This November is World Vegan Month and with that in mind, I thought it a great opportunity to write about veganism and exactly what veganism means. Although veganism has become more popular in recent times, The Vegan Society was in fact established in 1944, with the purpose of increasing awareness of, and encouraging a diet and lifestyle which would benefit humans, animals and our environment.
There are several reasons why someone decides to follow a plant-based lifestyle. For some it is for health reasons, however for many it is for ethical and compassionate reasons. By not eating animal-derived foods such as fish, meat, dairy and bee products, it is making a choice to support animals. This choice also includes choosing to purchase products such as cosmetics, clothing, shoes, bags, belts etc which are not derived from animals.
For some it is about taking a stand to support our planet. It is believed farming for meat production, especially if it is factory farmed, is not environmentally friendly. It is thought commercial meat production may be one of the main reasons for climate change.
A plant-based diet is often known for its many health benefits.
Because a vegan diet is high in plant-based foods and precludes animal products such as meat, cheese and butter which are the main dietary sources of saturated fats, it’s thought to be beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease and death in adults. Plant-based foods are also obviously higher in fibre which can be beneficial for better heart health plus they are lower in calories which reduces the risk of obesity. Following a plant-based vegan diet including fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and wholegrains is also believed to lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Because plant-based foods are higher in phytochemicals, vitamins and fibre, it is also believed a vegan diet may also lower the risk of cancer.
For many of us undertaking a plant-based diet will mean we will maintain a lower body mass (BMI) index which of course will mean better health outcomes. Replacing animal source foods with low calorie plant-based foods is going to be beneficial in losing and managing our weight.
There are so many food options available these days if we are wanting to undertake a plant-based vegan diet. Our online store has pages and pages of products. There are dairy alternatives for cheeses, butters, yoghurts and ice creams. There are many sources of plant-based proteins and so many yummee recipes available to try. Undertaking a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you are going to be living on carrot and celery sticks!!
There are however certain nutrients which may not be as prevalent in a vegan diet. It is therefore important to be mindful of how we ensure we don’t miss out on these nutrients. Some of these nutrients are -
Iron. The first nutrient which comes to mind when precluding meat from our diet, is iron. There are however many vegetables which contain iron. Spinach, dried apricots, amaranth, dried legumes all contain considerable amounts of iron. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron. We can also assist our absorption of iron by eating foods which are high in Vitamin C such as kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and leafy green vegetables. Often it can be helpful to take an iron supplement. It is important to ensure an iron tablet contains other cofactors such as Vitamins C and B to ensure absorption.
Vitamin B12. This B vitamin is primarily available through animal products and protects our nervous system and red blood cells. Nutritional yeast which I have written about previously and is often used in vegetarian and vegan recipes, contains vitamin B12. I would however suggest taking a B12 supplement if you are following vegan diet. Methyl B12 is the most active form of B12 and is believed to be more readily absorbed and retained in our tissues. It is utilised more efficiently by our brain, nervous system and liver.
Calcium. We know calcium is important for our bone health however precluding dairy products is not going to be a problem as including leafy greens, tahini and tofu are all calcium rich vegan foods. Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, dried figs, and dried white beans all contain calcium. If you wish to take a calcium supplement, I would suggest a plant-based calcium capsule derived from red algae.
Zinc. We need zinc for skin, tissue repair and wound healing as well as support for our immune system. Zinc can be found in nutritional yeast, seeds, nuts, dried beans, oats and wheatgerm.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids. When we think of Omega 3, we usually think of fish oil, however Omega 3 Fatty acids can we found in seeds such as chia, hemp and flax. Walnuts are another great source. It is also possible to supplement with plant-based omega 3 capsules containing organic marine microalgae.
To learn more about your vegan options, call in to see Bev and the team at Go Vita in North St in Batemans Bay or call on 0244729737. Don’t forget to tune into Bev on 2EC every Wednesday at 12.30pm on Go Get Healthy.
MINI VEGAN FRITTATAS
- 1¾ cups Organic Road Besan Flour
- ¼ cup Natural Road Savoury Yeast Flakes
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ¾ teaspoon Natural Road Himalayan Rock Salt
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups finely diced vegetables (these can be fresh, frozen or canned – try corn, broccoli, capsicum, mushrooms, zucchinis and carrots)
- 2 shallots, diced
- handful of spinach, chopped
- chives, to garnish
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease well a 12-hole muffin pan – use non-stick or paper cases.
- Place all the dry ingredients in large bowl. Whisk in water to form a runny batter. Add vegetables and mix to combine.
- Scoop a quarter-cup of mixture into each muffin hole, and sprinkle with chives.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the frittatas. If they are still not firm, leave to cool completely before eating.