The question every vegan hates getting asked is: “Where do you get your protein from?” But that’s part of a wider question – where do you get many of the nutrients otherwise found in animal-based products? Well, we can help you with that. Here are the best plant-based sources of protein and other essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy vegan diet.
Calcium and iodine
“If you’re cutting out dairy it’s really important to ensure you’re getting enough calcium and iodine in your diet,” says Chloe Hall, Community Dietitian at Dorset Healthcare University NHS foundation trust.
“It’s difficult enough to get iodine in your diet without consuming dairy products,” says Hall. “So you might need to consider supplements.”
The only other supplement it is recommended vegans take is B12, especially when new to the regime. This is because it’s an important vitamin for making red blood cells, keeping the nervous system healthy and releasing energy from food and it is only found in meat or specially fortified foods.
Iron is essential for generating healthy oxygen-carrying red-blood cells. An iron-rich vegan diet needs to consist of legumes (such as peas and beans), dark green leafy vegetables, quinoa and tofu.
Nuts, seeds and a daily dose of flax or chia oil are good for Omega 3, which helps to maintain a healthy heart.
And finally… Plant-based protein sources
As for the highly coveted protein, essential for the working of muscles and organs and our immune system?
Well, two points really.
The first is beans, pulses, soya, and nuts are great vegan protein sources. They are also valuable sources of iron, zinc, soluble fibre, omega-3 and vitamin B12. Jackfruit, often used as a meat substitute in vegan dishes, is also a decent source of protein.
The second is we actually require a lot less protein than the media and fitness industry lead us to believe. World tennis No 1 Novak Djokovic and British former world heavyweight boxer David Haye are both vegans. Former Wimbledon champion Venus Williams calls herself a ‘cheagan’ (a cheating vegan).
And now, of course, Lewis Hamilton and a bunch of others have joined the ranks. Just watch Netflix’s #Gamechangers documentary for more inspo. Nuff said.