Whether you’re eating less meat for health or environmental factors, it’s important that a plant-based diet is balanced enough to give you and your family the essential nutrients you need.
A healthy, balanced plant-based diet should typically include wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes and unsaturated oils.
Supplements are available for some nutrients like omega-3 and vitamin B12, but it is possible for a plant-based diet to be delicious, varied, and healthy - there are a few things to be mindful of.
If you are looking to either increase the number of plant-based foods in your daily diet, go vegetarian or vegan, why not read these tips from Nutritionist Sarah Jones.
1.Make changes slowly.
A sudden life-style change isn’t for everyone, and a gradual approach is best by adding foods such as legumes, wholegrains and more fruits and vegetables to your everyday dietary routine. These foods contain more fibre and will keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer so avoids you reaching for unhealthy snacks between meals too!
2. Seek out omega-3…
Omega-3s are a family of essential fatty acids that play important roles in our bodies and may provide many health benefits. One of the main sources of omega-3 in our diet is from oily fish. For those following a vegan diet, supplements containing omega-3 fats from algae are available, but you can also get omega-3 through food too..
Natural plant-based sources of omega-3 include Chia seeds, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, Brussel sprouts and walnuts.
3…remember the calcium,
Dairy foods contribute around a third of our dietary calcium in the UK diet. Calcium is an important mineral with a role to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, which is particularly important for the growth and development in children.
Non-dairy plant-based sources include tofu, plant-based milk and yogurt alternatives, beans and pulses, lightly cooked leafy greens like kale and cavolo nero, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, bread, and nut butters.
4...and look for the B vitamins.
Typically, vitamin B12 is only found naturally in foods from animal sources, so reliable vegan sources are mostly fortified foods – yeast extract, breakfast cereals and dairy free alternatives e.g., soya, oat, or almond drinks. Supplements are readily available and should be taken if you are worried about your or your family’s intake of vitamin B12.
5. Make the most of store cupboard essentials.
A plant-based diet can also be very affordable. If you stock up your kitchen with whole food staples such as rice, whole grains, dried beans and lentils, pasta and potatoes you can create nutritious, healthy and satisfying inexpensive meals.