Top Tips for Veganuary
With more than half a million people pledging to be vegan through January 2021,
plant-based eating is well and truly on the rise! Many people are choosing to follow a vegan diet for their health, the environment and/or for ethical reasons- but whatever your reason for going plant-based, we at Nutravita are here to help you through your plant-based journey.
Our expert plant-based nutritionist, Riya Lakhani (ANutr) provides her top Veganuary tips to help you get the most out of plant-based eating this year!
Plan your meals in advance
To help keep your meal choices varied and nutritionally balanced, it’s definitely worth taking the time to plan your meals ahead of time. It’s important to base your diet around unprocessed whole plant foods such as salads, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and veggies as you will be able to gain the maximum amount of nutrients from these foods- just the way nature intended! To help you plan your meals in advance you should aim to include at least the following foods:
- Fruits (3 or more servings a day)- Fruits are an important source of vitamin C, fibre and beta-carotene- try to consume at least one serving each day of fruits that are high in vitamin C (citrus fruits, melons or strawberries).
- Vegetables (4 or more servings a day)- Veggies are packed with nutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium, fibre and other nutrients. Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach are great sources of these nutrients.
- Legumes (2 or more servings a day)- Legumes are a great source of fibre, protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins. Legumes include beans, peas, lentils (e.g. chickpeas, baked and refried beans, soymilk and tempeh).
- Nuts and Seeds- Nuts and seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acids as well as protein, fibre, minerals and phytosterols. Aim to consume nuts high in omega 3 fatty acids such as walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
- Whole grains (4 or more servings a day)- Whole grains consist of the entire grain meaning they are rich in dietary fibre and other complex carbohydrates as well as protein, B vitamins and zinc! This group includes bread, rice, pasta, hot/ cold cereal, corn, millet, barley, bulgur, buckwheat and tortillas.
Know your vegan food substitutes
To help you through Veganuary, it’s worth knowing what vegan substitutes are available to help you recreate some of your favourite meals!
- Dairy Milk Substitution- There are plenty of plant-based milks available such as Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Cashew Milk, Hazelnut Milk, Coconut Milk, Rice Milk, Oat Milk and Hemp Milk. We recommend reading the label to double-check that the plant-based milk is fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 as these nutrients are essential on a vegan diet!
- Dairy Cheese Substitution- To replace vegan cheese you can find supermarket own brand dairy-free cheese (Free From Range), Applewood vegan smoky cheese and Violife vegan cheese at your local supermarket. Although it’s worth noting that cheese substitutes tend to be salty and high in saturated fat, and unlike dairy cheese, they are not a source of protein or calcium- so it’s best to limit your intake of vegan cheese.
- Dairy Yoghurt Substitution- You can find multiple plant-based yoghurts at your supermarket such as Alpro Yogurt range, Koko Dairy Free Coconut Yoghurt and supermarket own-brand dairy-free yoghurt (Free From Range).
Eat plenty of plant-based proteins
It’s actually a really common misconception that you have to consume meat to get enough protein. Interestingly, animals get their protein from fresh greens and those eating plant-based also do the same (go straight to plants for protein). As long as you’re eating well-balanced meals containing green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, peas, beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, rice, quinoa, pasta, bulger, nuts and seeds (all excellent sources of plant-powered proteins), you'll know with complete confidence that you’re getting enough protein (and the rest of your nutrients too).
Don’t forget your omegas
You want to ensure you get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet as they are essential for both brain and heart health. Whilst it’s true that oily fish is a rich source of omega-3, luckily there are some easy ways to increase your omega levels when following a plant-based diet. You can boost your omega-3 levels by taking toxin-free algae and by eating plant-foods such as raw, fresh nuts and seeds (e.g. walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flaxseeds) which contribute to omega-3's anti-inflammatory effects within the body.
Include calcium-rich foods
Meeting calcium requirements on a plant-based diet is simple enough with some planning! That’s because many plant-based foods are rich sources of calcium! When following a vegan diet, ensure you get plenty of fortified plant-based milks and yoghurts, beans (especially kidney and soya beans), kale, okra, broccoli and spinach in your diet as these are all great sources of calcium. In fact, cup for cup, calcium-fortified plant-based milks have around the same amount of calcium as dairy milk!
Limit your intake of processed vegan foods
There are many plant-based alternatives available (hooray!) but there are also plenty of vegan junk food alternatives available. Processed foods contain additives, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavours and emulsifiers- ingredients you wouldn’t dream of using when cooking homemade food. That's why preparing food at home using minimally processed fresh ingredients is a great way to control what goes into your food. It essentially helps you to eat healthily and avoid all the unnatural ingredients found in highly processed junk foods.