The meat-free market is big business. There are around 1.2 million vegetarians in the UK, according to NHS data, and the number of vegans has risen by 360 per cent in the past decade. However, as with any eating plan, those following a meat-free diet need to ensure they are getting the right nutrients into their body – particularly those that would, for carnivores, be readily available in the meat they consume.
Whether you’re totally vegan, veggie or flexitarian (for instance, you save meat for the weekends), we’ve chatted to CCD PR’s nutritionists Cassandra Barns and Marilyn Glenville on how to make sure you’re giving your body what it needs, no meat necessary.
A lack of iron is a common concern most people have when contemplating a vegetarian diet, as it is mainly found in meat. To make sure you don’t miss out on this crucial mineral, load your plate with vegetables that are packed with iron, such as spinach, broccoli and mushrooms! Nutritionist Cassandra Barns says, “Iron contributes to the metabolism of energy and contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. An easy solution to keeping your iron levels regulated is to take a daily supplement.
2 Vitamin D
Vitamin D is crucial to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist and author of Natural solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s, (www.marilynglenville.com) tells us, “Natural food sources ofvitamin D are few. It is found in oily fish and eggs, and other sources would include fortified foods such as margarines and breakfast cereals. The advice now from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends that adults and children take vitamin D every day especially over the winter. When selecting a supplement containing vitamin D, choose one where the form of vitamin D is D3.
When the majority of us think of protein, we usually think of meat, such as steak or chicken. A healthy diet should consist of roughly 46grams per day for the average woman and 56grams for the average man.* For example, your average meat-eating woman would be looking at one serving of meat and half an egg to get her daily allowance. A vegetarian, looking for the same amount of daily protein would be looking to eat half an ounce of almonds and a portion of tofu. Quinoa, rice and beans are all good options too. However if you still find yourself lacking then try a plant based protein powder. Nutritionist Cassandra Barns says, “For vegetarians and especially vegans, those who have a low appetite, struggle to digest protein foods, or are on a weight loss diet, then protein powder can be a great option. Vegan varieties are easy to digest and (in the case of those trying to lose weight) can be kept low-calorie. They can be used to make smoothies or shakes, and also added to savoury foods such as stews and soups.
B12 is important for the health of your nervous system and protein metabolism. According to the Vegan Society* “B12 levels tend to be very low in plant foods, only specific fortified foods provide enough to meet the needs of vegans. These can include breakfast cereals (but avoid those with added sugar, for general health reasons) and fortified milk replacements, such as oat milk, coconut milk and almond milk”. A good B12 supplement can reduce feelings of fatigue.