How healthy is a Vegan?

Despite veganism growing fast in popularity there are still huge misconceptions that a vegan diet is unhealthy or deficient in vital vitamins and minerals.

Any diet can be unhealthy. A vegan diet can be just as healthy, healthier or less healthy than a meat inclusive diet.

The idea of this post is to go into what I eat in a day and compare that to my diet on a day before going vegan.

09/04/2018

Breakfast – Porridge oats with nuts, dried fruit and soy milk. Black coffee.

Lunch – Veggie risotto.

Snack – Coffee with soy milk and banana.

Dinner – Salad bowl with butter beans and quinoa

Snack – Popcorn, decaf coffee with soy and a fruit bar.

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Deficiencies are Vitamin D which is 30%. I would say anything under 50% needs addressing. Other deficiencies that are over 50% are vit E, Iron, Potassium and Calcium. My overall protein is good but my amino acids are on the low side.
19/03/2018

Breakfast – Smoothie (banana, berries, mango with spirulina and flaxseed)

Lunch – Big Salad with Tahini, Miso and Sriracha dressing.

Snack – A few walnuts and dates.

Dinner – Pasta with roasted butternut squash sauce, chickpeas, sprouted lentils and veg.

Deficiencies are the same but better than yesterday.
31/08/2016 (meat eating days)

Breakfast – Porridge oats with semi skimmed milk and a banana. Coffee with coffee mate.

Lunch – Courgette topped with ham and cheese with 3 eggs.

Dinner – Grilled chicken breast with potato’s and veg.

Snacks – 3 Scoops of Diet whey (I would have made shakes to snack on), Belvita Chocolate chip cookies.

Deficiencies are Fibre, Folate, Vitamin D, E, K, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Omega’s are low. Not surprisingly, as I had 3 scoops of diet whey, that I smashed my protein and amino acids.

12/06/2017

Breakfast – 3 Eggs and coffee with semi skimmed milk.

Snack – Smoothie (1 scoop diet whey and frozen berries with 1% milk) and Coffee with 1% milk.

Lunch – Apple, Banana, Satsuma and fat free yoghurt.

Snack – Coffee with 1% milk.

Dinner – Salad with jacket potato topped with low fat cottage cheese.

Snacks – Coffee with 1% milk and Walkers French Fries.

Deficiencies are B1, B3, Folate, D, E, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Zinc and my omegas are low meaning I am getting the majority of my fat from saturated fat. Only low on one amino acid.

I wanted to put the last day as I was surprised to find that this was actually a vegetarian day of eating. I never knew that I had days were I wouldn’t eat meat. This was completely accidental.

Conclusion

Whilst I admit and I am aware that I am slightly deficient in a few things I’m a lot better now than before. This post wasn’t to prove I hit all my RDA’s all of the time but to prove that I can easily meet my basic needs on a vegan diet and also to show that personally I am better off. There are other benefits to a vegan diet I’ve outlined here.

Most importantly my deficiencies are not caused by a vegan diet as what I am low in now I was even lower in back before I changed my diet.

Calcium I did manage to hit on my accidental vegetarian day but no other day. I suspect most days it was low and still is. When I first did slimming world I limited my milk as per the plan and just got used to not having lots of milk in coffee and cereal. I do supplement but I think the best way is to drink more fortified plant milk and add more calcium rich foods like tahini, tempeh, tofu, kale, edamame to name a few. Which I do eat…just not enough of. I would like to point out that there are studies that have been done suggesting calcium from animal products isn’t the best source of calcium for absorption and bone health.

Iron wise there is a marked improvement but not enough of one. I am aware of this. I had issues with iron levels for a long time and have supplemented for this. Great sources of plant based iron are spinach as it contains vitamin c which aids in the absorption of iron same goes for broccoli. Legumes and beans…power house foods that they are. Spirulina is a great source of iron and is easily added to smoothies. Also found out that rice contains a good bit of iron, 1 cup is around 11% of your RDA.

Potassium is one I’ve struggled with for a while. Beans and legumes have been on my list to get more of for this reason.

Vitamin D is a hard one to get on a vegan diet and also hard if you don’t eat fish. Unfortunately in the UK we don’t get enough sun. This is why many vegan doctors recommend supplementing vit D (along with B12). That pretty much goes for everyone though not just vegans. Cows milk and plant milks are both supplemented with vitamin D. Animals you eat are also fed supplements.

Vitamin E is a pretty easy one to get hold of on a plant based diet with foods like almonds, spinach and sweet potato. I have always taken starflower and primrose oil supplements on and off since puberty which contain all I need . I deleted my supplements from the days as it was about the food and not supplements.

Suffice to say I am not going to keel over and die of a protein deficiency any time soon and I think my diet is pretty good. Room for improvement but not bad.

I definitely recommend downloading cronometer and if you do, let me know how you get on or if you need advice using it.

I do apologise for the pictures if anyone knows a better way to get them on here let me know.

Thank you for reading and well done to making it all the way to the end šŸ˜ I do like to talk šŸ˜‰.

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