If you are making the big lifestyle switch The Vegan Society recommends you should eat:
- Five a day.
- Starchy, higher fibre foods at every meal
- Protein rich foods at most meals
- Nuts and seeds every day
- Calcium-rich foods every day
It lists important nutrients including protein, vitamins, Omega 3 and 6 fats, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium and recommends plant-based food sources for them.
Here is our guide to the foods highlighted by the Vegan Society that can be key to a vegan diet and are available at Grape Tree.
GRAINS: Quinoa is a complete protein source, with all nine essential amino acids. One cup (185g) contains over 8g of protein as well as 5g of fibre, zinc and iron. A serving of oats (40-50g) delivers around 7g of protein as well as zinc, manganese and copper. The fibre in oats includes the soluble form known as beta-glucan which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. All the whole grains, which include buckwheat, are associated with a reduced risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
NUTS: No surprise that vegans are advised to eat nuts every day given the array of research showing how they ward off ill health and increase life expectancy. But each type of nut has its own nutrient package. Walnuts are unique for their Omega 3 fat content (they are one of the best plant sources) but also have zinc. Almonds are recommended for calcium while peanuts and pistachios are highlighted for protein. Cashews are noted for protein, iron and zinc.
DRIED FRUITS: They all count as one of your five a day but each has unique virtues. Apricots bring you carotenoids (forms of vitamin A) as well vitamin C, notable levels of potassium plus iron, zinc and calcium. Figs are noted for their iron and calcium content and raisins are recommended for iron.
SEEDS: Hemp seeds are a protein powerhouse. Two to three tablespoons (30g) provide 11g of protein (about the same as beef). And as they contain all the essential amino acids they are regarded as a complete protein source. They are exceptionally rich in the two essential fatty acids Omega 6 and Omega 3. Plus, they supply zinc, iron and fibre.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds (around 28g) has around 10 per cent of your daily protein requirement, almost a fifth of your calcium need, a tenth of your iron and a third of your fibre plus Omega 3 fats.
Pumpkin seed is an outstanding source of zinc but also has iron and other minerals. A quarter cup (around 30gs) will provide around a fifth of your protein. They are also rich in antioxidants. Linseed is one of the richest plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids. It also has protein, iron and zinc and is rated as the leading source of the important plant antioxidants known as lignans.
PULSES: Like all pulses beans and lentils are packed with protein and fibre. A cup of cooked lentils, black beans or kidney beans (3-4 heaped tbs) will give you almost a third of your protein for the day. The same of soya beans will provide almost half. All have fibre, iron and zinc. Black and kidney beans have large quantities of folate and soya have impressive stores of omega 3 fats. Then there are those recommended slow burning complex carbohydrates.