If you’re thinking of adopting a vegan lifestyle, there’s more to it than just not eating animal products. Your body gets a lot of what it needs from animal products like meat and dairy. The good news is there are other sources of these nutrients, but it’s important to be aware of what they are and where they come from and develop vegan diet plans which will keep you healthy.
Below are three of the most important vitamins and minerals humans commonly get from animals, and how you can substitute vegan alternatives in your diet plans.
Calcium is an important mineral for many living creatures, including humans. Its main function is to keep your teeth and bones strong, and to keep the communication lines between your brain and the rest of your body working well.
The biggest source of calcium available to humans is from milk and dairy products. Vegans, obviously, aren’t interested in such foods (and frankly, neither am I), but fortunately there are other sources of calcium.
If you’re creating vegan diet plans, don’t forget about calcium! Dark green vegetables like kale, broccoli, turnip, and collard greens are high in calcium. You can also find calcium in calcium-enriched juice, cereal, and milk alternatives like rice milk or almond milk.
Iron is a big part of what makes your red blood cells, and red blood cells are the vehicle by which your body moves oxygen to the places that need it. If you’re low in iron, you may have poor circulation, have difficulty concentrating, suffer from leg cramps, have trouble sleeping, get tired easily, and bruise easily. Not fun stuff, to be sure.
To test if your friend is iron deficient, punch them in the arm. If they get a big bruise, they’re probably iron deficient (don’t actually try this if you want them to remain your friend!)
In fact, iron deficiency is one of the most common forms of nutritional deficiency around! This is because the body has difficulty absorbing iron alongside other nutrients at the same time. As a result, most multivitamins do not include iron. So we all need to include more iron in our diet plans, vegan or not!
There are two different types of iron: “heme” iron, and “non-heme” iron. Heme iron is easier for our bodies to absorb, and so it’s more efficient to eat this type of iron.
Problem is, the only sources of heme iron are meats. The biggest sources are beef (particularly beef liver), oysters, clams, sardines, and turkey. But that’s not what vegans eat, of course!
Our bodies can still use non-heme iron, but we’re less efficient at absorbing it. We absorb between 15 and 35% of the heme iron we eat, and between 2 and 20% of the non-heme iron we eat (source).
This means that if you’re including exclusively non-heme iron in your diet plans, you’d better be eating a lot of it!
Vegans can enjoy iron-rich foods like lentils, lima beans, spinach, broccoli, nuts, or dried fruits like raisins, peaches, plums, or apricots.
If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, you probably get asked “how do you get your protein?” quite often. It might be annoying, but for most people the biggest source of protein is meat, and if you’re not eating meat, some people equate this with not eating protein.
The image of a skinny, sickly vegan is burned in some people’s minds as proof that vegan diet plans are dangerous and unhealthy. But all we need to do is take a look at vegan bodybuilders like Frank Medrano or Karl Ess to see this is obviously not true.
It’s true that we get a lot of protein from meat, but that’s far from the only source. And you don’t need to resort to the damaging effects of soy to get it!
Hemp, nuts, quinoa, lentils, sprouted-grain bread, beans, and even veggies like spinach, kale, or peas should be included in your vegan diet plans to give you a much-needed protein boost to help keep your hair, skin, muscle tissue, bones, and red blood cells healthy.
These three nutrients are desperately needed by our bodies in order to function properly. And we get them mostly from meat and animal sources. Now if you want to decide to cut out animal products in your diet plans, that’s fine of course, but your body still needs these nutrients, and if you want to continue being healthy and happy, it’s important to look into these other sources of nutrition. Here’s a great link that will help to know which vegan foods are loaded with protein.
Thanks for reading! Yours in good health, this is Renia Pruchnicki for Truth! Live Your Truth, and Respect Others’!