Eating for your health.

Whether you’re Vegan, Veggie or just wanting to cut back on your meat intake for health or environmental reasons it’s important to make sure that you over all your bases when it comes to nutrients. Cutting back on animal products doesn’t have to be difficult, but it is a little more complicated than chowing down on carrots all day and drinking smoothies all day and hoping like heck you’ve covered all your nutrient needs. Getting meat and animal product free living right means being aware of what your body really needs.

A Note From Katie

Reducing Meat and Dairy? 

If you read widely about eco-friendly living you will likely have seen suggestions that reducing meat and dairy intake can be helpful for reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, and has been shown to have some health benefits. Whatever diet plan you choose to follow, please know that reducing meat and dairy has to be done with an increased awareness of your bodies nutrient needs. If opting for a vegan or veggie diet it’s always good to get advice from your doctor and have some baseline blood test’s done for reference.

The big little ones

Micronutrients are often overlooked for the louder-and-prouder arguments and ponderings (like where do Vegans get their protein). For those of you who aren’t micronutrient savvy these are basically smaller amounts of vitamins, minerals and trace elements in amounts less than 100 milligrams a day.

Beta-carotene

An red-orange antioxidant (found in leafy greens, orange and yellow fruits and veg) that makes carrots bright and help our bodies make vitamin A.

Some sources: Sweet Potato, Carrot, Leafy Greens, Broccoli, Cantaloupe

Biotin

A water-soluble B vitamin that’s also referred to B7 that helps with cell growth, fatty acid production, and amino acids.

Some Sources: Almonds, Peanuts, Onions, Oats, Sweet Potato, and Carrots.

Folate

Another one of the B vitamins that is normally referred to as Folic Acid. It is used by our bodies to create red blood cells, support our nervous systems and grow healthy babies.

Some Sources: Lentils, Beans, Leafy Green Vegetables, watercress, broccoli, peanuts, sesame seeds, sweet potato.

Omega 3

These essential fatty acids help us with our mental function, heart disease, and lubricate our joints.

Some sources: Flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, and mustard seeds.

Iron

This mineral is a very important one for haemoglobin in blood that often gets a little low when we reduce animal product consumption and don’t mindfully acquire it from veggie sources.

Some Sources: Beans, lentils, soy, beets, broccoli, sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds,  watercress, seaweed, and mangos

Zinc

This mineral acts as an antioxidant that plays a variety of roles in your body, from enzyme activity to healthy sexual functions.

Some Sources: Soy and Tofu, Seaweed, Nuts (hazel, pine, and pumpkin), Tomatoes, and Sesame Seeds.

Magnesium

Magnesium is used for energy production, helps our bodies synthesise proteins, aids in muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation 

Some Sources: Beans, Lentils, Bell Peppers, Whole Grains, Apples, Pears, Berries, Nuts (almonds, cashews, pumpkin and sesame seeds).

Copper

This mineral is a very important one for haemoglobin in blood that often gets a little low when we reduce animal product consumption and don’t mindfully acquire it from veggie sources.

Some Sources: Tofu, Seaweed, Green Vegetables, Peanut and Cashew Nuts.

Selenium

This mineral acts as an antioxidant that plays a variety of roles in your body, from enzyme activity to healthy sexual functions.

Some Sources: Beans, Lentils, Brazil Nuts, Walnuts and Sesame Seeds.

Some key players on the food nutrient field

While we can’t include all food types or cover all bases for nutrients here (it would be a text book worth of content) here are a few nutrient rich ideas that you might like to consider adding to your meat and animal product reduced diet.

Brazil Nuts

These nuts are the easiest way to get your entire dose of Selenium in one little package! At 1530 mcg per 100 grams it’s reported that you only need one or two of these nuts per day to achieve your selenium needs. You should always check your needs (online and/or with a Dr) but it’s suggested that around 55 mug  per day is all an adult needs! Don’t over indulge because selenium in high doses can be toxic.

Seaweed

If you aren’t chowing down on some seaweed (in some format) then you are missing out on a nutrient packed vegan food source. Seaweed is loaded with goodness and has been eaten by cultures around the world for centuries. Seaweed is the colloquial term for all the different types of multicellular ocean dwelling algae. Seaweed (depending on the type) can be a source of protein, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Seaweed can absorb what’s in the ocean, so whatever pollution goes into the ocean can end up in you!

Nutritional Yeast

One of those ingredients you will see in most health and bulk food stores. This magic little cooking additive has B vitamins (including that hard to get B12), chromium, phosphorus, sixteen amino acids, fourteen or more minerals, and seventeen vitamins (not including vitamins A, C and E). Nutritional yeast can be sourced from yeast grown from hops (a by-product of brewing beer) or as a primary source grown from whey, blackstrap molasses or wood pulp. Nutritional yeast has a ‘cheesy’ flavour and is easy to incorporate into most meals (it’s great in sauces- especially Mexican or Italian recipes).

Chick Peas, Lentils, and Beans.

The age-old stereotype of the Earth-Hugging lentil devouring ‘Hippie’ is there for a nutrient packed reason. Legumes (peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, peanuts, alfalfa and more) contain many important nutrients and minerals that can’t be sourced easily from just eating your veggies. Soy product contain some of the highest levels of calcium available for Vegans (but there are some concerns about eating TOO much soy due to hormonal interactions), and most other legumes contain high levels of calcium. Fun Fact- fresh garden peas are one of the richest vegetable sources of Iron and also contain decent levels of Vitamin B1.

What are your top Meat and Animal diet reduction tips? Share them with us in the comments section.

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