Plant based nutrition


More and more people are choosing to reduce their use of animal products, for a variety of reasons. Some are cutting down on animal fats to reduce risk of heart disease. Others are rejecting the cruelties of factory farming. Still others are trying to live more sustainably by shifting to plant foods, which require less land and water to produce.

Whatever the reason for moving to a more plant based diet, it is important to understand how to use plant foods to promote good health. Making the right choices can reduce risk of heart disease, cancer and depression without restrictive diets, exotic foods or expensive supplements.

Physical activity is vital for health, especially for building and maintaining strong muscles and bones and avoiding bulging waistlines. Try to be active for at least an hour a day, ideally including several different activities.

Choose foods that help you to maintain a healthy weight. High fibre, low calorie density foods such as vegetables, fruits and boiled or sprouted grains and legumes help to avoid unwanted weight gain. More concentrated foods such as oils, nuts, avocados and dried fruit can help to avoid unwanted weight loss.

Eat plenty of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, including green leafy vegetables. Eat a wide variety of whole foods. Limit use of processed foods, especially those containing large amounts of salt, sugar or white flour. Avoid foods containing hydrogenated fat. Limit deep fried foods.

Get at least three micrograms a day of vitamin B12 from fortified foods or supplements.

Choose your main high fat foods from those containing mostly monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias and almonds.

Include a good source of omega-3 fats, such as a heaped tablespoon of ground flaxseed or two tablespoons of rapeseed oil per day.

Ensure an adequate iodine intake, e.g. by adding small amounts of kelp to food (10 to 30 grams per year or two standard kelp tablets per week).

Get out in the sun without sunblock for at least 15 minutes on most days when the sun is high in the sky. If this is not possible for more than a few months, take 10 to 20 micrograms of vitamin D2 per day.

Get at least 500 mg of calcium per day from calcium rich foods, fortified foods or supplements.

Limit salt intake by using a low sodium alternative at the table and in cooking.

Use sprouting and bread making to make the minerals in whole grains, beans and lentils more available.

Eat vitamin C rich foods such as cauliflower, peppers, green leafy vegetables, oranges or kiwi fruit with grains, legumes and other seeds to improve mineral absorption.

Anyone eating a high raw diet should include plenty of vegetables and sprouted seeds to improve protein and mineral intake and sufficient high fat foods to maintain a healthy weight.

Choose foods and recipes from around the world to make your meals enjoyable as well as healthy.

Following these recommendations will ensure a healthy plant based diet.

If you choose to take a daily multivitamin to help ensure a good intake of nutrients, make sure it provides:

  • 5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin B12;
  • 10 to 20 micrograms of vitamin D;
  • 100 to 150 micrograms of iodine;
  • 50 to 100 micrograms of selenium.

Half these amounts are appropriate for children under twelve years.

Source : The Vegan Society