There are varied kinds of diet that come and goes out of style. However, a vegan diet is one such diet which stood the test of time and is still preferred by many. A vegan diet is a strictly vegetarian diet where one can consume more of fruits and vegetables, cutting out animal meat and its by-products like milk, curds, paneer, cheese, egg completely.
While a growing number of people are adopting a vegan diet for a range of ethical, environmental and health reasons, there are a few things you should consider before you do the same.
Dietician Pavithra N Raj at Columbia Asia Referral Hospital in Bengaluru, India told IBT India how to get all the nutrients that you'll be missing by cutting down animal-based food products when going on a vegan diet. "If someone wants to follow vegan diet then they should think how they can replace the protein-rich sources and other minor nutrients in the diet," she said.
Since this diet is devoid of animal-based nutrients like protein, vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids there are more likely chances of deficiency of these nutrients. It's important to have a proper diet plan.
Pavithra further added, vegans should start their day with almonds (pre-soaked and de-skinned) or soya milk or almond milk, green tea or black tea.
For the breakfast, she suggests to have oats and for midmorning snack fruits and nuts. For lunch, they can have salads, tofu, soya, whole pulses, rice or chapatti. In the evening, one can have green tea, corn, vegetable soup. And, the dinner can be same as the lunch.
Cutting down animal-based foods doesn't essentially have to mean cutting down protein. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources available. One need to make sure that they get all nutrients by having regularly a combination of the protein sources available.
According to Pavithra, healthy mix of nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and other products such as soya, tofu, mixed grains such as sprouts, green and dry peas, split grams (dal) are required for the daily dose of protein in the diet.
Iron is an essential dietary mineral as it's a part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and provides the body with energy. Sadly, the deficiency of iron is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world among women.
So, it's important to have enough iron in the daily diet. Vegans should include beans, dry dates, raisins, bajra, maize, green leafy vegetables and fruits like pomegranate, watermelon, pineapple, apricot, to increase their iron intake when following a vegan diet, suggests Pavithra.
Calcium is essential for building bones and teeth structure. Most of the dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are known to be important sources of calcium. Since vegans need to strictly avoid that they should replace it with ragi, flax seeds, poppy seeds, leafy vegetables and drumstick leaves.
Vitamin B 12
Vitamin B12 is very important in maintaining healthy cells and DNA, but since it's mostly found in animal-based foods, vegans can add other elements rich in Vitamin B12.
According to Pavithra, vegans should fill their plate with fortified cereals, sea plants (like kelp), algae's (like blue-green algae), fermented bean products like tofu (soya paneer), yeasts (like brewer's yeast) to get the needed Vitamin B 12 quota.