Just getting started in your vegan journey? We’re sure you’ve been looking at tons of new recipes and switching out your beauty products, but it’s also important to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need from your food. While eating a plant-based diet can have numerous health benefits, there are some vitamins and minerals that are hard—or even impossible—to get.
Note that there are not certain foods that we need to consume in order to be healthy like “food pyramids” usually illustrate, but certain nutrients and vitamins that can be found in different sources. It’s extremely important for vegans to be conscious of what they eat, especially if they’re just transitioning to a plant-based diet. To help you figure things out, here’s a list of 5 nutrients that you will want to keep track of, and where to find them:
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps regulate many crucial bodily functions. It also helps prevent anemia and heart disease, so it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products. If you’re trying to get it from vegetables, be warned: research has shown that vegans are at a higher risk for B12 deficiency than omnivores. All vegans need to regularly supplement B12 — either by eating fortified foods or taking Vitamin B12 tablets.
A great way to get your B12 supplemented is through fortified nutritional yeast! If you’re a newer vegan you might not have heard of this ingredient, but it has a strong salty (even chees-y) flavor, and many brands add a B complex to it.
Vitamin D is another vitamin that your body needs, but it can be harder to get as a vegan. One way to get vitamin D is by spending time in the sun—but that’s not always enough! For optimal health you can take a multivitamin or consume Vitamin D through fortified foods. Many plant-based milks (soy, almond, oat, etc.) are fortified with Vitamin D2, and the same goes for some tofu, orange juice, and even cereal brands (like Cheerios, for example!).
Omega-3 fatty acids
You can get these from chia seeds and ground flaxseeds—just add them to your smoothies or sprinkle them over oatmeal! They’re easy ways to add more healthy fats into your diet.
Calcium is one of those nutrients that can be found in dairy and dairy alternatives. However, some vegans can develop a deficiency if they’re not careful about including calcium-rich foods often enough.
Calcium-rich foods include: soybeans, almonds, kale, broccoli, chickpeas, and chia seeds.
Let’s talk about iron—an essential nutrient used in everything from building new DNA and red blood cells to carrying oxygen in your blood. Too little iron can lead to anemia and fatigue, as well as a weakened immune system.
If you’re looking for foods rich in iron, lentils and beans are a good bet. Other great sources of iron include tofu, tempeh, and leafy greens like spinach. If you’re getting your energy from grains like quinoa or oatmeal, they’re good sources of iron too. And don’t forget legumes like peas!
As you can see, there are some nutrients you might have to be conscious about. However, well-planned vegan diets can fulfill your nutritional needs. If you do your research and plan accordingly, you can make sure that you’re getting everything your body needs!
We love to help brand-new vegans get their footing during their transition. If you need any advice, we have an entire section of our blog dedicated to vegan beginners. If you also want to purchase lifestyle and self-care products with a peace of mind, you can check out our shop. We wish you the best on your journey 🌱