certain types of cancer
How can I get enough calcium if I’m not consuming dairy?
Calcium is actually abundant in many whole foods, as it is a mineral found in soil that is absorbed into the roots of plants. Calcium can be found in soybeans, tofu, broccoli, bok choy and many other plant foods, as well as nuts and seeds. Getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure is also key for calcium absorption. Many people believe they need to drink milk to get adequate calcium for bone health. In reality the process of bone formation relies on hormones and requires an adequate and constant supply of numerous nutrients including protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, potassium and calcium. Many of these minerals are readily available in plant based foods. For example whole grains, spinach, nuts, whole grains, beans and chocolate are rich in magnesium. Seeds, nuts, wholegrains, beans are also rich in phosphorous. Bananas, spinach, potatoes and mushrooms are rich in potassium.
Will I need to take any supplements?
It is always important to get advice from your health professional, as supplement recommendations are very individualised. It is best to supplement according to your personal needs, not everyone will need the same supplements.However, a vitamin B12 supplement is usually recommended for vegans.
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in nerve cells and DNA. B12 is naturally found in animal products including meat, fish poultry. B12 is usually made from bacteria, in nature. Soil contains B12, so unwashed mushrooms may provide a small amount of B12. While our own gut bacteria make B12, it is hard for us to absorb this B12 made by our own gut because, because we need intrinsic factor (in the stomach) to help us absorb it in the small intestine. Because vegans don't eat animal products vegans and even vegetarians may need to supplement B12.
As well as B12, an omega 3 supplement may also be recommended sometimes as well as vitamin D, depending on the intake of these in the diet. Omega 3 is present in flax seed oil but not in the most useful form for the body, and we do get vitamin D from the sun, but your absorption will depend on exposure to sunlight and other factors. Sometimes it is also recommended vegans take iron or other mineral supplements like calcium and magnesium.
A simple blood test by your GP will determine your need to supplement or not.
- Vegans avoid honey because it is produced by bees. Vegans use other sweeteners instead: such as maple syrup or agave nectar or sugar.
- In 2018, ‘vegan’ was the most googled dietary term in Australia.
- Adopting a vegan diet could cut your carbon footprint in half.
- People choose a vegan diet typically for environmental, health or political reasons or a combination of these.
Wholesomeness does a vegan range of meals and meal plans delivered (or pick up by arrangement).