The 5 foods every vegan needs (and why)
Veggie and vegan diets are big news, but without careful attention to what you’re eating, the risk of nutritional deficiency can be high. And sadly we don’t all have Beyoncé’s personal chef. Welcome these five hero ingredients into your kitchen and you’ll be well on the way to striking the optimum balance.
Houmus is a vegan’s best friend. Just half a pot contains 2.3mg of zinc, a mineral that is absolutely essential for a proper functioning immune system, and is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. A lack of zinc can result in hair loss, dermatitis, weight loss, delayed wound healing and mental fatigue.
Unfortunately there is no single plant food that is exceptionally high in zinc, so vegans must ensure they eat a wide variety of whole foods to meet their needs.Click here to stock up on Zinc
Vegetarianism used to be synonymous with tofu. But tempeh – made from the whole bean and less processed – is having a moment. It offers protein, fibre, minerals and antioxidants and unlike tofu, tempeh is fermented and provides tons of enzymes, making it easier to digest.
Tempeh has a nice chewiness to it and takes flavour well. Try in stir-fries, curries and salads.
3. Nutritional Yeast
This seasoning delivers the pungent kick of a strong cheese, minus the cow. Just 1 heaped tablespoon contains well over a couple of day’s worth of B vitamins, including B12, which is notoriously hard to get on a plant-based diet.
Sprinkle it on roasted veggies, pasta, pesto and pizza – or use it to make delicious cheesy sauces. Oh, and it’s also delicious sprinkled on popcorn! A true vegan game changer.
4. Ground flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are abundant in anti-inflammatory fat Omega 3, which is essential for the proper functioning of every system in the body, particularly the nervous system, brain, hormonal system, heart and the skin.
Vegans tend to have lower blood levels of these fats than those who eat oily fish, which may cause them health problems in the long run. It’s therefore advisable to add flax in wherever you can. Start with porridge, smoothies or baking.Click here to stock up on Flaxseeds
This is a paste made from sesame seeds and is incredibly good for you. It’s thick, nutty-tasting and contains more protein and calcium than cow’s milk, and is loaded with other essential minerals such as magnesium and iron.It’s also incredibly versatile. Try mixing a spoonful with water, lemon juice and a touch of garlic for a lip-smacking dressing for salads, veggies and falafels.
Rose is a nutritional therapist who is passionate about showing people how to overcome their health concerns through specialised nutrition. Visit her website to sign up to her newsletter and get her ‘Snacking – Get It Right!’ e-guide for free or to ask about having a nutritional consultation.
Author photograph by Molly Matcham Photography