One of the main concerns for those who live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is finding protein, iron and vitamin B12 in their diets. There are many ways in which one may obtain a balanced, nutritional diet without including meat, but which foods are best for achieving this? Are there food combinations which enhance your body’s capability for protein intake? The Tonic Health Blog posed some of these questions to students who live vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and this is what they had to say.
Cammy Trollope, 21
“If I do compensate for what I think I lack, I’ll eat food that I love and know is protein rich. Like, lentils which I eat regularly. My mother makes amazing lentil dishes and they make up a large portion of my lunches. My favourite snack though has to be humus. You can eat it with anything and it’s made from chickpeas so they’re also a rich source of protein.”
Katie Durant, 22
“I am a vegan and for me it’s more than just a diet, it’s a lifestyle. This year now that I live with friends who are also vegetarian or vegan I have opened up a lot more to different types of grains, all of which provide your body with different nutrients. I do eat lots of lentils and chickpeas, and I mix them with different grains so the varieties of combinations are endless which always makes it interesting.”
Angela Chappel, 21
“I believe you can’t replace meat for any one thing completely. The key is to keep a balanced and broad diet. I don’t believe we need supplements, so as long as you eat a lot of different types and colours of fruit and vegetables. A general rule is that the darker the plant, the more active the antioxidants. This is important because antioxidants neutralise free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules that are produced by the body and by environmental factors like pollution and x-rays and they damage good cells in the body. Some vegetarians who don’t monitor their iron intake may become anaemic without knowing that this is a direct cause. Basically it is very important to get to know and listen to your body.”
Rayne Vogt, 21
“I used to be vegetarian, from when I was about sixteen ’til I was nineteen or so. For finding sources of protein I just used to eat a lot of nuts, especially cashews and almonds – they were my favourite! Forcooked meals I just used to stick to the greens, like I ate a lot of spinach and green beans. I know they have lots of all the essential vitamins you need, I ate eggs as well so that helped balance my B12 and protein intake.”
If you live a meat-free lifestyle or know of any nutritional information that may be helpful don’t hesitate to let us know.