Have you noticed a surge in the vegan movement of recent? Well, according to the Vegan Society, there are now upwards of 150,000 vegans in the UK. With Veganuary in full swing, we're sure that number is sure to grow swiftly.
So what is Veganuary? Well, its a campaign aimed at encouraging people to try going vegan for a month, in the hope that they might make the life change. For those wondering what constitutes a vegan diet, well, it excludes all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods. Essentially eating anything that comes from a plant – fruit, vegetables, seeds, pulses, nuts, beans and grains.
Now, we still heavily believe in balanced meals that hit the required food groups, this doesn't change for vegans. With the exclusion of meat, you could be misled into thinking that protein would be hard to come by, however, that's not the case at all. Protein-rich foods are vital for the growth and repair of muscles as well as cognitive development. So where do vegans acquire their sources of protein? Well, there are a range of options which include beans, nuts, seeds and pulses. Remember Amino acids? Well, they're the building blocks of protein and eating some of them is essential because the body can't produce it on its own.
On that note, here are three great protein sources for vegans:
So, let's start with one that you're probably quite used to seeing; the humble bean. Beans are a great source of fibre and are naturally low in fat. But which beans should you go for? Well, kidney beans are an amazing source of phosphorus, which combines with calcium to help form strong bones.
A lot of people take supplements for added manganese, however, pick up some butter beans and you're getting a very high source straight out of the can. Manganese makes and activates a range of enzymes naturally produced in your body, so it's a win-win!
A varied diet is essential to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Not only a healthy snack but a brilliant addition to a meal. Nuts are, and deservedly so, a staple in many vegan diets. Not only are they a great source of protein, but they also pack a healthy potassium punch (which helps lower the risk of high blood pressure). On top of this, they're an amazing source of magnesium which plays a pivotal part in turning the food we eat into energy.
The nations go-to nut is the peanut, however, people have barely scratched the surface when it comes to trying the wide variety of nuts available. The likes of almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pecans, cashews, and Macadamia nuts are all delicious. However, walnuts deserve special mention as they're one of the few rich plant-based sources of Omega 3.
Seeds you say? Yes, seeds! Those such as sunflower and pumpkin are both a versatile ingredient that can be used in a range of meals - think stir-fries, drinks, soups, salads, shakes and many more. Plus, they're a great source of nutrients! When you hear calcium, you probably automatically think of dairy, right? Well, sesame seeds especially are a great non-dairy source of calcium (great for strong bones and teeth!).
If you’re concerned you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals on a vegan diet, perhaps consider topping up with almond or coconut milk which are a source of added calcium. However, if you take the time to plan your diet carefully then there shouldn’t be any concerns about nutritional deficiencies. Grab everything you need for Veganuary from your nearest convenience store.