Becoming a vegan- Just the facts
What food can a vegan eat?
A vegan chooses not to eat any foods that come from an animal or insect like, Meat, Fish, Eggs, Milk or Honey
It’s important to plan what you are going to eat when following a vegan lifestyle to avoid becoming deficient in important nutrients: these include Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Iodine and Vitamin B12, as these tend to come from an animal food source. To keep your body healthy you still need to eat a balance healthy diet based on the 5 main foods groups on the eatwell guide.
Fruit and vegetables – Aim for your 5 a day
You can eat these fresh, frozen, tinned or dried like raisins. Make sure you are having a mixture of both fruit and vegetables, and are choosing lots of different colours to get a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Carbohydrates – (potatoes, pasta, rice, cereals and bread products)
You should aim to have a least one of these types of foods with every meal.
What to keep an eye on…
- Most cereals are ok to eat, but not honey coated or if they have milk –check the ingredients list on the label and choose cereals fortified with iron, zinc, calcium, Vitamin D and B12
- Dried pasta is normally egg free, but fresh pasta may contain egg
- Most noodles tend to contain egg
- Some bread products can contain milk or egg or both
- Rice and potatoes are suitable for vegans
Dairy alternatives – Aim for 2-3 portions a day
Look for dairy free options for milk, yoghurt and cheese that are unsweetened and fortified with calcium, vitamin D & B12. Dairy-free milk alternatives can be made from soya, nuts like almond or oats.
Protein – Aim to have 2 portions a day
Essential minerals like iron and zinc are important for your body to remain healthy, and it can be easy for your body to lack these minerals when following a vegan diet.
Try to include a variety of protein food choices like beans such as baked or kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, nuts, tofu, seeds and soya.
It’s important to include a small amount of healthy plant based fats in your diet to provide your body with key fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and omega 3. Look for oils like olive, sunflower and rapeseed, normally called vegetable oil, which also contains the omega 3 needed to keep your heart healthy.
Tip: There are lots of vegan ready-made meals available now but, just because they are vegan, doesn’t mean that they are all healthy. Read the traffic light food labelling on the front of the pack to see how much sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt it contains.
How to get help
If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.