Log In   |  Sign up

Nutrition in Vegan Diet

blog post

Public awareness of health benefits of pulses is at an all-time high. Heighten public awareness of their nutritional benefits and their importance to sustainable agriculture and food security worldwide is quickly increasing the demand of pulses. Pulses are an important faction of the legume family. They are just one example of the numerous forms of alternative protein sources that are now available for those who don’t eat meat or consume dairy and have been a staple food of many cultures around the world for centuries.

A vegan diet may lead to reduced levels of vitamin B-12 in the body. In extreme cases, it may even lead to non-existent levels of vitamin B-12, which is a concern for dieticians and weight loss experts, as vitamin B-12 has many roles to play in the body and is very difficult to get in adequate amounts from fruits and vegetables alone. It is required for optimizing metabolic functions and smooth running of the central nervous system.

It has been a known and agreed fact that vitamin B-12 is only found in meat, dairy and eggs, however, there are plenty of other sources for this important nutrient that vegans can and some do include in their diets. Vitamin B-12 is present in fortified foods, including cereals and plant milk like soy, in tofu, and in nutritional yeast etc. While it is always advisable to choose food as the first source of essential nutrients, there is a sound rationale for supplements for vitamin B-12 and other key nutrients, which many vegans do take. The trick is to ensure that supplements are taken with reason and not in excess to avoid toxicity.

Salad will provide some bulk to help fill you up – so that you eat less calories overall. Vegetables in salads are good sources of insoluble fibre. This means they keep your digestive tract healthy. If you add nuts, seeds or beans to the salad, you'll get a boost of soluble fibre that helps lower cholesterol and keeps blood sugar balanced. Men should get 38 grams and women need 25 grams of fibre in their daily diet. 

If a body does not get enough vitamin B-12, you may feel weak, have fatigue, constipation, and lack of appetite etc. While an infant can survive with lesser amounts of vitamin B-12, as we age, we have fewer of the gastric acids that synthesize the B-12 from foods, to make up for our daily requirement of the vitamin.

Assuming you’re consuming many fruits and vegetables in your vegan diet, know that you’re also getting more phytochemicals and antioxidants from your diet. Both these powerful substances significantly reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. Animal products offer a complete package of all the essential amino acids that a human body needs. However, pulses including kidney beans, dried peas, chickpeas, fava beans, black beans and adzuki beans etc. are an unparalleled source of proteins and other important vital nutrients.

We all know that no specific kind of diet is complete all by itself with no drawbacks. That is why experts have often suggested a healthy diet and regular workout as a healthy way to live. A diet that excludes all animal products also has some nutritional drawbacks. Calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12 and folate have been cited as key nutrients that a vegan diet could lack in. These nutrients are abundantly present in meat and dairy. A continued vegan diet leads to inadequate consumption of these vital nutrients and can result in problems like loss of bone and muscle mass.

As discussed earlier, those who follow a vegan diet just for weight loss stand a chance to eventually end up putting on weight as the sudden and rapid decrease in weight that some vegans experience could backfire. Because vegan diets are so restrictive, many first-time vegans may find themselves more hungry than usual in the initial phase of the diet, and will reach out for foods containing highly processed carbs to feel filled up. The body automatically makes them pick sugary, fatty foods and even vegan-formulated snacks, which in turn can adversely impact both health and weight.

Alternative Sources

The good news is that there are certain alternative sources of B-12 and other important nutrients that are not abundantly present in vegan diet, though not as original and beneficial as what you get from meat products.

I am going to come back with more information on vegan diet. So, keep checking back! Your comments and experiences are always welcome.