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The Vegan Diet

The Vegan Diet

By: Kimberly Kushner BHSc. (Naturopathy), BHSc. (Nutritional Medicine) for Mandurah Health Supply

History

Vegan diet

Modern day veganism developed in 1944 when Donald Watson began discussions about implementing non-dairy vegetarian diets with similar-minded health enthusiasts. This group of pioneers founded the new vegan movement at the time, despite being faced with opposition.

They decided on the name ‘vegan’, as it was derived from the beginning and the end of the word ‘vegetarian’.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as :

“ …a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude –as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose; and by extension promotes the development and use of animal free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

Despite veganism being a relatively modern movement, ancient practices have demonstrated people from varying cultures and religious backgrounds voluntarily avoiding animal products. Mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras of ancient Greece, promoted a meatless diet and a lifestyle which abstained from killing living creatures. Ancient Buddhist texts dating back to around 500BC also spoke of abstaining from eating animal flesh.

Traits of the vegan diet

The vegan diet is solely a plant-based diet which includes:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Grains

Foods that are excluded include:

  • All meat products
  • Milk and milk products including butter, cream, and cheese
  • Eggs
  • Honey and other bee products
  • Animal products e.g.: Rennet, gelatin
  • Specific colours, and additives e.g: Red food dye E120
  • Some vegetarian meat replacements which contain egg or dairy e.g.: Quorn

Benefits of the vegan diet

Eating a well-balanced vegan diet will ensure a large intake of fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant chemicals).

A vegan diet may reduce the risks of several chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, as well as may aid in the prevention of cancer and obesity.

In addition to having health benefits, a vegan diet and lifestyle may be the choice for many due to ethical reasons. Plant based diets are arguably more sustainable than diets that are rich in animal products as fewer natural resources are used. Additionally, much less environmental damage is associated with eating a plant-based diet.

Nutrients and Supplements:

If you are eating a vegan diet or considering it, ensure that you are consuming the necessary nutrients in order to prevent a deficiency.

Iron deficiency anemia is common amongst vegetarians and vegans, especially women of reproductive age.  Iron is extremely important for the oxygenation of cells and without enough iron, you may experience fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, sensitivity to cold, and more.

Omitting animal products from your diet may increase your risk of developing an iron deficiency. This is because heme iron, the form of iron found in animal flesh, is more readily absorbed in humans. Non-heme iron is the form of iron which is present in plant products. Non-heme (plant based) iron is less bioavalable, and less readily absorbed.  People eating a vegan diet may be at a higher risk of acquiring an iron deficiency due to the absence of heme sources of iron in their diets.

When eating a vegan diet, it is essential to ensure good intake of non-heme iron. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron for men and non-menstruating women is 8mg/day and 18mg/day for menstruating women.

Below is a table of some food sources of non-heme iron:

Food

Serving Size

Non-heme content

Soybeans

1 cup

8.8mg

Blackstrap Molasses

2 Tablespoons

7.2mg

Cooked lentils

1 cup

6.6mg

Cooked spinach

1 cup

6.4mg

Tofu

100 grams

5.4mg

Chickpeas

1 cup

4.7mg

Tempeh

1 cup

4.5mg

 

In addition to eating adequate amounts of food high in non-heme iron, consuming Vitamin C with these foods will aid in the absorption of iron. Examples of doing so may include:

  • Adding capsicum and a citrus dressing to a spinach salad
  • Combining berries into a green smoothie with spinach
  • Drinking fresh orange juice with high iron meals

Avoiding black tea and coffee with meals is also recommended as these beverages may hinder iron absorption.

Supplementing with iron may be necessary, and at Mandurah Health Supply we have a range of iron supplements that will meet your requirement.

Floradix for Vegans - Iron Supplement

  • Floradix, a herbal liquid iron extract contains 7.5mg of iron per 10ml dose. It is available in 250ml and 500ml.
  • For menstruating women, two doses of Floradix daily, plus one meal including an iron rich food (refer to table above), will meet the RDI for iron.
  • For men and non-menstruating women who require an iron supplement, one dose of Floradix daily will suffice.
  • This tonic contains a blend of herbs which are naturally high in iron, providing a natural, synergistic formula.
  • Thompson’s Organic Iron is a one-a-day supplement which contains 24mg of iron per tablet.
  • This product also contains Vitamin C which aids in iron absorption.

Organic Iron for vegans and womens health

Vitamin B12 is only available in vegan food products which are fortified, these include some muesli/cereals, milks, and soy products. Apart from these foods, B12 is not naturally occurring in plant-based diets. Vitamin B12 is necessary for proper neurological functioning, and red blood cell production. A deficiency of Vitamin B12 leads to neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, confusion, as well as the some similar symptoms as iron deficiency anemia (fatigue, breathlessness etc..).

We highly recommend that you supplement with Vitamin B12, a sublingual form is most recommended. At Mandurah Health Supply we stock a comprehensive range of supplements, and will assist in finding the ones most suitable for you.

  • Thompson’s Ultra B12 1000mcg is a one-a-day supplement providing an adequate amount of B12.
  • Herbs of Gold Activated Sublingual B12 is also a one-a-day supplement which provides the body with ample amounts of activated B12, meaning your body does not to convert it into its active form for use.

b12 for vegan diet.

Omega 3 fatty acids are important for cardiovascular and brain health, they also play a role in regulating inflammation in the body. Levels may be lower in vegans compared to those who eat fish. Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, there are three Omega 3 fatty acids:

  1. A-linolenic acid (ALA) found in plants and plant oils (flaxseed, soybean, pumpkin seeds, walnuts)
  2. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in fatty fish, and small amounts in seaweed.
  3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in fatty fish, eggs and small amounts in seaweed.

ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA in the body, however, large amounts are required and adequate amounts of specific nutritional cofactors are also needed for the conversion (zinc, magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B3).

Supplementing with a plant-based Omega 3 EPA/DHA or solely DHA, may be beneficial if you are eating a vegan diet.

If you require a EPA/DHA supplement, we can provide you with a great vegan option. We recommend Nordic Naturals Algae Omega, made from microalgae, it contains significant amounts of EPA and DHA. Please ask us to order this in store for you specifically.

Vegan diet sample menu

Vegan diet meals

Below are some examples of meals you could eat on a vegan diet:

Breakfast

Lunch + Dinner

Snacks

-          Homemade muesli (rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut flakes)

-                      Fresh fruit

-                      Coconut yoghurt

-                      Almond milk

 

Scrambled tofu

Sautéed spinach, mushrooms, tomato

Avocado

 

Buckwheat flour pancakes, maple syrup, fruit.

 

Smoothie: Spinach, banana, berries, pea protein powder, coconut water, chia seeds

Tofu or tempeh and vegetable stirfry + brown rice

 

Roast vegetables (sweet potato, zuchinni, carrot, tomato, mushroom), quinoa, nuts and seeds.

 

Black bean chili con carne, guacamole, quinoa

 

Rice noodle stirfry with tofu and vegetables

 

Chickpea and mushroom curry + basmati rice.

Nuts and seeds

 

Fruit

 

Blended frozen bananas and berries

 

Dairy free chocolate

 

Hummus, vegetable sticks, and rice crackers

 

Pressed vegetable and fruit juices

 

Raw balls (nut butter, coconut, cacao, dates)

 

Places in Mandurah for Vegan Food:

Something Raw Cafe (visit Website)

Something Raw Cafe Mandurah

"We are a raw, vegan cafe focused on providing delicious, but healthy and wholesome, food to our community."

Something raw menu Mandurah

Something Raw Cafe Food

Mandurah health Supply special and Something Raw Cafe August 2017

References

Craddock JC, Neale EP, Probst YC, Peoples GE, 2017, ‘Algal supplementation of vegetarian eating patterns improves plasma and serum docosahexaenoic acid concentrations and omega-3 indices: a systemic literature review’, J Hum Nutr Diet.  

Szabo Z, Erdelyi A, Gubicskone Kisbenedek A, Ungar T, Laszlone PE, Szekeresne SS, Kovacs RE, Raposa LB, Figler M, 2016, ‘Plant Based Diets: A review’,  Orvosi hetilap, 157 (47): 1859-1865

https://ivu.org/history/east/buddha.html

www.thevegansociety.com

http://www.kimberlykushner.com/

 


1 comment

  • Hi Kimberly, great article I really appreciated the in depth research :) thanks.

    Stuart

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