To finish off this year’s Veganuary I thought I would just mention nutrition.
I often get asked if my boys are getting enough protein, calcium, iron and B12 etc, and believe me I have been very conscious about this too and so I have recently consulted a local nutritionist just to make sure that we are on the right track.
Having analysed an example of their weekly diet, I am very happy to say that she was satisfied with the variety and types of foods that my boys are eating. We still need to try to get more leafy greens into them (no surprise there) and to also try to avoid too many processed foods (luckily this doesn’t necessarily mean tofu). But on the whole the boys seem to be getting what they need. Phew!
This result however, has not been by pure luck (though maybe just a little). I didn’t have a clue as to how to attempt a (healthy) Vegan diet when I started this last year and so I have actually had to spend some time reading up about the different sources of nutrients over the last 12 months just to try to understand what I needed to be including. I found that having some quick reference guides on my fridge really helped as well as making it a habit to ask myself “So where is the protein in this meal?” etc. It is a lot easier now I that have a selection of recipes that I know work but I do still have quite a bit of work to do to get the important leafy greens into the diet. I do however like that I can relax a little bit more about some of the other important nutrients by making sure that we have fortified products like milk, butter and cereals etc, as well as using a good olive oil for cooking so that we can get the full nutritional benefits of these without having to think too much.
The nutritionist also gave me lots of other great diet tips as well as recommending that I change the multivitamin that I was giving the boys to a more natural option (less sugar etc). She was able to recommend quite a few options, however as they were mostly in a liquid form I couldn’t be bothered to faff around with those and so I ended up opting for the slightly more expensive option of the Vegums so that the boys can just chew them like gummy bears. They get delivered to me on a monthly basis and I now give the boys a “Multivitamin for Vegans” and a “Fish free Omega-3” bear every day and the “Iron” bear just twice a week as she said that it wasn’t really that necessary. For us adults she also recommended these VegVit multivitamins from Vegetology. (I like the sustainability policies of both of these companies, including the packaging.)
The other thing that she did say to me though was to avoid taking nutrition advice from random people on the internet and so I suppose that includes me?! So I just want to be clear that I am not giving any particular kind of nutrition advice here other than to say, please just bear it in mind if you do decide to continue to reduce the meat and dairy in your diet and to perhaps consider what supplements you might need (especially your B12 intake).
The crazy thing is that I had never even considered what nutrients we were getting before we cut back on our meat and dairy and so I don’t even know how healthy we were before?! But I do know that what we are eating now has a lot less saturated fats, I cook a lot more from scratch with better ingredients and both my husband and I feel a lot lighter and more energised. The boys are certainly not lacking in energy either!