One of the biggest misconceptions about going vegan is that you won’t get any vitamins and nutrients. We’ve grown up in a society that tells us that we need to get protein from meat, and calcium from milk. So when you switch over to this completely new and different lifestyle, it can be scary, and you may not know anything. So that is why I created this post; to show you that YES, it is possible, and very easy, to get every single essential vitamin, mineral, and nutrient that your body needs to thrive.
Some vegans take supplements, some vegans don’t. It’s all up to you really, and you need to be smart about it. Personally, I eat a ton of fruits and veggies, and can be certain I’m getting all of my nutrients (yes, even B12. I eat nutritional yeast and spirulina every day, and the almond milk we buy is fortified with it). But if you cannot guarantee getting every single vitamin or nutrient, then don’t be afraid to take supplements! Most people who eat meat, dairy and eggs have to take supplements, so it’s perfectly normal.
VITAMIN A (beta-carotene)
- Bright yellow and orange fruits such as cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, and apricots.
- Vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
- Other sources of beta-carotene include broccoli, spinach, and most dark green, leafy vegetables.
VITAMIN B1 (thiamin)
- baker’s yeast (active yeast), nutritional yeast (nonactive yeast), coriander, pine nuts, Jerusalem artichokes, hibiscus tea, watermelon, whole grains, acorn squash, soymilk, soybeans, rice bran, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts (or butter), tahini, sesame seeds, spirulina, green peas, most beans, asparagus
VITAMIN B2 (riboflavin)
- cereal grasses, whole grains, almonds, sesame seeds, spinach, fortified soy milk, spirulina, mushrooms, beet greens, quinoa, buckwheat, prunes
VITAMIN B3 (niacin)
- baker’s yeast (active yeast), nutritional yeast (nonactive yeast), coffee, chili powder, spirulina, peanuts, peanut butter, rice bran, mushrooms, barley, durian fruit, potatoes, tomatoes, millet, chia, whole grains, wild rice, buckwheat, green peas, avocados, sunflower seeds, tahini
VITAMIN B5 (pantothenic Acid)
- baker’s yeast (active yeast), nutritional yeast (nonactive yeast), paprika, mushrooms, sunflower seeds (and sunbutter), whole grains, broccoli, mushrooms, avocados, tomatoes, soy milk, rice bran, sweet potatoes
VITAMIN B6 (pyridoxine)
- all soy products (choose non-GMO), bananas, watermelon, peanut butter, almonds, sweet potatoes, green peas, avocados, hemp seeds, spirulina, chia seeds, beans, rice bran, chickpeas, prunes, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, pineapple, plantains, hearts of palm, artichokes, water chesnuts, all squash and pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, green beans, pistachios, figs, nutritional yeast, baker’s yeast (active yeast), garlic, sage, peppers, kale, collards
VITAMIN B7 (biotin)
- almonds, chia, peanuts, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, onions, oats, tomatoes, carrots, walnuts
VITAMIN B9 (folate)
- spinach, beans, lentils, asparagus, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, avocados, mangoes, oranges, most whole grains, nutritional yeast (nonactive yeast), baker’s yeast (active yeast), basil, soy products, peanuts, artichokes, cantaloupe, walnuts, flax, sesame, cauliflower, tahini, sunflower seeds, peas, okra, celery, hazelnuts, mint, leeks, chesnuts
VITAMIN B12 (cobalamin) *
- nutritional yeast (one of the best), spirulina (best source), soy products, fortified cereals (choose an organic, non-GMO brand), fortified almond milk (Silk), fortified coconut milk (Silk), some vegan protein powders.
“As you can see, you can usually obtain all the B vitamins you need from vegan foods alone. You should take specific caution to take a Vitamin B12 supplement if you do not take one already, or you don’t consume at least one teaspoon or spirulina per day or at least 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast per day. Both those sources in the specified amounts provide over 100% of the daily values. In terms of the other vitamins, it’s quite easy to get enough through your diet or you can simply take a vegan B complex supplement.” – http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/b-vitamins-how-to-get-them-in-a-vegan-diet/
“For almost all of human history, humans got their vitamin D from sun exposure. In fact, before the days of fortification, it would have been pretty hard to get enough from food. The only food sources were certain fatty fish, and you would have had to eat a lot of them to meet vitamin D needs.
Even the most common fortified food in the U.S. diet—cow’s milk—doesn’t have enough vitamin D to meet daily needs.
In many parts of the world, it’s impossible to make enough vitamin D during the colder months. So, although vitamin D is sometimes thought of as a “vegan issue” in nutrition, it’s really not – vitamin D is hard to come by for everyone. Supplements are the best answer for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans.” – http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-health/meeting-vitamin-d-needs-on-a-vegan-diet/
With that being said, here are some foods that contain vitamin D:
- Maitake mushrooms
- Portabella mushrooms
- Chanterelle mushrooms, raw
- Fortified foods/drinks such as soymilk, almond milk, organge juice, soy yogurt, etc.
- orange, grapefruit, lime, and lemon
- Dark leafy greens, broccoli, etc.
- Papaya, strawberries, pineapple, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, and raspberries
- Tofu (1/2 cup): 6.6 mg
- Spirulina (1 tsp): 5 mg
- Cooked soybeans (1/2 cup): 4.4 mg
- Pumpkin seeds (1 ounce): 4.2 mg
- Quinoa (4 ounces): 4 mg
- Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp): 4 mg
- Tomato paste (4 ounces): 3.9 mg
- White beans (1/2 cup) 3.9 mg
- Dried apricots (1 cup): 3.5 mg
- Cooked spinach (1/2 cup): 3.2 mg
- Dried peaches (6 halves): 3.1 mg
- Prune juice (8 ounces): 3 mg
- Lentils (4 ounces): 3 mg
- Peas (1 cup): 2.1 mg
- Kale (1 cup contains 180 mg)
- Collard Greens (1 cup contains over 350 mg)
- Blackstrap Molasses (2 tablespoons contains 400 mg)
- Tempeh (1 cup contains 215 mg)
- Turnip Greens (1 cup contains 250 mg)
- Fortified non-dairy milk (1 cup contains 200-300 mg)
- Hemp milk (1 cup contains 460 mg)
- Fortified orange juice (1 cup contains 300 mg)
- Tahini (2 tablespoons contains 130 mg)
- Almond butter (2 tablespoons contains 85 mg)
- Great northern beans (1 cup contains 120 mg)
- Soybeans (1 cup contains 175 mg)
- Broccoli (1 cup contains 95 mg)
- Raw fennel (1 medium bulb contains 115 mg)
- Blackberries (1 cup contains 40 mg)
- Black Currants (1 cup contains 62 mg)
- Oranges (1 orange contains between 50 and 60 mg)
- Dried apricots (1/2 cup contains 35 mg)
- Figs (1/2 cup contains 120 mg)
- Dates (1/2 cup contains 35 mg)
- Artichoke (1 medium artichoke contains 55 mg)
- Roasted sesame seeds (1 oz. contains 35 mg)
- Adzuki beans (1 cup contains 65 mg)
- Navy beans (1 cup contains 125 mg)
- Amaranth (1 cup contains 275 mg)
- 1 cup garbanzo beans =14.5 grams
- 1 cup pinto beans =12 grams
- 1 cup refried beans =15.5 grams
- 1 cup soybeans =28 grams
- 1 oz. cashews =4.4 grams
- 1 oz. peanuts =6.5 grams
- 1 oz. sesame seeds =6.5 grams
- 1 oz. pistachios =5.8 grams
- 1 cup tofu =22 grams
- 1 cup lentils =18 grams
- 1 avocado =10 grams
- 1 cup broccoli =5 grams
- 1 cup spinach =5 grams
- 1 cup peas =9 grams
- 1 medium artichoke =4 grams
- 1 cup asparagus =5 grams
- 1 cup beet greens =3 grams
ALMOST EVERYTHING CONTAINS PROTEIN!! Not getting enough protein is not the problem. Getting too much protein is the problem. http://mindfullybliss.com/the-obsession-with-protein/
(lentils, cous cous,tofu, potatoes, seitan, tempeh, quinoa, peanuts, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, almonds, whole wheat bread, black beans, rice, pinto beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, cashews, artichoke, corn, peas, avocado, banana, pumpkin seeds, watermelon, spinach, flaxseeds, broccoli, pecans, kidney beans, rye bread, popcorn, steel cut oats, soybeans, etc)
I guess this isn’t a problem for vegans as much as it is meat-eaters. People often ask vegans and vegetarians, “how do you get your protein?” But the real question to them is, “how do you get your fibre?” Fibre is super important in our diets, and can help people lose weight. Everybody should be getting fibre in their diet. That means eating lots of:
- Whole Grains
- Flax Seed
- Chia Seeds
OMEGA 3 – ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
- Flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
- Dark leafy greens: romaine, arugala, spinach
- Beans: navy beans, kidney beans, soybeans
- Cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts
- Winter Squash
Good sources of omega-3 fats are the oils of some nuts and seeds such as flax, mustard, hemp, rapeseed and walnuts. Making rapeseed (canola) oil your primary kitchen oil is an affordable, straight-forward approach to obtaining good fats. Why not try hemp milk and spirulina powder (also high in omega-3) in smoothies, walnuts on your breakfast cereal, or ground flax seeds in baking?
Other sources of omega-3 include green leafy vegetables, soya and grains; however, vegans should not rely on these sources as they tend to be high in omega-6, which can inhibit omega-3 uptake.
Vegan diets, which tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and seeds already gain enough omega-6 to be healthy. The trick is to make sure you’re not consuming too much omega-6 compared to omega-3.
- Dark leafy greens
- Pumpkin seeds, flax seed, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
- Dark Chocolate = more than 100 milligrams per ounce
- Almonds = 84 milligrams per ounce
- Lentils = 1 cup serving of lentils provides approximately 70 mg of magnesium, or as much as 20 percent of your daily value.
- Bananas = One banana provides 32 mg, according to the U.S. National Nutrient Database.
The adult RDA (Recommended Daily or Dietary Allowance) is 55 mcg (microgram) of selenium. For safety, don’t have more than 400 mcg each day.
Brazil nuts can be high in selenium: a Brazil nut grown in selenium-rich soil may contain half of your RDA! Wholegrains, beans and white rice may also be rich in the mineral. It is recommended to eat one or two Brazil nuts each day, or take a reliable selenium supplement. However, be careful not to eat more than 3-4 Brazil nuts each day due to selenium’s toxicity. – https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-health/vitamins-minerals-and-nutrients/selenium
- brazilnuts (30g)
- spaghetti (215g)
- Couscous (140g)
- soybean kernels (250ml)
- shiitake (85g)
- whole-grain wheat flour (30g)
- sunflower seeds (30g)
- rye (45g)
- Yellow beans (100g=488m)
- Soybeans (250ml=445mg)
- Lentils (250ml=377mg)
- Pumpkin seed kernels (30g=370mg)
- Toasted sunflower seed kernels (30g=347mg)
- Falafel (140g=269mg)
- Brazil nuts (30g=218mg)
We need 8-11 mg of zinc per day, though the Institute of Medicine has suggested that vegans with high intakes of unrefined grains might need 50% more zinc than recommended.
- Tofu, tempeh, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and fortified products (like breakfast cereal and meat substitutes
To increase the uptake of zinc you can toast nuts and seeds, choose risen bread over flatbread and drink orange juice with each meal. While unrefined grains tend to be higher in phytate, wholegrain bread’s higher zinc levels make up for its poor absorption – so you don’t have to give up on the other nutritious benefits wholegrain provides.