Is going vegan worth it?
A vegan diet is mainly composed of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legume, nuts, and soy food products like tofu and tempeh. Going vegan means avoiding animal products such as meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products, among others (1).
If you intend to start or are already following a this diet, and want to learn more about how to thrive while on a vegan diet plan, then read on.
Why go vegan?
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines draft, Australian adults need to increase their intake of grain foods in their diet by 30%, and increase the intake of high-fibre and wholegrain products by 160% (2). This shift in recommended dietary intake indicates the need to shift to a more plant-based diet, with priority on food items such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and legumes and nuts (2).
If done correctly, there are several vegan diet benefits that can help keep you stay healthy:
- Plant-based diets limit the intake of oils, sugars and processed food commonly associated with animal-based products. Vegan diets require whole foods that can maximise the nutrition your diet provides, and remove foods that can lead to poor health from your day-to-day consumption (3).
- Vegan diets are generally lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, and are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. This can lower risk of diseases especially as we age (3).
- Adapting a vegan diet can also promote weight loss and reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the body (3).
However, it’s important to note that a vegan diet plan must be well structured. A balanced vegan diet means completely removing animal products, which may not be as easy for everyone3. Removing animal products from your diet may also lead to deficiency in protein, and other vitamins and minerals that the body needs (3).
Planning your vegan diet well
Following a vegan diet needs close monitoring of your intake of some specific nutrients which may not be as abundant in plant-based foods (1).
Here are four essential nutrients that are commonly found in animal products, but may also be found in plant-based food, although to a smaller extent (1, 4).
Iron is present in plant-based foods such as legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds. However, this kind of iron is not as easily absorbed by the body as the iron found in animal foods (1). It helps to boost iron absorption in your vegan diet through vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables such as berries, kiwi, tomatoes and broccoli (1).
While naturally found in animal products only, Vitamin B12 plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and in brain development (5). The best way for vegans to get vitamin B12 is through fortified foods, such as soy milks and veggie burgers or sausages (1).
Removing dairy products from your diet will also require a boost in sources of calcium in your diet, from other plant bases. Soy and almond milk, almonds, and leafy green vegetables such as kale and bok choy (1) are great places to start with if you choose to switch to a vegan diet plan.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Lastly, the body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids which are essential fats that the body needs for various bodily functions (6). These fats are integral to the formation of cells in our body, and in producing the body’s hormones (6). Followers of vegan diets can get omega-3 fats from walnuts, and soybean, as well as vegan marine omega-3 fat supplements (1).
Remember to keep these nutrients in mind to avoid deficiency and to make sure your vegan diet plan is effective and good for you. While some of these nutrients can be found in other plant-based products, others may require an extra boost from supplements, which are also available in vegan options (1).
If you are looking to change your lifestyle by adapting a vegan diet, or looking for tips on how to achieve a more balanced vegan diet, check out Vitable Australia, a daily vitamin subscription service available for delivery! Build your own vitamin pack with Vitable to suit your needs. With Vitable Australia’s multivitamin packs, your balanced vegan diet may just be the right step towards a healthier you.
*Always read the label and follow directions for use. If you experience any symptoms or if symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- Dietitians Australia Content Team. “Vegan diets: everything you need to know”. Dietitians Australia: Dietitiansaustralia.org. Published March 2018 on https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/healthy-eating/vegan-diets-facts-tips-and-considerations/. Accessed February 7, 2022.
- Grains, Legumes and Nutrition Council Content Team. “Plant-based nutrition”. Grains, Legumes and Nutrition Council: Glnc.Org.Au. Published June 5, 2012 on https://www.glnc.org.au/plant-based-nutrition/. Accessed February 7, 2022
- Cleveland Clinic Content Team. “What You Should Know About Plant-Based Diets”. Cleveland Clinic: Health.Clevelandclinic.Org. Published October 18, 2020 on https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-a-plant-based-diet-right-for-you/. Accessed February 7, 2022.
- Zhang, Y., Ng, K., and Aljoini, S. “Switching to a plant-based diet? Keep an eye on your micronutrients”. University of Melbourne: Pursuit.Unimelb.Edu.Au. Published October 9, 2019 on https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/switching-to-a-plant-based-diet-keep-an-eye-on-your-micronutrients. Accessed February 7, 2022.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Content Team. “Vitamin B12”. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Hsph.Harvard.Edu. Published June 4, 2019 on https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b12. Accessed February 7, 2022.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Content Team. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution”. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Hsph.Harvard.Edu. Published April 29, 2008 on https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats/. Accessed February 7, 2022.