As a vegan, I'm constantly interrogated by friends and family. Vegan health is debated in my traditional, Jewish family, as well as the medical world alike. Questions such as "Where do you get your iron?" and "Where do you get protein from?" dominate the dinner table. I can't help but to roll my eyes in fury, as I focus my heart and soul on what's in the food I eat

Some vegans are unaware of this, but zinc plays an enormous role in skin health, and if you are deficient, you may have other issues, such as dandruff, loss of appetite and stomach troubles.

Most vegans concentrate on Vitamin B12, protein, iron, and Omega-3 fatty acids, but nobody explains zinc and its importance in your health. Some vegans are unaware of this, but zinc plays an enormous role in skin health, and if you are deficient, you may have other issues, such as dandruff, loss of appetite and stomach troubles

Some vegans are unaware of this, but zinc plays an enormous role in skin health, and if you are deficient, you may have other issues, such as dandruff, loss of appetite and stomach troubles

The top three foods containing the highest amount of zinc are oysters, beef chuck roast, and crab meat, all of which are neither vegan nor vegetarian. By eating plant-based sources of zinc, one can avoid the inflammation that results from animal derived zinc sources. If you are deficient (or think you are), here are 10 zinc-packed foods to give you the fix

1. Chickpeas

vegetable, cereal, legume, meat, pea, chickpeas, garbanzo, corn
Christin Urso

Chickpeas are a holy grail for vegans as well as vegetarians alike. They're full of protein, fiber, manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, iron and zinc. More specifically, 1 cup of cooked chickpeas provides 2.5 mg of zinc, approximately 17% of the daily recommended amount.

All the more reason to eat more hummus!

2. Pumpkin Seeds

Phillip Massey

Otherwise known as "pepitas," pumpkin seeds are jam packed with protein, magnesium, healthy omega-3 fats and zinc. Assisting in sleep, immunity, and skin health, a quarter cup of these green seeds provides about 2.57 mg of zinc, approximately 17.1% of the recommended daily amount.

Here is an awesome pumpkin seed granola bar recipe.

3. Oats

cereal, wheat, corn, pasture, oat, oatmeal, barley, hands, handful, handful of oats, grain, Rolled oats
Jocelyn Hsu

Oats are more of a superfood than most believe. Providing substantial doses of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron and Vitamin B1, this grain is also packed with a generous amount of zinc.

In fact, 100 g of Quaker Quick Dry Oats contains 3.2 mg of zinc, 21% of the recommended daily amount. 

Just another reason to make oatmeal for breakfast. It's a comfort food and it's healthy for you. Here are some to-die-for recipes to get started! 

4. Dark Chocolate

coffee, cereal, relish, espresso, chocolate, cappuccino, mocha
Christin Urso

The four existing personalities of chocolate include dark, milk, white and finally ruby. Dark chocolate is great for you with its plentiful amounts of copper, iron and zinc.

An ounce of 70% chocolate provides 0.9 mg of zinc, 6% of the recommended daily amount. To get a better picture, that is one ounce, while a 70% Lindt Dark Chocolate bar contains a net weight of 3.5 oz (100g).

Here's a healthy but indulgent dark chocolate truffle recipe.

5. Cashews

nut, cashew, cereal, peanut
Kristine Mahan

Full of unsaturated fats, protein, manganese, and other essential minerals, cashews are also packed with zinc. In fact, 100g of raw cashews provides 5.78 mg of zinc, which is about 39% of the recommended daily amount. 100 g of raw cashews is about 2/3 cup

Here's an awesome fruit tart recipe with a base of cashew cream. 

6. Tofu

tofu, rice, chicken, vegetable
Haley Greco

This calcium, iron, and phosphorus packed protein source is amazing in stir-fry and just about anything else. 

100 g of raw firm tofu prepared with calcium sulfate clocks in at 1.57 mg of zinc, which is 10% of the daily recommended amount. On the other hand, 100 g of raw firm tofu with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride contains 0.83 mg of zinc, only 6% of the RDA.

Here's a simple, but awesome tofu stir fry recipe from Spoon University.

7. Black Beans

cereal, coffee, black beans, espresso, cappuccino, beans
Rose Gerber

With 36% of the iron recommended daily amount, 100 g of these raw magical beans also provide us with 24% of the RDA.

And hey, if you're into sweets, here is a recipe for black bean chocolate pudding.

8. Hemp Seeds

cereal, milk, oatmeal
Norah Cliff

Hemp seeds are known as an awesome protein source, but did you know they're an excellent source of zinc, as well? 100 g of these shelled seeds yield a whole 11.5 mg of zinc, weighing in at about 77% of the RDA! How crazy?

Here's an awesome pesto recipe, subbing pine nuts for hemp seeds, upping the protein and zinc intake.

9. Lentils

cereal, legume, lentil, coffee, buckwheat, vegetable
Christin Urso

Green lentils are packed with protein, folate, and manganese. But they also have a large amount of zinc content, as well.

Clocking in at 4.78 mg of zinc, 100 g of raw green lentils provides a total of 32% of your daily amount. 

Here's an awesome lentil-beet burger recipe that'll blow your socks off.

10. Sesame Seeds

bread, wheat, sweet, chocolate, cereal, pastry, candy
Kristine Mahan

Sesame seeds are actually one of the most zinc powered foods around. In fact, 100 g of unsalted toasted sesame seeds yields a hunky 7.75 mg of zinc, about 68% of the RDA.

If you're unaware, hummus is forged from sesame seed paste, chickpeas, lemon juice, and garlic. So, how perfect is this? Sesame seeds and chickpeas are full of zinc. That means that hummus is the perfect zinc-packed food. We've been right all along to eat it by the tub.

Here's a basic, but tasty recipe for homemade hummus.

bread, hummus, vegetable
Christin Urso

Zinc is an essential mineral that vegans simply do not consume enough of. Through eating zinc fortified foods, like hemp seeds, one can escape the effects of zinc deficiency, like acne or loss of appetite. 

With foods like chickpeas and cocoa, vegans and zinc-deficient individuals not only live a happy life, but a zinc-filled one. So once again, hummus and chocolate have saved the day.