Veganuary – The Vegan Diet
When the clock chimed 12 on January 1st, many people pledged to go vegan for the month, also known as ‘Veganuary’. This way of eating has increased in popularity over the years and in 2018, research commissioned by The Vegan Society found there are now around 600,000 vegans in Great Britain.
Here at Cytoplan, most of our products are suitable for vegans, which includes our full Organic range. Click here to find out more.
If you are choosing to reduce or eliminate your consumption of meat and animal products, what nutritional elements do you need to consider? We’ve compiled our advice on the topic below:
What about protein?
It is probably the most commonly asked question a vegan will hear! Whilst vegan diets are plentiful in sources of protein, plant proteins are less efficient at being used to make human proteins (compared to animal sources). Therefore, eating a range of protein-containing foods daily is important – think beans, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds.
Vitamins and minerals
Having made the decision to follow a diet of healthy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and wholegrains, vegans frequently eat foods wonderfully rich in a host of natural nutrients such as the phytonutrients, fibre, folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and E.
On the other hand, vegan diets do need to be carefully planned to ensure adequate intake of protein, B12, vitamins A and D, iodine, iron, zinc, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is not just people following a vegan diet who can be low in these nutrients, the National Nutrition and Diet Survey (2013/14) showed significant numbers of the population are low in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and iron (teenage girls and pre-menopausal women in particular can be low in iron).
Vitamin B12 explained
A common concern with a vegan diet is where to get adequate vitamin B12. This essential vitamin is one of the eight B vitamins and is a class of chemically related compounds, also called cobalamins, that contain cobalt. It has many functions including contributing to normal functioning of the nervous system and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
However, deficiency and depletion of vitamin B12 is prevalent around the world – not just with vegan diets – and it is estimated that some level of deficiency is present in 10-40% of the population. Deficiency can contribute to cognitive decline, stroke and many other chronic diseases. In food, B12 occurs bound to animal proteins but if you are following a vegan diet, you will need to ensure adequate intake from other sources. These include fortified foods such as plant-based milks, nutritional yeast and supplements.