Nutritionist reveals common problems vegans face
Hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to cut meat and dairy from their diets in January as part of a Veganuary pledge.
And while vegan diets are often associated with a healthy lifestyle, this isn’t always the case, as supermarkets and restaurants often use the New Year to launch plant-based junk foods.
So it’s easy to fall into the expensive trap of eating highly processed, high-salt foods in January.
Exclusive to FEMAIL, London-based nutritionist Kate Llewellyn-Waters, author of The Immunity Cookbook and new nutritionist on Channel 5’s You Are What You Eat, explained that many fall into the trap of not getting enough iron — but the It’s a myth that vegans don’t get enough protein.
“Research has shown that vegans, as well as vegetarians, have a reduced risk of several health problems, including obesity, hypertension and certain cancers,” she explains.
FEMAIL exclusive, Kate Llewellyn-Waters, author of The Immunity Cookbook and the new nutritionist on Channel 5’s You Are What You Eat, explained that many fall into the trap of not getting enough iron — but it’s a myth that vegans do not get enough protein.
In addition, a diet high in healthy plant foods is believed to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes due to its high content of fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
However, a study of 126,000 individuals conducted over nearly three decades showed that, while high intakes of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains — ie healthy plant foods — were associated with a significantly reduced risk of heart disease, diseases, other plant foods such as refined grains (white flour products), French fries and sweetened drinks were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
“So, if you plan on following a plant-based diet, choose ‘plant-based’ foods carefully and don’t fall into the trap of eating too many vegan junk food products.”
Here she explains how to stay healthy while eating vegan.
Kate said she shouldn’t eat too much vegan junk food that launched in January and instead focus on “real food” (pictured). Pictured: Shake Shack’s Vegan Crispy Shallot Burger
BEING PREPARED IS THE KEY TO VARIETY
A well-planned vegan diet can meet the nutritional needs of most people, but appropriate nutritional plans should be established to ensure adequate intake of certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, calcium and iron.
“If you’re planning to follow a vegan eating plan, keep in mind to make sure you’re not deficient in these nutrients, as they’re all essential to our health.
“Take the time to plan your meals well and make sure you’re meeting your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. Being prepared is key.
AVOID JUNK FOOD OFFERS AND EAT REAL VEGETABLE FOOD
“There are so many new vegan foods launched in January that are often ultra-processed and packed with sugar, salt, chemicals and artificial ingredients.
“Instead, focus on real, plant-based food sources, such as whole grains, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), nuts, seeds, different colored vegetables and a few servings of fruit a day.
“All of these foods are packed with fiber and other nutrients that are essential to our health.
And when choosing fruits and vegetables, opt for brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as berries, which are rich in health-promoting antioxidants and are believed to protect us against dementia, heart disease and improve our gut health.
EAT A VARIETY OF PROTEIN SOURCES
“Some people worry that they aren’t getting enough protein when they go ‘vegan’, but while those on a vegan or vegetarian plan eat about a third less protein per day than meat eaters, they still usually exceed the recommended daily allowance.” of protein.
“So getting enough protein shouldn’t be a problem for most people with a plant-based eating plan.
‘Don’t be fooled by eating the same protein sources over and over. Instead, focus on getting many different protein-rich foods in your diet, such as pulses, pulses, tofu, nuts, seeds, and certain grains, such as quinoa and amaranth.
‘A varied diet with these different protein sources also ensures that you get enough of all essential amino acids, which are crucial for our health.
Kate also explained that you can meet your requirements by eating calcium with rich, plant-based foods such as tofu, broccoli, bok choy, as well as nuts and seeds (broccoli and tofu pictured)
Kate also explained that you should focus on real, plant-based food sources, such as whole grains, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), nuts, seeds, different colored vegetables, and a few servings of fruits a day.
DON’T FORGET CALCIUM
“Calcium is another mineral that you may worry about not getting enough of if you follow a plant-based diet.
‘But you can usually meet your requirements by eating calcium-rich, plant-based foods such as tofu, broccoli, bok choy, as well as nuts and seeds.
“If you’re watching your weight, keep an eye on the portion size of your nuts because although they have so many beneficial nutrients, they contain more calories than many other plant foods.
‘If you choose plant-based milk, make sure you read the label, because there are many products that do not contain calcium or vitamin B12 or iron and that contain many chemical additives. I would recommend that you get used to reading ingredient labels as it is crucial to know what is in your food.
MAKE SURE YOU GET ENOUGH IRON
“Many people worry that they are not getting enough iron when following a vegan or completely plant-based diet.
‘You can get enough iron with a vegan diet, but you absorb less iron from plant-based foods than from meat.
‘Fortified vegan foods also often contain elemental iron that isn’t absorbed as well, so you need to make sure you’re definitely meeting your iron needs.
Lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu and cashews are good plant sources of iron.
In addition, because meat contains high levels of immune-supporting zinc, selenium and vitamin B12, individuals who give up meat and adopt a vegan diet may become deficient in these nutrients because they are harder to find in plant foods.
“Knowledge is key and learning about food and its nutrients is vital as good nutrition is essential for our health. If you want to follow a plant-based diet, I recommend taking some time to learn which plant-based foods are good sources of nutrients, such as zinc (beans, chickpeas, cashews), selenium (Brazil nuts are the best source!) and vitamin B12 (fortified foods).
DON’T BE TOO STRICT
“Eating more real, plant-based foods is so important to our health and our gut health will also improve by eating a wide variety of plant-based sources.”
“But if you find being a strict vegan a bit too much, think about taking a flexitarian approach where you eat a varied diet rich in lots of plant-based foods and occasionally enjoy meat and dairy.” .’