When it comes to following a diet, holistically, no diet plan is actually ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s the execution of said diet which determines its success and defines whether it is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ diet, whether it works or whether it doesn't.
However, even with supposed ‘good’ diets that are executed perfectly it is still possible that you can be lacking certain nutrients. Vegan diets that you would probably file in the ‘good’ category, can still have nutrient deficiencies, even if they are executed well.
Whilst it’s true that vegan diets can provide you with many health benefits, it can be difficult to obtain certain nutrients whilst following strictly vegan diet plans. Let’s take a look at some of the nutrients you may not get from a vegan diet and how you can combat any deficiency.
One common question regarding the nutrients lacking in vegan diets is ‘can I get enough protein?’, thankfully, the answer is yes! Although meats are typically associated with being the best sources of protein, there are plenty of good vegan alternatives. Soya products such as tofu and soya mince are great options, as well as pulses & beans, cereals, and nuts & seeds. There are also now loads of great [tasting] vegan protein powders from some of the biggest supplement providers, so if you are struggling to hit your target, that's another option.
Vitamin B12 is commonly missing from vegan diets, as it is only naturally found in foods that come from animal sources. Dairy products and eggs also contain vitamin B12, but if you are following a strict vegan diet plan then you will need to find another source to get your daily intake.
Don’t worry, although limited, there are some vegan sources that contain vitamin B12. Yeast extract (such as marmite) is one potential source, and there is a great product called Engevita Yeast Flakes which although might not sound it, tastes amazing and is rich in b vitamins, including B12. You'll also find certain breakfast cereals and soya products, which are fortified with B12. Alternatively, you can use food supplements such as One Nutrition B12-MAX to get your daily source.
Our bodies are incapable of producing omega-3 fatty acids so it is essential we obtain them from other food sources. Omega-3 is usually found in fish, however vegan alternatives such as flaxseed oil and rapeseed oil are also good sources of omega-3. Other vegan options for sources of omega-3 include soya-based foods such as tofu and walnuts.
If you're struggling to get enough EFAs, Vegan Complete from One Nutrition is a unique combination of naturally sourced, plant based Omega 3 DHA & EPA, derived from algae, it's also packed with a ton of other vitamins as well, making it a perfect all in one for anyone following a vegan diet.
Iron is another nutrient that is typically associated with meat products, but you can still get enough through various vegan friendly food. Pulses such as beans, lentils and peas as well as nuts and dried fruits are excellent sources of iron. You can also obtain iron from some brassica vegetables such as broccoli, watercress and spring greens.
According to the NHS, it is recommended that adult men need around 8.7mg of iron a day, and adult women need around 14.8mg. Thankfully, there are plenty of vegan food sources you can take to consume this amount.
The primary sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk and cheese so if you are following a vegan diet you will need to consume dairy alternatives. Soya milk and oat milk are two non-dairy products that are rich in calcium and are vegan friendly. Calcium rich vegan food sources include vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, as well as both brown and white bread.
Whether you are a vegan or not, a vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the UK. We obtain vitamin D through exposing our skin to sunlight, which we don't get a lot of especially in winter. There are foods that contain vitamin D but most of them are meat and dairy based. Not many natural vegan foods contain vitamin D, so it is recommended that vegans take supplements such as One Nutrition D3-MAX to get their daily dosage of this vital nutrient.
If you feel you might be lacking any of the essential nutrients, One Nutrition Vegan Complete is a food supplement that covers most of the deficiencies associated with a vegan diet.It can be a little overwhelming at first when trying to find alternatives for each nutrients, however it is possible to maintain a healthy vegan diet whilst obtaining all essential nutrients.