Becoming vegan is no small feat, not just in terms of curbing cravings for non-vegan food, but also in making sure you’re getting enough nutrients from your new diet.
The ‘Health’ section of TIME does a great job of laying out the important things to bear in mind if you are becoming vegan, but if you don’t have time to read it here’s a handy summary:
- You’ll need a vitamin B12 source – this only occurs naturally in animal foods, so foods fortified with B12 are a must.
- You’ll need an iron source – while you can get iron from vegan foods, this type of iron is less easily absorbed by the body than the kind found in animal foods. So you’ll need to consume more iron, such as through legumes, sunflower seeds, dried raisins, and dark, leafy greens. It’s also worth getting more vitamin C, as this helps improve iron absorption.
- Make sure to consume enough protein – it’s still perfectly possible to get enough protein on a vegan diet, just remember to include some natural soy (more on this below), lentils, beans, quinoa, or seitan in your recipes.
- Try to avoid soy meat substitutes – while the intentions behind these substitutes are good, they are ‘often highly processed and loaded with sodium and preservatives’, so are not necessarily much better for you than consuming a non-vegan diet.
- Make sure to get enough calcium – as with protein, it’s definitely possible to get enough calcium on a vegan diet – just remember to include foods high in calcium such as kale, bok-choy, almonds, soy beans, figs, and navel oranges or calcium fortified foods. It’s also worth eating foods high in vitamin D, as they help with calcium absorption.
With these facts out of the way, let’s move onto the tasty bit: the recipes. Because while it may look tricky taking into account all of these different requirements, there are lots of recipes out there which will make the process of becoming vegan way easier.
So, whether you want to become vegan, are curious to try it out, or just want to add a few vegan recipes into your life here and there, here are some ideas that tick all the right (vegan) boxes.
Why it’s great: Brilliant protein source, as well as a provider of fibre and omega-3.
Another plus: Prep time is only 5 minutes.
Why it’s great: Uses a natural soy base (tofu).
Another plus: Plenty of tips on shortcuts to take to speed up the cooking time.
Why it’s great: The kale is a handy calcium source.
Another plus: The squash is pretty cheap to get ahold of.
Why it’s great: The lemon juice provides Vitamin C which helps with iron absorption.
Another plus: Makes for a great take-to-go breakfast.
Why it’s great: The butternut squash and black beans are the perfect source for protein and fibre.
Another plus: Should you require it, they’re also gluten-free.
Why it’s great: The nutritional yeast not only tastes like cheese, it is a brilliant source of B12.
Another plus: The nutritional yeast is also high in protein and fibre.
Why it’s great: The broccoli is both a source of iron and a great source of Vitamin C.
Another plus: Thanks to the chickpeas and sweet potato, this will keep you full for a while.